Show Me Who You Are
Episode 5 of Shadow and Bone begins with the ominous sound of bells tolling. We’re on the outskirts of Chernast, deep in the First Army’s Camp. Clutching his stomach, Mal stumbles into town, alone. The soldiers snatch him up and help him back to camp.
Meanwhile, Kaz and the gang are allowed into the Little Palace but are under strict instructions from the guards. Inside the walls, Alina embraces her new role, seeing herself as part of the Grisha. Tellingly, she decides to adopt a black outfit too. Genya warns her to be careful of powerful men.
Speaking of which, David Kostyk, Expert resident Fabrikator, shows up and introduces himself to Alina. It’s clear Genya has a soft spot or him, bidding David farewell as he leaves the room.
With the performance upcoming, this is exactly when Kaz and his team will strike. Kaz poses as a guard and begins looking around the palace, trying to find a point to grab Alina.
Well, Alina is restless and she intends to head out to check on the festivities in town. There’s a big show going on, with the cirque troupe putting on a performance depicting Alina as the Sun Summoner.
Alina is certainly amused and intends to make her presence known… until Genya stops her. However, Jesper happens to be overhearing from afar and comments on the situation. As a group, they set up a lynx flush; a fancy way of saying the Conductor is grabbing the Summoner while the others slide in to break out as quickly as possible.
Back inside the Little Palace, Kirigan and Alina continue to grow closer together. In fact, Alina even kisses the General, surprising him further. This sets the scene for that evening to follow, as surprises are afoot. Jesper and the stable-hand end up kissing in the barn while Kaz puts his plan to snatch up Alina into action.
Before that, Alina dazzles the crowd with a stunning light show; an awesome display of power. While she entertains the masses, Kaz and the group come up against an unexpected wildcard.
That comes in the form of Mal, who arrives at Little Palace looking for General Kirigan. He’s let into the palace, feeding back to Kirigan that he’s found the stag. Kirigan demands he mark it on the map but Mal refuses. Instead, he tells the General he wants to see Alina first. In exchange for this, he’ll disclose the location of the stag precisely.
News of this spreads to Baghra but she’s aghast when she hears the General is on the hunt. Alina tries to outsmart Kaz and the group with a doppelganger but Kaz has already seen through this. What he hasn’t seen through however, is General Kirigan arriving and grabbing Alina, showing her the blue iris flowers to help woo her.
Mal is ambushed by one of the guards, who tries to assassinate the First Army soldier. Tofin has already been slaughtered but Mal manages to fend off his foe and survive.
After kissing Kirigan in the study, he’s taken away with news of Marie’s death. Baghra shows up and whisks the Sun Summoner away through a secret passageway. There, she breaks the news that Kirigan is just using her. In fact, he intends to expand the Fold and use it as a weapon.
He’s also the Black Heretic and Baghra happens to be his Mother. Kirigan has been hunting the legendary animals all this time – and Alina almost gave him the stag.
While she takes off through twisty corridors in the back, Kirigan confronts his Mother out in the courtyard. Mal takes off too while Alina hides inside a trunk in a carriage outside. The very same carriage, as it turns out, Jesper and the others are in possession of. They hop onboard and take off, unwittingly having completed their mission after all.
The Episode Review
Episode 5 of Shadow and Bone finally sees secrets revealed. With Kirigan’s true intentions now out in the open, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see someone wielding shadow powers as the villain. What is surprising however, is the reveal that Baghra is actually his Mother.
This episode is the longest of the season and that extra run-time helps to converge all our characters together organically for this journey to Little Palace. It’s a pivotal moment too and while the adventures of Nina onboard the ship are sidelined, the three other tales involving Mal, Alina and Kaz are given enough time to flesh out and come together.
Jesper is definitely the most charismatic character here but Alina is a good protagonist and very easy to root for. In fact, the entire ensemble are doing a great job here and the production design in particular definitely stands out.
With a nice twist of irony at the end and lots of promise for the future, Shadow and Bone delivers its best episode yet.