Alec Lightwood is one of the main characters on Shadowhunters and as the season progresses he has become one of the most interesting characters on the show.
Alec started off as the brooding sidekick who didn’t say much but as the season has progressed Alec’s story line and relationships have become one of the best part of the show. The last two episodes have highlighted just how complicated Alec is and the lengths he is willing to go to hide his true self. Unfortunately for Alec, hiding only makes him angry and he lashes out on the ones he loves the most.
There are two scenes from last week’s episode that highlight just how angry Alec is and how much he is willing to deny himself to meet the expectations of those around him.
Alec and Jace are parabatai. In the Shadowhunter world this is a huge deal. Only certain Shadowhunters choose to become parabatai and it is a life long commitment. Until Clary arrives, Jace and Alec have a seemingly perfect relationship. Jace has been practically adopted by the Lightwoods after being orphaned and the two have grown up as best friends. The only hiccup in their relationship is Alec’s love for Jace, it’s not exactly brotherly.
Alec’s feelings complicate everything because in the Shadowhunter world, being gay is frowned upon and could lead to you being disowned. There is a saying, ‘the law is hard, but it is the law,’ meaning that as a Shadowhunter following the law is imperative. Alec is a rule follower to the core.
Isabelle often teases Alec about his love for Jace in an attempt to get him to loosen up. She knows the consequences of the law but Isabelle is not big on laws. I mean she dates a downworlder which is definitely frowned upon. Alec even begins to question his sister’s loyalty by siding with Lydia.
The clip highlights the beginning of the end for Alec. Until this point he manages to keep his feelings hidden. They don’t challenge his relationship with Jace until Clary enters the picture. Alec clearly sees her as a threat to his relationship with Jace and it all reaches a boiling point. This scene between Alec and Jace is gut-wrenching. It may seem like a small thing, two guys fighting about a girl, but it’s really more about Alec’s conflicted feelings. It isn’t just about Jace and Clary. It’s about finding out his family has held him to an expectation that they themselves didn’t follow.
Jace’s speech to Alec about being on different sides hurt to watch. He practically begged Alec to go with him and Alec refused. It was a huge moment because parabatai are supposed to support one another no matter what. The bond they share is soul-deep and this moment truly highlights how conflicted Alec is about the whole situation. His biggest fear is being labeled a trader by the Clave but by not going with Jace isn’t he betraying people more important than the Clave?
Magnus told Alec it was time to start living for himself, to follow his heart but something tells me Magnus didn’t mean for him to get engaged to Lydia. This scene between Alec and Magnus was probably the most painful thing to watch in a long time. Alec was short with Magnus earlier in the episode but this almost seems cruel. Magnus’ reactions which seems calm at first quickly becomes angry and hurt.
Alec clearly doesn’t want to have this conversation but he knows there is no avoiding the warlock. Magnus confessed to Alec that he had feelings for him and that he opened something in him that had been closed for a long time. Alec was flattered and you could see that he was beginning to see Magnus as more than the High Warlock of Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, there are too many things in Alec’s life that interfere with his feelings. Being open about who he loves is not an option and Alec struggles with that. Once he meets Magnus he seems to open up a bit about his feelings until other areas of his life start to fall apart.
Alec is a beautifully complicated character that is facing challenges that are relatable. He fears being himself because not everyone around him will understand. He is in love with someone that will never love him they way he deserves. His family is complicated. His parents have kept secrets and put expectation on their children that are unfair. I think everyone has experienced at least one of these things if not more.
Alec is important because he is a reflection of young adulthood. The fear, the anger, the rejection, that he goes through are typical feelings that everyone experiences. Alec’s struggle is a story that needs to be told and is being told well on Shadowhunters.
Matt Daddario brings Alec to life on the weekly basis. Initially, there was little for him to do besides stare longingly at Jace and be annoyed with Clary. But in recent episodes Daddario has been able to show what he is really capable of. These two clips show just how much he lives and breathes Alec’s struggles.