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Performers Of The Month - Readers' Choice Most Outstanding Performer of April - Matthew Daddario



The article was written by Ellys Cartin. Article edited by Donna Cromeans (@DJRiter). Article prepared for publication by Aimee Hicks.

As Shadowhunters drew close to its epic conclusion, the show continued to present its most satisfying character developments. Matthew Daddario's work as Alec Lightwood particularly struck a chord with our readers as he faced formidable emotional and physical trials in the penultimate episode City of Glass (3x20). Prior to this, we saw Alex relinquish his relationship with Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) and their future together in order to see Magnus's magic restored, sacrificing everything to see the love of his life made whole. In this episode, Daddario once again showed the strength and vulnerability that has secured Alec forever in fans hearts. He also broke those same hearts as Alec himself was shattered in the final moments. It was a performance that Shadowhunters' fans didn't soon forget in a massive outpouring of voting earning Daddario the SpoilerTV Readers' Choice Performer of the Month for April.

To give Magnus back an important piece of himself meant Alec had to tear himself in two. At the start of the episode, he's coping with his new reality in a most admirable way, by focusing on his leadership role at the Institute. He stands his ground when confronted by an angry Meliorn (Jade Hassouné) who demands that Alec turn over Jace (Dominic Sherwood) into Seelie custody. Daddario portrays Alec as the mature, rational person in the room. With both Jace and Meliorn compromised by personal association, Alec keeps their tempers under control. He sits rigidly, leaning slightly forward to show he acknowledges what Meliorn what is saying, while also keeping his clasped hands firmly resting on the top of the desk. He keeps his tone level, even when he authoritatively refutes Meliorn's account. When Meliorn turns to leave, Alec finally rises from his seat, but he makes no outward expression of concession. He forcefully informs Meliorn that the actions of Jonathan Morgenstern (Luke Baines) and the mind-poisoned Clary (Katherine McNamara) cannot be tolerated. Then, with a sense of sharp discretion, he stays silent as Jace pleads with Meliorn. If Meliorn is a crafty fox here, Jace is the courageous bear wrestling for his loved ones, and Alec is a quiet and cunning panther standing back in the shadows evaluating all the options. Meliorn leaves and Alec gives Jace a single flicker of reaction: a slow dropping and raising of his eyelids. It's a small thing, but Daddario gives the action major significance.

In the next difficult scene, Daddario lets down Alec's walls just a little to show that he's still working through his decision to leave Magnus. Walking with his mother Maryse (Nicola Correia-Damude), he notices that she seems concerned. Daddario has always shown how attuned his character is to his family and their needs, and the gentle way he touches his mother's arm to ask if she's okay is familiar to viewers. When Maryse tells Alec she's wondering why nothing has happened since she gave him the family ring he asked for and why she hasn't heard from Magnus, Alec can't look her in the face. He does firmly reassure her that she didn't do anything to separate them. However, he only becomes more distraught when she is astounded by hearing he broke up with Magnus. Alec looks right into his mother's eyes and tells her had to leave Magnus. There's pain but not regret in his own eyes when he says this is the only way Magnus will be whole again. He hastily grabs her hand, fishes the ring out of his pocket, and places it in her palm, rushing away before he lets himself feel his new reality again or before giving in to his emotions and changes his mind.

Even in a scene where Alec's role is secondary, Daddario's quiet intensity comes through. When Jace and Izzy confront Clary and Jonathan in the Fairy Realm, Alec isn't visible at first. The first time you see him, Daddario, is standing utterly still, with an arrow in his bow, his arm fully extended but unwavering. He doesn't blink when he sends the arrow on its way, a testament to the endurance that he has developed for this demanding role. He essentially flies down from his perch, then skims the ground as he races to take over guarding Jonathan so Jace can check on Izzy and Clary. Daddario again shows how calm and alert Alec is as he keeps his focus on Jonathan, despite the loud distractions. He's the only one there when Jonathan regains his strength, and, when Alec is knocked to the ground, it's up to Daddario's reaction to sell what Jonathan's dreadful transformation means. He wisely chose to play the scene as if Alec is chilled by the nightmarish image rather than overwhelmed.

When an enraged, more powerful Jonathan unleashes actual hell on the Shadowhunter city of Alicante, Alec quickly teams up with his sister Izzy (Emeraude Toubia) to formulate strategies for protecting the city from the evil force. The bond between the Lightwood siblings has always been an endearing part of the show, and Tobia and Daddario's fine-tuned chemistry is on full display here. One moment they exchange a humorous "Sure Jan" look when two friends try to pretend they aren't a couple…it's a glance that Daddario also connects to Alec's own closeted past through the bittersweet smile he gives his sister. A little later, they exchange a look of purpose and determination as they go to get their weapons. They walk out directly into the epicenter of the mayhem shoulder to (his much taller) shoulder. It's not easy to pretend you are seeing a burning city under attack from flying monsters. Daddario pulls it off with ease though. Alec looks up into the smoke-filled sky and reassures his sister that they can do this. He loads his bow and locks sight on the swarm flying towards them. He plays the scene with the confidence of a seasoned warrior.

Alec has just stared into the eyes of hell beasts, but when Magnus suddenly arrives, he is shaken to his core. With a sudden quivering motion, he throws out his arm to keep the space between him and Magnus. He tells Magnus that he can't be there, and we see in Daddario's fright that Alec's fear is not for himself but for what Magnus might lose. The rapport between Shum and Daddario has been solidified over the last three seasons that have celebrated the aches and breaks of the now iconic couple's love. It only takes a brief statement, a radiant declaration from Magnus that they don't have worry anymore, for Alec to know he is speaking the truth. They hold each other close, embracing tenderly, with Alec gently gripping Magnus's collar, even as the world burns just beyond their position. The moment is interrupted by the arrival of Jace and Clary who reveal that they cannot close the rift between earth and hell. Daddario plays Alec in that scene with solemn resignation. He's aware this may very well be the apocalypse, but he can't shake the calmness in his soul of being reunited with the person he cares most about in the world.

Alec isn't the only one capable of immense sacrifice though. Magnus has a plan for sealing the rift, one that will require him to undertake an ordeal from which there may be no return. Daddario allows Alec to slowly unravel as the realization dawns on him. He stammers, unable to find the words to tell Magnus he was going to propose. However, Magnus already got the ring from Maryse. He duplicates it so there's one for each of them, and in a beautiful bit of work from Daddario, we see Alec's face soften with joy. Magnus asks Alec if he'll marry him, and Alec reaches over and takes one of the rings and responds he will but only if Magnus marries him too. Through subtle shifts in his body language, such as how he stands a little taller, Daddario shows us how Alec draws strength from this love he shares with Magnus, strength enough to let Magnus go a second time. Even so, Alec is unsteady for a moment, wobbling, as Magnus walks away. He calls after Magnus cheerfully, even as his voice breaks, reminding Magnus that he always comes back. Magnus ever so slightly shakes his head but tries to alleviate the moment with humor. Daddario's eyes are essentially floating in tears, as he walks Alec through this awful goodbye. As Magnus departs, Alec almost subconsciously stumbles in the same direction, before falling to his knees and dropping his head to recover. His friends and sister move to be at his side, and he looks up into where Magnus disappeared, his face smeared with tears.

Viewers have fallen in love with Alec Lightwood and his love story with Magnus Bane, and Daddario represented all our complicated feelings along the way. Alec risked his heart time and time again, persevering despite every obstacle. Daddario's passionate representation of his character made fans feel the pain along with Alec as he fought to prove himself worthy of being a Shadowhunter leader and fought to prove his devotion to Magnus. Throughout this season, Daddario expertly made the audience every tear in Alex's heart along with every agonizing scar that formed on top of those gashes. Despite the terrible sacrifice that Magnus makes, Daddario underlines the scenes with a bittersweet victory. There's a sense of triumph that is undeniably satisfying in that Magnus doesn't embark on his journey alone…he goes with a piece of Alec's heart, and Daddario makes sure that that completeness on Alec's side is felt as well. They may be torn apart, but they aren't really. In exposing Alec's heart over and over, Daddario has only revealed the true extent of his character's courage and strength. For all those reasons and others too numerous to list, Matthew Daddario was voted by our readers as SpoilerTV's Reader's Choice for Outstanding Performer of the Month for April.

How did you feel about Matthew Daddario's performance in this episode? What about it made it special to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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