Shadowhunters took fans to hell and back (a few times) during Monday’s 2.5-hour series finale, which concluded with one last twist that was anything but mundane.
Before we get into the nitty gritty with co-showrunners Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer, here’s an extremely abbreviated recap of the night’s events: After defeating Lilith and rescuing Magnus from Edom (which they destroyed in the process), the Shadowhunters returned to New York for the impromptu “Malec” wedding, where Clary was informed that she’d be stripped of her powers (and her memory) if she defied the will of the angels and created any more runes.
Unfortunately, she did create one last rune, but only to take down Jonathan, who claimed the lives of the Seelie Queen and countless allies during his finale rampage. (Other notable goings-on: Luke was given the serum, reverting him back from werewolf to Shadowhunter; Raphael joined the seminary; some sparks flew between Lorenzo and Underhill; and Izzy and Simon finally shared their first kiss!)
A one-year time jump revealed that Alec is the new Inquisitor, Izzy is now head of the New York Institute, Magnus is the High Warlock of Alicante, Simon is working on a supernatural book series called (ahem!) Unseen World: The Divine Implements, and Maia is opening an all-supernaturals-welcome restaurant while still leading her own werewolf pack. In addition to growing out her bangs, Clary has finally become the successful painter she was always meant to be — and when she spots Jace lurking at one of her art shows, she confronts him. She knows him. But how?!
For that answer, among many others, read our full Q&A with Slavkin and Swimmer below…
TVLINE | Let’s start right at the end. Clary remembers Jace, even if she isn’t sure how. What should we take away from this?
SLAVKIN | It’s really our way of showing that Clary and Jace’s love is stronger than the angels. That’s why we pulled up [towards the sky] at the end. It was us saying, “You can’t beat us.” And it was the “Clace” of it all. My hope is that the fans are really moved. All of us were moved. We thought it was a cool way to do it. You see a spark getting lit.
SWIMMER | We ended it in such a way where it’s up to the imagination now. It’s moving in a good direction, but we’re not going to say exactly where it goes.
SLAVKIN | Let the fan fiction begin!
TVLINE | I think I have the gist of what she did, but how would you explain the way Clary finally took down Jonathan?
SLAVKIN | She drew this new rune that she’s never drawn before, which gave her the wings to suffocate him and snuff out his life force. Her light overcame his darkness, so it was really an illustration of that. She went for it, knowing full well that if she made one more rune, she would lose her powers. Kat did that so well. It was not just a goodbye to Jonathan, it was a goodbye to the Shadow World. So much of this show is about sacrifice. That theme runs deep, so it felt really right for us to end it this way.
TVLINE | I assume Clary’s line about never going to Toronto was a little inside joke, since that’s where the show filmed?
SLAVKIN | Oh, yes. That scene was was originally going to take place in Chicago, so we were scouting for streets that looked like Chicago. All of a sudden, we just thought, why not Toronto? There’s an Institute there, and we wouldn’t have to fake it. It would also be a shoutout to the crew and to the city that has been so good to the show.
SWIMMER | We’ve always had a bit of a tonal policy not do little winks, but this was one exception we made to the rule.
TVLINE | Shifting gears a bit, is it also fair to assume that Maia met her parents in Ocean City?
SWIMMER | Yes, we actually talked many times about having a scene in the show where Maia goes back and we meet either one or both of her parents…
SLAVKIN | …but we had scheduling issues with Alisha Wainwright. She had a bigger role originally, but she and Isaiah [Mustafa] were shooting other stuff. Isaiah was doing It: Chapter 2 and Aisha was doing a Netflix show with Michael B. Jordan. So we only had a few scenes with her, but we still wanted to give her a lot. Going back and establishing a relationship with her parents was something she’s never been able to do, and she’s always felt badly about that. The whole Jordan thing was healing for her in a way, because now she knew she could go back home. The relationship with Jordan had a lasting, profound impact on her.
TVLINE | Speaking of parents, I loved seeing Jocelyn again — even under the circumstances.
SLAVKIN | We actually tried to get [Maxim Roy] back earlier. She was going to portray Raziel in Season 2. That was going to be the visual that the angel used. It felt right for the angels to use her mother here, someone she trusts, to get through to her — not just Anthony Head’s booming voice again. [Laughs]
TVLINE | And Luke is a Shadowhunter again! What went into that decision?
SWIMMER | There was so much debate over who was going to end up using that vial. We must have gone through just about everybody in the Downworld as a potential person. With him, it just felt so right. Also, it felt like it would be really fun to see him in new surroundings and new situations and not just be a wolf.
TVLINE | I’ve never been a huge Lorenzo Rey fan, but he really grew on me in this finale. Quite a turnaround!
SWIMMER | It was important for us to have as much of an uplifting sendoff for these characters as possible. We saw Lorenzo in particular as a good soul who got wrapped up in competitiveness and vanity.
SLAVKIN | The idea to hook him up with Underhill was very last minute. It came about days before we shot it. It was a spur-of-the-moment inspiration. He’s inspired by Magnus and Alec. And everybody loves Underhill; Steve Byers is so terrific. We felt like that moment would mean a lot to our fandom.
TVLINE | I remember worrying that he might someday come between Alec and Magnus, so I’m just glad to see he didn’t.
SWIMMER | Well, there’s also an underlying thread that Underhill was always a little suspicious, maybe even discriminatory, about Alec and Magnus’ relationship. He wasn’t down with the idea of a Shadowhunter having a relationship with a warlock, so him ending up with Lorenzo this works on a few levels.
SLAVKIN | It’s really a theme in this show, people becoming better. In the end, we’re all good. We can heal our darkness and see the light.
TVLINE | Speaking of seeing the light, I love that Helen and Aline are already talking about getting married.
SWIMMER | [Laughs] Yes, that relationship had to be sped up quite a bit, knowing that this was our last episode. It wasn’t like they’re actually getting married right away, but that was another relationship that was big in the books, so we wanted to honor it. And this is just a testament to their acting that you’re already so invested in their relationship. You only see them on screen for about five minutes total.
TVLINE | And, of course, the “Malec” wedding was stunning. What did you really want to make sure you got right about it?
SWIMMER | For starters, we really had to differentiate, since there had already been a wedding on this show. So that was a challenge just moving into it, trying to make it feel wholly different. I think the audience will see that.
SLAVKIN | When we shot close-ups of the vows, almost no one else was there but Matt and Harry. It was the end of the night, and everyone was gone, so they weren’t doing that part in front of the crowd. And it meant so much to each of them. They were so locked in. I have to commend them — they really delivered.
Your thoughts on the Shadowhunters finale’s somewhat unexpected conclusion? Grade the 2.5-hour event below, then drop a comment with your full review.