Heart of the World
Episode 3 of Shadow and Bone begins with Alina awakening after a bad dream. Within this she sees a mythical stag with large antlers, eclipsed by a large ball of brilliant light.
Waking up, she finds herself at the whim of a whole host of attendants and servants who tend to her. Arina is going to meet the King but before that she’s healed of her wounds thanks to a Grisha healer called Genya.
Alina is taken down to see the King Pyotr, complete with a First Army uniform and a gold veil. Among those in attendant is the King’s Apparat and the Crown Prince too. Kirigan shows up and confirms that the King will almost certainly keep her there for training.
In front of the King, Alina manages to conjure forth her brilliant powers, dazzling the throne room in a mesmerizing light show. On the back of this, Kirigan makes his case. He tells the Royal family that he’s going to train Arina and harness the girl’s powers; his plan involves destroying the Fold. The King’s stake in all this is bringing the entire world together.
Training begins and Arina is immediately knocked down by Zoya, the woman she chooses to do combat with. Alina is knocked back repeatedly and eventually this sees training come to an abrupt end for the day.
Alina heads to the library where we learn a little more about the prophetic fate of this world. It turns out the first recorded Grisha is a man known as the Bonesmith. Apparently he made creatures from his own finger bones, which were later revealed to be mythical animals. It seems like there are four main creatures, if the images in the book we’re shown are anything to go by, and one of those is a deer.
With a book in hand, Alina meets Baghra who’s known to harness one’s power. Sitting opposite her, Baghra casts seeds of doubt in Alina’s mind. Baghra tells her she needs to believe in herself and come back when she does. Angry and disappointed, Alina begins writing to Mal.
We then skip across to Novokribirsk in West Ravka. Kaz, Inej, Jesper and the Conductor team up together to find a Heartrender called Nina. Only, they’re not alone. The Druskelle are also after Nina, and through a slick interwoven flashback, our Heartrender is taken away by these witchhunters.
The group split up, with each needing to find a crucial tool to cross the Fold and bring Nina back. Unfortunately Jesper gets sidetracked and starts gambling. Kaz meanwhile obtains the goat he needs and reminds Inej that she needs to stay focused. As he so eloquently puts it, “we all have debts to pay.”
The group show up at the abandoned train ready to go. Unfortunately Jesper’s gambling mishaps mean they’re down on coal and may not have enough to cross. Still, the group team up together and prepare to go.
The Conductor rolls up his sleeve to show a number of deep carvings, these mark the number of crossings he’s made to the other side. As the train gets moving, they draw near to a Volcra nest. The winged beasts immediately attack.
With things looking bleak, Jesper of all people stands up and shows off his gun-slinging abilities, all whilst holding the goat. Thankfully it’s enough to bring them through to the other side, where our characters breathe a sigh of relief.
The Episode Review
Shadow and Bone switches tone slightly as the story branches in half for two parallel plots. The Kaz/Jesper/Inej story is certainly more exciting and helps to inject some pace into an otherwise slower episode. At times though this does work at odds with Alina learning how to harness her powers.
The thin interjecting scenes with Kaz and the others finding the abandoned train and escaping felt a little jarring at times, which is a shame because the scene itself was actually really endearing.
In fact, the tone here is slightly different to what we’ve seen before, slightly more comedic but never in the realm of laugh out loud funny. This does help to lighten the tone and also develop the characters in a meaningful way.
There’s a lot to like with this show though and there’s definitely similarities to His Dark Materials in the way this story has been crafted. For now, Netflix’s latest high fantasy series continues to roll on.