A few years ago when I read The Mortal Instruments for the first time, I was gripped by one thought: this would make an excellent TV series. While I find Cassandra Clare’s book series to be just okay (to good), I thought that the base was there for a fantastic TV show. The premise is already pretty much Supernatural meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For that reason, Shadowhunters was my most anticipated winter series this year. The pilot episode is a good start on that promise. At the very least, it’s certainly more exciting than the boring mess that was the movie adaptation, City of Bones.

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Clary Begins Her Wildest Birthday Ever

Clary Fray is a normal teenager. Well, a normal teenager who has distractingly fake red hair, an amazing art talent and a flat delivery of nearly all her lines. Today is Clary’s birthday and she’s turning 18. Clary starts the day by getting accepted into an accelerated art academy program. She quickly celebrates the achievement with her best friend, Simon. Simon is generically funny, nice and supposed to be homely and nerdy despite being objectively gorgeous.

There’s more going on, though, with Clary than her art. Specifically, something’s up with her mom and their shared past. For her birthday, Clary’s mom, Jocelyn, gives Clary a present that couldn’t be more ominous and mysterious looking, but Clary brushes it off. Clary brushes off pretty much everything that Jocelyn and Jocelyn’s quasi-boyfriend, Luke, try to talk about with her on her special day. Clary promises to listen to them tomorrow morning at breakfast, but for now, she’s going out with Simon.  

Mayhem and Murder

Across the city, a trio of super attractive teenagers is gathering weapons and talking about demons. They are Jace, Isabella (otherwise known as Izzie) and Alec. Jace is the leader, Isabella wears skimpy clothes and Alec sneers at pretty much everything. That’s all you need to know for now. The trio (in the most flashy and dramatic way possible) tracks a demon who is draining “mundanes” of their blood. During the hunt, Jace runs into Clary and he is shocked to discover that she can see them. This kind of explains the whole drama queen tracking from beforehand because Jace is supposed to be invisible to regular humans.

Anyway, Clary and Jace have some pretty heavy eye contact and Clary decides to follow Jace into a club. It also helps that no one but Clary sees Jace and she wants answers. Clary tails Jace as he goes inside to meet up with Alec and Izzie. Jace, Alec and Izzie run afoul of some demons in the club and a fight ensues, a fight that Clary finds herself swept up in. Clary ends up inadvertently killing one of the demons and freaks out.

Jocelyn Fray: Certified Bad-Ass

Clary runs home and goes to talk to her mother. Jocelyn takes this opportunity to tell Clary everything — kind of. Jocelyn tells Clary that there is more going on than she realizes and they are both a part of it. The explanation is interrupted by the arrival of a group of suited strangers outside their apartment who have followed Clary. These are The Circle. Their leader, Valentine, wants something from Jocelyn known as the Mortal Cup. Jocelyn tells Clary that she needs to leave and find Luke. Jocelyn sends Clary to Luke (who is at his job at the police station) through a portal. 

The Circle breaks into Jocelyn’s apartment and kills Jocleyn’s employee, a character so forgettable I even forget her name. Jocelyn takes on The Circle herself and the fight is pretty awesome. The swords that Jocelyn and The Circle are fighting with are pathetically cheap looking — Halloween store bad — but the choreography is solid. It really just makes you wish Jocelyn was the main character of Shadowhunters and not her exasperated daughter, Clary. As amazing as Jocelyn is, she is eventually cornered and takes a potion that causes her to collapse. 

The Circle takes the unconscious Jocelyn back to Valentine. Valentine, who I will refrain from calling discount American Jason Statham (though that’s exactly what he is), is happy to see Jocelyn. He won’t even take insults about Jocelyn from his minions. He kills one of the underlings who does speak disparagingly about her.

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A Knight in Shining Tattoos 

Meanwhile, at the police station, Clary overhears Luke being threatened by two members of The Circle. Luke claims indifference and hatred of both Clary and Jocelyn. Clary might be 18, but she’s apparently still an idiot because she believes these obvious lies. Clary runs away from Luke and back home to her mother. A rainstorm erupts at the proper time so Clary can sob soaking wet as she finds the apartment ransacked. 

The supposedly dead employee finds Clary inside the apartment. She demands information about the Mortal Cup. This is, of course, is not the employee but actually a demon in disguise. The demon attacks Clary and she is quickly overwhelmed by the demon. Clary is saved by the strapping Jace, who we assume has been conveniently stalking her for plot reasons. During the fight with the demon, Clary was infected with the demon’s venom and she passes out. Jace picks her up and takes her away. 

Jace takes Clary back to his home, where he starts to explain some things. Jace tells her that he and his friends are Shadowhunters and they protect the human world from the demon world. Clary gets all indignant and disbelieving about what Jace tells her because that’s a prerequisite for these types of stories. All she wants to do is find her mother … blah, blah … you get the picture.

Clary is Given a Choice

Simon calls Clary. He tells her that he has been tracking her with her phone and wants some answers. He’s outside the building that Jace has taken her to, which looks like an abandoned church. Clary tells Simon she will meet him outside, but Jace finds pictures of Clary’s drawings, which are apparently called runes. Jace acts like this a big deal, but there’s no real explanation given as to why he’s shocked by the drawings.

Jace and Clary go outside to talk to Simon. A member of The Circle attacks them, and Jace takes the bad guy on. Jace kills the member of The Circle. At Clary’s request, Jace reveals himself to Simon. Simon is confused, rightfully, and wants Clary to leave with him. Jace begs with Clary to stay so he can protect her from The Circle, which clearly wants Clary. Clary is poised right between the two guys as they ask her to make a decision. Yeah, Shadowhunters isn’t exactly subtle in the final moments.

Shadowhunters airs Tuesday at 9pm on Freeform.

(Image courtesy of Freeform)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.