Shadowhunters: season 1 recap (part 1) // Adaptation Reviews

Hey hey!

I’ve wanted to talk about this TV show for such a long time, but it never felt right until now. If you don’t know, season 2 of the Shadowhunters AKA Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments TV show is airing pretty soon, so I thought I might give you a delightful recap on its first season, and a collection of the fabulous thoughts that circulate in yours truly; my brain.

If you love the TV show and can’t stand anything negative about it, it might be a good idea for you to not read this post. I’m not a proper TV show reviewer so these are just my honest thoughts and feelings on the show. I was very excited when the book series was given another opportunity to be adapted and I really want it to work.

WARNING: this post will contain spoilers of season 1 of the show and The Mortal Instruments (book) series by Cassandra Clare which I recommend you read if you have not.

Episode 1: dropping hints like a bomb & the sight

Can this even be called foreshadowing anymore?

“This day will go down in history as the greatest 18th birthday I ever had”

“How can someone as smart and perspective as you not realise that the person right there is in love with you?”

“I’m turning 18, It’s not like I’m headed off on some epic journey”

“My life couldn’t be more [extended pause in search of the most appropriate word] mundane”

“My mother is incapable of concealing anything from me”

Need I continue?

Image result for i'm dropping hints
This is it. This is the episode.

Foreshadowing privileges are to be removed effective immediately.

Also what is this new plot of demons draining mundane blood. I feel this is going to make things way to complicated and although I’m usually a YAY for murder mysteries, all I can think is; not in the book, not in the book.

Yes I was one of the people bothered by all the modern tech in the institute and the fact that it was pretty crowded (with adults) in comparison to the institute in the books. Although that does make it more realistic, why is it the kids that are in charge of missions and giving the orders?

I don’t know if it’s because this is the pilot, but the dialogue feels forced like they’re reading the script rather than playing the characters. Some of the delivery of the lines feel awkward. Is it just me or did the way they say mundane sound so strange?

Just not feeling it yet. A lot of the time I was questioning the purpose of the lines spoken, like how did that contribute to the plot, build character or worldbuild – cheesy, unnecessary lines that made me squirm.

Alberto Rosande is an amazing Simon – looks the part, acts the part. And Alan Van Sprang saves the day. I honestly don’t care that he doesn’t “look the part” because he’s an awesome Valentine with that balance of charism and evil madness.

Jace lines are currently not my favourite and he’s also way too interested in protecting Clary. Way too affectionate.

Clary’s hair did bother me. I’m sorry and I know it’s a tiny thing that could be easily changed but that colour… I can’t concentrate.

I liked the relationship between Simon and Clary and they felt like best friends. Loved it!

The Circle members though:

Image result for men in black

I see no difference.

Let’s talk about the runes. I don’t really like the red, burnt look of them. Also the way they’re used are very strange. They actually need to be “activated” and then they’re turned off. Hmmm… that might be something that will take sometime getting used to.

It had a pretty awesome intro though.

Despite all my problems with it, it’s nice to see the books come to life again. It felt rushed and I feel many new viewers who haven’t read the books would be very confused. It was an entertaining episode but we need more worldbuilding. I’m going to leave you with this.

I would love someone to caption this.

Episode 2: the shadow world or the filming world?

What are all these unnecessary changes? I don’t understand why they want to separate this adaptation so far from the book series. Every detail, every quote. If it works then go with it. Why does everyone want the Mortal Cup? I’m very confused and I feel as though I’m missing something.

These lines are so melodramatic and the cheese is still there.

The look of Hodge is completely messing me up.

I honestly don’t think the actors fully understand their characters – I’m not really liking these new personalities. Also why is everyone so nice to Clary and considerate of her feelings? There’s this whole “we’re all in this together” attitude. I’m not a fan of the filming and editing – it’s very choppy and confusing.

All the relationships are progressing too fast. All my ships are moving way too fast.

Let’s talk about the the Silent City AKA the City of Bones. This was one of my anticipated scenes… and I was disappointed. It looked like a set and really fake. The silent brother weren’t that great either. I’m glad they got the details in – the runes and stitches etc. but they look like prosthetics.

Episode 3: intense staring & terrible representation

I want to go back to talking about the institute because honestly everyone in there are props. Literally no one (except the main cast) speaks.

Jace and Alec are acting so cold towards each other and feel nothing like parabatai right now. We got the classic “guy takes teaching opportunity to wrap arms around girl” for an intimate moment and basically a marquee flashing SHIP THIS. These scenes hardly ever work for me and this was no different. Jace teaches Clary how to use a seraph blade which she masters in a minute like it’s no biggie. Lots of flirtatious eye contact. Intense gazing. Basically the whole graveyard scene was full of awkward moments. Jace’s monologues are ~interesting~ and that dialogue man… not the finest in the show.

Also what is this new power that vampires have to freeze people in time? And what’s up with the sparkly poofing when vampires are killed?

This show is trying so so hard to be dark and mature. Introducing sexy times for everyone. I do have a major problem with the way that Izzy is represented and I feel that the show is missing the point. She is more than a sex object which is currently what she is being reduced to. She’s sexy, fierce, brave, confident, intelligent, attention-seeking. She has morals and will stand up for what she believes. I know we’re only 3 episodes in her personality is really being sidelined but she’s so much more.

Who is this new Clary that I’m watching? A mundane to shadowhunter transformation in half a scene. I will say this again and again until I feel like this isn’t true; EVERYTHING is too rushed! Since when did Clary strut? I mean it’s probably to have the cool shots and the obvious #squadgoals but there’s just something about this portrayal of Clary that doesn’t quite fit my interpretation of her. I can’t really pinpoint it.

Jace is so serious in this episode. He should become an inspirational speaker. Where’s his arrogance? Snark? Witty comebacks? I don’t like the whispering – it creep me out.

Simon is still killing it with his classic responses which are hilarious and entirely in character! We won’t talk about *that* scene with Camille because it was just weird and I was very confused. Again I feel sorry for those who don’t know the logistics of this world, and if you’re keeping up, good on you :D This was an uncomfortable episode.

Episode 4: angsty angst & MALEC

Okay so now some of the dialogue is just getting redundant:

Can you trust him? How can I trust you? You have to trust me. We can’t trust them.

Let me protect you. I can protect you. I will protect you. I need to protect you.

They’re really amping up this love triangle. Correction: love quartet (Maureen’s joining in on the fun). The angst and jealousy is super high.

I just can’t with this line…

Come at me bro.

Let me catch my breath.

Another line…

You’re so lucky to have such a flat chest. I can never wear that without a bra.

I mean yay for direct quotes from the book but make their usage appropriate in context.

This episode was slower than the previous ones and I kind of liked this pacing better for the most part.

Clary doesn’t feel fierce and stubborn like she is the books, she just feels whiny. There are parts where I’m like there, that’s the Clary I know, but she still feels out of character. I’m not sure whether the show is purposely going for different personalities of the main characters or has the wrong impression of these characters, but it just doesn’t feel right.

The Simon transforming into a vampire plotline is progressing way too fast. I sort of okay with it being there but please introduce subtlety in this show.

I understand Alec’s mistrust with Clary and his brooding character but Alec and Jace fight so much. Jace is literally walking all over him.Don’t just tell me that they’re parabatai – show me. The parabatai tracking rune scene was hilarious. Not in the best way but extremely amusing nonetheless.

Yeah, this whole parabatai thing seems oddly intimate, if you ask me.

Nailed it Clary.

Magnus isn’t very… Magnus in this episode. He’s supposed to be an all-powerful warlock and he’s letting Shadowhunters order him around, running away, being careless about his surroundings. I can’t see his wisdom and it doesn’t feel like him just yet.

Malec first meeting.

Yes this is extremely important. There was so much teasing and I’m flailing. I liked how they were small, quick interactions and I think it was done pretty well.

Memory demon scene.

This was super drawn out and dramatic. The hand joining and booming sound effects were cheesy enough. I know low budget and all but you’ve got to admit the greater demon really wasn’t impressive. A puff of smoke? Scary? Nope. Cheesy? Welcome to the dairy farm. And then we get to part 1 of my secondhand embarrassment: everyone needs to “relinquish a beloved memory of the one they love the most” and everything is all fine and dandy until we get to Alec. His memory is of Jace which is all good and stuff but then he speaks:

No, it’s not true!
The demon deceived me!

And he breaks the bond because of this little meltdown which releases the demon. I think. He would never do that in that situation. Compromise the mission and put everyone’s life in danger? He ain’t an idiot. All hell breaks loose (hehe) the demon grabs Jace who flails about for quite a bit (part 2 of my secondhand embarrassment). The greater demon probably should have killed them all by this time but Clary’s here to save the day. She single-handedly kills the GREATER DEMON with 1 poke of a seraph blade. Is that not ridiculous?

The ending scene with Clary and Valentine was a tad strange but I’m intrigued about the role Clary’s necklace is going to play in the future episodes. Who knows. This might be a change I’ll like.

On a completely irrelevant note, I kind of sad that we don’t get to see Clary with her style and the iconic converse shoes.

Episode 5: unnecessary nastiness & shipping Clalec

I’m not a fan of these speed up, slow-mo special effects with shadowhunters fighting. It doesn’t look cool and it feels as though the show is just placing these effects to cover up the fact they can’t fight. Besides those particular scenes, I’m liking the style of filming better. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that this episode is set in outside daylight in comparison to those real fake sets.

I think this episode did well in showing how messed up the Clave really is. Clary and Alec spend a fair time together in this episode and I’m really liking their chemistry. Also the Clary and Simon dynamic is still great in this episode. Simon really does have the best lines in this show and Alberto delivers them so Simon-like.

Simon’s vampire abilities are starting to manifest and hooray subtlety has been found in this show, but they went a bit overkill with the amount of hints they were giving.

Ugh, I still don’t understand why Jace and Alec are fighting so much and it’s kind of heartbreaking to see their relationship portrayed this way. As the episode progressed, I was getting more angry at the way Jace was treating Alec. In fact, Jace in general is getting on my nerves. He’s not even snarky. He’s being downright mean. In other news, the parabatai tracking is back and it’s still funny.

Apparently werewolves are also after the Mortal Cup now. Let’s talk about the look of these werewolves. I believe they can be improved – less fluffy and more menacing. The way they transform to and from werewolves is hilarious. It feels more like a magic trick rather than a change which doesn’t make it as intense and dramatic as it could be. The adults are so naive (to put it lightly) in this episode.

I actually enjoyed watching this episode. There was a nice mix of action, relationships and a sprinkle of political tension. I can see it coming together.

Episode 6: flashbacks & infodumps

Jace is unbelievably mean in this episode. His sarcastic lines are coming out so rude. Guilting Alec into helping and being so mean to Simon.

I’m not too sure how I feel about the younger versions of characters in the flashbacks.

I loved the introduction of Max in this episode and his interactions with his siblings. So bright and adorable. I’m very interested in the decision made with Max having blond hair whilst all the Lightwoods have dark hair. I’m sure the show didn’t equate dark with light, it seems like a deliberate decision, so now I have all these theories surrounding that decision. But at the same time, I’m so nervous that this is going to produce plot holes and it had better not be unnecessary.

Let’s talk about this Lightwood sacrifice to restore the family honour.

  • Isabelle wears conservative clothing
  • Alec is going to have an arranged marriage

constance wu



I’m really not understanding this plan. At all. I mean it sort of makes sense with the show Maryse who’s this army drill sergeant, but I see this plotline crashing and burning. Why does this show feel the need to change everything or rearrange everything so it can be different and original.

I’m still cringing at some of these Jace and Clary scenes, especially some of Jace’s lines. The show is desperately trying to move this romance forwards and it’s so over the top. There’s this moment after Luke’s life is saved where Jace strokes Clary’s face for a good 30 seconds and agh. This love triangle is being emphasised so much and I just can’t with those moments.

I actually liked Clary in this episode and I thought her cluelessness and vulnerability is really showing. We got some good Clary lines as well.

What is this show doing with all the ships. They’re moving too fast and it’s getting messy. Luke’s unrequited love with Jocelyn is so important for their characterisation and now:

South Park fire smoke crash burning bus

Overall, the episode felt much like infodump and although many explanations are due, I believe if there were continuous revelations through all the episodes thus far, there would be less of a spiel.

I know this seemed like a very ranty and negative post but I find it’s easier for me to pick up on the things I don’t like than pinpoint the good stuff. There is some good stuff among all my nitpicking. So far I feel that I’ve been laughing at the show rather than with it so it is entertaining in some sort of way. I want this to change. I feel I really enjoyed the book series and I just want the show to do it justice. I can see potential. I hope to have part 2 up soon and have an awesome day!


Emily x


What did you think of season 1 of Shadowhunters? Have you separated the book and adaptation in your mind or are you still hoping it’ll return to its roots? Favourite episode? Comment below!

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