‘Shadow and Bone Season 2’ is a creative mess that leaves fans hungry



The Netflix series is based on two book series written by Leigh Bardugo.

Jamie Tang

Thiefs. Gamblers. Waffles. Wolves. And the volcra lurking in the endless darkness of the Shadow Fold. Based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, the rich characters dance off from the pages on the Netflix series “Shadow and Bone.” In the series, the orphan Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), discovers she is the only Grisha with sun-summoning powers capable of destroying the Fold. In Season 2, Alina and her childhood friend, Malyen “Mal” Oretsov (Archie Renaux) join Prince Nikolai (Patrick Gibson) to hunt for power amplifiers before the Fold shrouds the world in darkness. 

The Netflix series makes Alina half Shu, instead of a white Ravkan like in the original Shadow and Bone trilogy, to make her a more nuanced character. But is she? Not quite. Season 1 has chunky dialogue that fails to portray the complexity of racism. Wherever Alina goes, she is met with remarks to “go back to Shu-Han.” In reality, most racism happens below the surface. In Season 2, we see fewer attempts to include covert examples of racism but see no effort to compel Alina to explore her Shu ethnicity. Although Alina has more responsibilities as General of the Second Army, she is not an effective and reliable leader. Instead, Alina spends most of her time searching for Mal or amplifiers. Despite Alina’s distractions, the Grishas and Ravkan Army follow her loyally. 

Between Alina Starkov, Prince Nikolai, and the rising criminal star Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) — leader of the Crows — Kaz is a far more convincing leader. Kaz seems to prefer the solace of his leather gloves and cane, but he proves his heart is in the right place. His Crows, gunslinger Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), and “the wraith” Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) would agree. In Season 1, when the Crows find themselves fighting General Kirigan in the heart of the Fold, Kaz leaps in front of Jesper and fights off the volcra away from Inej with his cane. In Season 2, the Crows save the day again, arriving on time to rescue Alina, Nikolai, and the others. We also see Crows challenge Kaz to not allow his trauma to define him as he seeks to enact his vengeance on Pekka Rollins (​​Dean Lennox Kelly), a rival gang leader. The scene in the church when Inej says her famous lines, “I will have you without your armor, Kaz Brekker, or I will not have you at all” leaves fans heartbroken. The relationship between Genya Safin (Daisy Head) and David Kostyk (Luke Pasqualino) is worth a mention. Head shows vulnerability beautifully, despite the little dialogue. We sense Genya’s fear of General Kirigan, the way she forces herself to stop crying outside his chambers or crumples into David’s arms.

However, the series is short on continuity. For example, Inej Ghafa is able to sit down and chat in a diner across the street from the office of Pekka Rollins’ accountant. Inej wears smokey black leather, a contrast to the Victorian-style skirts of most Ketterdam women. It is difficult to believe that no one reports Inej to Pekka Rollins who would pay a generous sum to see her captured. The ending fight between the Crows and Kirigan’s Grishas is equally laughable. The Grishas wait their turn, giving the Crows plenty of time to fight back. The last ten minutes cram in new plotlines leading to a confusing ending.