Synopsis of 2×04: Jace awaits his fate in the City of Bones; Clary, Alec and Isabelle hunt a powerful demon terrorizing the Institute; Jocelyn has a proposition for Clary as Raphael and Simon ramp up their search for Camille.
I don’t know if I’m completely sold on the direction of this episode, but it’ll definitely be interesting where the season is going if “Day of Wrath” is any indication.
After being taken into not!Azkaban by the Clave, we find Jace in a cell alongside an old familiar face — Hodge! His stay is about as unpleasant as you can imagine, filled with nightmares and the looming feeling of doom. Clary comes to visit him in his prison, but it doesn’t help his situation. We learn in Jace’s trial with the Soul Sword — basically a weapon that forces him to tell the truth — that he still has feelings for Clary despite being her brother.
Still fearing that he is Valentine’s weapon he seems resolved to his lot in life and to face his trial with Aldertree. Despite Aldertree’s adherence to the law, he is getting shadier and shadier every episode. In this one, he asks some pretty irrelevant questions to Jace during his trial while also torturing Raphael later in the episode. Ultimately, though, Jace reveals that he can’t be completely loyal to the Clave, which is what lands him back in jail.
He isn’t there for long when Valentine breaks in. He tells Jace he’s there for him, but we quickly find out that’s not the only reason. The Soul Sword was his main goal, and he manages to get away with it but not before he kills Hodge and endangers Aldertree’s life as well. Instead of chasing after him, Jace decides to save Aldertree, which ultimately seems to absolve him of his sins in the process.
At the institute, we get a cute scene between Magnus and Alec, who basically have the only happy scene of the episode, deciding on where to go for their date. The two seem to be on a more equal footing, with Alec not being so stressed and Magnus seeming less pushy. I really like the dynamic between the two, but I struggle with the direction the pair are often given. Neither Matt Daddario nor Harry Shum, Jr. are bad actors, and yet often their conversation can be wooden despite their chemistry.
Then again, this isn’t just a problem that the two of them have, much of the cast struggles with some amateur writing at times. It can often feel forced or just childish in the face of the actual plot or the events of the episode. Despite a step in the right direction, I have to give the best chemistry of the episode award to Alec and Clary’s scene together. They go hunting together and have a tit-for-tat that actually feels genuine and flows perfectly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, put these two in more scenes. And after the events of this episode, that seems like it’ll be more likely, doesn’t it?
Jocelyn is planning to go to Idris and wants Clary to go with her. The two of them have a push and pull about this within the episode but nothing really comes of it, at least not immediately.
When the Lost smoke monster/demon comes barreling into the Institute, the Institute is put on lockdown and quarantine. You’d think they would announce that there’s a body jumping demon around the Institute, but no one seems to have their guard up in the episode until they’re actually being attacked. Of course, there’s no convenient rune this episode, though I guess I should count my blessings that there wasn’t another disguise rune fakeout.
We watch as the demon seems to prefer to possess people and then use that person to kill someone else by pulling their heart out of their chest. There’s never a deep explanation for this, only that we find out that this was Valentine’s ploy to keep the Institute busy while he made a play for the Soul Sword/Jace. It’s interesting to note that this means that Valentine’s ploys and actions directly lead to Jocelyn’s death.
Which leads me to Jocelyn’s death. This was the biggest surprise of the episode. It leaves so many things up in the air. What is going to happen with Clary? What is Luke’s storyline now? Is she actually even really dead? I find it hard to imagine that they’ll actually bring her back to life, so what does this mean for the story? This seems like another firm foot set apart in departure from the book, one that will leave book fans questioning what is coming up next.
I think my biggest problem with the Lost smoke demon is how easily it took out its prey. The way that Lydia is attacked by a possessed Raj makes it seem like she is the easiest target in the world, when we know she isn’t. She’s essentially supposed to be Raj’s superior, she was the head of the Institute. She should be able to at least hold her own, but somehow she was overpowered like it was nothing. Same with Jocelyn. When she is attacked by Alec, he makes it look almost too easy. Sure, Jocelyn’s been on the down low for the last two decades, but she should be able to at least put up a fight.
It’s a little annoying how easily both of these women went down, but yeah fine, whatever I’ll take it I guess.
The B plot of the episode focused in on the downworlders, specifically on Magnus and the vampires. Raphael is tortured by Aldertree — who calls it motivation — to seek out Camille. There’s no way the Clave is actually okay with this, but it doesn’t seem to matter to Aldertree. A burnt and beaten up Raphael goes to Magnus, who turns out to be kind of a father figure for him, in order to figure out what to do. He has some of Camille’s grave dirt, and utilizes Simon’s blood to access the dirt in order to summon Camille.
While Alec and Clary had some great natural chemistry, Magnus and Camille were kind of awkward? I have a hard time taking their melodramatic acting seriously. Camille is all sensuous and over-the-top but it just doesn’t read well. She isn’t actually threatening, or at least there’s nothing so far that’s lead us to believe that.
There’s a lot of indications that seem to point to the fact that Camille might not be the cause of all of those rogue vampire dens — three guesses who is actually responsible — but Magnus traps her and sends her to Idris and back to the Clave anyways in order to protect his adopted family. Despite the shortcomings of Camille and Magnus — I just don’t believe that the two of them had any feelings other than momentary lust — his bond with Raphael and Simon does seem genuine and reads as such.
The episode culminates in Jace and Aldertree returning back as Clary sits stunned in the Institute. She’s just witnessed her mother being killed by a possessed Alec, she’s definitely not okay. Alec is also shaken, he’s not Clary or Jocelyn’s biggest fan, but he definitely did not want to kill anyone. Simon bursts in not too long after Jace and runs to comfort Clary as Jace stands to the side, struggling with his own feelings.
The new showrunners definitely aren’t pulling any punches when it comes to this season, but I really don’t care for the “let’s kill off everyone for shock value” aesthetic that shows seem to be embracing. Yeah, you get some Twitter buzz, but ultimately it’s kind of annoying and meaningless after a while. We’ll see if Jocelyn stays dead, and if her death makes enough of an impact for the rest of this season to warrant it.