After the Malec-heavy goodness that was episode 2×18, things are back to business in the second to last episode of season 2. In “Hail and Farewell” – written by Bryan Q. Miller and directed by Matt Hastings – the shadowhunters of the New York Institute gear up to finally bring an end to the war against Valentine and try their best to take out Jonathan in the process.

Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds, at least as long as Jonathan Morgenstern has a say in it. The episode opens with a sequence of him storming over an empty rooftop, and shouting his anger into the sky. He’s upset that Clary saw right through his carefully built disguise and angry that he screwed up. Jonathan may like to appear as cold, ruthless and above everything else, but as this scene shows, he clearly isn’t. His own mistakes annoy him just as any other person, maybe even more so since he’s trying to impress Valentine. We loved to see this more vulnerable side of Jonathan, see him doubt and stumble (figuratively, not literally). Will Tudor really crushed his performance this episode.

Meanwhile Clary, Jace and Izzy are out on a mission in the streets of New York with the goal to hunt down Jonathan. The mission is led by Izzy, and we loved that. After all she suffered through with her Yin Fen addiction, it was great to see her all tough and confident again. Don’t get us wrong, we adored seeing her vulnerable side, but a little badass Izzy never hurt anyone. Well…she probably did, but whatever.

After they break into Jonathan’s apartment (again: badass Izzy rocks!) they find the place empty, except for the corpse of the actual Sebastian Verlac. Even though this poor guy already suffered enough this season, Jonathan is not yet done with him – apart from kidnapping and killing him, he also let a demon possess his lifeless body. We really felt sorry for the actual Sebastian during that scene – he’s just that unlucky guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Institute is going to war

Back at the Institute, Alec is trying to improve his chances at winning the war against Valentine by setting up a meeting with the Downworld leaders. We loved to see that even in times of war, Alec still sticks to what he believes in and tries to get Shadowhunters and Downworlders to fight as one instead of against each other.

Unfortunately, that meeting does not go so well as the Downworlders have been making new alliances with their own. Magnus, still heartbroken and upset because Alec did not tell him about the Soul Sword, sided with the Seelie Queen, managing to get Luke and Raphael on his side as well.

However much we loved this episode, this is where things got a bit weird for us. Sure, Magnus doesn’t want to have anything to do with Alec or the Clave. But relationship drama aside – since when does Magnus Bane, who cares so much about his people, blindly hand over control to others; the Seelie Queen of all people? She may be the most powerful downworlder alive, but she has proven that she should never be trusted. Therefore, Magnus letting her speak on behalf of the entire downworld seemed a bit out of character for us, especially since Magnus has never refrained from stating his opinions and didn’t seem like someone who would subject to someone else. However heartbroken he might be, this decision just didn’t fit for him in our eyes.

Speaking of heartbreak, Malec are still very much broken up in 2×19. This became painfully obvious during the downworld council meeting, when Magnus wouldn’t even look at Alec. Our poor, Malec-shipping hearts were still aching after that beautiful, yet so painful breakup in 2×18 – and following 2×19, we can confirm that now they have been successfully shred to pieces.

Old friends, new threats

When Magnus gets home from the Institute, a little surprise is waiting for him to cheer him up: Madzie is back! She didn’t come alone, but in the company of a long-awaited character: Ms Catarina Loss – nurse, warlock and one of Magnus’ oldest friends. Catarina is played by Sophia Walker and albeit her scene was a bit short, we already learned two things about her. First, she won’t take crap from anyone and second, she is a force to be reckoned with. Showrunner Todd Slavkin already teased there will be more Catarina and Madzie moments in season 3 – we can’t wait to see what’s in store for them.

Although, Catarina was not the only new character this week – we got to see a new side of the Seelie Queen. Sarah Hyland’s long awaited guest appearance on Shadowhunters finally happened. She plays the Seelie Queen just as sneaky and mysterious as Lola Flanery did. Including her odd fascination with Simon. We enjoyed Alberto and Sarah’s scene together and were left wondering what is it that makes the daylighter so interesting for Her Majesty.

The rise of Clace 2.0

Back at the Institute, the time for Clace shippers had finally come – Jace and Clary try to track Jonathan through their Angelic powers, and we will surely not forget that scene.

Although for some of us, it was a bit uncomfortable to watch. Kat and Dom have amazing on-screen chemistry and the both of them really did a great job on that scene, but it just seemed a bit over the top, as if the producers had wanted to slam into our faces that yes, Clace are back and yes, they still love each other so, so much. Thanks for the update, but we knew that already. A little bit less golden glowing rune magic would have been totally fine. Even if, we have to admit, the runes looked really pretty.

Meanwhile, Valentine and Jonathan try and fail to set up a portal to Idris (seriously, what is it with this guy and playgrounds? They seem to be his favorite place to threaten warlocks recently). When they realize that Jonathan has been tracked, they leave the other Circle members behind and head towards a graveyard, where Valentine rudely turns a mourning family into forsaken to keep the shadowhunters that are coming for him at bay.

Needless to say Alec, Izzy, Jace and Clary are quite busy when they arrive at the graveyard, resulting in some of the coolest action scenes of this season. Honestly, Jace and Alec going after the forsaken in a good old parabatai manner and Alec killing two of them with only one arrow – excuse us, but that looked almost as cool as when he banished Azazel with an arrow while being thrown through Magnus’ apartment in 2×11.

Action-packed until the bitter end

As cool as the scenes on the graveyard may be, they are only the opening act for the true highlight of 2×19: the action-packed final fifteen minutes, centered around the confrontation of the shows’ two “JCs”; Jonathan and Jace.

The scene is set on a bridge at night, we will leave it to Jace Herondale to keep up his cocky and arrogant nature even in the most extreme situations – such as having a heavy iron chain around his neck while being dragged across the floor by Jonathan. He just keeps provoking Jonathan until he snaps – and this results into one of the best fighting scenes we’ve had on the show so far (we’re sorry, 2×11 parabatai training scene, but it’s the truth.)

Both the choreography and what Dom Sherwood and Will Tudor made of it, made the scene one of our highlights this episode. If Will Tudor showed us a glimpse of Jonathan’s vulnerability at the beginning of the episode, this is where he really lets his walls break down. For the first time, we truly see how jealous Jonathan is of Jace, how much he hates him for always being Valentine’s favorite – and how much he wants to be him. Watching this scene unfold was as thrilling as it was nerve wracking.

Thrilling, because – duh. Nerve wracking, because even though Jace may be one of the best shadowhunters of his age, he gets in pretty big trouble fighting Jonathan. Good thing he came with backup – and has a badass warrior sister who is very mad at Jonathan for betraying her trust.

For the past two seasons, we’ve seen Isabelle in many different moods – she was happy, she was sad, she was hurt. But she has never been truly angry. In 2×19, that changes. We really wouldn’t want to mess with Izzy after watching the episode. Emeraude really slays angry Izzy and we loved seeing her basically rip Jonathan apart as she confronts him about his betrayal and his attempt at Max’s life.

Conveniently, Izzy settling things with Jonathan also distracts Morgenstern Jr. long enough for Jace to be able to creep up behind him, stab him in the back and push him into the river.

As we watch Jonathan’s unmoving body float away and the squad celebrate Jonathan’s death – we couldn’t quite trust the situation. I mean, didn’t we learn from every CSI or Criminal Minds episode ever that a person should never be considered dead until there’s a body? We know that Alec, Izzy and Jace probably don’t like mundane TV, but after watching that scene, we keep thinking they might want to give it a chance.

Loose ends and open questions

The team stopping Jonathan may be a small victory, but the fight is not over yet, that much is clear. There is still way too much left unclear – and new problems are added constantly. For instance, as we see Maia waking up in the Seelie Court or the Seelie Queen herself meeting up with Valentine in Central Park in the middle of the night. Altogether, there’s plenty of material to keep the next episode just as exciting and considering that, all we can say is: Season finale, bring it on.