Shadow and Bone brings hope to the dark

Amber Hayden, Arts and Entertainment Editor

After nearly two years since the first season of “Shadow and Bone” premiered, fans have finally received the long-awaited season two. The last season left beloved characters in tough situations, and after many months of wondering what will become of them, answers have arrived.

“Shadow and Bone” tackles many intricate plot lines between the Sun Summoner’s battle with the antagonist, the Darkling, to everyone’s favorite Crows trying to get themselves out of trouble for crimes they did not commit, with the characters making these elements even more incredible. 

One of the merits from the first season was all the changes to Alina’s character, played by Jessie Mei Li. Prior to this adaptation, Alina was not a fighter, and really was not anything special. Alina Starkov from the show on the other hand, is ready to fight back and will not stop until she succeeds. 

Whether it is just the experience of seeing events unfold on screen, or it is simply more intense than the books, one thing is made clear. This new Alina Starkov is the only one who has both the power and the drive to stop the Darkling, played by Ben Barnes, and his monsters. 

Through the abomination of Merzost, the Darkling created a series of shadow monsters always by his side, and a team of magical followers, Grisha, who are loyal to him. The Grisha have more power than average, thanks to amplifiers, so no matter how powerful Alina becomes, the Darkling remains a formidable foe. Luckily, this season Alina teamed up with equally powerful allies. 

Alina needs the help, but she is still dealing with the fallout and betrayals from last season, which leads to her initial lack of trust when she meets the character Nikoli played by Patrick Gibson, but as he points out she could not have done it alone.

Though he is a new character this season, he is quick to become a fan favorite with his loveable nature, intelligence, and his tendency to light up every scene he is in. They start to form an easy alliance when he helps Alina work toward her goals. Any scene they have together is an absolute gem, and through the plot of a fake marriage proposal, Alina and Nikolai have more chemistry than she and Mal ever will.

As for returning allies, the crows make an epic comeback to Alina’s side of the story, away from their adventures in Ketterdam, thanks to their connection to Nikolai. After several near-death experiences, everyone’s favorite cast of characters are sent on a dangerous mission that only they can pull off. 

Kaz has always been a compelling character, but lovers of the “Six of Crows” duology written by Leigh Bardugo, might have noticed a lack of his character in the first season, but thankfully it has been remedied. With the plot against Pekka Rollins and a mission for the Sun Summoner, Kaz’s heist skills are brilliantly illustrated.. 

This season dived deep into Brekker’s past, explaining why he hates Pekka Rollins so much, and showing his trauma through the clever use of triggered flashbacks. Going into the season, it may have been a concern if the show would shy away from the sensitive topic, but they did a fantastic job of showing why Kaz is the way he is.

His past is likely the main reason why Kaz is so good at scheming, and while Inej and Jesper are valuable assets to the team, they are beneficial in different ways. Everyone delves into their roles; from Inej following in the shadows, to Nina pretending to be Kaz’s wife, to Jesper and Wylan shopping for explosives. 

From unexpected issues with the heist, to Alina’s problems on her way to the ever-approaching battle against the Darkling, the last few episodes of the season are filled with action and loveable character interactions pulling them through.

After a season full of tension and preparation, Alina and Mal finally come face to face with their ultimate nemesis, though it is not in the way they expected. The battle scene gives everything it needs to, from Alina’s unrelenting drive to stop Kirigan no matter the consequences, to Mal bringing in the hard-cut emotion laying behind the scene.

Somehow, after everything he has done, the Darkling will not give up Alina despite her repeatedly telling him how she despises him. Even still, he seems undeterred, which only strengthens Alina’s resolve. 

After the battle, there comes some major book changes from the trilogy to the duology. Mal and Alina’s relationship seems changed after the battle leading to their separation. A turn from the source material, but maybe this could be good news considering their major lack of chemistry. Not only that, but it seems Alina will continue to play a role in a possible third season with unknown changes to her abilities. 

On trend for this show, they also seem to hint at the beginnings of the “King of Scars” plot, just before Nikolai’s coordination, and since, unlike the books, Nikolai and Alina seem to be staying together temporarily, it begs the question of how Alina will play into this.

Through the darker plotlines of season two, and hints being made that suggest things will only get more intense from here, book readers and non readers alike are sure to feel a creeping sense of suspense and excitement of where things may lead next.