Following a dark, emotional midseason finale, we’re getting back into the swing of things on Shadowhunters. Let’s recap Season 2 Episode 12, “You Are Not Your Own”!
As advertised, this episode focuses in on Magnus and Valentine having been body-swapped by Azazel. We have to be honest– We don’t love this device. While the episode does its best to raise the stakes, the one-episode body swap story feels like plot filler. Still, Alan Van Sprang does a pretty good “distressed Magnus Bane” impression in this opener.
After the open credits, we go to Clary and Simon naked in bed together. NO NO NO NO NO! We need them not to be this close and intimate, cementing this as Clary’s first major relationship. Not okay, people! However, the scene gives small hints at some dysfunction: Clary still hasn’t told Simon that Jace isn’t her brother, and Simon still hasn’t told Clary about his problems with Raphael.
Safe and recovering once again, Isabelle convinces her new savior, Sebastian, to come to the New York City Institute with her, even though he’s used to being on his own. He meets the gang and with the exception of Alec, they all seem to warm to his charming ways pretty quickly.
He also comes in handy for them, given that he’s an expert in greater demons like Azazel. It turns out Azazel has a pea-sized weakness between his T8 and T9 vertebrae, just below his sternum. Except your T10 and T11 vertebrae are the ones just below your sternum, so apparently Shadowhunters didn’t study anatomy super well or are planning on stabbing Azazel using very precise geometry.
Alec is very weary of Sebastian’s information, because the dude doesn’t trust anyone. He calls Magnus, but just ends up worried after their conversation. He decides to check on Magnus in person and finds a very confused, out-of-sorts warlock.
Oh, and Azazel is in the apartment. Alec shoots an arrow into the center of the greater demon’s chest and yet it still vanquishes him, vertebrate be damned! Clearly, Valentine doesn’t think this is the opportune moment to mention that he’s lingering in Magnus’ body.
Meanwhile, Inquisitor Imogen Herondale wants to start testing Clary and Jace to see how their angel blood affects them. As they train, they discuss The Inquisitor’s famous bloodline and that her son died as a member of Valentine’s Circle. They also share sexy looks and have some scorching chemistry. Ow ow!
But when Clary tries to bring lost loved ones up to The Inquisitor, who remains skeptical that Clary even had runes powers to begin with, the conversation ends quickly. Clearly, she’s still scarred by her son’s death and not too impressed with Clary or Jace.
Since he’s struck in Magnus’ body for the time being, Valentine comes up with a plan. Pretending to be Magnus, he calls up Dot and asks her to help him regain his powers after a greater demon attack. Dot isn’t strong enough the create portals, but can teach Magnus magic, including portals– apparently with no practical lessons?
Following his encounter with Raphael, Simon turns to Isabelle. He thinks she’s still dating Raphael. Simon is the first person inside her immediate group of friends to whom she admits her addiction and he’s really sympathetic, as his mom is a recovering alcoholic. In return, she helps him get Raphael off his back by sending a message: They visit Raphael’s now-elderly sister Rosa and Simon snaps a photo with her, reminding Raphael that if he can get to Simon’s family, Simon can get to his. Simon doesn’t love the plan, but these two scenes are GREAT Sizzy moments and we. want. more. These two have chemistry!
Magnus has been crying out from inside Valentine’s body. He’s being tortured by Inquisitor Herondale, during which time we see BABY MAGNUS, but only briefly. There better be more! Finally, Alec cracks and pays him a visit. Valentine is one of the most conniving tricksters in the world, so it’s understandable when he doesn’t truly, firmly believe Magnus-tine. Even when he shares specific details about the relationship, he could have stolen them from somewhere. It’s a hard scene to watch, but it makes sense that Alec is paranoid of everyone right now.
While Simon and Izzy are celebrating their scheme at the Jade Wolf, Izzy lets it slip that Jace is not Valentine’s son or Clary’s brother. Before she has much time to react, Raphael and his gang step through a portal to maybe kill Simon, because Isabelle’s plan backfired spectacularly. They have no business being in the Jade Wolf because 1) Since when can vampires make portals on their own? and 2) There is tons of natural sunlight in the restaurant. But when Simon steps into direct sunlight, the jig is really up and now the whole New York City vampire clan knows his secret. The target on his back just got bigger!
After Alec has a conversation with Jace about Magnus possibly being Valentine and vice versa, Jace still walks into Magnus’ apartment without a bit of caution or awareness under the pretense of helping Magnus with “a surprise” and is immediately captured. For real? FOR REAL?!
Meanwhile, Imogen decides to kill Valentine, even after The Clave denied her request for an execution. Alec is helping until, at the last possible moment, we get some hologram ex machina. Valentine chose that exact moment to send a message to The Inquisitor via hologram and let her know he’s taken Jace captive. She’s not going to budge until Valentine drops a bombshell: Jace is Imogen’s grandson, who she previously believed had been killed at birth. Valentine kidnapped him as a baby and raised him as his own, but he threatens to keep kill him unless he and Magnus are allowed to switch forms without intrusion.
There we have it: Jace is Jace Herondale, the long lost heir to an ultra-powerful Shadowhunter family.
We’re… torn about this scene. Mainly because the show only established that Imogen had a son like 20 minutes ago and a slow, careful reveal over a number of episodes probably would have been more emotionally effective. Also, yeah, we really liked the way Imogen found out in the books– a Shadowhunters universe tie-in and an overall gut-wrenching moment– and we wanted to see that happen.
Also, why does Valentine need to trade bodies so badly that he’s willing to give up his best hand? Valentine is a Downworlder bigot for sure, but doesn’t he realize that keeping Magnus’ body and powers would be hugely advantageous to him? Surely, he can use magic to break his own demon blood spell around the cup, plus do a hundred other things to further his plan without worry.
So did the show just waste a major character identity plot point that could have been an aching, slow reveal to solve a problem we knew it was gonna solve by the end of the episode anyway? Yes. Yes it did.
Magnus heads home to meet Valentine and the two go head-to-head. As much as we love Harry, we must admit: Alan does a better Magnus than Harry does Valentine. Harry’s Valentine impression is pretty much just his irritated Magnus. Alan Van Sprang is all up in Magnus’ headspace, and we love him more than ever for it.
Clary, Alec, and Sebastian rush after Magnus in hopes of stopping Valentine before he escapes, but there’s a big problem: Valentine warded the entrance to Magnus’ apartment and no matter how hard Clary tries to break down the wards, her runes aren’t working. So Sebastian pulls Clary in for the worst yet most effective pep talk ever. He reminds her of all the horrible things in her life– her mother dying, her father being a genocidial maniac, her not having a sibling to relate to her– and challenges her to “take that pain and use it.” Boom! Clary’s through the wards, tackling Valentine through a portal and back into his cell at The Institute.
From there, we go to the heartfelt wrap-up scenes: Alec and Magnus sit in Magnus’ apartment. This experience has shaken them both and we have a feeling there will be some repercussions, though the extent remains unseen. WE ARE CONCERNED. Clary and Simon have a talk about Jace not being Clary’s brother and seem to be cozy in their relationship once again.
And Jace? And leaves us with a big, emotional moment that tries to make up for the rushed heritage reveal and body-swapping shenanigans throughout the episode: Imogen presents him with the Herondale family ring and gives him a rousing pep talk about showing him the Herondale lane. These two don’t know each other very well yet, but there’s certainly mutual respect and a lot of loaded feelings between them. It definitely struck us in the heart. It’s a good note to go out on.
Now, on to episode 13 next week!