Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Makes an Unsympathetic Hero?

Sometimes I like to push the boundaries when it comes to my heroes. Rian Sherron, the central character to my Atrophy series, is a good example of this. He's dark and twisty, and I've always wanted to see exactly how dark and twisty I could take him, how far I could push the line on his behavior before the readers decided he wasn't a hero any longer. Admittedly, there have been some scenes in the first three Atrophy books that were either toned down, or completely changed by the time of publication because my editor was worried Rian had crossed that line -- and given that my Atrophy books are with a romance publisher and predominantly read by romance readers, I possibly couldn't be as dark and twisty as I wanted with Rian, than I could if I was writing straight sci-fi.

Despite testing the boundaries of that gray area between good and bad, I'd never given too much thought to what makes a hero unsympathetic. Not very deeply anyway, until an episode of The 100 two weeks ago. Just skip ahead if you're not up to date on The 100 and don't want to know.

For those of you who don't watch it, here's some framework to base my point: The 100 is a post-apocalyptic TV series that started out as a teen drama, based off the book series of the same name by Kass Morgan. However, in the four seasons since it began, it moved beyond the constraints of a simple teen drama, and way beyond the original premise of 100 teenagers being sent to Earth, after the human race survived the nuclear apocalypse 90 years earlier by living on several cobbled-together space stations. Of course those who survived on the space stations were surprised to find survivors on the ground, who had regressed back to a clan type of society, with justice often being served through black-and-white judgements and using a lot of violence to solve issues.

In the fourth season, it was revealed that all of the nuclear power plants around the world that have been left unattended for almost a hundred years are all melting down. This will result in a massive death wave that will kill all life on earth. For the first part of the season, the main protagonist, Clarke, was trying to find a way to save everyone, not just the people of the Ark (the space station which ended up crashing to earth) but all of the Grounder clans as well.

They found a bunker, but of course the bunker can only hold so many people, so then the fight began over whose people would get to survive in the bunker. Honestly, the people of the Ark have a bit of a superiority complex over the Grouders. In part, I suppose you could say this is justified. Whoever ends up in the bunker needs to know how to run to bunker -- the hydroponic farm, the water and air filters, etc. The people of the Ark have this knowledge from surviving on a space station, while the Grounders do not as they've been living for three or more generations without technology.

The Grounders agree to have what they call a Conclave -- one representative from each clan fights to the death, and whichever representative survives, that clan wins the bunker. Not believing they can win this fight (and according to Clarke "doing what's best for my people," which had been a reoccurring theme for her over the seasons, most often to the detriment of her morals, putting her on a darker and darker path) Clarke devises a way to "steal" the bunker for the people of the Ark to survive while everyone else is distracted by the Conclave.

When this revelation came out at the end of the episode, I was actually quite shocked that Clarke had made this move. For me, that was the tipping point, and she became an unsympathetic hero. She was now looking more like the villain. This was especially highlight in contrast to Octavia, who had fought in the Conclave as the representative of the Ark people, and won. When she fronted the grounder council with her victory, she announced that her people wouldn't take the bunker for themselves, that they would instead share it equally with all clans -- 100 of each. It starkly juxtaposed the growth the two characters have had over the four seasons -- they have both experienced loss and hardship, but while Octavia started out as a somewhat shallow and wilful girl, she became the hero that found a way to save everyone. Clarke started out as a serious, responsible girl with a deep moral compass, but she had become the antihero, making a decision that would only save those she deemed more important, even though she had always said the people of the Ark and the Grounders should be considered equal.

There was another instance an episode or two before this, where Clarke also tried to take advantage of Grounder law to stage a coup and become leader of the Grounders so she could decide for them how to handle the coming disaster and division of the bunker. But it backfired, which I was glad for, because it left me feeling very uncomfortable -- for me, Clarke seemed to have this superiority complex. Yes, she said the people of the Ark and Grounders should be equal, but when they wouldn't confirm to her idea of what should be done, she tried to take advantage of their beliefs for her own gain. Maybe she technically had noble intentions, but her method was insulting to the Grounders and their beliefs. I'm not sure if this is what The 100 writers intended, but that was how I digested it.

So, through these few pivotal choices, for me, Clarke had become the unsympathetic hero. However, as I was thinking about what the writers could have done differently, or why they put Clarke on this path and what it might mean for her future (something I regularly do, because it's fun and I think it helps exercise my story telling muscle) I questioned how I would have felt about her actions had it been one of the male protagonists, say Bellamy, who did these things. I realized that while I still wouldn't have agreed with these methods, if it had of been Bellamy or a male character, then I would have probably seen it as him taking charge and been more amiable to accepting, heck, even being impressed by the lengths he was willing to go to for what he believed in. And that is where my hard-wiring from being brought up in a society that teaches us to judge women more harshly, that is still entrenched in sexist, patriarchal ideals, impacted into how I viewed Clarke's actions, simply because she was a woman.

But the point of this post wasn't to get all political. I still haven't properly explained what makes an unsympathetic hero. From my personal point of view, it's where a character reaches a point that no matter what they do after, they are no longer redeemable. And this is my jam. I love a good redemption story line. All you need to do is find any of my posts about Agents of Shield's Grant Ward. He did some horrible things, a lot of them were not easy to watch. But the darker he got, the more I wanted to see him redeemed. Even when he got infected with an alien organism and went completely evil, I still prayed that somehow he would get his second chance. For many people, Grant Ward became the unsympathetic hero and was thus irredeemable after the end of season 1 when he initially betrayed the team and his true Hydra loyalties were revealed.

For me, even though Ward constantly did bad things, he was still likeable. With Clarke, she has also done a number of bad things, and I reached a point where I no longer found her likeable. Though, after my introspection, I decided to reverse my judgement and give her a second chance. It'll be interesting to see when, how, or even if Clarke will start her redemption. She's hurt and betrayed a lot of people, especially Bellamy who always stood by her no matter what anyone else said, but when she left his sister, Octavia, locked outside the bunker and facing death, that was obviously a deal breaker. As for Grant Ward, it's complicated, but in short his character was killed and sadly he probably won't be getting any redemption.

When it comes to my own characters, especially Rian, I feel that so far I am achieving what I'd hoped for -- some people don't like Rian, they find him brash, reckless, and selfish. Some people are loving him, and are looking forward to his redemption. For me, I want to drag Rian down into the darkest depths possible, before bringing him back up for his redemption. Though, as previously stated, publishing through a romance publisher may hinder me in that a little. But that's not to say I might not have other avenues to explore the monster inside him.

In general terms, I think there's a balance, an equation that needs to be met to create the difference between a character being unsympathetic or not. And that is weighing likeability/reasoning against the character's actions.

So, the darker or more horrible a character's actions, the more likeable or the deeper the reason for these actions needs to be. For Rian, I use the fact that he endured years of unspeakable torture at the hands of aliens as the reasoning behind his actions. He's on a quest for vengeance, and nothing will get in the way of that. This doesn't excuse his actions, especially when those he cares about are the ones caught in the crossfire. It simply gives the reader an understanding. They do with it what they will.

Secondary, I have the fact that even though he is broken, he still loves his sister and cares about his crew, even though he may not exactly show it, he protects them (sometimes from himself) and will go above and beyond for them. He has their unwavering loyalty, which I think speaks to the likeability factor. Thirdly is his confusion over the feelings he has for Ella, a priestess he inadvertently rescued from the aliens, which leaves the reader hoping that he will start finding his redemption through her, through love.

Of course, the one thing I've over looked is the fact there are some deeds that will immediately and irrevocably make a hero unsympathetic, no matter how you try to redeem them or make them likeable. Socially unacceptable things like rape, racism, sexism, etc, so these will need to be avoided, or the reader will be completely alienated. With the caveat that yes, I know sometimes people break these "rules" successfully. But it's not easy, and takes a very skilled writer.

So, there we have it, after a very long post, my take on what makes an unsympathetic hero.
Looking for other writerly information? Then just search the tag writing advice or so you think you can author on my blog.





Saturday, May 13, 2017

Just Finished Watching... Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls) on Netflix

Actually, I finished it a bit over a week ago, but hadn't gotten around to writing this post.
I'd been waiting for this show to appear on my Netflix catalogue since I finished watching Gran Hotel last October and some internet stalking research revealed that many of the same people behind Gran Hotel were now working on a Netflix original called Las Chicas Del Cable, including the lead actor, Yon Gonzalez.
Season 1 part 2 released last week (or was it the week before?) with little fanfare, but man, was I excited when I saw it there. However I made myself wait, as there were other shows I was watching and was guessing that once I started Cable Girls, if it was anything like Gran Hotel, I wouldn't want to watch anything else until I'd binged all the episodes.
And I was right.
So right.
Cable Girls is set in early 1920s Madrid, based on a group of four women who struggle for their jobs and independent lifestyle as operators at a telephone company, against the social norms of the time. Like Gran Hotel, this show is in Spanish, so be prepared to read subtitles. And as happened with Gran Hotel, I'd gleaned enough Spanish to understand that what was being said wasn't always exactly the same as what was translated on the subtitles. Though, I did see it mentioned somewhere that English dub was available, but I didn't look into it, because I actually enjoy listening to the Spanish being spoken.
I'm not sure what I expected of this show -- not for it to necessarily be Gran Hotel all over again (because let's face it, nothing is ever going to be Gran Hotel again!) but the first half of season 1 managed to surprise me in a lot of different ways, all good.
To begin with, Yon Gonzalez (who played the lead part of the swoon-worthy Julio in Gran Hotel) played a much more polarizing character this time around, named Francisco. There was no good or bad for this character, just a whole lot of gray where what he wanted often ran in opposition to his duty and the life he'd built for himself.
In the first episode, we were introduced to Alba, who starts working at the phone company under the fake name of Lidia, blackmailed into stealing from the company, not knowing her childhood love, Francisco, is the company director. However, Francisco is also BFFs with the company owner's son, Carlos, and married to the company owner's daughter (whose name escapes me right now).
Years earlier, Alba/Lidia and Francisco were split up only moments after arriving in Madrid to start a new life together, due to a misunderstanding which saw Alba/Lidia arrested. Her rescuer ends up being a Madam who runs what basically amounts to a brothel, I think, and she teaches Alba/Lidia how to survive. She spent the next years thinking that Francisco simply abandoned her, while Francisco never knew what happened to Alba/Lidia.
Until she turns up at his company as one of the new operators. Francisco recognizes her right away, but she tries to pretend he has her mixed up with someone else. He isn't fooled, however, and her suddenly reappearing in his life sends him into a bit of a tailspin.
Francisco is in an interesting position. The owner of the phone company trusts him in running things more than he trusts his own son, Carlos. Meanwhile, Francisco is all but a brother to Carlos, so Francisco is constantly trying to manage the father's expectations, his own duty to the company, but also take Carlos' side when he clashes with his father. Of course, you have to throw in a few secrets that Carlos doesn't know about between Francisco and Carlos' father when it comes to running the company. Plus Carlos has a secret of his own.
Then the really messy interpersonal stuff comes into it. At first Francisco is determined to win Alba/Lidia back, despite already being married. But then circumstances force him to recognize the damage his actions will have on his home life, possibly extending into his professional life. Most of this is not helped by his scheming secretary, who ends up spying on Francisco on behalf of his wife.
And of course, this show wouldn't be complete without the love triangle. Alba/Lidia also caught Carlos' eye from her first day on the job, and her continuous rebukes to his charm only tempts him more. Finally, circumstance forces Alba/Lidia to get closer to him, and at first she only plans to use him, but of course, feelings get messy, and she becomes torn between Carlos and Francisco. Every time it seems she might be able to move on from Francisco -- which would probably be the healthier thing for both of them -- some other revelation or circumstance pushes them back together.
Part 1 of season 1 ended on a cliff hanger, which I usually hate, but in this case it was all so well done, I couldn't be cranky about it. But I am now impatient to see the second part of season 1, which won't be coming for a few more months at least.
And here I haven't even mentioned all the other breath-stealing things going on with the three other female main characters. Cheating spouses, sexual confusion, secret fiancees, hidden pregnancies, and all kinds of situations that kept me up until the early hours of the morning watching episode after episode.
If you are a fan of Gran Hotel -- heck, even if you're not and just love a good period drama -- then Las Chicas Del Cable is definitely worth your time.
For me, I'll be eagerly waiting for the second half of season 1 to drop, and in the meantime, might even do a Gran Hotel re-watch to tide me over.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Agents of Shied - 4x21 The Ward/Fitz Parallel Set in Stone

I hate to say I told you so... Who am I kidding? I love saying I told you so! Totally called the Ward/Fitz Parallel two episodes ago.
I almost wasn't going to write a post about AOS today, I kept telling myself to wait until after the season finale next week and do a season 4 wrap up. But I couldn't help myself. Because there was one line Fitz said in this week's episode that will go down as one of my favorites of the entire season.
"I'm just like Ward."
Oh man, the feels. The dawning understanding on Fitz's face, in that moment completely understanding original-Ward for the monster he was, now having that same monster inside him, it was brilliantly executed by both the writers and the actor, Iain De Caestecker.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
In this week's episode, everyone except Mack escaped the Framework. This actually has to be one of the best overall AOS episodes out of all four seasons so far. We had Mae and Coulson locked in a room together with the enemy outside, the two of them trying to figure out how to escape their underwater prison, while hashing out some of what had happened while the Mae-LMD had been in place. Coulson almost admitted to Mae that he'd kissed the Mae-LMD, but couldn't get the words out. Mae filled in the blanks, but assumed that her LMD self had tried to kill Coulson.
He totally jumped on the excuse, and it was one of those laugh-out-loud moments I've missed seeing. Even in a tense situation where death is a real possibility, the AOS writers still manage to get some humor in there, which only gives the whole make-up of the show that much more depth.
Then we had the now human Aida/Ophelia. While Fitz tried to come to terms with what he had done and who he had been in the Framework, he was also dealing with the new Aida/Ophelia. For a moment it looked like he was going to talk her around, that she might actually come good and not be the sociopathic Ophelia/Madam Hydra from the Framework. But then when Fitz admitted that Gemma was the one he'd always love, Aida/Ophelia/Madam Hydra lost her shit and went on a killing rampage.
With multiple inhuman powers, and some other secret that hasn't been revealed yet -- one that Fitz and Mae were in on, something about the inhumans they experimented on in the Framework -- Aida/Ophelia was apparently unstoppable, and escaped what was left of the Shield base, leaving a number of bodies in her wake.
Source: stydiaislove on Tumblr
The silent reunion between Gemma and Fitz was gorgeous and heartbreaking. But Fitzsimmons fans better not get their hopes up. I'm guessing there are some rocky times ahead for Gemma and Fitz, especially now that Fitz sees himself in the same light as Grant Ward, who he spent the better part of two years hating. As I said in the last post, I know a lot of Fitz and Fitzsimmons fans are absolutely hating what the writers have done to Fitz, and I'm sorry for them, but I absolutely love it. Take a good character and give him that hint of darkness? Totally sold. I can't wait to see what the AOS writers are going to do with this new dark side of Fitz going into season 5. Will he get the path of redemption that Grant Ward never took?
Speaking of Ward, I'm confused and hopeful over Framework Ward. I'm hoping we'll see him in the next episode. I can't imagine that the writers would leave such a massive thread not tied up. There was no real conclusion to his story line when Skye/Daisy left him at the TV station to ensure Coulson's broadcast wasn't interrupted. Given that he was once a pivotal character, I just can't believe the writers wouldn't give fans some conclusion to whether he lived and got his Skye back, or got killed making sure Daisy and the rest of the team made it home.
If we don't see anything of him in the next episode, with Yo-yo in the Framework to bring Mack home, then I'll have one last little slither of hope. And that hope is that after Aida/Ophelia became human, but before the underwater base got torpedoed, Framework-Ward also managed to come through, getting a human body and escaping the flooding facility. Maybe he went up the stairs when Coulson and Mae went up the elevator. Maybe he managed to hide on the submarine. And during the first two or three episodes of season 5, he's going to randomly appear, surprising everyone.
This would be so great to continue the Ward/Fitz parallel. Because now we have this good Ward who was brought into Shield by Victoria Hand, is loyal and an all round good guy, while Fitz has two lives worth of experience affecting him, one of which he was the bad guy who did all the wrong things, just like Original-Ward.
Yes, I am praying hard that the writers have decided to bring Ward back for season 5, and we'll see some semblance of the original team for what could be the final, epic season.
Oh, and I also have to mention, I was happy to see Robbie Reyes, aka Ghost Rider made his way back to our dimension in the last few minutes of this episode. The season four finale is looking like it'll be amazing.

Monday, May 8, 2017

It's All About the Narrative

I have a confession to make. A deep, dark confession no author should ever have to make, but nonetheless, it is the truth.
I don't read books any more.
*Gasp*

Okay, okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not completely untrue. In the past two years, I would be lucky if I've read more than fifteen books. I've started and DNF'ed probably twice that number. It seems that unless a book immediately catches me and pulls me in deep, I don't have the patience to finish it.

Interestingly enough, over the last few years, my consumption of TV series has increased exponentially. I've realized for some time now that I'm getting my regular dose of character, narrative and story line through TV in the same way I used to get it from books. And I wondered, what kind of author does that make me? I actually felt embarrassed to admit that I'm an author who hardly ever reads, because it seems like an oxymoron. An author who doesn't read? Then how am I meant to keep up with the trends in the market if I'm not exposing myself to them?
More on that in a minute.

So I was going along, trying to fit time to read into my hectic schedule -- working around my kids and everything that comes with family. Like many authors, I have a second job to help pay the bills because what I make from my books just isn't cutting it at the moment. And of course there are my own books to write and all the extras -- edits, website upkeep, social media stuff (which I am not good at sticking to on a regular basis anyway). This isn't my excuse for not reading, this is just a statement of fact.

My secondary problem to this is my internal editor. I long ago forgot how to turn it off, so unless a book is really written well and can seamlessly pull me into the story, those mistakes are like flashing neon lights that give me a headache. Also, I worked out that if I'm reading an e-book, I'm more likely to notice the mistakes, probably because the words are on a screen and my brain is now hardwired to see any words on a screen as "work" because of my own writing.
I'm not claiming to be perfect over here, I know some editing errors have slipped through in my own books, but I think if you connect with the writing and love the characters, then it's easier to overlook those minor errors. Which is why some people will love a book I don't, or I might love a book someone else can't stand.

That being said, when I watch a TV show, I'm never completely switched off. On some level I know I'm analyzing the dialogue and character actions, taking in the story in a way most people probably don't when they watch TV. Just as bad writing can make me put a book down, bad writing in a TV show can make me turn it off and look for something better.

My editor and agent have mentioned that I'm a very visual writer, and indeed, you'll find reviews of my books that say things like "I felt like I was watching a TV show or movie!" or "this book would make a great TV show!" Personally, when the whole "show, don't tell" thing finally clicked for me, I realized something startling. When a story comes to me, it's like I'm seeing that story play out on a screen in my head. I'm not inside my character's head, I'm watching them do their thing like I have my own personal cinema for one. And I recognized in my early writing, I was telling people the story happening inside my head, because that's what I thought an author was meant to do. However, I clearly remember having that light-bulb moment when I realized what I needed to do was show people the story happening in my head, and like a writer would in a screenplay, rely more on what the character wasn't saying -- in their posture, movements, physical reactions, etc -- to convey my narrative.From there, my writing took on a life of its own, Atrophy was written, I got my first book published and everything started falling into place.

For me, getting my fix of story, character, and everything that comes with it on the screen is a good thing -- obviously I'm a very visually stimulated person. And I think this could become true of my generation and generations coming up. Think about how many people communicate through visuals -- emojis, memes, gifs -- these days. The book should not get lost in this, to be purely taken over by TV shows and movies. There is nothing quite like being curled up on a couch, lost in an awesome book for a few peaceful hours. And one day when my kids have grown up and my life is less hectic, I know I'll get back to reading possibly a book, or two, or three a week like I used to.

For now, a TV show or two in the evening before I go to bed are serving me well. And in this way, with most TV shows, I'm getting a double dose of story arc. There's the episodic arc, confined into that single episode: the beginning, or inciting incident, the obstacles and confrontation of act two, then the climax and descending action of act three. Secondary to this will be seeds scattered of the season or series arc; the overall plot driving the characters and story to the culminated climax of the show's season.

In essence, this is the same three act structure most novels use as well. Novelists are story tellers. Screenwriters are story tellers. It's just that the medium is different. But does this mean we have to rigidly stick to one or the other if that's where we're producing our art? Obviously, a person is going to need some specific tools when producing the end product; a novel is not set out the same way a screenplay is. So yes, in that case, watching a TV show will not automatically mean a person can write a novel, or vice versa.

However, for those experienced in the format of their chosen profession (these days I could pretty much set out a novel with my eyes closed) I think as long as we're regularly taking in some form of story, be it novel, comic books, TV shows or movies, then the way we consume it shouldn't really matter.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Just Finished Watching... Shadowhunters S1 & S2A

I know, I know. Shadowhunters? REALLY? Don't I have anything better to do with my time?
This show seems to be either loved or seriously canned. I'm guessing most of the fan base would be a younger demographic (teens and twenties) and a lot of those would be fans of the books. However, I also know fans of the books who hate both the movie and the TV series.
Either way, season 2B will be airing come June, and in my experience, a TV series only gets a season 2B (like Teen Wolf began doing after starting as a limited episode series and becoming super popular) if they're doing really well. So obviously the team that produces Shadowhunters is doing something right.
Oh, and as usual, spoilers ahead if you're not up to date on this series.



So. This show. Where to begin?
Well, I suppose with the obvious in saying that I haven't read any of the books, and didn't see the movie, so I was coming into this series with a clean slate -- no preconceived ideas about what it could or should be.
I'll admit, this show started off rough. And when I say rough, that's a polite way of me saying it was seriously not great. I found the dialogue awkward at times, occasionally found myself lost as to what was happening (if I'd read the books, I would have known what was going on obviously) and a lot of the acting was a little... I'm not sure. Maybe stiff?
I had trouble with Clary. Simon was annoying as anything (getting turned into a vampire was pretty much the best thing that could have happened to him, though it didn't completely fix the annoying factor) and Isabelle was a little over-blown.
The only ones I didn't have much of a problem with were Alec and Magnus. In fact, they were probably what kept me watching.
I'd heard and seen bits and pieces of the Malec ship floating around places like Tumblr, so I knew it was a good one, probably a ship I could get on board with, which after the episode where Magnus first saw Alec and said "who is that?" I totally did.
The scene where Alec left the alter of his wedding to kiss Magnus? Yes, while I'll admit it was a little cliche, it was also epic and I loved every second of it.
By the end of season 1, I was invested enough in the Clary/Jace ship (what do they call that, Clace or something?) that when the big reveal of them being siblings happened, I was suitably shocked and grossed out over their kissing, but also sad because I felt that, especially for Jace, he was way past the point where he would be able to get over the feelings he had for her very easily.
How could a person who'd been falling in love and obviously very attracted to someone ever only see them as a sibling after?
This was definitely highlighted later, when Jace got locked up in the City of Bones and was dreaming of Clary. When he woke up, he admitted to Hodge (a Shadowhunter locked in the next cell) that he couldn't stop thinking about her in THAT way, and his own disgust in the fact that he wanted his sister.
I have to hand it to the author and TV writers, this created some really great tension, and I think it was around this point that the series had finally settled -- the writing had improved and lines delivered more naturally, the actors appeared more comfortable in their roles, and the production quality was definitely up. It's not very unusual for this to happen -- a series starting off rough before becoming really great. I think exactly the same thing happened with Killjoys.
Anyway, going into season 2, I was definitely hooked, and watched it way too fast. Sometimes that's the problem with Netflix and doing the binge watch. You don't take the time to really let events of one episode sink in before you're watching a second and third.
Season 2 only got better and better, especially toward the end when everything was coming to a head with the soul sword.
The twists that came out in the end -- that Jace had angel blood, not demon blood, and wasn't actually Clary's brother after all were handled really well. I was a bit on the fence over Simon and Clary getting together, so it looks like I'm #TeamJace.
The thread about Isabelle getting addicted to vampire venom was just great, though I found it annoying that the guy (whose name I can't remember, the one who was in charge of the institute) who got her addicted in the first place never faced any real consequences, even after Alec found out. Of course, the revelation happened in the midst of all the shit going down with Valentine (Clary's father and the big bad of the series) so they can probably be forgiven for this oversight. But I'm hoping the writers address this as they get into season 2B.
The other plot thread that really hooked me was they mystery around the vampire Raphael.
In trying to help Isabelle with her addiction to vampire venom, the pair started falling for each other. During the last 2 episodes, Raphael told both Alec and Magnus that he had feelings for Isabelle, that he hadn't felt that way about somebody in a long time.
However, when Isabelle tried to kiss him, he shied away and told her he wasn't like that, and wasn't interested in sex. It seemed he was about to confide the reason for this to Isabelle, when they were interrupted (I think by Alec storming in).
Later in the final episode, when Raphael finds Isabelle after the fighting has finished, he tries to talk to her, but she tells him they made a mistake (or something to that effect) and she didn't want anything to do with him anymore.
Obviously being that Isabelle puts so much worth in her sexuality, when Raphael didn't want to be physical with her, she took that as a personal insult, not realizing that his reasonings were all about him and had nothing to do with her. Now I really want to find out what secret Raphael has (I'm guessing it's got something to do with the hints we've gotten about Raphael's strict catholic upbringing... I think it was catholic... before he became a vampire. I would even hazard a guess to say he's a virgin, despite how old he is) and beyond this, I really want Raphael and Isabelle to end up together... but in a healthy way. Not in an addicted-to-vampire-venom way.
And the final icing on the cake for season 2? Jace finding out that he wasn't Clary's brother after all (talk about mind screw!), and when he went to tell her, finding her happy in that moment with Simon and deciding not to say anything.
Oh, which reminds me. Also loved the scene where they rescued Simon from Valentine. It had seemed like Clary had turned herself over, and let Simon drink from her because he'd lost so much blood. But it turned out to be Jace using the shape shifting rune. Definitely didn't see that one coming! Which I mention, because in the end, Simon found he could go out into the sunshine. My guess is it's because he drank Jace's angel blood. Now, whether this is permanent or temporary, we'll have to wait and see.
Phew!
Suffice to say, by the end of season 2, Shadowhunters had a lot of great elements working for it. Are there better shows out there? Probably. But this has firmly won a place in my guilty pleasures watch list, and if the quality keeps up, then it'll probably stay there for a good long time.