Shadowhunters: The Descent Into Hell is Easy (Review)

Episode two of Shadowhunters: The Descent Into Hell is Easy, finds Clary and Simon being allowed into the inner fold of the Shadowhunter’s “lair,” aka the Institute.

ALBERTO ROSENDE, DOMINIC SHERWOOD, KATHERINE MCNAMARA

Episode two of Shadowhunters: The Descent Into Hell is Easy, finds Clary and Simon being allowed into the inner fold of the Shadowhunter’s “lair,” aka the Institute.  This verse of magic, vampires, demons, warlocks and shape-shifters also includes an incredible amount of technology.  The headquarters of Jace, Isabelle and Alec may be hidden behind the derelict ruins of a building, but once the rune is lifted, “mundane” Simon and his “gal pal” Fray enter a world of high tech and magic.

Once again, not having read the books that the series is based on, it is interesting to note the dynamic between different factions.  Most notably between the Shadowhunters and the mundanes that they are pledged to save.  This episode takes up where the pilot ended, for all intents and purposes, and Simon can now see Jace, as well as the dead demon.

Fray (Katherine McNamara) and best friend Lewis (Alberto Rosende) are escorted to the Institute by Wayland (Dominic Sherwood) who then introduces the mundane buddy of Fray to Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia) and Alec (Matthew Daddario); the sibling Shadowhunters. Alec is the “leader” although he is constantly overruled by Isabelle and Jace. 

In terms of dynamic, no one in this magical verse, created by Cassandra Clare, gets along. It is a huge warring population of different individuals and groups attempting to control the world they inhabit.  Even factions that are “allies” do not get along. For example, the Shadowhunters, who are responsible for the safety of mere mundanes, treat their “charges” with contempt, derision and they are incredibly antagonistic toward them.

EMERAUDE TOUBIA
Isabelle introduces herself to Simon and offers him breakfast…

The exception to this is Isabelle who, upon meeting Simon, is apparently attracted to this mundane with an “Indie band”even if Lewis is pretty much a buzzkill. Although, compared to “Mr. Grumpy Pants” Alec Lightwood, Simon is the life of the party. Granted, Clary’s BFF thinks he is amusing, although according to Jace, that is debatable.

Personality conflicts aside, quite a lot is revealed and one character close to Clary is killed. While Fray learns that the “big bad”  Valentine (Alan Van Sprang) is “Daddy Dearest.” The newest Shadowhunter also learns, via the auspices of the Silent Brothers in the City of Bones, that Jocelyn (Maxim Roy) wiped Clary’s memory and lied to her.

The main point of interest is still The Mortal Cup, which Jocelyn has hidden.  Mother Fray is in Chernobyl, still in a trance, or coma, and Dot (Vanessa Matsuiis taken there as well. Sadly for her, she does not stay there long and after a failed escape attempt, is taken out of the picture. Whether this is permanent or not remains to be seen.

Before Dot is removed, Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) takes all his people and bolts, Dorothy  refuses to leave and is caught as a result, which is how she ends up in Chernobyl. The City of Bones and the Silent Brothers  become the next destination for the Shadowhunters and their “plus-one.

Sidenote: It is a nice touch, and a nod to the 2013 film “The Immoral Instruments:City of Bones,” that actor Stephen R. Hart is used to reprise his role of Brother Jeremiah here in this second episode of Shadowhunters.

Clary and Jace enter the city, to speak with the Silent Brothers, leaving Simon, Isabelle and Alec behind.  Jace tells Lewis that if he enters the City of Bones he will, as a mundane, die instantly. Simon, after being lied to about the runes at the Institutes, argues:

“No mundanes allowed, just like in the training room, right? Wrong! I’ve seen every horror movie ever made and the funny best friend who gets left behind… dead man.”  [Isabelle laughs]

Jace: “You’re not that funny.”

One of the more amusing exchanges in the series thus far and it opens up the possibility that more of these funny moments  might become a mainstay in this very serious shadow world.

Alec refuses to look after Simon, so Isabelle volunteers while Clary and Jace go to see the “brothers.” Once inside the area, Brother Jeremiah makes Jace step back and a dangling sword restores part of Fray’s memory.

STEPHEN HART, KATHERINE MCNAMARA
Clary leaning an unfortunate truth.

Sidenote: Once again, not having read the source books, it is not known whether or not Clary Fray ends up with a  Harry Potter type scar on her forehead from the memory sword, (It may not be a lightning bolt but she does end up with a scar nonetheless) but it certainly seems that way…

By the end of this second episode of Shadowhunters Clary finds out that Valentine is her father (“Clary I am your father…”) the viewers learn more about family friend and cop Luke Garroway (Isaiah Mustafa), Dot dies and Simon is kidnapped by vampires who will trade the mundane for the cup.

Shadowhunters looks sharp, dark and intricate. It is a world where each faction fights the other and McNamara plays the plucky new hero who does not have enough memories to help her to fight.  The series airs Tuesdays on ABC Freeform, tune in and watch this catch YA program.

Shadowhunters Pilot: The Mortal Cup – Killing it Softly

Shadowhunters, the new Young Adult adaptation of Cassandra Claire’s popular The Mortal Instruments series has its season one pilot airing on ABC’s new Freeform and as pilots go, it is killing it softly with its song…sort of.

MATTHEW DADDARIO, KATHERINE MCNAMARA, EMERAUDE TOUBIA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD
Shadowhunters, the new adaptation of Cassandra Claire’s popular Young Adult The Mortal Instruments series has its season one pilot, The Mortal Cup, airing on ABC’s new Freeform and as pilots go, it is killing it softly with its song…sort of. Initial complaints thus far have been from “fangirls” of the franchise who a) did not like the big screen adaptation and b) want the McG directed opener to be more like the books.

Admittedly, this reviewer has not read the source material but after watching The Maze Runner big screen adaptation (once the entire trilogy by James Dashner was ingested in a couple of long sittings) the lesson was learned. Do not watch a film (or television) adaptation of a literary effort that blows the reader away. Especially YA tales that are good enough to bring the reader back to “that place” no matter how long ago it was.

Sidenote: The same rule applies with any Stephen King adaptation, with the except of a couple of offerings…

Claire has a firm fanbase, however, so all will most likely approach the new series with all the passion of any fangirl/boy.  The premise is one that any young adult, or old one with a great memory, will be attracted to.

Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) learns, on her 18th birthday, that she has unique and magical powers and is indeed very special, not just a normal teenager who can now vote and legally drink in some states.  The very idea of being more than the sum of all your parts is pretty addictive stuff to any reader. 

MAXIM ROY, KATHERINE MCNAMARA
Memory messing mother and daughter, Jocelyn and Clary Frey

Fray, as a child, had her memory wiped by a powerful man, at the behest of mommy, and while out on her birthday celebrations, she sees demons and those who hunt them. It seems the memory cleanse only lasted until her 18th.

As mentioned by at least two reviewers, the pilot is clunky, but that is based upon comparisons to the source material, never a good idea.  In reality, once the adaptation is aired the fans of the books should just be happy that none of the characters were lost or that two, or more, were merged into one.

(Or worse, a new one invented to satisfy the adapting screenwriter’s hubris…)

Other complaints have to do with the “cheesy” special effects. To be fair, the biggest problems with the pilot effects were their unevenness. Some looked pretty acceptable, for example  the riff on the old “Buffy dusting” technique (an amping up  of the process to where the demons disappear not in a flash of ash but sparks of fiery light) and from certain angles the “white” swords that “glow” like a Toys R Us light sabre,  look pretty cool.

DOMINIC SHERWOOD
Dominic Sherwood is fan fave Jace Wayland…

On a sidenote, the blades retract and only come out when grabbed by a Shadowhunter. The whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of the 2003 action/adventure/comedy Vampire Effect and the swords welded by vampire hunters Reeve, Lila and Gypsy…

Fangirl complaints and similarities aside, Shadowhunters looks very promising. The show’s opening sequence is brilliant. Great musical score, action that captures the eye and some good looking young people “stalking” their target.

Once the catchy opening is through we meet Clary (McNamara) and her mother Jocelyn (Maxim Roy) along with good friend Simon (Alberto Rosende) who is, despite being a musician, a bit of a “stick in the mud.”

The Shadowhunters themselves are introduced, Jace (Sherwood) by bumping into the heroine Clary and when she can see him, it understandably freaks him out a little. The rest are brought into Fray’s sightline after the big demon slaying at the Pandemonium nightclub.

KATHERINE MCNAMARA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD,
Clary and Jace meet…

Before the end credits roll, Jocelyn goes missing, a family friend appears to be a villain (cop pal Luke Garroway, played by Isaiah Mustafa) and a powerful magician; Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr) makes his presence known.

Clary Fray learns about glamours, runes, magic, demons and an invisible world that she can see but her friends cannot.

All in all, the pilot, which airs January 12 on the new ABC Freeform channel, does move a little softly, and admittedly with some hiccups on the way, toward a promising start to a new YA based series. Clearly, fans of Cassandra Claire’s books will be rushing to both watch and rate this latest adaptation of her work.

Tune in and see what you think of this version of Claire’s verse and characters. Without reading the books, this reviewer found that despite the “clunk” it was pleasing to watch and further episodes are now eagerly awaited.