Shadowhunters season 2 runs through plot at a rapid pace. But when it comes to Alec and Magnus, the burn is nice and slow.
Shadowhunters are swift in battle, testing not only their physical strength, but their conviction to fight for what is right. Sometimes, as Cleophus shows, it’s easy to side with the flashy, action-driven people. But other times the slow burn of a story is more important than freeing a stolen angel.
Alexander Lightwood, young, ambitious, dutiful Shadowhunter. Magnus Bane, timeless, wise, nurturing warlock. On the surface these two are polar opposites. But something draws them together. The fan-favorite Shadowhunters ship sends both parties into uncharted territory.
How the duo navigates the swell of emotions is admirable and worthy of attention.
Magnus Bane learns to filter and appreciate the attention and care Alec provides. Alec, in turn, discovers that someone is willing to return feelings of desire.
It is not a whirlwind romance. Their romance feels quite slow considering how quickly Clary and Jace got together and were torn apart.
The Malec ship highlights the most important of all relationship goals — embrace the feelings you experience as they happen.
Fear, happiness, anxiety, and lust all swirl around, causing a person’s heart, mind, and gut to unravel as a new relationship begins. Most relationships on screen focus on the latter and not the former. It’s all about the end result — getting the person of your desire into bed.
Jace highlights this particular aspect by bedding everyone he can as he buries his feelings for Clary and his mixed emotions about his duty to the Clave. It’s not healthy for him and it certainly is not a healthy way for anyone to deal with their emotions. Simon, on the other hand, chases a substitute person to lay his emotional baggage on. Luckily, Maia is smart enough to cut him off before he drowns in an eternity of regret.
What can the rest of the couples in Shadowhunters learn from Malec? Pay attention to what makes the other person feel vulnerable. Do not dismiss it. Talk about it. Find a middle ground and meet the other person on terms that make both parties comfortable. Diving into a new relationship deserves more than one episode to blossom.
Since mid-season 1, Alec and Magnus’ chemistry is evident. As they dance their way around each other, it seems that Alec’s emotional journey is the only one worth considering. Everything is new. Every touch, every conversation all present hurdles for him.
However, as season 2 picks up pace, Magnus’ side of the story shares equal time in the spotlight. His interactions with Alec reveal that 17,000 is just a number. No amount of experience erases the fear that comes with falling in love.
One of the great aspects of Magnus and Alec’s relationship is that magic does not come into play. (Ok, except for opening portals for their dates!) Instead, Magnus and Alec pick up on each other’s emotional cues without the aid of runes or spells.
For example, take a look at their first date. They constantly misread each other’s cues over a game of pool to the point where it seemed like their date was a bust. But as soon as one decides to lean into their comfort zone, they quickly realize that their chemistry is not some fluke.
They are good together. But they need to learn to let each other in.
Another great instance follows shortly after when Magnus asks Alec about his experience in past relationships. As much as Magnus wants to hide his past to make Alec more comfortable, he chooses to lay his cards on the table. Taking that risk could result in losing Alec. In fact, it nearly did.
But Alec is slow to digest new information. He is afraid. Though uneasy about the impending result, Magnus gives Alec the space to tackle his thoughts. Alec processes and comes back ready to end the entire ordeal. But one moment more with Magus, one where he looks at the person he is walking away from, gives Alec enough reassurance to give this relationship a chance.
Alec’s lack of experience is not a roadblock Magnus needs to navigate. Instead, it provides an opportunity for a welcome detour.
Both enjoy each other’s company. Neither objects to a nice night alone without Jace spoiling the mood. They are open about their fears and take any hesitancy with great consideration.
Magnus finally has someone who doesn’t want anything but his affection. While Alec may appear to come on strong with Magnus when it comes to physical intimacy, it actually takes him a long while (and an awkward conversation with his sister) to work up the nerve. Their push and pull is not motivated by selfish desire.
It is the product of mutual respect and care. Other shows should take a page from Malec’s book. Slow things down. Bring back the simple gestures like hand holding and explore what they mean to a character on both sides. Because even the touch of a hand can feel as intense as a wild night in Magnus’ apartment.
Besides, won’t the reward feel so much better after the wait?
Watch Shadowhunters season 2, episode 8, “Love is a Devil,” Monday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Freeform.