Exclusive Interview: Shadowhunters Showrunners Todd Slavkin & Darren Swimmer Talk Season 2B
Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer are no strangers to the sci-fi/fantasy genre, having worked together as executive producers and writers on such shows as The CW's Smallville, ABC's No Ordinary Family, and Syfy's Alphas, Dominion and Defiance. Not only does that tell you they're experienced in the storytelling of super-powered beings, alternate worlds and pre-existing canon, but it kind of looks like their resume has been leading up to the likes of Freeform's Shadowhunters for quite some time.
After half a season of steering the writers' room through new, darker waters, their debut episode - 2A's chaotic winter finale By The Light Of Dawn - proved their ability to write snugly in the show's universe and move it's pieces in fresh, exciting ways. And with season 2B moving closer on the horizon, it leaves a lot of us hotly anticipating the show's next phase.
We got the chance to ask Todd and Darren about what they're enjoying on Shadowhunters and what we might expect to see in the rest of the season, where they discuss disappearing faces, returning faces, the heroes behind the camera and the possible paths of our main squad moving forward. See our interview below!
Congratulations on a great Season 2A! Now that you’re not restricted by spoilers or a character count, tell us what the most memorable moment of 2A was for you?
Well, in real life, it was definitely our first day in the Shadow World. We started on day one of principal photography for season two. Cameras were rolling and the excitement and adrenaline rush was overwhelming. The writers, cast and crew were wonderfully welcoming. It all felt so right. Creatively, there isn't any one moment that stands out. It's all a beautiful collage to us. Magnus and Alec's first date, Simon and Maia going to the woods to find the grief-stricken Luke. The flashback with Maia and Luke in the ambulance. Jace in the City of Bones. Clary with Iris Rouse trying to bring her mom back. Alec's smile at Madzie, "cool gills." The Parabatai flashbacks and Jace's anguish as he tries to resuscitate Alec. The Iron Sisters. Raphael teaching Izzy how to make tamales. Simon and Clary's first kiss on the Brooklyn Promenade. Max's rune ceremony. Magnus trying to talk Madzie down. Alec and Jace learning from Maryse that Robert was cheating. Clary and Jace freeing the angel. Simon confessing to his mom, Alec awkwardly engaging in the sex talk with Izzy. And the list goes on...
You’ve done a great deal of restructuring with the killing off of Hodge, Jocelyn, Alaric and sending Lydia back to Idris. Was that a conscious effort to refocus the narrative on our main characters or to make room for new characters like Sebastian and the Seelie Queen?
That was one of many reasons but each character's death had its own creative vision. In the books, Hodge dies in prison beside Simon. Since Jace was in prison in the City of Bones, and had so much history and friction with Hodge, we felt like that was a cool time to do it and a subtle nod to the book. Jocelyn's death was certainly the most daring. We knew it would be controversial, but we felt like Clary needed that deep emotional set-back to better propel her on her hero's journey. Alaric was necessary in order to illustrate the devastating effects of the Soul Sword on the Downworld. We had to kill someone we cared about. In terms of Lydia’s absence, we actually wanted to bring her back for an episode but unfortunately Stephanie Bennett, the actress who plays her, had a scheduling conflict and wasn’t available.
Speaking of, now that Jocelyn is gone and Valentine is locked up - both of which are things we’ve never seen happen in the canon of this world before - what’s Clary’s life looking like in 2B? And since he is all she has left, are we perhaps going to see Luke step into a more committed father role?
Clary begins 2B with the understanding that she and Jace are siblings. She has a great love for Simon, and at last the Downworld has peace now that Valentine is in custody. The poor girl's life is about to get turned upside down very quickly. Luke has his own hands full with the aftermath of the Soul Sword massacre. He lost his partner and much of his pack. He’ll always be a father to Clary, and remember he's also a father figure to Simon. That can be kinda tricky.
Alec kind of took back control of the Institute towards the 2A finale, and he mentioned back in the first season that he’s working towards running the Institute as a career choice. Will we see any more of that? Or has his focus for that shifted?
Alec is a leader. His priority is protecting others. That focus will never shift. It's in his DNA.
Isabelle’s arc took a pretty harrowing turn in 2A, and she confessed at one stage that she ‘wasn’t strong’. How’s the aftermath of that whole ordeal looking, and might we see a glimpse of why she thinks that way about herself?
Absolutely. There is a scene in 2B between Izzy and Maryse that will break your heart and shatter it to pieces. Emeraude is so gifted at showing the crack in her armor, and that vulnerability is super interesting to us. Her performance in 2x11 will amaze you.
Seeing Magnus in full badass Warlock mode was glorious, but he’s also been very vulnerable. He’s opened up a bit, but at the end of the day he comes across a little doubtful of his place in the lives of these people who are suddenly very important to him. Will we see his confidence return, and will it be an authentic confidence and not just the armor he tends to wear?
No spoilers here except to say we are incredibly excited about Magnus' journey in 2B. We continue to peel back his onion. We discover things about his past that will shock you and help inform why he is the way he is. We flashback to little Magnus in Indonesia. Wait, we thought we said no spoilers (laughs). Okay, there's one.
At the end of 2A, we saw Jace and Simon finally starting to see each other on the same level, as two people who are willing to put aside their own feelings to be there for Clary. But now Jace realizes he’s not Clary's brother, and Simon is now a Daylighter as a result of Jace saving his life. How is all of that going to affect the tentative camaraderie they have?
Jace and Simon now have a deep bond after the events of the finale. Their mutual love for Clary will definitely test that bond. We love the chemistry between the actors. Jace giving Simon love advice in 2x07 is another one of the memorable moments in the collage.
With the introduction of the infidelity plot between Maryse and Robert, will we see the effect that has on the relationship Alec, Isabelle, Jace and Max have with their parents?
Yes, very much so. Robert appears in 2 episodes and is terrific. There's an amazing scene ahead where Alec confronts him about his infidelity. Matt Daddario is mind-blowingly good, and Paulino is terrific at expressing his guilt as well as his love for his family.
It would be very remiss of us to not ask about the show’s romances, especially after those ‘I love you’s in the finale. What can you share with us about these relationships moving forward?
They get more complicated, sexier, full of joy and happiness and heartbreak and pain.
Salli Richardson, Catriona McKenzie, Mike Rohl and Joshua Butler were some of our favorite directors of 2A, besides our captain Matt Hastings, of course. How’s the roster looking in 2B? Can we expect any returning faces in the future?
There will be many returning faces behind the camera in season 3, but in season 2B, besides Matty H., the directors are all new to the show and equally impressive. We are continually blown away by the director cuts, especially the work of Matty. He is really responsible for re-booting the look of the show. We worked with Matt before and knew he was talented, but we had no idea what a true visualist he is. Matt is that rare combination of creative genius and producing practicality and this show is that much better because of him. He leads a brilliant crew of artists up in Canada who are a tremendous creative force in and of themselves. Doug McCullough is a wickedly talented production designer who, with the help of his team, create these remarkable sets, on the stage and on location. Mike McMurray and David Herrington, our cinematographers, have such wonderful eyes and understand the delicate tone of the material. Shelley Mansell is a costume genius and the hardest working woman I know. The list goes on up there because it takes a village to make any tv show, especially one of this scope. And here in L.A. our post production team crush it every single show. Our editors are staggeringly good. The master visual effect artists here and in Canada, led by Phillipe Thibault at Folks VFX in Montreal, inspire us every day, especially when they speak French to each other.
We’ve been asking all of the writers to describe 2B in 3 words - so, what say you?
No. More. Spoilers.
Shadowhunters returns Monday June 5th 8/7c on Freeform, and Tuesday June 6th internationally on Netflix.