Shadowhunters S2E1, Review – This Guilty Blood

Season two starts right where season one left off, throwing us right into the action of Valentine’s public return. From the beginning, nothing is as it seems, everyone has their own agenda, and Jace is now public enemy number one.

Jace is going to have a rough season if this opening scene is any indication of what’s to come. He’s tricked into showing his true loyalties and fails spectacularly. He is immediately tied up and enjoys a grand beating by a few in Valentine’s army for his failure; it’s the start of his conditioning. This man is nasty, manipulative and will make quick work of the emotionally vulnerable Jace. After the beating, Valentine treats Jace to a nice home cooked meal, even offers to answer any questions Jace has. You can see how vulnerable the guy is; his questions mostly consist of being left as an orphan, being alone, and wanting a dad.

Valentine’s setup is working perfectly, playing the family card as he points out how special and different Jace is. After all, he injected pure demon blood in Jocelyn’s womb while she was pregnant with Jace, an experiment that is coming to fruition. Only Valentine understands how extraordinary he is, as Jocelyn abandoned him, too.

Seeing Jace give into his need of wanting a blood family at the cost of his friends is depressing. Which is why Clary, Isabelle, and Alec’s conviction to find him is so endearing. Around them, The Institute is in disarray by Jace’s apparent betrayal. Everyone is handling his kidnapping in different ways; Alec is taking it the hardest, lashing out at everyone who offers to help. Even Magnus’s patience runs thin by his tantrum.

The trio quickly becomes shaken by the new head of The Institute, Victor Aldertree, as he turns things upside down fairly quickly. He declares Jace is a wanted man for aiding Valentine, Downworlders are not allowed at The Institute, and to top it off Clary, Isabelle and Alec cannot leave– nor can they aid in Jace’s retrieval. One would think Jocelyn and Luke would take a stand, but they actually go along with the rules by separating and ensuring the three stay at The Institute. I suspect it’s due to their previous involvement with Valentine– they know how strong he is and either suspect Jace has already switched sides, or will soon.

While relationships fall into disarray, Simon is left off to the side with no home to go to, or friends to rely on. He seems to take it in stride, focusing on his complicated feelings for Clary rather than the more pressing issue: he has no idea how to be a vampire! The focus is on Jace, not on him. It’s nice of Luke to offer the Jade Wolf as a roof over his head, but it’s apparent the pack does not feel the same way and he’s kicked out to the boathouse to contemplate where he falls in all of this.

I love Isabelle and Clary’s relationship as the two semi-level headed girls who get things done. Isabelle’s personality is strong enough to support both of them with enough sense to play the game at hand. Without her encouragement, Clary may not have taken the initiative to sneak out of The Institute to look for Jace. After all, Jace is Isabelle’s brother too, and Alec isn’t exactly competently.

Even so, Alec’s development has come a long way from when we first met him. His lengthy, humble apology to Magnus is enough to make the Warlock soften up and offer his help. With one reminder to Alec: when things get crazy don’t push him away. I was worried Alec’s outbursts would be enough to sever Magnus’ involvement with him, but it’s clear he’s willing to put work into them and accept Alec’s faults. Magnus understands Alec’s drive to find his Parabatai and what it might mean if The Institute finds him first.

The search for Jace is on! Clary has his glove and hopes with Luke and Simon’s help they will help her focus and locate where Jace might be. When Jocelyn shows up to help, it seems as if nothing can stop her! That is until Jocelyn takes Clary’s phone and Stele and locks her inside the boathouse with Simon. Is Jocelyn being an incredibly protective mother, or is she up to something we just can’t see yet? Luckily for Clary, Simon’s pathetic attempt to use his strength to break the door off works at possibly the worst time; just when he is about to confess his feelings for Clary. Simon’s going to play second fiddle to Jace, at least until they “rescue” him.

Jace and Valentine eventually make it to land, alerting just about everyone looking for them. Instead of running from Valentine, Jace runs inside the pizzeria they stopped at, a now vampire den with echoes of mundanes in trouble. It’s a feeding frenzy, one Jace barely makes it out of alive. Why he’s brought there isn’t clear until the apparent leader, Maria, is in front of him with his stake ready to drive through her heart. Yet, just like that, she gives herself up, citing her rights in The Accords. It prevents Jace from killing her, as justice must now be found in a judicial way. Both Valentine and Maria goad Jace on until he goes through with it, killing Maria and successfully breaking The Accords.

As Clary and Simon turn the corner to catch the attack, Jocelyn is there as well and shoots off her arrow aimed at Jace. Valentine takes the arrow for him, and instead of running for it, Jace helps him through the portal to return to their home base.

Talk about a cliffhanger! Despite Jace’s continuous efforts to attack Valentine when the time came to kill him, he helped him. Valentine’s conditioning seems to have gone smoothly as Jace didn’t hesitate. Then we have Jocelyn, who knows Jace is her long lost son, Jonathan. Why did she shoot him?! This episode ran full speed ahead, leaving little room to explore relationships when finding Jace is priority number one. I hope Clary keeps her faith and believes the good in Jace. Why so few believe in Jace’s loyalties is beyond me. Valentine has been so good at manipulating everyone around him for years, an emotional person like Jace is an easy target.

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