Netflix UK TV review: Shadowhunters (Episode 3)
Nathanael Smith | On 27, Jan 2016
Already seen Episode 3? Read on at the bottom for spoilers.
Sex! Drama! Violence! Terrible dialogue! Episode 3 of Shadowhunters has got it all, although “it all” isn’t necessarily a great thing. The sheer, youthful beauty of the show’s cast has now become impossible to ignore, the sexual tension stretched tighter than one of Isabelle’s outfits. One scene, where Jace (Dominic Sherwood) shows Clary (Katherine McNamara) how to use her shiny angel-weapon, is so charged with unspoken lust that the thrill comes simply from watching two ludicrously hot people up close to one another. Sure, the words coming out of their mouths don’t sound at all like anything anyone says, but that’s fine, you can just watch.
Elsewhere, the nubile cast sleep around for the sake of some crucial information and are entranced into making out with sexy vampires, while random extras in the background are kissing for no reason.
Alec likes Jace likes Katherine who is friend-zoning Simon who has just had a heavy necking session with a stranger. Such romantic entanglements are par for the course with YA literature, although with Shadowhunters it’s less a love triangle, more a spider’s web of emotions. Only, the issue here is that the writing is so terrible that enjoyment never proceeds beyond the most basic level.
A couple of good jokes (Abracadabra!) are undermined by their delivery, while you can see the actors visibly wince delivering some lines (“You’ve never been in love”). Although this episode has a bit of fighting and the worst motorbike theft you’ve ever seen on screen, the meat of the drama in Dead Man’s Party lies in the hormonal anxieties of the characters. This translates to a lot of glowering looks, ultimately testing your tolerance of smoulder. But hey, everyone looks great.
The angels vs demons plot, meanwhile, shows no signs of letting up; it’s still moving too fast for the audience to actually enjoy it. This week, we follow their group mission to rescue Simon, who has been trapped by yet another group of sexy-but-dangerous individuals who inhabit the shadow world. Before they do that, however, Clary has to persuade everyone that Simon is worth saving, while Jace has to teach her the rudiments of being a shadowhunter. Unfortunately, that teaching translates to even more exposition. New characters and races are introduced at an impossible pace; if we’d found out about fairies halfway through Season 2, they’d be a much more interesting prospect, but this is only the third episode and it’s all a little overwhelming.
There remain, just about, some sparks of interest in the story. The friendship between Jace and Alec gets taken to another level in this episode, with some sort of bro-pact that one of them takes more seriously than the other. Densely detailed fantasy combined with romantic angst is actually a potent combination, even if other high-profile franchises have given it a bad name, so the possibility remains that this will become fun. Yet this is the third episode in a row that suffers from bad CGI, worse dialogue and a surplus of set-up over drama. Casual viewers who were still with the show will start tuning out, and it’s hard to blame them. This is not much fun at all.
New episodes of Shadowhunters Season 2 arrive every Tuesday exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. Episode 1 premieres on 3rd January 2017, with Season 1 already available.
Additional notes (contains spoilers)
– So Simon might have turned into a vampire, jeopardising the special bond that he shares with Clary and almost certainly turning the shadowhunters against him. However, the trailer indicated as much, making the episode’s pulse-throbbing conclusion feel as dramatically underwhelimg as the rest of the show.