Hail and Farewell: Shadowhunters Series Finale Recap

10:58 PM

Freeform gave one of its most beloved shows the axe last year. Tonight, we embark on the final hunt. It's fitting that it's been raining constantly since the finale started. 'Cos your girl is an emotional wreck, too. I FEEL YOU, SKY. I FEEL YOU!

It feels like just yesterday the book community gathered around and awaited for the casting announcement for Shadowhunters. After the film failed to make a real impact at the box office, we all knew that the series would end up on screen elsewhere. Cassandra Clare's books have become something of an iconic world in the YA community--either you love it or you hate it. The same can be said about Freeform's loose adaptation of the series.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, we're at an unexpected endgame and it's time for the final hunt. Last week saw a lot of stories colliding from the book series and the television series. Magnus sacrificed himself for everyone after he and Alec were engaged; Jordan died, Jonathan and Clary's bond was finally separated, Simon and Izzy almost kissed, and that's barely scraping the surface.

Although it's bittersweet saying goodbye to this version of our beloved characters, at least we're getting a proper goodbye. It's more than so many other shows can say they had. And, frankly, it's nearly the length of what one movie would have been.

We are faced head on with several questions: where do we go from here and what happens next?

How do you fight for what you need? How do you move on from what you've done? How do you cope with the loss of someone you love? All of those heartfelt themes from the show and the books all come to a standstill as we watch these characters fulfill their destiny.  

No matter how hard, no matter the cost.

As Maia says, you can't be afraid

The tension is on: 

Magnus and Lilith have an incredibly tense conversation towards the beginning of the episode. It is, I'd say, the third scene of the episode, but it feels like the real beginning of the end. Shadowhunters is nothing if not consistently good at creating a tense atmosphere and this opening felt right for the final hunt. 

Elsewhere, Jonathan and the Seelie Queen are having just as much of intense exchange. I didn't care much about this little scene, but, it still serves a bit of something extra to the plot. Plus, seeing Jonathan's black eyes and wings is always a good place to start.

Later down the line, the gang makes their trip to Edom to save Magnus and now Isabelle. In order to do this, the team has to expand by a few players to make up for the loss of Magnus and Isabelle. Meliorn and Lorenzo join the others in traveling to Edom.

Things go array when the group gets separated: Simon and Clary, Jace and Meliorn, Lorenzo and Alec. The scenes in Edom are very fast paced and full of action and tension. It is classic Shadowhunters and it does well in keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.

Of the more shocking plotlines, two things happen amongst our favourite wolves. One, Maia Roberts declares her intentions in finding her parents. Two, the Praetor turns Luke into who he was before: he is now back to being a Shadowhunter.

All of the tension brings us back to where we started, in so many ways. It opens the door to a whole new battle--the final one. And it's an emotional journey, to say the least.

Project endgame: 

While Alec tries to find a way to save Magnus, Simon and Isabelle finally get their shit together. Only for it to go up in flames. Literally. It gives us an opening for Helen to drop in and help Isabelle by giving her the answers. And it serves us up a hefty dish of Sizzy angst that literally nobody asked for but, hey, what can you do?

Everything happening is just incentive for these characters to fight for each other and their futures.

If there's one thing Shadowhunters is keen on portraying, it's the heart of the lead characters and the fact that they'd likely do anything for each other. Anything.

Love is in the air:


In our second half of the episode, we're treated to a very Pretty Little Liars scene where all the couples are either getting it on or laying in bed.


Literally, bed shots all around! Including the Seelie Queen and Jonathan all cozied up and post-coital, before one of the best lines of the evening comes about. Hint: it's about mercy.

Here's what you need to know about the relationships throughout the series finale. Simon and Isabelle vow to do better with their relationship than they'd done in the past with others. Magnus and Alec are planning their wedding. Clary and Jace have brief moments of peace, some pep talks, and in the end they suffer at the hands of fate.

While Sizzy and Malec fans will have plenty to celebrate in the finale, Clace fans are left feeling a kick in the gut. And we end where we begin. We know that Clary has always believed in Jace, even when he doesn't believe in himself, and the same can be said about him to her. Their endgame, that final scene of the episode, is crucial.

It's all about seeing and believing. It's a cliffhanger, without being one. It's open to interpretation.

Still, I can't help but feel like it was a sloppy end to an otherwise thoughtful series.

Book ties and pilot throwbacks: 

Continuing in true Shadowhunters style, there are several nods to the six books of The Mortal Instruments series.

Including Clary's alliance rune, which binds Shadowhunters and Downworlder's together temporarily to play on each other's strengths. The trip to Edom comes with many changes but at its core, it still feels very undeniably like the world we know--it's changed, it's an AU to the books.

There were a lot of throwbacks to the first handful of episodes but especially the pilot. When Clary and Simon are in Edom, they talk about whether or not they would go back to how things used to be.

Seeing Jonathan destroy something in nature--plants and people--reminds us how lethal he is. I highly doubt that anyone forgot that but it adds an extra element of fear into the plots. Watching him interact with the Seelie Queen, too, gives viewers the ultimate chill. It's deeply effective. He went from mildly intimidating and prone to causing everyone's skin to crawl, to straight up horrifying.

Finally, the biggest callback to the books is in the loss of memories. This plotline is given to Clary this time, instead of Simon. 

Friendship and family never really die: 

We see time and time again that the bonds formed amongst these characters are special in their own right. In fact, you can't really begin to fathom the lengths that they'd go to to save each other. I think that, ultimately, this final episode--and the final book in The Mortal Instruments--is a reminder of that. Isabelle going to Edom by herself, at great risk to her own being. The other's soon following because Magnus and Isabelle are in trouble.

When someone says that these characters would do anything for each other? They mean it. Everything about their connections are special. No matter the form, they've left their mark on me.

The plotlines in Shadowhunters varies and differs from the novels but that determination and love? That will never change.


What I liked: 

  • The callbacks to the pilot, past episodes in general, and the books. It was a clusterfuck of ties but it was still fun to see/hear. Even in its weaker, or more rushed, moments, I'm a sucker for little nods. 
  • Magnus and Alec's wedding. The wedding itself. The lead-in to it. The guest list. Everything. It was everything us #MALEC shippers wanted and frankly, and most importantly of all, it was what they deserved. Also, their reunion in Edom?? I'M SOFT.
  • Clary and Isabelle asking each other to become parabatai, a drastic change from the books but one that fits quite well with the path the show has taken. Honestly, it just added a little sweet and fluffy moment to the series finale and was a nice contrast to all hell breaking loose. Also, I was swooning because it was like a marriage proposal up in here. Give me all the emotions, ladies! Yas!
  • Jocelyn's spirit returns to tell Clary she can no longer create her own runes. I didn't look at any spoilers of who was on set for the finale so this was a surprise to me but I'm glad they worked Jocelyn into the plotline. Still, I can't help but think it was a massive mistake for them to have killed her off back in season two.
  • Simon and Isabelle's relationship and development. Their promise to each other. How well they fit. The way everyone reacts to it. Jace admitting Simon's a good guy. Clary grinning like an overly hyper kid. I LOVE THEM. I loved their first kiss, despite the angst that followed. I loved seeing them be able to walk away from the angst and be in a really good place. And their endgame? Beautiful.
  • Alec touching his ring, and thinking of Magnus, to stop himself from losing control in Edom. 
  • The team-ups. SO MANY and honestly? Too many to list. Let's just say that they really came through, though, and proved how strong this family really is. Shout outs to Meliorn and Lorenzo for all they did, too.  
  • Underhill and Lorenzo meeting. I like the hints of that romance! It's what they deserve! I'm soft! Honestly, I haven't always been Lorenzo's biggest fan (I love Javier Muñoz/he is one of my favourite Broadway actors and seeing him on Shadowhunters made my heart grow about 100x in size!) but he really came through tonight. We definitely saw a side of Lorenzo we hadn't before and I'm so sad that we didn't get more of his character.
  • Helen and Aline's conversation at Malec's wedding. I wish we'd had more time with them. And more of the Blackthorns. But, I'm glad we got even little glimpses of them at the end of the day. Give them a spinoff, you cowards! 
  • MADZIE! 
  • Max not dying! Raphael not dying! I'm here for these two NOT DYING. I repeat: THEY AREN'T DEAD. 
  • Raphael getting a happy ending. I love this song.
  • Maryse and Luke. I really thought we'd get at least a scene of them together again. We mostly just got them in a tell not show way. We know they're together and happy and that's all that matters. But, I will say I loved the scene where she tells the kids and they're all just like... oh, right, ah, we knew this already? And she was surprised. What a cutie. Still my favourite character development on the show.
  • Simon and Maia still having a really wonderful friendship. I shipped them romantically. Then again, I ship a lot of people with Simon. Which is weird since he's not my favourite? It's just.. HE IS SO SHIPPABLE, OKAY? Also, we got some of Jace and Simon's friendship. A training scene between the two. It felt special. 
  • Jonathan's lack of humanity. This episode? This was his episode. This was what I'd been waiting for when it came to him as a character. Terrifying. Purely terrifying. 
  • Clary's compassion being front and center. This is what makes her... her. I found it unsettling that it was also her downfall when it came to the big twist at the end of the episode. Her compassion has saved so many, but it doesn't save her memories. I hated it. But, seeing the compassion so present as always? Wonderful. 
  • Jem. Carstairs. Officiating. Magnus. And. Alec's. Wedding. That's it. 
  • I lied, that's not it: MARYSE WALKING MAGNUS DOWN THE AISLE. I'm crying. 
  • Most of the time jump. Here's what I liked: Alec being Inquisitor. Him and Magnus living in Alicante and helping the relationships between the Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Maia opening her restaurant to all Downworlders and making sure there is something for everyone there. Everyone. Simon finishing the graphic novel that he and Clary had been plotting for years. Isabelle running the institute and being domestic with Simon. 
  • Clary's hair in the flash forward.
What I didn't like: 

  • Complete lack of Maia Roberts. SHE'S A MAIN CHARACTER. And they literally played her so dirty in the finale. The final chunk of the season, really. Couldn't we have been given more than two scenes with her in them? I MEAN, we could have seen her go visit/look for her parents. We could have seen her adjust to being alpha and owning the Jade Wolf. We could have seen her relationship with Bat. ANYTHING. We could have had it all.
  • Jonathan's death not being as poignant and bittersweet as the novels. It still stung but I really loved the build up to it in the books and seeing that tiny glimpse of the boy who he could have been, had Valentine not experimented on him. 
  • Clary taking Simon's place in terms of the memory loss plotline. Um. The way it ended was one of the callbacks to the pilot and it was bittersweet. But, it still felt like there were way too many loose ends with that. At least when Simon lost his memories in the books, we saw ALL of them (or almost all of them) actively trying to find a loophole to get his memories back and got a little more closure. In the case of Shadowhunters, it felt sloppy and utterly pointless. You really expect me to believe that Luke, Simon, Magnus and Isabelle in particular wouldn't be fighting tooth and nail in not only keeping an eye on her but finding a way to get her memories back? I don't know what they were thinking with that mess but here we are. 
  • Still not wild about the way they've incorporated Heavenly Fire into things. It felt a bit choppy. On one hand, it showed us just how far these guys would go to save one another. On the other hand, Isabelle's plotline involving the Heavenly Fire stuff is just... not it. 
  • Simon not becoming human again. Luke becoming a Shadowhunter again. I just--I don't know? Luke's plotline didn't necessarily feel wrong but Simon's lack of this plotline felt horribly wrong.  
  • Lydia Branwell not getting a final scene on the show. I know it's entirely because of schedule conflicts. Still, her absence was missed at Alec and Magnus' wedding. It would have been nice to see her one last time.
That being said, it was a solid enough ending. Definitely better than the way some of my favourite series have ended in the past (I'm looking at you, The X-Files, How I Met Your Mother and True Blood) and pretty decent at capturing a lot of the energy of the books, but still not exactly how it should have--or deserved to--end. Cheers for that, Freeform.

I have mixed feelings on the final scene. Mainly because I think it was a seriously dumb decision to not have Simon and Isabelle and Luke right there with Jace, looking on and after Clary. However, I do think it's a bit poetic that the series ends with her seeing Jace--really seeing him, and giving us an impression of hope in her gaining her memories back.

Even if we'll never get to see it, it's comforting. 

I will give the cast and crew props for adapting such a massive book (City of Heavenly Fire) and giving it their all to condense an entire seasons worth of plotlines into two and a half hours. Any of the loose ends or sloppiness wasn't really on them, it was on time constrictions and Freeform's inability to allow them time to create all the closure necessary to Shadowhunters' mythology.

This truly was an episode of gut wrenching actions and sacrifices, to heartfelt connections. The show will be missed. It's not quite hit me that I've just written my last recap for the series. When it does, I am going to need someone to mix me a drink or seven.

Time to adjust to a post-Shadowhunters world. In the great and wise words of Jace Herondale, I leave you with this: boop, boop.


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