Shadowhunters is back for its second season on Freeform and the premiere episode, ‘This Guilty Blood’, had a few hits, but mostly misses.
The first episode picks up right where it left off as Jace leaves with Valentine to protect his friends. Clary seems to have acclimated quite well to discovering the guy she shared passionate kisses with is actually her brother. On the other hand, Jace appears a little more confused, which seems like the more appropriate response.
Changes to the show are immediately noticeable in the first scene with Jace and Valentine fighting. If the blades they used in this scene are seraph blades, they have changed both visually and in sound, as they sound more like swords rather than lightsabers. These small, but necessary, changes can be accredited to the new showrunners, Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin. The overall feel and appearance of the show has changed immensely. The visual effects gets a big thumbs up as the portals have turned from an awful glittery purple haze into more of a walk-through whirlpool.
While these can be chalked up as the positives, there are some new negatives. Only fifteen minutes into the show, it becomes quite jarring with a continual back and forth between character close-ups. Not only this, but the director has attempted to make the settings feel more realistic by using wider angle and panning shots, with many of them feeling quite unnecessary and awkward. The sets have been expanded so this can be done, but one thing that remains frustrating is how some sets still look fake, such as the rooms in the Institute.
The episode plot and dialogue still feel off. The scene where Clary and Jocelyn reunite lacks chemistry, although Jocelyn does come across as overprotective just like her book counterpart. This scene is a clear example of the issues with the plot as Jocelyn replies with ‘that’s impossible’ which then cuts to a new scene with different characters, and then back to Jocelyn and Clary again. The scene in between provided no substance to the conversation and these disruptive or abruptly ending scenes appear to happen quite often in the show.
It was great to see more intense fight scenes, although the camera work could have been a little better. The training scene between Isabelle and Clary was fun to watch, especially when you think about how duration of the show is only over a few weeks and Clary really hasn’t had that much training. But alas, during the fight sequences, the music becomes a little too overbearing, especially in the last fight sequence with Jace and the vampires.
The vampires! We have more realistic vampires! The slow-mo effect added to the killing of each vampire wasn’t necessary as it wasn’t a fight sequence which will leave you in awe (think Arrow and The Flash). Simon has had a few tweaks to his character which will be exciting to see as he grows (or doesn’t) as a vampire. Simon is definitely the character who provides the comedic relief, but sometimes it just feels like he is there to fill in the blanks to get another character from point A to B.
The same can be said for Magnus with his witty remarks, or even when the show needs a bit ‘oomph’ they can just throw in a shirtless scene where he is doing tai chi magic on the balcony. It seems like Magnus and Alec’s growing relationship will be a big part of the season as Alec is struggling coming to terms with kissing Magnus.
Honourable mention to Nick Sagar on his character, Victor Aldertree. His acting and lines felt genuine and not forced, the same can be said for Alan Van Sprang, the master of evil and manipulative characters.
Dishonourable mention to the following: the bizarre memory sharing rune, which felt a little extreme, and it’s time for the shapeshifting rune to disappear as it feels odd that it can be used and Shadowhunters not see through it like a glamour. Also, 3D maps, luscious wigs and unrealistic night backdrops.
Bonus points for a proper title sequence instead of the five second clip in season one.
Shadowhunters will be back after its dramatic and surprising ending on January 9th with ‘A Door Into the Dark’.