Shadowhunters “Rise Up” Review (Season 1 Episode 9)

Whereas the past few episodes of Shadowhunters have succeeded thanks to some overly-goofy material, “Rise Up” takes the show back into plodding seriousness. Not surprisingly, that sends the show’s quality plummeting back into the gutter, even as assumedly big things are happening in the plot.

More than anything else, this episode serves as an example of how poorly defined the Clave has been as an organization. At the start of the series, it really seemed like this was a group run by a bunch of scrappy youngsters, but as the show has gone on, we’ve been introduced to more and more layers of bureaucracy and oversight within the organization. And yet it’s continued to be comically easy for those same scrappy youngsters to stay one step ahead of them.

Really, this all might work if the main characters we’ve been told we’re supposed to care about had any sort of legitimate characterization. We’ve been given broad strokes, but not enough to actually be invested in the rifts that have born between them. Put simply, I understand why Alec is so dedicated to restoring honor to the Lightwood name, but his brotherhood with Jace has been so ill-defined that I felt nothing in the moment where the two turned their backs on one another. It was an emotional moment that needed to work, but didn’t.

And why should it, really, when the show is so quick to cut off storylines seemingly at random. After weeks of Simon struggling with the possibility of becoming a vampire, this episode sees him finally fully-transformed. However, while he’s initially wracked with guilt and worry about what he’s become, he’s somehow completely content with his station as a down-worlder by episode’s end. There’s no subtle shift from denial to acceptance; it’s just as if a switch has flipped for the character.

That’s fine, too, when the show is embracing the sillier aspects, such as the way the vampires constantly chew scenery or the ridiculous puns Luke and Raphael throw at each other late in the episode. But when it’s trying to go for serious drama, it continues to fall flat, and that takes the show from entertainingly bad to just dull and boring.

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