Episode Review: Shadowhunters – Dead Man’s Party

Scott McMullon

Lover of literature, film and music living in Essex (no jokes please!). 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars' - Oscar Wilde

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Oh dear Shadowhunters, I want to like you, but why must you make it so hard? One week on and you’re repeating the same mistakes that made you stumble in episode one.

As the story continues it looks like we’re back where we started and no better for a somewhat confusing sidestep in the story. If this up-and-down experience is what we can come to expect from now on then I may need to call time on the series as a whole.

Following on from last week we get to meet some of the wider cast of supernatural creatures which populate Shadowhunters’ vision of New York. Part-angels and vampires take the foreground, as Clary’s best friend Simon has been abducted by the night walkers and the shadowhunters now need to pull together and save him.

As Clary learns her craft, how to use the special shadowhunter runes and weapons, Alec finds himself in conflict with Jace, putting the adopted brothers in a precarious position. As for Simon, his first real run-in with the dangerous side of the supernatural leaves him caught in the middle between two worlds once more, in a move which will have consequences that reach far beyond this episode.

Starting with the good points, I have to admit that some of the dialogue from the main cast are getting a little easier to bear. That said I’m still not sure if that’s down to the cast getting better or because my ability to suffer these actors is getting stronger. Still, this is only a mild improvement, as the wider cast proves to be full of one-note characters in the extreme.

The wider supernatural community was something I was curious to see, but the vampires and seelies only came across as obnoxious and paper thin in their characterisations. Once again, I’m wondering if these actors are being hired for any discernible talent other than looking good in the somewhat impractical fashions the show is becoming famous for.

An element I praised last week was how the special effects were surprisingly good, given the show’s budget. However, this week they seem to have dropped in quality. There were at least a couple of instances where swords which apparently killed monsters didn’t appear to connect, which completely broke immersion and left me wondering why no one picked this up in post-production.

It seemed particularly sloppy when you consider how tight a series like this needs to be in order to keep fans from complaining. Indeed some fans of the books might be spitting teeth by seeing their favourite characters handled so poorly.

Looking at the overall development of the wider story arc, I was left wanting by what I saw. Episodes one and two complemented each other very well, but with this instalment the entire saga was sidelined, making this feel like more of a self-contained story. This in itself isn’t a bad call, since it helps to break up the series, but the episode was left without any resolution and as a result felt generally out of place with the overall narrative.

The goal as prescribed so far was to find the mortal cup and save Clary’s mother, and yet these aspects don’t get much of a look-in this week, making it feel disconnected. This means next week episode needs to really push the story or it will get lost in the overall minutiae of the world it is trying to create.

Three episodes in and the writing may not be on the wall, but there is someone with a can of spray paint getting ready. This episode not only stumbled but face-planted with some very disappointing new characters and a story that seemingly had no connection with the overall arc.

There isn’t quite enough to write the series off completely though so hopefully we will see some improvement before Shadowhunters finishes digging its own grave.

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