Shadowhunters’ Parabatai Bromance: Two Is Company, Three’s A Crowd

Shadowhunters’ 26th January episode “Dead Man’s Party” saw its fair share of drama with Simon (Alberto Rosende) being held captive by vampires and Clary (Kat McNamara) and her new Shadowhunter company going in to rescue him. But in the process of getting there, we learned that the friendship between golden boy Jace (Dominic Sherwood) and dark, brooding Alec (Matthew Daddario) is more than originally advertised.

They are Parabatai – a term used to describe two Shadowhunters who are ritually bound together to accompany and aid each other in the fight against demons. In battle, their hearts are in sync, and they are oath-sworn to fight together and protect each other. If death takes one of them, a part of the other will die right along with him. Pretty intense stuff. According to Jace, no other human relationship compares – but the way things went down between the two of them at the end of the hour proved that being part of a heavenly soul-bond does not make you exempt from human troubles.

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In the show’s pilot, we saw Alec suggesting his typical rule-abiding report to the powers-that-be, and he didn’t seem to mind when Jace brushed off the restrictions of such a thing in favor of getting the job done quickly. They had each other’s backs while they brawled demons in the Pandemonium club, to the point where they shared a weapon and finished off an enemy in unison. But with Clary and her newly discovered heritage barreling on through into their world, Jace suddenly has a new mystery to solve and Alec – who trusts rules, not exceptions – has been downgraded to number two on Jace’s priority list. By now we know Jace is the reckless hero with the power and finesse to fight his way out of any situation while Alec obeys the letter of the law, and that probably hasn’t presented too much of a problem in the past – it may have even been fun – but a third wheel has attached itself to the cart, and it has Jace trailing along curiously for the ride and Alec throwing warnings left, right and centre to a friend who is no longer listening.

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Episode two went on to reinforce what we’d already seen, with the exchange of silent inside jokes at the expense of the poor, unsuspecting Mundane tagging along for the ride, and the shared numerous imploring glances of two people with a deep history and understanding of how the other thinks and feels. We even saw a rare moment between the two during the episode’s second half, where Jace spoke briefly and earnestly of his experience in having nothing and no one, and Alec comforted him, gently shutting him down when Jace referred to himself as a ‘stray’. But the small disagreements that have plagued them since Clary came into the picture have begun to chip away at the surface. With each passing hour, Jace falls a little deeper into the mystery of this new person in his life, while rigid soldier Alec questions both her existence and Jace’s motives in helping her at every turn.

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In “Dead Man’s Party”, the two hit the pause button on their arguing long enough to show us the caring side of their relationship. Alec made moves to return to the Institute on his own for his weapon of choice and Jace, rattled at their continuous butting of heads and Alec’s change in behavior, couldn’t hide his hurt fast enough. Alec bridged the gap to comfort his Parabatai, Jace was all too relieved and willing to meet him halfway, and briefly they were in sync once again. But it wasn’t enough to change Alec’s opinion of Clary, who he believes is simply the daughter of Valentine Morgenstern, the worst traitor their race has ever known, and as Jace began to let his heart rule his head, the friction of their opposing attitudes grew. Jace and Clary became ever closer, and Alec received counsel through mentor Hodge (Jon Cor) who, in seeing himself in Alec, advised him to make his own path. When Jace shut him down one time too many, Alec took that advice and walked away – leaving Jace essentially torn between his Parabatai and his choice to guide Clary on her path, regardless of where it leads.

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Those who are familiar with the show’s original source material know exactly why Jace and Alec aren’t getting along, and for those who aren’t, things will become a little clearer on tonight’s episode “Raising Hell”, where the gang hunts down the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr.) in an attempt to retrieve Clary’s memories. Jace and Alec may be driven even further apart in the future as both men begin to carve out their own separate paths, but with a supernatural bond tying them together and two very capable, chemistry-compatible actors in Dominic Sherwood and Matthew Daddario to carry it off, it sets up a rather intriguing, angsty ride for the audience to enjoy.


Shadowhunters airs tonight at 9pm/8c on Freeform, and tomorrow internationally on Netflix.

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