When the first half of Shadowhunters season two ended three months ago, fans were left with a plethora of pressing questions. Will the Shadow World settle down now that Valentine is in custody? What would happen with Clary and Jace now that Valentine has revealed they aren’t siblings? How are other Downworlders going to react to Simon’s newfound immunity to sunlight? Would Isabelle remain addicted to vampire blood forever? And, most important of all, who was that hooded figure lurking in the shadows?
In many ways, the first episode of the back-half, “Mea Maxima Culpa,” set about answering these questions—at least in part. The episode opens with Simon and Clary hanging out, enjoying a temporary sense of peace. To them, things appear to have taken a turn for the better: not only is Valentine imprisoned, but Simon is also able to live a semi-normal life. All-around them is an air of excited anticipation for the future, an anticipation that will ultimately be made more complicated by upcoming events.
As the episode progresses, we quickly learn Valentine was the least of their problems. A new foe emerges, one who possesses an insane amount of power and is intent on finding the Mortal Cup. Eventually we discover this foe is, in fact, a Greater Demon, a Prince of Hell who goes by the name of Azazel, and has havoc and carnage follow in his footsteps.
On top of this, Isabelle is attempting to knock her vampire blood addiction, and it’s a lot harder than it sounds. She has several setbacks until she meets Sebastian, a mysterious Shadowhunter who arrives at exactly the right time. Who is he and why is he here? I expect we’ll find out in the next few episodes.
While all this is going on, Luke is dealing with discord within his pack, which reaches a crescendo when one of his detractors convinces several of his fellow werewolves to branch out and create a pack of their own. And, if that wasn’t stressful enough, Luke has a nosy new partner, Molly, who may have a hidden agenda of her own.
Last but not least, we have Clary and Jace, who must figure out the dynamics of their relationship once Jace finally confesses they aren’t siblings. Clary appears to handle this news with ease and grace, but I could sense that even she isn’t sure what this means for them. I expect the road ahead is going to be a difficult one, but I think it’ll be worth it.
Altogether, “Mea Maxima Culpa” was wrought with emotional and surprising moments that not only advanced the plot but also allowed the characters’ real-life counterparts to flex their acting wings. Here are my picks for the Five Best Moments from Shadowhunters episode 2.11, “Mea Maxima Culpa.”
1) A Mysterious Man Stops By a Bar for a Drink
Did you think things were going to calm down now that Valentine is behind bars? Think again! As we quickly learn in this episode, there is a new bad guy in town, one who makes one hell of a first impression. After walking into a bar to inquire after the Mortal Cup, this Greater Demon paralyzes everyone in the vicinity and then proceeds to choke the life out of them without doing more than lifting a finger. Then, he saunters out, leaving viewers with an overwhelming sense of foreboding.
2) Hello, Sebastian
It turns out detoxing from vampire blood is no walk in the park. Caught in the throes of withdrawal, Isabelle gives in to her craving and goes in search of Raphael, hoping for a small dose. He refuses, causing her first to freak out and then to leave in search of other vampires who might be more willing. Unfortunately, she crosses paths with none other than Azazel, the Greater Demon in search of the Mortal Cup. Just when you think Isabelle is done for, she’s rescued by a strange new Shadowhunter who calls himself Sebastian. Friend or foe? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
3) Clary Learns the Truth about Jace
It was the moment so many of us were waiting for: Clary finally learned Jace wasn’t her brother. I’ll admit I was a little surprised Jace didn’t tell her outright, but I kind of understand why he chose to keep it a secret. Nevertheless, as secrets so often do, this one inevitably bubbled to the surface. To make matters even more awkward, it occurred during an interrogation scene with Valentine, where he could witness the drama unfold from the front row. Amazingly, Clary is able to keep her cool—for the most part.
4) The Gang Sets a Trap
The climax of this episode was definitely the moment where Magnus summoned Azazel in an attempt to trade Valentine for Isabelle. At first, Magnus appears to be able to hold Azazel in check, but things quickly spiral out of control. Azazel breaks free and subdues the team in a matter of minutes. All hope appears to be lost until Jace discovers a brand-new ability: he can activate runes without his stele. He is able to drive Azazel away, but not before the Greater Demon leaves them with a parting gift…which I won’t spoil here!
5) Simon is Cornered by Raphael
Last but not least, we have this subtle but nonetheless important moment where Simon calls Clary to excitedly tell her about all the new plans he has for the future. While he is in this state of bliss, he is confronted by Raphael, who is determined to get to the bottom of some rumors he’s heard. Simon is able to dodge Raphael’s questions with expert ease, but I got the impression Raphael will keep pressing the issue until he gets to the bottom of it.
Luke’s New Partner Attempts to Get to Know Him Better
It seemed like this episode was rife with new characters, with one of the most interesting being Molly. She’s bubbly, inquisitive and seemingly harmless, running the risk of luring Luke into a false sense of security–because, if that scene in the car is any indication, her motives may be less than pure. When Maia tracks Luke down to talk about discord in the pack, Molly sneaks a picture of her. What is she after? Hopefully, we’ll find out more in the next episode!