Episode 8 of Shadow and Bone begins inside the Fold. Darkness consumes the group as they prepare for the inevitable. They’ve passed five markers and thus far no Volcra have attacked. Down in the cabins, Jesper, Kaz and Inej also prepare for what’s to come. Unfortunately Jesper doesn’t have anywhere near enough bullets.
Meanwhile, Nina and Matthias make it into Arkesk. The pair try to work out whether there’s somewhere they can go together where they’re no longer witch and witchhunter. With the threat of being court-martialled and deserted, Matthias tries to push this to the back of his mind while they sit downstairs and eat waffles. Only, Matthias suddenly collapses on the table.
A Grisha shows from the distance, a man known as Fedyor. He immediately takes Matthias and holds him captive. This obviously causes any trust between him and Nina to shatter, despite her pleas that this was the only way to save him. He’s en-route to Hellsgate too, where he’ll be a prisoner. This just so happens to be in the town of Ketterdam.
Back inside the Fold, Alina uses her powers to blast a way forward. Only, it’s a small tunnel, one that’s nowhere near big enough to destroy the Fold. It turns out this was never the plan for Kirigan, as he wants to use the darkness as a weapon, with Alina used as a tool.
Down in the cabins, Kaz and the others find a stowaway – it’s Mal! He too wants to kill the General and this makes him an ally in their fight. The boat suddenly stops though as Kirigan demonstrates his power. He uses the darkness and pushes the Fold out, consuming East Ravka. He tells the men and women onboard the skiff that their fight is over; they can redraw maps and change the world as they see fit.
Mal suddenly bursts out the crowd with a gun, intent on shooting Kirigan. Unfortunately he’s stopped and forced down to the ground by the Grisha. Once there, Alina tries her best to control the light but it’s too much.
Kaz and the others show too, managing to strike Kirigan but realizing it’s too late and Kirigan is far too powerful. As the Volcra begin to attack, Alina reaches forward for Mal. Only, the mythical stag suddenly appears before her.
Now realizing what she needs to do, she grabs the knife on the ground and plunges it into Kirigan’s hand. With the connection between them broken, Alina uses her powers to push the darkness back. Kirigan is confused, but as Alina explains, the stag chose her – not him.
Mal knocks the Black General off the skiff and attacks, hitting the man with a barrage of bullets. Volcra swoops down and grab Kirigan, knocking him back as it seems they’re feasting on him.
Mal makes it back onboard the skiff to find Alina passed out. She eventually awakens, allowing them to move the skiff forward and leave the Fold. Together, the group reconvene out in the frosty fields.
Kaz realizes how valuable the Sun Summoner is and tries to work out whether to hand her in or not. Well, a valuable treasure is enough to persuade Kaz otherwise. Alina looks back toward the Fold, knowing this fight is far from over.
With Kirigan having turned against his own people, it leaves the fate of the world a big unknown at his point. “Saints become martyrs before they become heroes.”
Kaz and the gang decide to get a boat to Ketterdam. The vessel they choose to take? The same one Matthias happens to be held captive on. As they talk about their plan, Nina happens to be listening from afar.
Mal and Alina decide to team up and stick together, determined to take the Fold down. Only, there’s a problem. The Darkling is not dead. As we cut across to Kirigan, we see him leave the Fold and issue a command for the Volcra to follow.
The Episode Review
Shadow and Bone bows out its first season with an enthralling finale, one that leaves the door wide open for additional seasons to come.
The season has essentially been about Alina gaining her powers while Kirigan has tried to control her. The reveals about him being the Dark Heretic and Baghra being his Mother are by far the most surprising twists in the series though.
This whole balance between light and dark has been nicely realized and the ending seems to hint that Kirigan is now more dangerous than ever.
Elsewhere, Nina and Matthias’ story seems to have hit a bit of a snag, and in many ways has played second fiddle to everything else going on. While there has been some crossover with the other two storylines, ultimately this feels like a plot restrained for another season.
Kaz and his troupe have crossed paths with Alina several times this season and the story beats have always been quite similar (Plan a heist, execute the heist, lose Alina etc.) but the ending does allow for some good character development – and a ploy to break free from this.
With East Ravka in ruins (at least based on that ending it seems) and Kaz heading off on a different quest this time, the big conflict between Alina and Kirigan is far from over. The reveal that this man has seemingly raised a shadow army and is preparing to attack certainly looks like bad news for our characters.
In the meantime, the ending leaves the door wide open for more seasons to come. Let’s just hope Netflix renew this one sooner rather than later!
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