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Shadowhunters: Season 2 Promises a Deeper Character Study

Exclusive Interview with Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer

With advanced reviews already released and its network dropping new promos like daily Christmas gifts, the fan anticipation for the January 2nd season two premiere of Freeform’s Shadowhunters has never been higher. If it gets any higher, God help us all.

Season one followed Clary Fray’s new awareness of the Shadow World as she discovered the secrets of her family and the part they have played in some of its darker history. With a limited 13-episode season order and barely any room for fans and characters alike to catch their collective breath, Clary, Jace, Simon, Luke, Isabelle, Alec and Magnus took everything as it came, dealt with it the only way they knew how, and looked anxiously ahead for the next punch to come their way. The pace was unrelenting, and character development was, at times, sacrificed in favor of getting the story’s moving parts from point A to point B.

Season two, however, promises different.

“It’s a bit about finding your path,” says Darren Swimmer, one-half of Shadowhunters’ new showrunning pair, In general, we’re exploring that all characters are exploring their destiny. That’s really part of the books. Are we the children of our parents, and do we do the same things that they do? Or do we chart our own path?”

While new series director Matt Hastings has reworked the visual style of the show to better reflect the grittiness of New York and the action of the Shadow World, the new tonal direction of the storytelling will be a treat for fans who felt they weren’t afforded the time to get to know their favorite characters on an emotional level. As self-proclaimed ‘character guys,’ Darren Swimmer and show-running partner, Todd Slavkin, like to see how their characters tick. And the work in the writers’ room so far has yielded results that the two can’t help but gush over.

“Looking at Isaiah Mustafa and Luke, I feel like he has a little bit more to play and as the season carries on, we’re going to see some really amazing performances from him,” Darren shares. As for Alberto Rosende’s portrayal of Simon Lewis: “Alberto’s always phenomenal. I like to watch, whether he’s doing comedy or dramatic scenes, and there’s plenty of both this season. Especially the dramatic stuff.”

Todd is quick to add to the praise: “Emeraude (Toubia) will blow you away. The depths that Em brings to [Isabelle] this season is just incredible. Dom Sherwood will break your heart. He takes it to a whole different level. Kat (McNamara) is just astounding. We just saw 209, and I think it was some of the best work she’s ever done on this series. Everyone has really dug in.”

As for the show’s fan-favorite pair, Malec, Todd explains: “Matt (Daddario) and Harry (Shum Jr.) are terrific. We’ve given Magnus a lot more of his own story outside of Malec, so there’s stuff we get to look at there. Harry brings so much pathos to that; it’s great. Way beyond his relationship with Magnus, Alec goes through a total odyssey in 2A. It’s amazing he’s still standing. Daddario brings a great grace, elegance, humor. He’s really special.”

Another way in which these characters develop can be found in the way they interact with others in new ways. Simon, exploring his new Downworlder status, appears to be one such catalyst for these new situations – and if we know Simon at all, it’s almost guaranteed to provide endless, wild entertainment.

“Simon and Jace, they do this whole [back and forth] this year with the two of them,” says Todd, “Simon gets to play with Magnus. We have a whole episode that he plays off of Magnus. He plays so well with [Isabelle], Luke, and of course Clary. It’s awesome.”

Having diligently read the books, Todd and Darren are excited to bring certain elements into the show. Besides introducing the character of Maia Roberts and the mythology of the Iron Sisters to the first half of the season, fans can look forward to seeing more of Simon’s mother, Elaine, as well as anticipated characters like Sebastian Verlac and the Seelie Queen. The roll-out of major book content will take some time, but for all the best reasons: Shadowhunters is aiming to be on our screens for many years to come.

“Those [book elements] are the things that are kind of in the imminent future,” Todd explains, “It’s just…you have to be patient because the show can run for a long time and book lovers need to understand that we need to parcel some things out. You can’t rush things. Those are kind of the main highlights [for season two] that we’re super excited about.”

On the topic of Maia Roberts, Todd reveals how her presence will affect individual characters. In particular, her relationship with our beloved resident pack leader, Luke Garroway, is sure to be a highlight.

“She has a great impact on Luke because Luke is a father figure to her. Luke goes through some trials and tribulations this season, and Maia’s instrumental in helping him through that,” Todd says, “And vice versa, Luke is really helpful and sometimes will become antagonistic as a father with her. We’re going to explore that as well.”

As for her fan-anticipated relationship with fledgling Vampire, Simon Lewis?

“She has a thing for Simon. Simon is so cute and adorable and smart and geeky just like she is,” he explains, “They can identify as two Downworlders in a way that Simon can’t identify with Clary and with others. There’s a lot of fun with that.”

Most surprisingly, Maia will have a great rapport with new-boy-lost Jace – and it won’t be all snarls.

“She’s the bartender at the Hunter’s Moon, and she tangles with Jace, and there’s this great tension between them,” Todd reveals, “They’ve got terrific chemistry together, it’s kind of ‘I hate you’/’I love you’, [this] kind of great explosive energy between them.”

Being in Valentine’s clutches for the first time since he was a child, Jace is bowing once again under the abuse of his father, and the psychological strain he is set to endure will influence the way he thinks moving forward.

“Oh yeah. How can it not?” Todd explains while keeping mum on the subject, “He reels from this identity crisis in 2A. He has to wrestle with so much personal history. What’s true? What’s false? What’s right? What’s wrong? All of those major decisions. He goes through an incredible journey in 2A.”

Many fans will be relieved to hear that our magnificent High Warlock Magnus Bane – and how his rich, lengthy, emotional history has shaped the man he is – will be showcased.

“He carries a lot of guilt from his past; it’s intriguing,” Todd explains, “The fact that Magnus is a Warlock going back hundreds and hundreds of years, it’s full of potential. We’re exploring that history with other characters, such as his relationship with Raphael. We’re exploring that with his own history of mental health issues. We’re exploring it with how he’s worked with the Clave and the Institute in the past in terms of creating wards in the Institute. We will see a little bit more of a well-rounded person. Of course his relationship with Alec is a huge part of his life in terms of where he’s at now, but on the other hand, there’s so much more depth to him and so much more to him than to just be defined by his relationship with another person.”

On the topic of his immortality and how that may create unrest in the newly minted relationship between Magnus and Alec, Todd and Darren reassure Malec fans: Not yet.

“We touch on it, but not to the extent the book does,” Todd surmises.

Darren explains further, I think it’s more grappling with human versus hunter. Shadowhunter versus Warlock. How do the two carry on a relationship given the differences in their backgrounds?”

 

 

Shadowhunters returns January 2nd 8/7c on Freeform, and January 3rd internationally on Netflix.

Written by Sam Pedley

I like food, sleep, and binge-watching television shows in place of being productive.

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