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‘Shadowhunters’ Recap: Major Arcana

For all the pacing problems
that plagued Shadowhunters early on,
the show has sure figured out how to
run with viewers now. Episode
seven, “Major
Arcana” sprints through three major plotlines (and a half-
dozen minor ones) in
an hour, all
of which focus heavily on family. Izzy takes dramatic action to
protect Alec
from their parents, Clary pulls
out one of the best plans yet to
retrieve the Mortal Cup from her mother’s
hiding place, and Simon’s
continued
spiral off the deep end of sanity (& humanity) finally draws
the notice of
his mother and
sister. There’s yet to be an “intact” family depicted on the
show, and this
episode dives deep into the
wounds left when a family
breaks apart.

The highs: Alec and Izzy. The
relationship between
the
elder Lightwood siblings has always been very close, but Izzy’s willingness

to change everything about
herself to protect Alec’s chance at happiness is true
loyalty. She gave up
Melinore in last week’s episode.
This week, she’s swapping
her wild clothes for conservative dresses and
biting her tongue every time her

mother speaks. The Lightwood name comes with a cage of social pressure, and
Izzy
is taking Alec’s place
in it. It’s heart-breaking to watch, but it’s the most
poignant display of
loyalty the show has given viewers
yet.

Clary. She’s
still 100% intent on finding and rescuing her
mother from the clutches of

Valentine, and she’s no longer the shrinking violet of the first few
episodes.
Clary is growing into her
Shadowhunter role well under Jace’s tutelage, and she
definitely paid
attention to the “make the plan up as
you go” chapter. When Luke
is hauled into an Internal Affairs investigation
and the contents of his desk

are seized, Clary takes matters into her own hands. (Literally so, as

Jace rather painfully learns.) She
not only finds where the Mortal Cup
is hidden, she figures out how to
retrieve it, and then proceeds to
rescue
herself from demon-infested steam tunnels. If it wasn’t for the fact
that she’s
being a fairly
terrible friend to Simon right now, Clary would be having the
best week of
all.

The lows: Simon. It’s
rare to see everyone’s
favorite almost-vampire in the bottom, but this
episode didn’t do him
justice. His
hallucinations are becoming more frequent and more
powerful, throwing his
personal life into even more chaos.
The decision to
show his hallucinations as first-person had the potential to
let viewers relate
to his
confusion, but it’s done with a rather heavy hand, and isn’t consistent

across the episode. Instead of
feeling like they’re in on his struggle, viewers
are left with questions of
their own. The family
intervention scene is a much-
needed redemption, and Simon’s voicemail
confession to Clary is gut-wrenching.

Simon is simply better when viewers are allowed to watch his awkwardness
play
out from outside his point
of view.

Family means a lot of different
things in the Shadowhunters
universe. For Jace, it’s the
Lightwoods who took him
in when he was a 10 year old orphan. For Clary, it’s
her mom and Luke. For Alec

and Izzy, it’s each other more than their parents. And for Simon, it’s Clary
and
her family more than his
own blood relatives. Family may be from blood or from
choice, but it’s the
dedication to each other that
makes it all real. These
definitions of family are only going to get murkier
as the plot continues, and

the characters are undoubtedly going to have to make some very hard
decisions.
But for now, everyone is
acting out of loyalty to their families this week. As a
result, viewers are
given some of the most real looks
into the characters of the
series so far.

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Katie Anderson

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Katie Anderson is good with the term nerd. When not running disability services for FanFest events, she lives in Atlanta, GA and plays a lot of video games. Her work has most recently appeared in Forbidden Future: A Time Travel Anthology. If you'd rather read more but in a shorter format, her Twitter handle is @kdidd.