We’re All Someone’s Monster
Episode 2 of Shadow and Bone begins in the past as we see a key scene from Mal and Alina’s past. In fact, this repeated motif plays an important role in what’s to follow this season. Anyway, Mal and Alina decide against being tested to see if the other is a Grisha or not. Instead, they race outside and lie together in the fields.
This leads us along nicely to the present as cacophonous shouting prompts healers to race onboard Alina’s ship and take her and Mal away.
Meanwhile, Inej pleads with Kaz to see reason. With 6 hours left to find Alina, Inej is getting cold feet and is seriously considering walking away. Kaz is left pondering what step to take next. Unfortunately that’s made a lot harder when Pekka finds Kaz and threatens him.
Inej meanwhile gets talking to Jesper down in the bar. However, she’s summoned away after admitting grimly that Kaz is blinded by his rage.
Alina is taken to General Kirigan, where a hush descends over the tent. He demands to know what she is, hinting toward the Sun Summoner quip mentioned by Alexei last episode on the other side of the Fold. The truth soon comes tumbling out though, as Kirigan finds out she can summon light. With a ring in hand, he approaches her to see if she’s really that powerful Grisha.
While Alina struggles to control her nerves, Mal races up to the tent. He’s held back though, helpless as a blinding light pierces Kirigan’s quarters and ascends to the sky. Now it becomes clear that she’s the Sun Summoner – and a powerful weapon for the army to use. She’s taken away from Mal and en-route on a carriage to Os Alta, the capital city of Ravka.
On the other side of the Fold, Kaz stumbles upon his way out – a man known simply as the Conductor. Meanwhile, Inej is given a way out from her predicament.
Before working for Brekker, she belonged to a brothel run by Tante Heleen. Kaz still has five more instalments to pay off to free Inej from her slavery. Technically this means she still belongs to Heleen. Anyway, this woman won’t let her go across the Fold until her debt is paid. In order to do that, she gives Inej a target to kill.
If she can kill this man – that night – then her debt will be cleared. According to Heleen, this target is also a dangerous man like Kaz.
Inej immediately heads off to see Jesper, trying to pass on her job to him. He refuses though, but does agree to help her out.
Meanwhile, Alina’s carriage is attacked out on the road. Here we get to see the Grisha fight fist-hand, with an impressive barrage of different skills against conventional gunfire. Smoke bombs are thrown their way, choking the atmosphere and clouding the battlefield.
Alina is attacked by a bandit but thankfully a Darkling shows up and saves her. As fate would have it, Kirigan is this Darkling and he happens to be one of the Grisha. He grabs Alina and encourages her to ride with him on to the Little Palace. They have to stop midway though, as Alina claims her tailbone is hurting. It’s a small touch but one that adds an air of authenticity to this fantasy series.
While catching their breath, we learn more about the attack. The men and women were Druskelle, elite members of the Fjerdan military and trained to hunt down and kill anyone who may be Grisha. Kirigan believes she could be this world’s chosen summoner, and that gives the Fjerdan more than a reason to go after her.
This Sun Summoner we’ve been hearing about is apparently prophesied to enter the Fold and destroy it from the inside out. Although Kirigan calls it a gift, Alina bites back, claiming her powers are a curse. Alina tells him she’s alone but the General reassures her, reminding the girl that she’s not anymore.
Back at camp, news of Alina’s attack reaches them all. Mal is not happy and wants to find her. Unfortunately the Sergeant doesn’t see it that way and likens her to being disposable.
Back in West Ravka, Kaz arrives to find Poppy. Kaz outright asks about the Conductor and warns that Tante and Pekka are certainly not of the forgiving kind. Only, now it becomes clear that the Conductor is exactly who Inej has been told to kill. This news causes Inej to hesitate.
The Conductor claims not to be involved in any of this business and admits that he’s actually a liberator. He’s not involved with the White Rose but does offer some help. Eventually Inej loses her patience and comes at him with a knife.
Kaz suddenly appears and breaks the news; this man is their ticket to finding Alina. Heleen knew this and was using Inej all this time. After saving him, Kaz asks the Conductor to break them inside the Little Palace.
For now, Kaz approaches Heleen and tells her she’s taking Inej with him. Handing over a sealed envelope, the contents inside hold a letter to The Crow Club. Heleen agrees to the terms and tells him that Inej is his to lose now.
The Episode Review
Shadow and Bone returns to deliver another impressive slice of high fantasy. The set and production design in this has been fantastic and it’s backed up by some solid world building too.
There are a lot of characters and intricate ties here that can be quite difficult to work out. I’d imagine this is the sort of show that would benefit from re-watches, similar to Game Of Thrones. Although given how that show turned out, I wouldn’t recommend re-watching past season 6.
While there’s obviously nowhere near as many characters here, the show does juggle a lot. This helps to mask some of the more obvious “Hero’s Journey” story beats that show up for Alina. Having said that, this series does have a really fascinating story and you can tell there’s a lot of history in this too that’s just waiting to be discovered.
The various different factions and ideas being pedaled in this series helps to give this some urgency. Our characters all have flaws and issues too, helping to make for a multifaceted and enthralling watch.