Episode 4 of Shadow and Bone cleverly splits its story into several different strands, with Alina and Mal both longing for letters from the other.
Our story picks up several weeks after the events of the previous episodes. Mal has been sent to Chernest, where the Fjerdans keep attacking at night. His attempts to write to the Little Palace are in vain – and Mal receives no word back from Alina either.
General Kirigan has tasked a number of different units to go off in search of the mythical Morozova’s Stag. Seeing this as his route back to Alina, Mal volunteers for the tracking party. He’s not alone though, and both Mikhael and Dubrov agree to go with him.
Alina and Aleksander Kirigan continue to grow closer together, with the latter understanding her power struggle. Together, they reflect on the history of the Fold and how it came to be.
Hundreds of years back, King Anastas hired a Grisha as a military advisor. Unfortunately this heretic decided to use forbidden science to create an army. In doing so, he also made the Fold and was killed, along with countless others.
The solution to all this is Alina, who is prophesied to use her powers to destroy the Fold once and for all. If she can’t complete her task? Well, she could end up just like that Heretic. No pressure!
This inevitably brings Alina back to Baghra for training. It’s pretty unconventional teaching, complete with slaps and threats. It’s not nearly enough to bring Alina’ true power out, but it is at least a start. Baghra next spikes the girl’s tea, making Alina see visions of her time at the orphanage – and specifically the day of the testing.
Meanwhile in Kribirsk, East Ravka. Jesper and the gang reflect on their journey through the Shadow Fold and what comes next. They’re planning a heist on the Royal Archives, and this means a touching goodbye with Milo, the goat.
Anyway, the group eventually head in with Kaz posing as a sculptor. He gains the dimensions to the front entrance, prompting Inej to dive in from the rooftop. While she copies the schematics, Jesper blends in with the guards.
Reconvening at the bar, the Conductor brings forth Marko, a man who happens to be part of a performing troupe who have lost their star performer (see: sabotaged by the Conductor himself). This could give them a way inside the Little Palace – if Inej lends them her unique talents to the cause. Jesper too uses his gun-slinging abilities, while Kaz formulates his own way inside.
While all this is going on, Matthias confronts his Heartrender prisoner and tries to feed Nina. He wants information on the Darkling, something Nina is not willing to give up. However, the ship hits some serious choppy waters later that night, as Nina remains chained to the rafters.
Meanwhile, Mal, Dubhrov and Mikhael are attacked out in the frosty waste. With a machine-gunner lying in the woods, blasts rain down across the forest as Mal drops to the ground.
When he awakens, both of his friends have been killed. Crawling across the frozen land, he takes out the guards and eventually mourns for his fallen friends. In the distance, the mythical stag steps out into the light. As he looks on in shock, we cut across to Alina who has Genya erase her childhood scar from her hand.
The Episode Review
Episode 4 of Shadow and Bone has an awful lot going on and these different plot threads do sometimes feel a little disparate. However, the show is undoubtedly a great watch and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
This episode in particular focuses on Mal and Alina’s relationship over the years, with the scars bonding them together after all this time. It’s perhaps fitting that Alina had her scar healed at the end; a personified moment of her time outside the orphanage and fear for the future. This is nicely realized across this chapter, leaving the finish with big question marks leading into the second half of this season.
You can tell Netflix have banked on this being a multi-season long arc, and given the amount of book material to get through that’s definitely a possibility.
There are rumours floating around that this has been renewed already but with no official word from Netflix (at least at the time of writing this recap) we’ll keep reserved over that for now!
In the meantime, Shadow and Bone continues to delight, delivering another strong chapter.