Thursday, April 29, 2021

Shadowhunters Review: 3x18 "The Beast Within"

This episode was a Halloween episode, but if I remember correctly, it didn't actually air around Halloween because they delayed the second half of the season to film the series finale. Regardless, it has some fun Halloween elements while still managing to move the story forward, which makes it a great episode.

Becky arrives at Simon's apartment in a vampire costume. She's come from Florida and wants to celebrate the holiday together. We learn here that she understands very little about the Shadow World and even thinks that Simon sleeps in a coffin. They don't seem to talk much, which is sad considering she's the only family member Simon can still talk to. It's possible they do talk and Simon just leaves out all of the supernatural elements, but even that feels sad considering they make up so much of his life.

It also seems a little odd that she didn't so much as call to tell him that she was coming but expected him to be free on Halloween. That adds to making it seem like they never talk.

Maia is back! Unfortunately, we get Jordan along with Maia. I do think the TV show handled his storyline better than the books did, but I still don't like him. And I would much rather Maia get a storyline that has nothing to do with him, especially with the end of season three becoming the series finale.

Alec sends Magnus to help Maryse at the bookstore in a thinly veiled attempt to distract him so he can contact Asmodeus. What Alec does next is really upsetting, but I love the chance to see more interaction between Maryse and Magnus.

The show has always switched up things here and there from the books, but that is particularly true at the end of season three. Alec contacting Asmodeus like he does in this episode is unlike anything that happens in the books, and it filled me with dread the first time I watched this episode. Even though Alec tries to contact Asmodeus in a way that will keep him from breaking free from Edom, it's not surprising that he manages to free himself anyway. I knew right away that seeing Asmodeus wasn't going to be a one off thing, and it's distressing to see him loose in New York City.

Alec wanting to make Magnus happy to the extent that he'll break up with him is, sadly, in character for him. I hate that he makes the decision without consulting Magnus. It's so frustrating! I feel like one Malec break up was enough for the show, and it kills me that we get two.

In happier news, Izzy has figured out a way that should break Clary's connection with Jonathan. Luke arrives just in time to be there when it happens, which makes me even happier. Unsurprisingly, Jonathan doesn't take dissolving the connection well, so it's nice that Luke and the others are there to support Clary. There's a lot of focus on her needing Jace in this and the previous couple of episodes, but I'm happy to see her getting Luke's support as well. I don't like the idea of Jace being such a huge focus in that way and sidelining the other people in her life. It's not healthy to only rely on one person.

The heavenly fire burns both Clary and Jonathan, but once the burning his over, they both still have the rune because the formula the the heavenly fire was used in was too weak. Isabelle says she can make a more potent formula. I love seeing scientist Izzy working out problems like that! It always makes me happy.

We get a parabatai moment between Jace and Alec in this episode. Alec asks Jace about a hypothetical situation involving Clary to help him make his decision about Magnus, but he doesn't explain to Jace what's actually going on. I hate that he doesn't own up to Jace and tell him the whole thing. We don't get parabatai moments between them often, and I wish that we had more of them because I'm pretty lukewarm about their relationship. We see so little of it compared to their relationships with other people. It would have been nice to see Alec completely open up to Jace there, and it's sad that he didn't. I'm not sure why both the books and TV show have such a big problem portraying their relationship. We're constantly told things about how close parabatai are without ever getting to really see it between Jace and Alec except in rare moments that don't match with the rest of the story.

Clary also snaps at Isabelle about Jonathan being a victim, and it's Jace who has to snap her out of it. Clary and Isabelle have a more parabatai-like relationship than Jace and Alec throughout the show despite not actually being parabatai, so I hate seeing a moment like that between them. It would have been nice if more people than just Jace could snap her out of it. Like I mentioned before, it's not healthy to only rely on one person, and Isabelle would have been a great candidate for someone else who could have gotten through to her.

Maryse opens up to Magnus about her feelings for Luke, and it honestly seems like she's more open with Magnus than Alec is with Jace. (Yes, I really did get caught up in how poorly executed Jace and Alec's relationship is while watching this episode.) Then Magnus follows it up with being honest with her about his drunken break down in front of Alec. I love seeing that between Maryse and Magnus, but this time around, it made me more frustrated with Alec and Jace.

To make matters worse, Alec does end up opening to Isabelle and telling her everything. I'm so torn about this scene! I love love love Alec and Isabelle's relationship, and I really appreciate seeing them share a moment like this. But why can't he open up to his parabatai the same way!? We get told that being parabatai are supposed to be a strong relationship repeatedly, but we only ever see Alec or Jace react strongly when the other one is about to die. The rest of the time, it's just not there, and this would have been the perfect opportunity to show us more!

We get another glimpse of the Seelie Court. The Seelie Queen wants to kill Jonathan and doesn't care that it will also kill Clary in the process. It's not surprising that she would stab him in the back like that. It's a good illustration of why trusting the Seelie Queen is never a good idea.

Becky gets saved from a demon by Isabelle and Alec, so Becky gets to see Simon and Izzy flirt with each other. I love the moment when she bugs him about it. It's such great sibling content that we didn't get much of in Becky's other appearances.

At the end of the episode, the rune gets to Clary, and she knocks Jace out to go save Jonathan. I expected this the first time I saw the episode because of the promos we'd gotten before it aired. It's definitely dramatic though sad to see at the same time. That's especially true when she still interacts with Jace like everything is normal. It's frightening to think that someone you love so much could be lying like that. It's true that Jace did it too when he was the Owl, but in that case, he didn't remember it when interacting with Clary. Clary isn't herself either, but it's also a lot different.

Simon and Isabelle wind up alone together at the Institute, and Becky's words have made Simon awkward. Simon finally makes a move and almost kisses Isabelle, which I've been waiting for since the start of the series! They're interrupted when a Seelie breaks into the Institute to get to Jonathan. But it's progress!

There's definitely a lot of tension between the Seelies trying to kill Jonathan and Clary killing the Seelie to save Jonathan. It's an ominous way for the episode to end.

The only thing that tops it is when Alec breaks up with Magnus at the end of the episode. Honestly, I was tempted to just turn the episode off instead of watch this scene because it breaks my heart. Magnus had been so distraught with the idea that Alec couldn't love him without his magic, and then Alec goes and breaks up with him. I'm getting tears in my eyes just typing it out. It's a lot more painful than their first break up, which is saying something. It's so frustrating because it's so obviously a bad idea no matter how Magnus feels about losing his magic.

Alec says some really messed up things to Magnus, and even though he thinks he's doing it for the right reasons, I want to reach through the screen and shake him. I'm not looking forward to re-watching the following episodes where they're both heartbroken either.

The last scene of the episode is Asmodeus breaking free from Edom. As I mentioned above, I saw it coming, but it's definitely a great cliffhanger.

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