Synopsis of 2×16: Jace and Clary go on an unsanctioned mission, while Maia helps Simon out at a Yom Kippur family dinner.
“Day of Atonement” marks the directorial debut of The Vampire Diaries‘ Paul Wesley on Shadowhunters. Having directed a handful of TVD episodes, Wesley is on familiar ground with the genre or how an actor approaches the world like this, so the episode features a lot heavier on intercharacter relationships, which largely benefit the narrative.
The episode primarily revolves around losing Valentine and trying to track him down, with a mild foray into Simon’s life and a Lewis family dinner for Yom Kippur. Despite the episode title being related to Simon, the episode easily could have done without him. In fact, with such a plot heavy episode, Simon’s story almost felt auxiliary. His bonding with Maia, while cute, didn’t fit the overall tone of the episode.
So then let’s talking about the meat of the episode. With Valentine missing again, the Clave is not only cracking down but the Downworld cabinet has gone into hiding in the Seelie Court. Robert Lightwood shows up at the New York Institute on behalf of the Clave and tells Alec that he’ll still be in control despite losing Valentine under his watch.
With his kids still upset at him for cheating on Maryse, we learn that he doesn’t just have a side piece but that he’s in love as well.
Meanwhile, Jace is trying to find a way to Idris, assuming that Valentine is there, hiding out in the cabin that he raised Jace in. Despite his intuition, he is denied a portal into Idris and he is prepared to hike the Swiss Alps to get there until Clary sees a rune and draws it, creating a portal on her own. It’s a great scene that shows off the visual effects while also reminding us of Clary’s abilities. Although she’s begrudged to work with him, Clary pulls Jace through the portal and right into a lake in Idris.
Good news, they portal to Idris without a warlock! Bad news, Clary just drank some hallucinogenic lake water that’ll slowly turn her insane. Oh, and they both don’t have their steles and they’re in a forest notorious for its feral werewolves. Great.
They wander through the woods before Clary decides they should go back for her stele because she dropped it in the lake. Somehow they get separated and she is confronted by the greatest glow up of the year, Ithuriel. He flies down and tells her, “Jonathan is still alive.” We know from Jace’s later study of Valentine’s diaries that he means Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern, aka Fake!Sebastian. Everyone assumed he died as a child, but jokes on you guys, he’s alive and real gross.
At this point, Alec senses something is wrong with Jace and he and Izzy investigate. They find portal shards that show that Jace is in Idris. Unable to leave the Institute, Alec sends Izzy to recover the two of them. She arrives and almost immediately finds Jace. She tells him the bad news about the lake water and they redouble their efforts to find Clary. More good news, she’s okay, more bad news, she’s delirious and fights the two of them and breaks Izzy’s stele. Grabbing her, Jace holds onto her and activates his rune power to clear her mind up. The two have a moment before they continue their search.
Back at the Institute, Alec confronts his father after he finds out that he yelled at Max for reading his fire messages. Robert reveals that the Clave doesn’t have the Soul Sword and they have no idea where it is. Guess who has it? That’s right, it’s Fake!Sebastian/Jonathan. He’s been keeping Valentine tied up and catching up with dear old dad about the years he missed.
Turns out Jonathan made a deal with Azazel to get out of Eden after Valentine banished him there. In return, Jonathan would free the demon. We get a reasoning for Jonathan’s messed up form, when he arrived in Eden he was too pretty so the demons burned his skin away. Which, that’s messed up, but I still feel like this story could have been written in a way where he wasn’t a burn victim.
Anyways, we find out that Jonathan had started to do some weird crazy experiments, hey like father like son, and it worried Valentine to the point where he had to send him away. Wanting revenge and closure, Jonathan prepares to send Valentine to the same hell he sent him to but Valentine grabs the soul sword and reveals that he always regretted his actions and that Jonathan is his greatest creation. This is enough for Jonathan to spare him and take him back to the city.
Jace, Izzy, and Clary barely miss them as they finally make it to the cabin. He takes Valentine’s journals where he learns about his experiments the truth about the two Jonathan Christopher’s. And what’s worse is that now Jonathan and Valentine are on the same side.
I have to say, despite the random Yom Kippur dinner (which was still cute if illfitted to the episode) this was a solid one. I enjoyed seeing Clary and Jace using their powers and being visited by angels. I enjoyed seeing Valentine and Jonathan interact, it was like watching two sides of a crazy coin. And I liked Paul Wesley’s work on the episode. I’m excited to see if they bring him back and I’m excited to see what’s next!