Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers for season 2 of “Shadow and Bone” (2021–).
Based on the Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo, the Netflix series “Shadow and Bone” (2021–) is now back for an eight-episode season 2. Primarily following the plot of the second and third “Shadow and Bone” books, “Siege and Storm” and “Ruin and Rising,” this season focuses back in on some of our favorite Grishaverse characters and their lives.
Although the show’s title comes from the first Grishaverse book series, the show presently combines characters and storylines from two of Bardugo’s Grishaverse series: the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and “Six of Crows” duology.
As Alina (Jessie Mei Li) and Mal (Archie Renaux) are on the hunt for the final two amplifiers to destroy the Fold that divides Ravka into two and has sowed social divides in the process, the still-living “Darkling” (Ben Barnes) is on his own hunt for Alina and her powers.
As for the Crows over in Ketterdam, they are on the run from the Stadwatch and Pekka Rollins’ gang, the Dime Lions, from the moment they step back onto Kerch soil. When Kaz (Freddy Carter), Inej (Amita Suman) and Jesper (Kit Young) are accused of murdering Tante Heleen and a Stadwatch officer, the Crows must recruit some new allies to clear their names. Enter Nina (Danielle Galligan) as the crew’s new Heartrender and show newcomer Wylan (Jack Wolfe) as their demolition expert. Unfortunately, our sixth and final Crow Matthias (Calahan Skogman) is still locked away in the Kerch prison, Hellgate.
This season, we are also introduced to Sturmhond/Prince Nikolai (Patrick Gibson), the loveable privateer and second son to the Ravkan King. We also meet our favorite Grisha twins, Toyla (Lewis Tan) and Tamar (Anna Leong-Brophy), who are fiercely loyal to each other and Nikolai.
Many of the actors’ performances this season were jaw-dropping. In particular, Carter stole the show every time he was on-screen. Carter’s portrayal of everything from Kaz’s intense phobias, the flashbacks to his childhood, the yearning he has for Inej and the complete “Dirtyhands” persona was exactly what the world needed. Kaz’s ruthlessness, along with his constant decision to look out for his Crows, made him one of the most complex and interesting characters to watch. Carter’s ability to show Kaz’s affection for Inej and his sheer fury at Rollins came across so well that there’s no need to read any of Kaz’s inner monologue from the books to follow along. And on top of being the “Bastard of the Barrel,'' Kaz was also ridiculously funny this season. Every side-eye given to the other Crows, every fight and every snarky line saw Kaz Brekker come more and more alive.
Another serious highlight of the show was the choreography and fight scenes. The series’ extensive fight coordination team (including Géza Kovács, Felix Betancourt and Ruben Maldonado, to name a few) deserves a raise, especially for all the work done in episode 3, when you cannot help but hold your breath in anticipation — will Inej go down or keep fighting? Everything from the long shots and the camera angles to the fascinating use of weapons makes each fight scene completely astonishing.
Unfortunately, a large drawback of the show is the fact that the “Shadow and Bone” plot and characters are often completely overshadowed by the Crows. The main characters, the book’s plot and even the title of the show are likely the show’s greatest appeals to viewers. Still, they are crowded out.
The show also remains muddled in its expansive plotlines, with the fear that it may not be picked up for another season. Not only did this season combine two “Shadow and Bone” books, but it also pulled a large plot from the “Crooked Kingdom” story and sets up for the later “King of Scars” storyline. Because of this, there’s almost too much happening in these eight episodes. Too many storylines, plots and even characters are pushed into season 2 of the show, which can make some information hard to follow for those who have not read the books. This causes a lack of tension throughout the story and a loss of satisfying endings.
Still, from the entertaining title sequences that accompany the start of each episode to the smooth transitions between some of the scenes, we all cannot help but want more from the show. So, stream “Shadow and Bone” season 2 on Netflix and get us that season 3!