Since launching Shadowhunters, the series has taken things to the next level with their second season. Since Ed Decter’s departure, Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer of Smallville fame have taken over the helm of the show. The result? A total redesign and remodeling. The cast seems to agree that they’ve taken the show to a new place, and many of the changes they made compliments the changes in the characters as they mature. The show has never been more emotional and they promise to take everything to the next level.

It looks like the parabatai showrunners have given the show a good polishing, adding new stunts, new sets, new special and practical effects. Freeform hasn’t been shy or stingy about giving the audience a barrage of new content from the new season, and it’s more evidence to the improvement in tone.

In terms of the new season, we’re encountering some new characters with the aftermath of Jace’s betrayal at the end of season one. The Institute experiences a changing of the guard as Nick Sagar stars in a recurring role as Victor Aldertree. Aldertree is a strict character, one that — like many of the characters in the series — has his book alternative in The Mortal Instruments, but has been altered a little. Slavkin describes him as someone to “lives and dies by the law.”

On the other end, there’s an introduction of Maia Roberts, a werewolf and bartender at Hunter’s Moon, a bar where all are welcome. Alisha Wainwrights’s Maia is thrown right into the center of the cast of characters, she is first introduced in a scene with Jace. Alberto Rosende (“Simon Lewis”) said that she would come in and change how Simon looks at the world, this is “probably the first time Simon looks at a person the way he looks at Clary.” Kat McNamara (“Clary Fray”) added that, “She’s [Maia] like a daughter to Luke, she becomes a part of Simon’s life. Those are all relationships that Clary has had to herself up till this point.” 

But it’s not just the new characters who are jumping into the mix, the main characters have been given a chance to expand more, not only on their own history and past — hello flashbacks! — but also on their relationships with one another. We’ll see Jocelyn and Clary reunite, with some family problems cropping up as Jocelyn is going to realize this isn’t the same Clary as the one she knew.

We’ll also see characters potentially facing the consequences of their mistakes, both Harry Shum Jr. (“Magnus Bane”) and Emeraude Toubia (“Isabelle Lightwood”) hinted at their characters making the wrong choices this season and the audience seeing the consequences of these actions. Shum added, “When you call him the High Warlock of Brooklyn, this season, you’re going to see why he’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn. You’re going to see a lot of elements not just in what he’s capable of doing with his powers or what he can conjure up,  but also what happens when you use it the wrong way.”

It seems that in general, season two is going deeper and darker than the first season, and this is probably a wise choice. The freshman season was often criticized for its tone, but as The Mortal Instruments author Cassandra Clare assures, this second season is tonally more similar to the books. Slavkin and Swimmer have incorporated more of New York, while expanding on the existing sets like The Institute and revamping the seraph blades, THANK THE LORD. Matthew Daddario (“Alec Lightwood”) noted that the show feels aged up, and that “the conversations feel more real and real to the circumstances.”

The series premieres tonight, January 2, on Freeform at 8/9c.


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