Shadowhunters “The Descent into Hell Isn’t Easy” Review (Season 1 Episode 2)

Shadowhunters had a stronger outing with its second episode, giving us an hour of TV that served as a better introduction to this world than last week’s premiere. While there are still some major issues with the show, “The Descent into Hell Isn’t Easy” did at least give a better idea of what the show is actually about, while also exploring the myriad amount of supernatural creatures we can expect to see.

Starting with the positive, I do like the ambitious sense of scope the show is going for, no doubt a result of being based on a book series where a lot of the finer details have already been worked out. Aside from the shadowhunters themselves, we’ve got warlocks, werewolves, and vampires all running around, just to name a few. More importantly, we get a sense of what the Mortal Cup means to each group, at least on some level, giving a better idea of how important our all-powerful MacGuffin actually is.

The show also moves at a fairly solid pace, keeping the characters bouncing from one plot point to the next at a brisk clip. I’m almost curious to see how the movie adaptation from a few years ago played some of this stuff, as it seems like it’d be a cramped experience with how fast the show has moved compared to how much story is still left.

Still, the biggest problem with the show so far is just how clunky it can be. The dialogue, particularly relating to the Clary love triangle, is painfully blunt, despite the surprisingly committed performances from the actors. Last week, I expressed a desire for more exposition, but this episode felt like an overcorrection with how straightforward everything is.

Further, there’s a significant disconnect between where Clary was just last week and the character she is here. Put simply, Clary has too quickly become a badass, take-charge shadowhunter, someone who barely questions the absolute insanity into which her life has been thrown. She’s constantly pushing the team to keep moving forward, and what’s even more bizarre is how willing they are to relent to a girl who constantly admits how little she knows about this world. I’d just like a sense of vulnerability to her, some sort of path of growth and development she can take over the course of the season other than just becoming a better fighter.

Lastly, the visual effects range from good to noticeably outdated. For the most part, the magical effects work well, but the make-up and costume design could use some serious work. Seriously, the Silent Brothers looked like someone dug up some of the old masks from Buffy and Angel and applied a new coat of paint.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!