I admit that I haven’t read the books, but that’s actually worked out in my favor here. Diving into a new fandom is always a tricky thing, but it’s an exciting one. Because I hadn’t read the books but Lizzie had, we decided to do something different.
Two reviews for the episodes. One from the point of view of a reader and the other from the point of view of a non-reader. Welcome to my review – from the point of view of a non reader. Why? Because like so many, one of us is diving into the fandom for the first time. One of us knows everything about the fandom and one of us is learning.
There are some things that you should know about my reviews. I stop at the end of each episode and write my review, because I have no idea what is coming, what’s supposed to happen, and who my ship will be. So don’t judge me as my opinions evolve, because I am enjoying the journey, step by step.
But enough about me – let’s talk all about Shadow & Bone 1×01 “A Searing Burst of Light”:
Here’s the thing with any fandom – for me ships play a big part. It makes me emotionally invested in the characters. It doesn’t matter if they end up together all the time. What matters is that I feel that angst. We all have a thing that draws us in. What can I say?
Let’s talk about the besties that I don’t want together and yet, in moments, I do. Sorry Alina and Mal, I am not set on you yet. And I know plenty of people are. But I am invested – and I can tell you the exact moment that I fell. When they are perched above the camp and he looks at her and tells her that he’ll always make her way back to her.
I am a sucker for this shit.
Do I have any idea what is happening? Nope. I know that everyone looks like they are living through the cold war and the fuzzy hats have got to go. Sure, it could be cold, but everyone also looks like they are sweating.
I am making some assumptions about Alina and Mal right now, judging by what I am seeing already. And so if I am wrong, don’t tell me. Cause I want to learn all about this on my own and I want my feelings to evolve. So here’s my assumptions about the two.
Mal always feels like he has something to prove. He lives with the stigma of being an orphan and sensitive, and he does everything to fight against that. He has a mad crush on his best friend, but doesn’t want to cross a line, because he doesn’t want to lose her. But he loves her more than anything.
Alina feels like she has to prove she belongs everywhere. She has lived a hard life and has been treated like she’s less than, when in reality she is more than anyone could ever imagine. She’s protective of her best friend and wants to be with him. She doesn’t know how he feels, and wouldn’t cross that line because she doesn’t want to lose the only person she has.
But the truth is – I don’t think that these two have chemistry in moments, and then there are moments where I do. The way they look at each other when the other one isn’t looking is telling and it is a beautiful thing. They have a comfortable relationship that allows them to have feelings for each other and be comfortable with staying within that friendship, while secretly yearning for more.
And if you’ve ever had a best friend that you’re attracted to – you get it.
But after 55 minutes, I don’t want them together. I mean, Ben Barnes isn’t even in this episode and I don’t know how his character will be, but I don’t want Mal and Alina together. Why? Because I don’t want to see this friendship suffer or end.
Alina and her group are on the way to the Fold and everyone has comments for her. She takes everything in stride and I can appreciate that. She’s been an orphan for the majority of her life, because her parents died when she was young. The Fold took them from her.
The Fold – though I don’t know entirely what it is – looks like a big misshapen vagina on the map. Like I know that’s crude, but as soon as I saw it I literally blurted out, well vaginas can be a dangerous thing. In person it looks like bad breath on fire. When Alina was a kid, she didn’t understand that you couldn’t go around it, but she’s learned now that she’s older, the only way out is through.
Solid advice for most of life. I guess within 10 minutes, this show has some TGIF shit to teach you.
Mal is already at the Fold. He’s wrapping his hands as he gets ready to fight. I am not objecting, cause like I can get behind him being shirtless. I’m a little shocked at how agile Mal is. Also if this is fight club, I am all for it. Not a fan of Brad Pitt, so didn’t watch the movie Fight Club, but watching Archie as Mal – sign me up as the towel girl.
From what I can gather Mal is always up for a pissing contest. When one of the Grisha comes in and wants to fight him, but starts using magic, he’s ready to fight them. He’s got something to prove at all times, which is a sad way to live. But you can tell that he doesn’t want you to feel that way. He wants no sympathy.
Side note – I don’t know what is so wrong with the Grisha, but I do know that if someone wants to throw sand at me, we’re getting into a huge fight that is gonna result with my fist in your face.
But both these moments – we learn parts of who Alina and Mal are. And maybe they are who I am supposed to be rooting for, but right now, I am rooting for their growth. And what evolves from it.
I do love their banter and the way that they connect with each other. I love the way that they look at each other. I love the way he has a crooked smile when she’s not looking.
Mal is showing her the ropes and catching her up on what she’s missed. He’s showing her where camp is and they walk past a group of Grisha, practicing fire. Mal says Grisha pick on them when the General isn’t around. Ok, so they are bullies? Well, I don’t like them then. But Mal tries to give her great advice. He tells her that she should always carry a weapon and that she should never cry in public.
Great, we’re in that kind of society again.
They see a ship as they are walking and he explains to her it’s called the ultralight. It’s supposed to be faster than anything before. It’s used for supply runs through the fold. I know that this is an ominous moment, because hey, if there is one thing I have learned in the world of YA adaptations, every detail needs to be paid attention to.
And it’s only seconds later my theory is proven right. The horn sounds and they are all gathered for assignments. Mal’s voice is called to go on the next supply through the Fold. You can see the look on Alina’s face that she’s worried about it. She hopes that it is a mistake.
Mal is the one person that she can’t lose. And hey it’s one thing Alina and I agree on.
THIEVES AND MISBELIEFS
Ketterdam. Why does this place look like the seediest place ever? Also when can I go there? I don’t know who Jesper is, but the fact that he has the balls to call a man out for using fake money and shoot the coin. I am about you Jesper, your fuck you to dude by shooting his coin – it was sexy as fuck.
Even though you scare me to death, I wouldn’t turn my back on you.
But in walks a man with a cane and a presence that sends chills down my spine. Kaz… I am not sure what it is about Kaz, but he’s definitely got a presence and that presence will set you right in your place really quickly. Freddy Carter is one of the highlights of this series, I can tell right now.
What is it about a bad boy that can make a girl weak, her vagina clench, and her ovaries explode? Cause hey – Kaz, just saying those bad boy vibes work for you and they are definitely working for me.
He’s a “businessman” (I use the term loosely), but like all businessmen he has a kryptonite. And I am guessing that is Inej. When she makes her way into the room, there is a softness about him that comes out. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a hard criminal and all he’s thinking about is the bottom dollar. But sometimes that bottom dollar can involve someone who has emotions.
Emotional connections are like currency in my opinion. They can dictate what you do, how you act and who you become.
Inej tells him that there is a man looking for a crew willing to cross the Fold. I mean I am not going to disagree with Kaz when he says that certain death is worth a million kruger. Here’s my question – why would anyone take a job that they knew would end in certain death? Like no. I have a lot more value in my life than that.
But I don’t live in that world. So who knows what I would choose. Yet, realistically I would follow Kaz anywhere.
She knows that the man, Dreesen, hiring for the job has taken a prisoner at his home. She couldn’t get closer, because he has private security.
I may not know anything about Inej, but I think she’s a force – someone to look out for, someone driven to be more than she was yesterday. She’s about being beyond what people think of her. And she wants that for other people too. Maybe I am thinking too much. Highly possible.
She tells Kaz that she got the information from one of the other girls at the club. They tell her things in hope that maybe he’ll do for them what he did for her – pay off her indenture and get her out. But he becomes very angry and says that he only invests in things that are one of a kind and no one is like her. Ya, dude is obviously in love with her and wants her around. She can take care of herself, but part of me thinks he wants to take care of her too.
Ya, ya – I am totally drunk writing this – so go with it.
She asks what the move is now. He tells her that she’s the one that believes in a higher power and if they are to survive a trip through the fold they need a miracle.
PERCHES AND GRAPES
I have yet to figure out the hierarchy of things on this show, the roles that people play, and the way that the world runs. But that’s kinda beautiful, because I am so interested in the characters that I care enough to figure it all out.
Alina is in line for food and the guy behind the line is a jackass to her. He’s telling her to go to the back of the line and take her friends with her, but she protects the people with her and tells him that she doesn’t know them, throws down her tray and leaves.
The man is a jackass and I really want to fly through the screen and punch him. But violence isn’t the answer, right?
I can see pretty quickly how much Mal loves, admires, and wants to be there for Alina. He leaves the tent to go after her, stopping on the way to steal food from a Grisha tent. Only, he gets caught by the Grisha whose tent it is. He could get in trouble for stealing, but she’s spending her time hitting on him and propositioning for a role in the hay. You have to respect a woman who goes after what she wants.
But you also have to respect a man that walks away when he’s just been offered a one night stand, because the girl he loves/wants/lusts for is somewhere hurting.
And you also have to respect a man that knows where his best friend would be – perched and brooding.
I admire the fact that Mal and Alina have such an open dialogue, but I don’t know if I would be telling my best friend that I got offered a one night stand in the midst of stealing food for them. I guess though that it was a good segway into telling her that it was not a mistake – that he was going into The Fold.
Lord, I love this scene and hate it. Why? Because I am torn right now with what I want for Alina and Mal. They are trying to be all casual and in the same moment a few stolen glances and some romantic words and my ass is like MALINA FOREVER.
But I also know you never commit to a ship until at least the third episode of a series. But it’s kinda hard not to fall for Mal when he promises that he’ll find his way back to her… ya, I am a sucker. She’s better than me. I woulda been like the Grisha in the tent and asked for a one night stand.
THE LIGHT THROUGH THE FOLD
I know that a lot of times I sound like I have no feelings, but I do have feelings. However, I do not have strong enough feelings for any man that would cause me to want to go into the Shadow Fold for them.
However, Alina isn’t like me. She doesn’t want Mal to go into the fold and she doesn’t want to lose him. Her comfort is having him around. So when everyone is distracted by the General arriving (which FYI all we see of Ben Barnes is the back of him, his cape flowing in the wind), and then they call for the team to go into the fold, my first thought wouldn’t be to find a way on that ship.
But Alina isn’t like any of us, and she finds a way. She burns maps that are needed and when she overhears them saying that the maps will have to be redrawn, volunteering to go on the expedition. Hard pass for me.
Only Alina doesn’t plan on the fact her whole unit is going to have to go. Girl, shoulda thought of all the options. When they board the ship – Mal tells her to go, to tell them she’s sick, that he’ll carry her off if he needs to. We get it, Mal.
You love her. But lets not be a misogynist. Girls can go into The Fold too!
When the Greisha gives the rules, stay in your place, don’t use lights, quiet and all that, you know someone is going to break the rules. And while I totally get the urge to turn on the lights with some scary shit flying overhead, that’s obviously a big no. Any horror movie would have taught you that.
And so when the blue light goes out and some idiot lights a lantern – well, someone needs to kick his ass. But ya, that takes a few seconds because whatever those ugly ass monsters are get him. And then get everyone.
But when they come for Mal, it ignites something in Alina. She’s gonna protect him. So she may be a bad shot, but she manages to be a good one right then and there.
I felt tears in my eyes when she ran to Mal, and then even more when the weird flying thing got her. But the way he wouldn’t let her go – and then the way she lights up (like bright, and I am talking like 10000 bad ring lights) – I was like what the fuck is happening.
But I knew that it was going to be big. It was going to be huge. Alina ain’t no underdog. She is gonna show the world why they shoulda been kind to her.
Kaz, Inej and Jesper are trying to ensure that they have a way through The Fold, because they want this job. And I ain’t hating on that. Prepared for anything is key. But also like, know your place and value your life. Is going through the fold really worth a million?
I mean, there are a lot of things that I would do for a million, but also none of those include not valuing my life above all.
Kaz is determined to figure out getting this job and as a criminal, I feel like he could give a Ted Talk on how to stay determined, stay criminal, and stay ruthless. I’d watch it. It’s like he’d be a great head of the bad boys club.
One of his peeps tells him that he intercepted a note from Dreesen. He needs a heartrender. Kaz, being the smart man he is, knows that this is their way in. So he gets one. In the midst of this – Rollins is killing off the heartrenders boss, but I don’t care about Rollins so I ain’t writing about him.
Granted, homegirl is annoying and keeps reminding him she only has an hour. Na, girl, you got all time time in the world. Rollins has already killed your boss and if I was you, I would know where your allegiance should lie.
So, Kaz and his peeps get in and get to Dreesen and then the captive. The captive? It’s the guy from Alina’s unit, who FYI is an asshat. Like you obviously liked Alina, and then you’re willing to sell her out like nothing?
Dreesen had heard about what happened in The Fold. I swear, the look on everyone’s faces when dude tells them she’s a Sun Summoner had to have been priceless. Could have heard a pin drop in that room, but also no one would really want a picture of them taken at that moment. So respect that there are no bad selfie moments there.
Alina is a hot commodity and I can’t wait to learn more about what exactly her powers are. I’ve never been a fan of the light, but I like her. I am rooting for her.
Just not quite sure what that means yet.