Note: This article is written in advance of the Shadowhunters series premiere “The Mortal Cup” and will contain spoilers.
As most people know, television pilots are a tricky business. In a forty-minute time frame, networks have to accomplish quite a bit: they have to provide enough backstory to make the characters’ universe believable without resorting to time-consuming, expository dialogue; they have to create characters that are compelling enough to make viewers care about them; and, they have to present a hook intriguing enough to get viewers to want to divest their time finding out what happens next. For this reason, most pilots are far from perfect. Many can feel rushed or busy, weighed down by the amount of information crammed into it, while others can feel lacking, as if the writers expected the viewers to know too much of the backstory right out of the gate. There are some, however, that set off at a leisurely pace, supplying viewers with enough information to get them acquainted with a series without making their heads explode, while still including enough action to keep viewers wanting more. Thankfully, the Shadowhunters premiere “The Mortal Cup” falls into this latter category.
That’s not to say that the Shadowhunters premiere is perfect–it has its moments where it could use a bit of tweaking–but it certainly serves as an excellent start to what promises to be an amazing show. The episode as a whole is welcoming to both fans of Cassandra Clare’s best-selling book series The Mortal Instruments and newbies who are eager to dive into the Shadowhunters universe. From the first minute, it’s non-stop action complemented by clever, poignant dialogue and carried out by characters that are believable as well as relatable. In all honesty, there are so many great moments in this premiere that it’s almost impossible to highlight only a handful, but for the purpose of this article, I’ve selected what I consider to be the top five best moments of the Shadowhunters premiere. Check them out below, and be sure to tune into ABC Family/Freeform’s Shadowhunters premiere on January 12 at 9:00 pm EST!
1) Jace, Isabelle and Alec Stalk a Shape-Shifting Demon
This is the perfect introduction to the episode, combining mystery and action with an upbeat music sequence that makes an instant impression. In addition, it also familiarizes us with the trio of Shadowhunters who will serve as Clary’s guides in this new, dark world–Jace, Isabelle and Alec–and gives us a first look at what kind of supernatural threats exist in this world.
2) Jocelyn Gives Clary A Stele
This is probably my favorite moment in “The Mortal Cup”, because it shows Clary not only getting acquainted with her Shadowhunter heritage and destiny but it also features my favorite Clary quote of the episode–“Us Frays have heirlooms?”–which Katherine McNamara expertly delivers.
3) Simon Sings (And Steals Everyone’s Hearts)
In an effort to prevent spoiling too much of Simon’s storyline, I will say that this moment is memorable for several reasons. For starters, it allows viewers to hear Simon’s beautiful voice. In addition, it gives viewers a first glimpse of the Maureen-Simon-Clary love triangle, which will prove to be important later on. More so, it serves as the episode’s first venture into foreshadowing and is the first “Easter Egg” for fans of The Mortal Instruments book series.
4) Magnus Confronts Members of the Circle
Even though he is only in a few scenes, Magnus Bane is one of my favorite characters in this episode, in part because they chose an amazing actor, Harry Shum Jr., to play him. The scene that won me over completely is the one in which Magnus confronts various Circle members in his club. In this scene, he demonstrates his power as well as his charisma, and proves to be one of the characters to watch in future episodes.
5) Jace Removes His Glamour
This scene contains some of the funniest bits of dialogue, this time from Simon; I chuckle heartily every time I go back and hear him ask Clary if she has a meth problem that they need to talk about. However, the real reason that this moment made the list can be summarized using two words: Jace’s abs. In this scene, Jace (Dominic Sherwood) draws a rune on his hip to remove the glamour hiding him from Simon, and in the process, he gives us a sneak peek of his impressive physique. Shallowness aside, though, the exchanges between Jace, Clary and Simon also made this scene noteworthy.
Luke Makes His Presence Known
I honestly don’t think that the casting directors could’ve chosen a better actor to play Luke Garroway. Isaiah Mustafa is brilliant in this role; he’s sexy, strong and captivating whenever he’s on-screen, and his introductory scene makes it perfectly known that there’s more to him than meets the eye.