When Lydia Branwell entered the picture last week, I had a feeling that she was going to shake things up, but I never thought that it would be to this extent. The ninth episode of Freeform’s supernatural drama Shadowhunters found Alec at odds with pretty much everybody—and the cause of these rifts? Lydia Branwell. In one fell swoop, she managed to turn Alec against his parents, his friends and his heart, which makes it very, very hard to like her as a character.
It’s possible, however, that I’m giving her too much credit for Alec’s inflexible and frustrating decisions in “Rise Up.” After all, Alec is a grown man who is capable of thinking for himself. It’s just that it seems like Lydia is the one doing his thinking for him right now and that she’s using his uniquely vulnerable state to her advantage. Nevertheless, I’m not going to give Alec a complete pass; he has to take at least partial responsibility for his mistakes so that he can begin to rectify them.
So, what exactly happened over the course of “Rise Up”? A better question would be: what didn’t happen? The episode picked up where last week’s left off, with Clary scrambling to pick up the pieces after Simon’s vampire transformation. As Simon struggles to come to terms with his new condition, Clary, Jace and Isabelle find themselves facing a new, much more formidable threat: the Clave, who have decided to remove the Institute from the Lightwoods’ control and deliver Izzy’s former squeeze, the seelie Meliorn, to the Silent Brothers for interrogation. To make matters worse, Alec still enraged over the reveal that his parents were in the Circle, unrelentingly supports the Clave’s tactics and refuses to listen to reason. In a last-ditch effort to save Meliorn, Clary, Izzy and Jace betray Alec and rally the Downworlders, widening the rift that has torn our favorite band of Shadowhunters apart.
Altogether, this was an action-packed, emotionally compromising episode that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I can’t wait to see what happens next! In the meantime, let’s relive what I view as the Best Five Moments from Shadowhunters episode 9, “Rise Up.”
Magnus Installs New Wards (And Flirts Up a Storm)
Whenever Magnus does magic, he does it with a style that is uniquely his own, and this episode gives us another chance to observe his handiwork. After the Forsaken attack, the Lightwoods call Magnus in to reinforce the wards, which he does effortlessly. I have to say that the special effects in this scene coupled with Magnus’s hand flourishes made it truly mesmerizing to watch. However, the most remarkable part of this scene is Magnus’s conversation with Alec. As usual, Magnus starts out by flirting shamelessly with the young Shadowhunter, but when Alec remains resistant, he tries a different approach. “If anything were to happen to you, I—” he starts to say, but then Alec cuts him off. It’s the first time that we’ve ever seen Magnus be emotionally vulnerable on the show, which makes the fact that Alec brushed him aside that much more disappointing.
Alec Tells Magnus That He’s Getting Married (And Magnus’s Heart Breaks)
This was the most difficult scene to watch because of how clearly Harry Shum Jr. expressed Magnus’s heartbreak. At first, he assumes that Alec is jokingly talking about them, but when Alec drops the bomb that he proposed to Lydia, the look on Magnus’s face is a mixture of hurt, shock, and betrayal. What’s even more devastating is the way that he repeats Alec’s assertion that his marriage to Lydia will be “a solid partnership”; he laughs it off while trying to hide his obvious pain and disbelief. In the end, he wishes Alec the best and leaves the Institute. Although I know that Magnus still wants Alec, I’m sort of hoping that he makes Alec work for it when Alec finally comes to his senses.
Luke and Raphael Exchange Barbs (And Clary Tries to Keep the Peace)
Clary displays some serious leadership skills throughout the episode, particularly when she rallies the Downworlders to rescue Meliorn before he can be sent to the Silent Brothers. However, the most enjoyable part about the vampires and werewolves working together is the exchange of insults between Luke and Raphael, leaders of their respective packs. At one point, I half-expected them to either have a dance-off or start spouting “Yo Mama” jokes. Anyway, Isaiah Mustafa and David Castro did a brilliant job adding levity to this tense scene. Hopefully, we get more scenes of them together in future episodes.
Izzy Builds a Rune Bomb (And Kicks Some Shadowhunter Butt, Too)
If I wasn’t totally infatuated with Izzy’s character before “Rise Up”, I definitely would be now. Time and time again, she’s demonstrated that she is a force to be reckoned with, and this episode is no different. In an effort to save Meliorn, she pulls out all the stops; she builds a rune smoke bomb to use as a distraction, and with a flick of her whip and the help of a few vampires, she manages to take down a handful of Shadowhunters with little difficulty. Even Alec couldn’t quite figure out what happened! It’s ok, Alec; your badass sister always manages to catch me off-guard, too.
Alec and Jace Go Head-to-Head (And Jace Begs Alec to Make the Right Choice)
When Jace and Clary intercepted Alec before he could deliver Meliorn to the custody of the Silent Brothers, I knew there was going to be a fight. Lo and behold, there was—but I didn’t expect it to be nearly as gut-wrenching as it turned out to be. Jace, who blames himself for Alec’s reckless decisions, pleads for Alec to listen and stop what he’s doing. In a shocking move, Alec actually draws his stele on Jace and holds it to his throat, and Jace makes a last-minute appeal to their parabatai bond, saying that he doesn’t want to live if they are on different sides (cue the feels!). This seems to finally get Alec’s attention and he backs off. Nevertheless, he refuses to go back with Jace and stays behind. I have to commend both Dominic Sherwood and Matthew Daddario for bringing so much raw emotion to this scene; without that, it wouldn’t have made such an impression on me. Even now, my heart skips a beat whenever I remember Jace saying “my parabatai, my brother” in that broken voice. As someone who is a big fan of their relationship, I’m praying that the two of them reconcile soon.
Simon Goes Home (And Almost Feeds on His Mom)
I’m so glad that this episode gave us a chance to spend more time with Simon and his mom because I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of their family dynamic. Even though I know that the intention of this scene was to demonstrate how little control Simon has over his thirst, the most compelling part about it was the strange tug-of-war sequence that occurred between Simon’s mom and Clary, with Simon as the rope. In an effort to get Simon away from his mom, Clary invents a story about being the victim of identity theft and needing Simon’s help. When Simon’s mom objects, Clary reminds Simon that they’ve always been there for each other. After much cajoling, Simon finally leaves with Clary, but this scene made me wonder just how many times Simon has felt torn between acquiescing to his mother’s wishes or Clary’s.