I've not stopped thinking about this episode all week, which shows just how much I enjoyed it and how much it affected me. This is a far cry from the show I struggled to get through in season 1. The acting is better, the writing is better, the pacing is better, basically, everything about Shadowhunters is better than it was when it began and I don't think it's getting enough credit right now.
I truly loved everything about this episode. But let me start with the story that captured my heart and wouldn't let it go: Magnus and Alec. Their story and journey in this episode moved me. The flashbacks gave incredible development to their relationship and proved that when you spend time on a couple and build a story around them that it can capture the audience's hearts. Getting to see them smiling and in love and happy during their first time and the morning after was so sweet and it's a side of them not previously explored because there's always so much drama taking place in their lives. Watching Magnus struggle with his decision regarding what to do about his relationship and what was best for his people was heartbreaking. The last scene between them when they said 'I love you' but Magnus ultimately chose to prioritize his leadership was beautifully soul-destroying. It was intimate and angsty and exactly what I need out of couples on television. It proves how in love they are and gives you something to root for, you're willing them to work it out and come back together stronger and happier. Don't give me love triangles and cheating, we as audiences are tired of that narrative. What we want are genuine relationship problems reflected in the narrative. It feels real even though it takes place in a fantasy world.
When it came to the rest of the episode, the other storylines were equally interesting and dramatic. As an audience, we're all screaming at our screens about Jonathan being right under everyone's noses while they try and find him. It was shocking to watch him manhandle someone as young and fragile as Max, it was frustrating to see him almost convince Izzy to leave Max's bedside, it was infuriating to watch him trick Jace into leaving the 'mirror' unguarded, but all of this is the mark of a fantastic villain. I can't even count how many times I exclaimed 'Fuck you, Jonathan!' during this episode. That's what makes it so satisfying when Clary is the one to figure out that Jonathan is posing as Sebastian, her confrontation with him was brilliantly done. The way she stabbed him without a second thought, the way he grabbed her and said in the creepiest voice "I wanted you.", the way she exploded through the doors to escape him and grabbed the mirror in the process. Clary was a badass. And that's a side of her I want to see more and more of. They made us believe that it would be Jace who could take on Jonathan because they were both brought up by Valentine, but Clary's need to avenge Elliot, Dot and Max was so important for her to do, especially after she thought Jonathan could be saved not too long ago. Her allegiance is firmly placed with the family she's chosen, not her blood.
I know Max was killed in the books but I respect the show for not going down that road (at least for now). I think with all that's going on, there isn't time for the characters to grieve something so monumental as Max dying. By having him at death's door the characters suffered the pain of wondering what would happen to him but it also led them to the reveal of Jonathan. In my opinion, the show has so far made good choices in which characters to leave and which to keep. Killing off Jocelyn was good for Clary, and even Alec's development, and was necessary because Jonathan probably wouldn't have been able to keep his identity a secret if she was still around. Max's death would've been a turning point for certain characters but it subverts what the audience expects to happen, especially with all the foreshadowing we were given from Izzy about something bad happening to him.
I'm so excited for the last two episodes of the season and I'm genuinely dreading it going on hiatus because although I only got into the show this summer, it has quickly become a new obsession for me. I hope the higher standard they've climbed to is kept up, not every episode can be amazing but the show has proven it has to ability to create some really amazing content. And it's really won me over.