Here we are, we made it, we survived all 20 emotionally gripping and satisfying episodes of season two. A lot happened tonight, and a lot was set up for next season. So let’s talk ‘Beside Still Water.’
It was all hands on deck (minus Raphael yet again weirdly missing) as the battle to end Valentine came to a close. In the Seelie court, Maia was held captive by a vengeful and betraying queen. I’ve said it all season long, and I’ll say all next season as well when she becomes a series regular, Alisha Wainwright has been an incredible addition to this cast. She was tough in her talk with the queen, but also soft and caring in her moments with Simon and Luke.
Luke also has finally been getting his dues of late, and with Ollie wandering into the shadow world that’s bound to continue next season, he was strong and resilient in his distrust of the queen and in his search for his beta wolf. Isaiah Mustafa absolutely nails it when he’s given the material to work with and this episode yet again proved that.
While the wolfpack and Simon took on the queen Izzy, Alec and Magnus faced down demons in the streets of New York. I’m always a sucker for the return of archer Alec and watching him and his sister fight side by side is always amazing. But of course Malec managed to take center stage for me as they tend to. Separately, Alec was halfway towards giving up and knowing it was because of mistake he made, while Magnus was being the leader and high warlock he has to be. When they’re together it’s always incredible and they’ve gotten to show a different side of them recently, a side that Matthew Daddario and Harry Shum Jr have done absolute justice to. Bitter, somewhat salty, boyfriends who can barely deem to make eye contact is tough to watch but also realistic to the situation. Magnus is trying to do right by his people, so avoiding Alec is what he feels he has to do. It also speaks volumes that Alec went to first warn Magnus about the Seelie Queen betraying them, he’s clearly determined to never lie to Magnus again no matter what the status of their relationship may be.
Then there’s the beach scene. Anyone who’s ever heard me talk about this show knows the thing I want most from it is battle couple. And tonight we got the first true taste of it and it was glorious. Magnus asserting his power and ability as high warlock while archer Alec worried for him was perfect. All that raw power and emotional worry mixed with a kick ass dragon was a highlight of the episode. They can both feign indifference as much as they like but in the moments where either was in danger that indifference cracked. You could tell from the second they stepped on that beach that well, as Magnus said ‘you can’t get rid of me that easily.’ These two were gonna be okay.
And okay they were. Placing their final scene in the alleyway behind the bar where they had their first date was oddly symbolic. That night in Hunter’s Moon back in 2×06 was the start of their relationship in an official capacity and this conversation was the start of new chapter in their relationship. The moment was perfect, laced with a little timidness, but mostly just pure undeniable love. The way they both admitted they can’t do this without each other; can’t live without each other. It’s beautiful and loving and it’s one of the million reasons I love them so much. Sometimes they’re messy, but they always find a way back to each other. They’re going to fight together, side by side for as long as there is a fight and beyond. There are many hurdles and conversations they are both bound to face in the future and those things are these beautiful and tough moments we have to look forward to in the next season and beyond.
I’d also like to give huge credit to the writers for not once in dialogue referring to the separation Magnus and Alec had as a ‘break-up.’ Something about that just felt right, because that’s truly not what it was. It was a difficult separation caused by an even more difficult situation.
Finally there was Idris. First let me say the forest areas they found in Toronto to film all these Idris scenes are gorgeous. Then let me say Dominic Sherwood and Kat McNamara were genuinely heartbreaking in these scenes. I expected to not feel the emotional impact of Jace’s “death” all that much simply because I knew it wouldn’t last more than ten minutes. That was surprisingly not the case, both of them managed to sell the moment well enough that for a second I actually thought he might not be coming back. Alan Van Sprang was also fantastic in these scenes. It is a damn shame to see him go from a performance perspective. He’s brought a lot to the table and he’s played the villain he was tasked with bringing to life so very well every week. Valentine couldn’t last forever, but I’m glad we got Van Sprang to play him while he did.
Clary just brutally stabbing Valentine much in the way that she straight up stabbed Jonathan a few episodes back just shows how damn done that girl is with her blood related family and I’m proud of her for that.
Big shout out to the show using the talented voice of Anthony Stewart Head as Raziel; he’s got a voice that commands respect and the presence of an angel, it was such a good casting choice.
Overall the entire episode just looked good. I’ll be honest I’ve never been overwhelmingly impressed with Matt Hastings directing before tonight. It was never bad, just nothing epically stood out. Tonight though there were moments where everything just looked right. Malec’s alleyway scene lit up by neon lights, the battle scenes, Valentine’s final menacing moments and that soft dark glow that the Seelie Court maintains were all pleasant to the eye. It was also fantastic that it seemed the show had held out a nice portion of the VFX budge till the finale which was absolutely worth it.
Other bits to love: Tipsy ‘I want to hug everyone’ Luke is a damn delight, kinda obsessed with the fact that moments after his parabatai “died” Alec was quick to ensure Magnus’ safety (he’d lost a brother and he sure as hell wasn’t losing the man he loves as well), Izzy is a sneaky keeper of Malec, and do Valentine’s sons come back from the dead because of all the spaghetti he fed them?
All in all this was a nice cap off to a season that got shaky in the middle but came back in 2b with 10 incredibly strong episodes. So that’s all for reviews this year, though I’ll be back later in the week with a little season three wishlist to look out for. See you all in January!
NEXT SEASON: Lilith has arrived, Jace and Jonathan may very well be tethered together and god what did Simon do?