Shadowhunters – S01E02 – The Descent Into Hell Isn’t Easy

Hoo boy. Fair warning. I do not like this show. I enjoyed the prequel books a lot, but never made it past the first book in the main series because whiny teenagers are not enjoyable reading for me. But the world in the books have some cool characters, and interesting magic, and it was possible for this show to be entertaining. They certainly seem to be putting effort into effects. However, the writing and acting are just so so bad. Have you ever sat through a painful high school stage production? The over earnestness that tries to cover the fact that probably no one up there has any real idea how any of the feelings they’re meant to be displaying actually feel? As real and powerful as the trials and tribulations of high school feel at the time, for most of us we grow up to find that they were rather laughable.

This is what it feels like when I watch this show. Nothing they’re saying translates as real. It’s almost as if they were given the script that morning and told to do their best. We might as well be watching a daily soap opera. And that’s weird, because you would think that Disney money could have gotten better people.  At any rate, I’m very bored watching this. It took me 3 days to make it through 41 minutes of TV.  I’ll try to make this at interesting as possible, but there’s not as much to work with as I had with Reign. I never thought I’d say that when I started watching that show, but here I am still enjoying how nuts it can be three seasons in, and so far Shadowhunters just makes me want to take a nap.

We ended episode one with Clary standing over a dead man, flanked by her “mundane” best friend and the Shadowhunter representing her new life. She convinces Simon to join them in the church, which requires Jace to use his stele to mark a rune on his skin so a mundane can see through the glamour protecting their hideout (“Institute”).

Clary: I know, trust me.
Simon: He’s like, burning himself!

Clary is surprisingly calm considering this is probably the first time she’s seen a rune applied. She was unconscious when she received her healing rune, and so far the other Shadowhunters have just been activating runes they already had. Jace has to touch Simon to bring him inside, and Simon freaks out that Jace is hitting on him or something. It’s not cute or funny.

Ew! Boys!

It turns out, they’re inside to hide from the police, who have shown up because of the dead guy outside. Luckily, the police don’t have Jace’s hand to hold to see through the church glamour. Alec, our resident complainer (Was he this lame in the book? I don’t remember him being this lame. What a wet noodle. [actually- he was lamer. -Beth]), is upset that Simon is in the Institute. This provides a reason for some information dropping, and we learn that the current batch of young Shadowhunters aren’t allowed to know about the Circle. All we find out is that there was a revolt and some Shadowhunters died.

Jace says there is someone who can help, but Simon can’t go with him because the floor will kill him. We find out later that this is a lie, but you can tell that picking on the human is going to be one of the shows sources of “humor.” We also get more love triangle awkwardness: “He’s/I’m not her boyfriend! … We’re friends. Best friends” *googly eyes*  And then Simon is immediately rendered stupid by Isabelle activating one of her runes. It turns out he’s not repulsed by it when a half-clad woman does it. Isabelle offers to feed Simon while Jace and Clary do their thing, but apparently the others think her food is deadly. Haha, humans die either way!


This is an odd choice of clothing for fighting, but then, it seems to follow the uniform guidelines for the women who fight in this show. I’m also not entirely sure it fits properly, and it’s not the first time I’ve thought this about an outfit in this series. I think perhaps we can add costuming and/or seamstress to the list of things that were inexplicably left off the budget.

Luke shows up to protect this random warlock from this Circle member, who is one of the “witnesses” he was interrogating when Clary was losing her shit in the first episode.  He offers to protect her in exchange for secrets, but they fight instead and she pulls out one of those glow swords. To preserve the air of mystery they have surrounding Luke and his identity and allegiances, the camera pans out so they’re hidden behind a truck. You hear a beast growing, and then flesh ripping, and then what seems like a mini explosion that shoves the truck back a foot.

Next we meet Hodge, a former Circle member that is now chained to the Institute as a weapons trainer who can’t leave. He’s fighting with his shirt off, because of course he is, and then puts a tank top on over his sweaty self to go to talk Clary and Jace. Why bother? If you took your shirt off so it wouldn’t get gross, you just got it gross, and it’s not like that tight tank top was impeding your movement.  His rune makeup looks terrible. How many people are working on this show, and did any of them compare notes at all? No consistency.

He mistakes Clary for her mother, because I guess he assumes Jocelyn didn’t age in 18 years? And also that he’s blind? Seriously, these two people would not be mistaken for each other.

Not Twins

Hodge: She was Jocelyn Fairchild when I knew her. And she was one of my best friends.

You’d think you’d remember what your best friend looked like.

They ask Hodge a bunch of questions about the Circle, and everything he says causes a circle-shaped rune (*eye roll*) to burn in his neck. He tells her, with increasing dramatics, that the Circle had good intentions but basically did not realize that Valentine was crazy until it was too late. Also, her mother has been brought into this because she was also in the Circle, which upsets Clary quite a bit. Funny how he doesn’t mention that Valentine was also her husband! She has to go all the way to City of Bones for that bit of information. Though we do learn that the Mortal Cup is used to make Shadowhunters and control demons, and that Jocelyn was probably hiding the cup from Valentine and his followers. Also, everyone thought Valentine died in a fire ages ago.

Rune Burn

Rune Burn

Clary: You might be some kind of emotionless G.I. Joe but…
Jace: What’s a G.I. Joe?

The dialogue…

Clary can’t remember if her mom hid the cup because of her mind wipe. She realizes Dot is a warlock, so these teenage Rescue Rangers have decided to track her down. She goes from being “frail frightened bunny” Clary to “snappy leather in charge” Clary in the blink of an eye again.

Dot runs into Luke, and they don’t trust each other. They’re both looking for Clary and Jocelyn. Luke is gathering up Clary’s things, including a drawing of a cup on a card. *gasp*! There’s a whole stack of them, and I think they’re Dot’s tarot cards.


Isabelle feeds Simon breakfast in her bedroom, which is massive, from a tray on her bed. She’s so subtle I’m not sure how anyone ever understands her. She’s also blunt in her descriptions of Shadowhunter things, which Simon finds unsettling, mostly because all of it involves him dying. She moves super fast, like Twilight fast, which isn’t helping my brain separate her from Rosalie.

Luke’s captain asks about Clary, and he finds out that she isn’t stuck in a portal limbo after all.

Luke: You know guys that age. They’re idiots.
Captain: Just that age?
Luke: Well, some of us transform ourselves and hide the idiot within.


Clary is given Isabelle’s most solid piece of clothing, which is still to little fabric for her liking. They have some girl talk about Jace (Isabelle thinks he’s a brother, and Simon is “nerd hot”), and Clary gets a blunt Isabelle not-a-pep-talk. It doesn’t seem to be making the right impression on Simon though, because he’s still angling to get Clary to run off on their own.

What the hell is this hand slapping shit?

Alec, of course, does not approve, but they’re all going to help anyway. Could someone please explain to me how they’re doing everything alone and the Clave seems forever away and nearly unreachable, and yet the Institute is always full of people?

Clary is playing with the necklace when she gets a vision of Dot. She’s gone to Pan-Demon-ium looking for Magnus. He’s sending all his warlock buddies through a portal to hide from Valentine and refuses to help Dot. The Rescue Rangers are too late, and Valentine’s men get Dot in an alley. In the dark. It’s always dark. For some reason they run into the club looking for her even though the last vision Clary had was of Dot being jumped in the alley.

They all decide their last option is visiting the Silent Brothers in the City of Bones so Clary can retrieve her wiped memories. Alec and Isabelle freak out, and so you’d think the whole sequence of them going into the graveyard and underground would be more fraught and tense, but as usual, it’s bland and boring. Though their makeup is decent. The places where this show does and does not try are mind boggling. This episode is named The Descent into Hell Isn’t Easy, and yet, it was. Even the words Clary finds there say so. “For Shadowhunters, the descent into hell is easy.”


Jace: You should know, the pain will be excruciating.

You could have fooled me.

Jace: Clary, you don’t keep the silent hunters waiting.

Oh, did we make an appointment? No. No they did not.

Luke’s captain is getting suspicious when that Circle member’s body shows up with massive claw marks. Alaric, the guy I’ve mostly ignored up to now, tells him he needs to find Clary before their “friends” doubt him.

Jace and Clary pause on their strenuous hell journey of walking down a hallway to have some bonding time, and we learn that Jace’s dad died in the Circle revolt. They hold hands into the Silent Brother’s room and they all appear around them. They use the Soul Sword to retrieve her memories, and it can kill her if she’s not strong enough, and since we know there’s no chance she’s dying in episode 2, this entire scene is not even a little tense. The sword comes down and barely touches her head, and we watch one memory of overhearing her mother mention Valentine is her father. Perhaps this is more shocking to the people who have no knowledge of this series, but it fell very flat for me.

Simon and Isabelle are doing their awkward/forward thing in his van to “listen to his band’s music”, and because it’s a teen show, band member Maureen, the other love triangle, starts texting him. And then Isabelle hears something and Simon is snatched by something with gross fingernails while she’s investigating.

Valentine questions Dot, drugs her, in an attempt to get her to help reverse the potion Jocelyn took to sleep. Later she uses her magic to break the locks on her cell.  She’s actually one of the few decent actors in this trash heap. Her struggles actually seem difficult. Valentine’s lackey attacks her after she gets out, and defends herself by stabbing him with one of the syringes he has lying around. Valentine finishes pushing the plunger and it’s implied that he stabs Dot with his glow sword.

Let's all take a moment to mourn sweet Dot. You were too good for this world.

Let’s all take a moment to mourn sweet Dot. You were too good for this world.

Back with the Rescue Rangers, Alec thinks Clary must be a Valentine spy, and it turns out Simon has been taken by some “Night Children”, or vampires. They want to exchange him for the Mortal Cup. Everyone seems to think they should keep it safe from everyone else, instead of working together to keep it from Valentine. The talking vampire looks like my brother. Somehow, this makes sense to me.

And that’s it. Will there be a next time? I honestly don’t know. I’ll have to give Episode 3 a whirl and see if I can even finish watching it. Wish me luck. [At this point there is a limit to what I will make my recappers endure – maybe during sweeps week – b.] 

The crafty Sleep Goblin is our resident Reign recapper and maker of great things.

Leave a Reply



  1. Beth

    It galls me how they’ve mismanaged this show. They took a story about teens with superpowers, monsters, angels, the struggle of good vs. evil, and made it BORING AF. Also, I laughed so hard at Hot Hodge, and the bull about him and Jocelyn being best friends.

  2. ChristinaB

    If author Cassandra Clare had little consulting in the big screen production, she must have not been notified about this debacle. Or she just sold out! More like…”Loosely” based on the book series. With terrible acting, casting, story lines, costumes. Wondering why it hasn’t been cancelled yet. Bleh!

Next ArticleEpisode 54 - The JAFFcast Volume 1: The Unthinkable Triangle with Linda Beutler