I’ve always gone by the rule that by the third episode of a show, I can pick my ship and if I can’t pick it, then the ship will have found me. And I have never had a show break that rule for me – until now.
Because the thing is, one thing that Shadow & Bone does exceptionally well is they make you feel for every character. They make you look at each character – no matter how much you hate them – and want what’s best for them, while reconsidering what that means at the end of each episode.
At the end of episode two, I was all in on Malina. I hated it, because I felt my rules breaking. What I should have settled in on is that I was going on a wild ride, and what I thought I needed and wanted will be changed before I know it.
I was all in for Mal and Alina. I was. But my head has been turned and I am leaning towards Darklina after this episode. Oh my shipping heart.
But this isn’t all about ships. Shadow & Bone is about so much more than a ship. It’s this complex world that pulls you in and leaves you questioning so many things in life, looking at things from a different point of view and at the same time rooting for the underdogs at all turns.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
Let’s get down to episode three and what I think is happening.
AREN’T REDHEADS TROUBLE?
I am a big dream person. I think that our dreams are telling us something all the time. And Alina dreaming about a stag – well, I am sure that has to mean something and I am pretty sure that it has nothing to do with a stag party.
But waking up from a dream you don’t understand is one thing, another is a large group of people entering the room and staring at you. Not to mention the insults that they start throwing.
In seconds you see the differences – even more – between the two worlds and the way that Alina may feel like she doesn’t belong.
Genya has been asked by the General to make Alina presentable as she is being presented to the King. I mean, that’s a lot for this girl to take in, but she does it. The helpers – they are all assholes, thinking that Alina doesn’t understand what they are saying. But she does. She knows that the said she smells like a horse, but valid point for her – she just rode 200 miles on a horse after almost being killed twice.
They want Genya to change her eyes, But Alina doesn’t want it to change. She is half Shu, it’s a part of who she is. Genya doesn’t care that she’s half Shu, she cares that she’s made presentable.
I don’t know why and I don’t know if it will stay, but I like Genya right now. I feel like she’s a calming force and she’s on Alina’s side. She may work for the Queen, but she knows that Alina is special, even if Alina can’t see it.
Genya is a tailor. And no, I am not talking about a person who fixes clothing. She can heal and modify. I think I got that right, but to be honest, I am learning. As she fixes Alina’s bumps and bruises, I can’t help but wonder if Genya is someone that I will turn on later. Why? Because is she making the world a better place or is she making me believe that she is. Genya was gifted to the queen at 12, and has been working on skills since she was 3. Not going to lie, the whole “gifting” thing grosses me out.
Alina thinks she needs more time. She’s only been a Grisha for a day, but she’s gently reminded that she’s only been aware for a day, but she’s been a Grisha her whole life.
NOT GIVING UP
I don’t trust the Conductor, but for some reason – even though I know that he’s a crook – I trust Kaz. So I am willing to follow Kaz on any journey, even if it is for the wrong reasons. But money can drive all of us to do things for the wrong reasons, right?
Kaz reminds the Conductor that he’s not only being hired to take them across the Shadow Fold, he’s also being tasked with getting them into the castle. He is convinced that he can get them in with the help of a Heartrender, Nina is Grisha, and Kaz doesn’t get how she would be dumb enough to betray the General. But then again, neither do I.
Nina is all about herself, and I am guessing that she didn’t watch Charmed, because she would know not to use her powers for personal gain. Yet, here we are, and she’s doing just that. She is set to meet Kaz and team at a hotel, but before they get there she is captured by the Drüskelle.
The Conductor takes this a sign that they should give up, but it’s not something that Kaz, Jesper, or Inej are willing to do. After all, for them, this is about more. One million kruger is life changing. For Inej it means freedom, for Jesper it is fun and for the Conductor it means retirement. I guess that sometimes you need to think of the endgame in order to work past the fears.
Personally, fear would have kept me out of The Fold, but that’s just me.
Nina, meanwhile, has been taken on a ship, and when she’s brought under deck, there are several Grisha chained. As she’s being brought to be tied up, she’s not backing down. She’s saying everything that she can to Matthias, learning that she’s being brought to stand trial. Why? Because it is the Drüskelle way, and they believe Grisha are witches.
I don’t like Matthias because he’s an asshole, racist, and telling her that she is not a woman, she is a Grisha. He also tells her not to speak to him again. Then there is the obvious, let us not forget that he’s a kidnapper.
UNDER A VEIL
I love Alina, how awkward that she feels, how she portrays it, and how she just wants to fit in somewhere. But what I love about this episode is that she’s writing Mal letters and my Malina heart is so fucking happy over it.
But as I said in the beginning, my ship allegiances may be tested quite quickly here.
She’s been bathed and dressed, and brought to see the King. Genya is walking her down, telling her that everything there is open to them all, trying to get her to stop fidgeting, and reminding her that the King expects to see a humble girl pulled from the ranks of his army, ready to save them all.
He’s going to want to see her powers and take credit for her.
The King, Queen, Prince, and the King’s spiritual advisor are all expected to be in attendance. Alina though is wondering if any Grisha has ever escaped, but at this moment I can’t help but laugh. Why? Because as she says it, we are looking through her veil, which has clearly made her not able to see. She doesn’t realize that the General is there and he asks her if she’s thinking of making a break for it.
It’s the way he stands beside her, the way that he looks at her, the way that he talks to her, that makes me think that I want these two together. It’s the way that he reminds her of who she can be and doesn’t let her settle that makes me like him. And I know, I am fully aware that he may not be on the up and up.
When she says that the Grisha use magic, he tells her it’s not magic, it’s science. The manipulate the things around thiem, things that are there. They don’t conjure from nothing. Alina says that they make it look easy, but in the best analogy, he remarks that a bird makes flight look so easy, because they were born to do so.
However, spunky Alina reminds us that they fly when they are ready.
The way that he asks her if she thinks that he brought her there to make a fool or him or her, for a second I think I see a light in his eyes. And yup, I want them together. I am in for this Darklina ship. Her tells her to keep her focus on him and when he speaks for her when she can’t, I have a part of me believe that he puts her at ease.
He tells them she will change the future. He helps her focus. He grabs her wrist and helps her harness her power. And there is something again, about this moment that makes me believe that he cares.
Sure, I could be wrong. But Ben Barnes and Jesse Mei Li radiate chemistry. She also has such a powerful chemistry with Archie, that I would just like to give the casting directors applause. They know what they are doing.
The King gives permission to train Alina, but she needs to be trained quickly. The country needs to be reunited.
I believe that Alina was excited to see her power at work. She didn’t know where it came from, but the General reminds her that it came from everywhere because she called for it to come. He doesn’t want her to forget who she is.
I hate that he’s always walking off and leaving her with other people. It’s like, I get it dude, you can’t let your guard down, but it’s obvious that you like her. And there is no shame in that. But leave me with the slow burn. I can sit through it.
After all, General Kirigan welcoming her home was enough to tide me over.
What I do need to say is that Zoya calling Alina a half breed – well that to me was crossing a line. But at the same point, from what I am seeing is that we’re experiencing a lot of racism in this show and the parallels to real life are there. Zoya, in my opinion, isn’t meant to be a sympathetic character, but what she is meant to be (hopefully) is one that can learn.
And yes, I would think that she would know not to use racist terms and put people down, because she herself experiences the same thing. We all say things that we don’t mean out of the heat of anger, but we all need to learn and educate ourselves and judging people by the color of their skin, their race – these are never acceptable.
The reality is that it continues to happen and it happens on a scale that is not okay. I am hoping that Shadow & Bone can find a path to redemption for this, and show us that people can learn, grow, and change.
Leigh Bardugo wrote a world thats issues are prevalent in our world. What we can do, ourselves, is take a moment to learn, examine and grow. Racism, sex trade, war, sexism, criminal acts are all in this show. Some people, I am assuming, will be redeemable. Those who are not, I hope we find a way to grow from these examples and make sure that we never use these words, actions, and moments in our own lives.
HE’S CARRYING A GOAT
The conductor had given them a list of things to get and Kaz gave them direction. He tells Jesper to not get distracted, but that’s like telling a kid not to touch the flame. They are going to touch the flame.
But that’s the beauty of Jesper. He’s not going to make anything boring. He’s going to make sure that every moment is fun.
One of the best moments of this series is seeing Kaz carrying a goat. I don’t know – maybe it’s because I know that part of it is CGI. Kaz has a thing about him – a mystique that pulls you in and makes you root for him. And not to mention he’s also got a thing for being in the right place at the right time.
I know that in shows like this the devil is in the details and so I am trying to pay attention to everything. It’ s definitely hard.
Kaz is that way most of the time too. He’s paying attention to the details. He comes across a man telling the people of West Ravka that they need to be their own country, stop sending their people into the fold, and that the old country doesn’t know what they need. But what’s important about this moment – he sees the Conductor talking to the man after and going into a tent with him.
I don’t trust the Conductor because he has no loyalty. I would say that Kaz and Jesper don’t either but I think that they do. To each other and to Inej.
When they meet the conductor later, Jesper is nowhere to be found, but a sign warning them on land mines is. The Conductor says it was his idea for the sign to keep people away. But don’t interpret that as there being none (I made that mistake). We learn really quickly to take him literally, because as Jesper runs up with men shooting after him, a land mine explodes.
Jesper may have not gotten enough coal, but they do make it through. Sure they get attacked by a lot of Volkra, but leave it to an emotional support goat to help Jasper save the day.
THE STAG AND THE JEALOUS BAG
Personally, I don’t like ever being told what to do – so if I was Alina, I would not be reacting well to the fact that she’s constantly told where she needs to go and what she needs to be. She’s blocked from going outside, but the leads her to meeting Marie and Nadia, who in my opinion seem like they want to be part of the popular clique and are stage five clingers.
Heading outside, it’s time for combat training. Alina has had some training, but training from Mal is nothing compared to the training she’s about to get.
She’s asked to pick an opponent and chooses Zoya. Zoya after all talks a lot of shit and I admire the fact that Alina’s not allowing herself to back down. Zoya kicks her ass, but when Alina gets one good punch to the face in, Zoya flips her shit and sends her flying.
You may not want to do that to the Sun Summoner biotch.
Zoya is chastised and runs off defeated. Alina makes her way inside and heads to the library. She loves books and finds one that she read as a kid. That’s when creepy dude shows up. I am not sure what to think of the King’s spiritual advisor, but I do know that he sends chills down my spine.
But he helps Alina find out about the stag. Turns out that the first recorded Grisha was called the Bone Smith. Creepy name for a creepy dude. He apparently could conjure magical animals and the Grisha that killed them could take their power. Is that why Alina is seeing the stag? Is she meant to gain more power? Shouldn’t she learn to control hers first?
The Spiritual Advisor has some good insights but he’s just creepy.
Alina wants to be appreciative of where she is, but in all fairness there is a lot of shit that has happened to her in under a week. She has every right to be freaking out and feeling overwhelmed.
Ok, you know that this episode has pulled at my alliances here – I’m floating on the team Darklina here. That is until the end, when Alina rushes back to her room and starts to write Mal.
The world is hard and cruel but they had each other and that’s enough. That was everything to her. Everyone is looking at her like she’s the answer, the miracle the world has been waiting for. She’s terrified of failure and success. If she has this power, she’ll be a stranger to himself and to him.
And that’s too much for her.
He’s always been her “true north” and that is home to her. She needs to be safe and at home with him.
And as you see her face – you stop and think. Jessie has such a way of playing Alina that makes you want to respect Alina’s feelings and not push your own shipping agenda on the character.
After all, everyone should have a true north.
But one has to wonder, is Mal her true north because that is all she’s ever known?
- When Inej is looking to see if she see’s her parents names and Kaz tells her that hope is dangerous and it clouds judgement, I am not thrilled with him. Don’t be an assohole.
- Inej telling how the necklace that she wears is the last thing and the only thing she has from her Mom makes me tear up.
- I haven’t liked Zoya ever and it appears that I am right. I get that she’s jealous of General Kirigan showing Alina attention, but don’t be a bitch.
- The pressure that Alina must feel from constantly being told that she is one of a kind would be crippling to me. That’s a lot of pressure.
- Alina’s letters to Mal punch me right in the face and gut and make me want them to find each other again.
- Don’t like the lady in the cave, but I do love that she is no nonsense and tells Alina that she needs to believe in herself and not to come back until she does.
- The food taster is my new favorite side character. He cracks me up when he’s like this is an honor and then realize that he’s saying that about a job that could kill him.
- Douche asshole that tells Alina that she shouldn’t be eating and should be training – fuck you.