While it is technically the second half of season two, the action and drama are just as exciting as any season premiere.
The dual layered presentation of internal and external conflicts really adds to the character development.
We got a little lost in the camera work when it came to Isabelle's drug-addled scenes and found it quite distracting at times.
There were some plot holes (such as Magnus against Azazel) that could have been better filled in.
Threats old and new plague Shadowhunters and Downworlders alike in 2X11 “Mea Maxima Culpa”
Shadowhunters season 2B picks up immediately after the events of the first half season, revealing the aftermath of the Institute attack and activation of the Soul Sword. The Downworld is in complete chaos after losing hundreds to Valentine’s evil act, but with so few survivors to explain what happened, blame is being placed firmly on Shadowhunter shoulders. While they have captured the Circle leader, he staunchly refuses to reveal the location of the Mortal Cup, insisting that he has no idea where it is. The Soul Sword has been retrieved by the Clave, but is has been rendered useless by Clary’s rune. Then, of course, there is a new demon in town, and this one is not going to be so easy to kill…he’s Azazel, one of the Princes of Hell.
While Simon tries to adapt to his new life as a Daylighter, he discovers that his life may be in even more danger than before. Jace has been rocked by the revelation that he is not Valentine’s son, but is determined not to ruin Clary’s happiness by telling her they are not siblings. Maia is attempting to make amends, but she and Luke have bigger problems when part of their pack leaves because of what happened at the Institute. Both Alec and Raphael are worried about Isabelle, who narrowly escapes mortal danger after being rescued by a mysterious handsome Shadowhunter from London. He offers to help her kick Yin Fen in the safety of his home, but he has secrets of his own.
Well, that was quite the mouthful, wasn’t it? Let’s slow it down a bit and take another look at some of the major moments of “Mea Maxima Culpa,” shall we?
Our Shadowhunters are getting a little help from across the pond…and he’s oh so hot!
The episode opens with Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia) fighting through Yin Fen withdrawal with Alec watching over her. When he is called away to deal with things at the Institute, she loses her battle and goes in search of Raphael (David Castro) for a fix. He refuses to be manipulated, citing his feelings for her, leading her to pull a blade out and threatening him. Appalled at what she has done, she stumbles out of his den and goes in search for another. Before Izzy finds what she is looking for, someone finds her. Confronted by Azazel, she tries to fight him off to no avail. Weak from her addiction, she is at his mercy until the arrival of a mysterious, runed savior. He brings her back to his place, introducing himself as Sebastian from the London Institute. He offers to help her through her withdrawals, gaining her trust by admitting his own struggle.
Isabelle: “So why aren’t you in London with your Institute?”
Sebastian: “I had to kick my Yin Fen addiction, and let’s just say that London wasn’t the best place to do that. So, uh, I took matters into my own hands – and I left. And I found my way to New York.”
Isabelle: “You went AWOL.”
Sebastian: “I like think of it more like a walkabout. The good news is, I was successful. You can be too.”
Those of us who are fans of the books have been waiting for Sebastian’s arrival for quite some time. He certainly makes a good impression, saving Izzy from the grasp of a greater demon and then offering her sanctuary while she gets off Yin Fen. We even feel a twinge of sympathy when he talks about his mother. However, it isn’t hard to draw the comparison between Sebastian and Jace, both handsome, blonde, and fierce fighters, but watching him hold his hand over that stove flame makes it clear Sebastian is not all that he seems. Will Tudor does a great job introducing us to the newest Shadowhunter, with his quiet confidence and kind demeanor. While the books portray Sebastian a very specific way, we have seen the show make changes before, so we can’t wait to see how things play out and how the show spins his storyline!
Remember, he’s not just any greater demon…he’s a Prince of Hell
Having just captured Valentine (Alan Van Sprang) after he fulfilled a small part of his promise, the Clave believes that their biggest threat is under control. However, a brazen demon attack on both mundanes and Shadowhunters shows them just how wrong they are. Alec (Matthew Daddario) seeks out Magnus (Harry Shum Jr) for help in identifying which greater demon this is, and the warlock is immediately alarmed as he reveals their foe’s identity – Azazel. After his work is found in the alley where Izzy was looking to score, they become convinced that the demon has her in his grasp. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary interrogate Valentine about Azazel, and although he claims to know nothing about the demon’s release, he suggests they use him for bait. With no other options, they reluctantly agree and summon the demon using Magnus’s help. Unfortunately, the tables are quickly turned as Azazel breaks through the warlock wards and escapes easily into the night.
Azazel: “Well, if it isn’t Magnus Bane. Brave move.”
Magnus: “Return Isabelle Lightwood. We’ll hand over Valentine. He can lead you to the Mortal Cup.”
Azazel: “Valentine Morgenstern. The man who dares to dream big. It is a tempting offer, but I don’t have your friend Isabelle.”
Alec: “He’s lying.”
Magnus: “No time for debate. The barrier’s weakening.”
*Clary attempts to use her daylight rune, but it does nothing.*
Azazel: “You thought you could contain me?!”
As if dealing with Valentine and the missing Mortal Cup wasn’t enough, our Shadowhunters now face an even greater (get it?) threat. Azazel is more powerful than any demon they have encountered before, and his motives are yet to be revealed. While we know that he wants the Mortal Cup, we don’t know why he was drawn to Izzy and what he was planning. It does seem a little too convenient that Sebastian happened upon his attack and saved her, don’t you think? Of course, the biggest question – and possible twist – is what he did to Magnus and Valentine. From the looks of it, it seems he’s transferred Magnus’s mind into Valentine and vice versa. After all, why else would Magnus comment on being a “filthy warlock” while Valentine abruptly asks for help from his captors? All we can say is, only Michael Reisz and the writing team know for sure…
Izzy might finally get rid of her Yin Fen addiction, but her emotional baggage? Not so much…
In the first half of season two, we saw Izzy descend into her own personal hell because of her Yin Fen addiction. Angry with Aldertree (Nick Sagar) for introducing her to it and refusing to give him the power to manipulate her, she goes in search of it directly from the source. After rescuing her from members of his clan, Raphael reluctantly agrees to help her by giving her a taste. Unfortunately, neither of them count on the high that they each get from each other. Raphael eventually accepts the counsel of his surrogate father Magnus and refuses to continue their co-dependent behavior when she comes calling. We see Izzy at her most desperate, pulling out her seraph blade and threatening him before running away. When she ends up at Sebastian’s house later, she admits that she’s let everyone down and is terrified of how they will react.
Sebastian: “You need to call your Institute. Let them know you’re okay.”
Isabelle: “I know…but, I’ve just let so many people down. Especially my brother, and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to forgive me.”
Sebastian: “It might take some time, but my guess is he will.”
Isabelle: “You don’t know Alec. He’s…he’s just like my mom. Stubborn and strong willed.”
Sebastian: “Yeah, I know all about stubborn and strong willed mothers.”
Before the Yin Fen fiasco, Izzy was always strong and confident in her abilities and herself. She was the one who rescued others, supported her friends, and loved her family. Now, she has nearly gotten herself killed, lied to her fellow Shadowhunters, and taken her frustration out on those who care about her most. Sebastian might help her recover physically from her addiction, but the psychological damage it has done will stay with Izzy for a long time. Emeraude Toubia continues to impress us, her tortured looks and desperate demeanor a perfect representation of a young woman in the midst of a terrifying disease. As the show has done a great job presenting drug addiction so far, we hope that they will not sweep the emotional recovery under the rug for the sake of action or overall plot. We’ve seen Izzy grow throughout this process, and we want to see her overcome this!
Final Verdict: In “Mea Maxima Culpa,” we discover that some of the hardest battles are the ones we fight within ourselves
Season 2B started off with a bang by giving us two layers of conflict – the one against outside forces, and the one from within. Our characters are each challenged with facing the political fallout from Valentine’s actions as well as the resulting emotional damage. Along the way, we’re also getting new wrinkles in the form of Sebastian and Azazel (so far). This allows for a lot of room for growth for our favorite Shadowhunters and Downworlders and sets the tone for the rest of the episodes. “Mea Maxima Culpa” reminded us just why we fell in love with this show, and we’re excited to see where Shadowhunters will take us next!
If we said we had no questions after watching this episode, we’d obviously be lying. At the very least, we are wondering what Azazel will be up to next. What exactly did he do to Valentine and Magnus? Is it permanent? Can it be reversed? Will Sebastian really help Izzy out of the bottom of his heart, or will he call in that favor when the time comes? Where is the Mortal Cup? Who has it? Of course, there’s also the matter of what’s going to happen now that Clary knows Jace isn’t her brother…
Although the storylines played out fairly well, there was of course a couple of issues. First, having lived for so long, how could Magnus have not known that his wards would not hold against Azazel? Even if he didn’t know that, shouldn’t he have cast spells to protect himself before the greater demon touched him? How about Raphael? If he was so concerned about Izzy, why did he just let her walk out of his den without attempting to follow her or protect her? The other issue we had was with the camera work during the Izzy scenes. It looked as though the director couldn’t decide between showing her perspective versus those around her. The focus on her eyes at the beginning when she is withdrawing is clearly meant to show her state of mind, but when she attacks Raphael, we’re seeing her from his eyes. It would have been better to choose one and stick to it rather than jarring the audience.
Despite these small problems, “Mea Maxima Culpa” was a great way to kick off the second half of season two. We’re excited to see Will Tudor’s Sebastian, and the addition of Azazel to shake things up will definitely add to the drama of the show. We like that Shadowhunters has chosen to move along the plot of the books much faster, especially when it throws in some twists and turns to keep things fresh. The cast has clearly settled into their roles, and Emeraude Toubias really shined in this episode.
With Azazel on the prowl, the Clave will have more than just a missing mortal instrument to worry about, while we’ll be waiting to see the demon’s connection to Valentine. We know it’ll be interesting to see how Sebastian’s presence plays into the relationships between the Shadowhunters, not to mention the renewed tension between Jace, Clary, and Simon. We’re still hoping for a peek at the infamous Idris, so fingers crossed!
Yes, this is technically the second part of a bigger season, but we’re still excited to see how things pan out. We know there has to be a final resolution to the Clary love triangle, Valentine conning his way to freedom once more, and revelations about Sebastian. The good thing is that the show keeps us guessing, leaving us waiting with baited breath for the next week!
While we have access to the Clave’s interrogation room, let’s ask some questions…
- Who released Azazel? If it’s really Circle members, then what does Valentine want with him?
- Speaking of which, Azazel seems to have intentions of his own. What are they?
- How did Sebastian know where Izzy was? It couldn’t have just been a total coincidence…
- Why didn’t Clary’s rune work? Why didn’t she see a different rune then?
- What happened to Magnus and Valentine? Have they really switched bodies?
- How did Jace activate his rune like that? Is it his pure angelic blood?
- Does Raphael really believe Simon’s explanation of his Daylighter ability? (We think not)
- Where is the Mortal Cup and who has it? Could Dot know?
- Where is Cleophas? Is she dead? Is she held captive?
- Why was Luke’s new partner taking pictures of Maia?
- Are we going to get a fight-off between Jace and Sebastian? Preferably shirtless…
AN ALL NEW SHADOWHUNTERS AIRS MONDAY JUNE 12TH AT 8/7PM CST!
Shadowhunters 2X11 “Mea Maxima Culpa” Review