“Shadow and Bone” Season Two Is a Fantastic but Imperfect Sequel


Ella Sharrers, Copy Editor

On March 16, Netflix released the long awaited second season of the fantasy series “Shadow and Bone.” Based on the trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and intertwined with Bardugo’s second duology, “Six of Crows,” “Shadow and Bone” Season Two is an exciting, fast-paced adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Obviously, spoilers ahead.

Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone” trilogy, “Six of Crows” duology, and the “Shadow and Bone” show all take place in the “Grishaverse,” a mythical world full of the rare “Grisha,” people who are able to manipulate certain environmental elements like water, fire, and even blood pressures of the people around them. In “Shadow and Bone” season one, we mainly follow Alina Starkov, Aleksander Kirigan (also known as “The Darkling”) and Malyen (“Mal”) Oretsev. These three fantastical characters all have an intense connection to our central main character, Alina. Alina’s rare ability to summon light becomes the pivotal kickstarter of her brand new life. Of course, The Darkling and Mal both feel a romantic connection with Alina; however, The Darkling’s affection for her is more obsessive and power driven rather than genuine love. Season one follows her discovery of her powers, feelings, and attempts to take down Kirigan’s impenetrable shadow Fold that separates one side of her country, Ravka, from another. Season one set the stage for the sequel season to further develop these plots and allow Alina to grow into an even stronger female lead. 

On the other side of the Fold lies Ketterdam, another fictional city in the fictional country of Kerch. In Ketterdam, the “Six of Crows” characters – Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, and Nina – all excel in elaborate heists and missions, adding to the list of crimes on their criminal records and impressing audiences with their intelligence. Another significant character is Nina’s lover, Matthias, who is unfortunately in jail at Nina’s hand. In the “Six of Crows” book, Nina is already a part of the Crows, with Wylan joining about halfway through. But season two of the show makes Nina a new member. It is hard to tell if Wylan joins the crew later than he does in the book due to “Shadow and Bone” not following the Crows’ storyline in the novel. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I like the intertwined storylines of the Crows and the “Shadow and Bone” characters, but I always found myself getting distracted during parts of the show that did not focus on these clever teenage criminals. I have not read the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy due to many opinions that it is boring, and unfortunately, some parts of the show prove this to be a fair opinion. Thankfully, season two focuses a lot more on the Crows, and it was easily my favorite part of the whole season. A subplot of the Crows’ storyline in this season is the complicated romance between Kaz and Inej, the easygoing love between Jesper and Wylan, and Nina’s relentless fight to save Matthias from prison, despite being the one who put him in there. All three love stories are written beautifully, and I adored watching every second of these relationships.

No show is perfect, and there is no doubt that “Shadow and Bone” could do better with its writing when it comes to interlacing the “Six of Crows” plot. In regards to romance, Jesper and Wylan have a slow-burn type of love in the books, and the show had them moving pretty fast. While I still equally enjoyed the faster pace of their relationship in the show, I am biased towards their development in the books, as their yearning and individual concerns about love are allowed to develop. Secondly, the Crows have all found each other after living through traumas and heartbreak, and there needs to be more focus on how they came to be who they are. For one, I wish that they delved further into Inej’s backstory. She is a multi-faceted, traumatized character with an elaborate past and reason for her actions. I adore Inej and all that she does, and I really hope that the potential season three (or the fandom’s hopeful fight for a “Six of Crows” spinoff) sheds more light on her history. Another character that deserves more development is Wylan. In the books, Wylan holds a lot of shame for his illiteracy and controversial family. In the show, Wylan’s inability to read or write is touched on, but not deeply, and there has been no description of his family or his backstory overall. All of the Crows deserve more screen time and development in their characters, how they work together, and how they all came to be this sort of complicated family. The casting for the Crows is excellent, but not perfect, either. Jesper is written to have dark skin, but was casted as an actor with lighter skin, Kit Young. Nina is written to be plus size; however, her actress, Danielle Galligan, is not. While the Crows all execute and know their characters incredibly, the casting could have been more conscious. 

Overall, as critical as I am, I still greatly enjoyed this season and will be rewatching it constantly. I cannot wait to see what happens next with Alina, Mal, and the Crows, and I am hopeful for a third season and/or a “Six of Crows” spinoff. I highly recommend this show to anyone looking for a new excuse to be glued to the couch for hours on end, as well as to fantasy fans everywhere.