You probably wont’ be shocked to hear we loved Shadow and Bone. Erin, Raquel and Me had a chance to explore how much we loved it as we dissected the season, but this is one of those shows where we all pretty much agreed. So, of course, we had to do a roundtable about all the reasons why we loved the show!
Joining me on this are Lyra, Beata, Kenzie, Jade, Naomi, Jasmine, Shelby, Shelby C and our guest Shana. And since this is a long roundtable, let’s just get to it!
Well, that was something, wasn’t it? What did you think of the show overall? Did you enjoy it? Had you read the books before or were you coming into this world without any background?
Lizzie: I have talked about this show a LOT, so I will just say that I truly enjoyed in, in a way I didn’t expect, even after having read the books. The balance was perfect, I liked the actual Shadow and Bone part much more than I did the books, and I felt like the characters I was actually invested in, my Crows, were done to perfection. One of my favorite adaptations ever.
Lyra: I came into the Shadow and Bone world only with what Lizzie, who devoured the books, told me. And since I trust her, I dived in and didn’t look back. Now, a whole season later, I’m glad I took a chance on these characters and their journey. From Alina and Mal to Kaz and Inej, there are so many facets of this show that I love and appreciate. And the more I think about, the more I get to hear from others about it, the more I want season 2, 3, and 4. Because these characters…well, we’ve just started to get to know them. There are hours worth of content out there and I’m ready for more.
Beata: I absolutely loved the show! I came into it with a pretty solid understanding of the world. I’ve read the Six of Crows duology more times than I can count, but the first time I tried to read the Grisha trilogy, I couldn’t make it past the first book. I’m reading the rest of the series now, but I was mostly here for the Crows. I’m really happy with the way I went about it, because I actually thought Shadow and Bone (the book) worked way better in this format. I connected so much more to the characters and was way more invested in the plot than I ever was while reading the books. It was great, because on the one hand I got to see this series that I didn’t like very much in a different light, and actually come to enjoy it, and on the other hand I also got a really faithful portrayal of some of my favourite fictional characters of all time, in the Crows. The Crows storyline also added an element of mystery for me as a book reader, because even though I was already attached to these characters, I still didn’t know what was going to happen to them in the show, so I was extra invested. I’m just… in awe of how well this worked and how much I loved this adaptation.
McKenzie: Shadow and Bone was incredible. I have read the books all through the Six of Crows duology, so I was curious how they were going to incorporate the Crows with the first three books. To be honest, they really knocked it out of the park and it exceeded all of my expectations. I will say that I enjoyed the Crows storyline more than Alina or The Darklings but that is to be a given. I mean it’s Kaz, Inej and Jesper we are talking about. The Grishaverse was well thought out and I really enjoyed all the action, hilarious moments and all the steamy ones as well.
Jade: I hadn’t read any of the books prior to watching, and I intentionally avoided all spoilers I could before Shadow and Bone was released. I wanted to be able to go in fresh, without comparing the series to the books, and without really knowing what to expect. I loved the series, but my unfamiliarity with it prior to watching does mean I’ll have to rewatch at some point (oh, woe is me). I confess I spent a good part of the first couple of episodes somewhat confused about who everyone was and what was going on. But once I caught on, I loved it!
Naomi: It was only through the absolute thrill and saturation of my Twitter timeline from the Fangirlish family that Shadow and Bone was even on my radar. I think that I would’ve given it a chance as a show because of Ben Barnes. (His turn as Billy Russo in The Punisher was… well, I have heard all the gushing makes him a little uneasy so I’ll just say I enjoyed his acting skills.)
Anyway, yes I am a newbie to this, but the interest in it made me begin the books. I am wrapping up Siege and Storm now, so I still have quite a long way to go before I’ll feel up to speed on things.
That said, after watching and reading some of Leigh’s Q and A, I feel the concept of The Fold is so brilliant. The idea of darkness actually being a villain comes to life so wonderfully on the screen. Dark and light are always played with, but there is just something kind of special about the way they are the actual essence of the characters in this series. I am hooked!
Jasmine: I just… I don’t have enough words to describe how incredible Shadow and Bone was. Like Shana said, I really felt like reading the books made watching the show feel familiar. I absolutely loved the way that they incorporated the Six of Crows duology with Shadow and Bone because it worked so well in so many ways. We got tons of things that would have never crossed my mind before like a certain scene that takes place in episode six which I won’t say just yet until we get into the next roundtable where I can really unload my thoughts. The Crows definitely added an extra layer to the story and they were my favorites as well. I liked the Shadow and Bone books but not as much as Six of Crows. The action of the Crows made Shadow and Bone much more exciting than I think it would have been had they not been included in the series.
Shelby: I actually started reading Six of Crows, but didn’t have enough time to dig into it before the show came out. I didn’t even know the books were things I would enjoy until Lizzie clued me in on them. I had some background knowledge about the show, the story, and the characters from friends who were excited for the show and from social media, but I didn’t know the big twists. I didn’t know the little ones either, the really impactful character-driven moments that I cannot stop thinking about still. So, yes, if you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loved Shadow and Bone. My attention span, much like everyone else, has been pretty strained over the last year. Shadow and Bone was one of the very few projects that was able to not only capture my attention but maintain it, almost overwhelmingly so. There’s something really magnetic about this massive, fantastical world that Shadow and Bone sets up that makes me want to know more about everything and everyone. I’m obsessed. Long story short: I’m reading the books now.
Shelby C: I loved the show. I’ve only ready the first book so even some of the characters were new to me, but they quickly became favorites. I love the world that this is set in. It’s been a while since a new show grabbed me so immediately, but Shadow and Bone did. This has been my most anticipated new show ever since they announced the cast and I was not disappointed.
Shana: It was, without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve watched this year. I read all of the books—like, all, even The Lives of Saints and The Language of Thorns—and watching Shadow and Bone just felt so…familiar, I guess would be the word for it? It was like I was living in this world that, before watching the series, I had only read about.
Who was your favorite character and why? Okay, fine. Pick a top three.
Lizzie: I love Inej above all things, but that’s very much tied into my love for Kaz. I think most days I pick Inej because I’m pretty sure Kaz would want me to pick Inej, because it’s obvious Kaz put Inej first, so if I love Kaz, I have to do the same? But the Crows are an easy top 3 for me, even if the number two spots depend on my mood. They were my favorites coming into this, and the show didn’t make me falter …in fact, it made me love them more! That’s almost impossible to do.
I think the reason these three are my favorites is not just that, to me, they feel like better characters, but also that they’re characters who are both defined by trauma and who refuse to be defined by trauma. They could so easily be the things that happened to them, and at times they are, which is only normal, but they show that you don’t have to be just that, or be that all the time, and I find that a super powerful thing.
Lyra: I know this doesn’t answer the question, but I don’t have a favorite character. All these characters have attributes that I love and appreciate. And telling me to pick one is just the worstttt. Now, top three, I can do that. Top three is easily The Crows Kaz, Inej, and Jesper. Shadow and Bone simply wouldn’t have worked with out the Six of Crows cast to counterbalance all the madness going on with Alina and her Sun Summoner powers. They were the light, humor, and heart that this show needed and we’d be lost without their wit, skill, strength, and strong found family feels.
Beata: I’m trying to come up with any answer other than the most obvious one, but I can’t. Kaz, Inej and Jesper were my favourite Grishaverse characters long before the show came into being, and that has not changed. I absolutely loved all of their scenes together. The show nailed their dynamic. You can’t help but smile every time Jesper is on screen – he’s so delightful and so easy to root for, even when he’s making mistakes and messing things up, like when he gambles away Kaz’s money in episode 3. Inej is the group’s moral compass, never wavering in her faith and always willing to do anything for her friends, even if she sometimes has issues with their methods. And Kaz… well, I can’t exactly sum him up in a few sentences, but he’s the perfect antihero that you just can’t help but root for even if he is a terrible person.
Do we really get a top three? If so, sorry to have to fight Lizzie on this, but the Darkling is one of my favorites. He’s the interesting type of villain—the one whose motivations start off as sound before spiraling out of control, even if his actions are always horrible. Not to mention, I mean. If we’re talking purely from a show perspective here, it’s Ben Barnes. I can’t help but thirst. Sorry, not sorry.
My third choice is the character called AbsolutelyeveryoneIrefusetochoose because, like. It’s hard, ok?
McKenzie: See other replies, lol. Kaz, Jesper and Inej just really take the show to the next level. Kaz and Inej and with their adorableness along with ruthless tendences. Jesper and his goat, I mean come on how can these three not be your favorite? Freddy Carter brough Kaz Brekker off the page and into life in such an electric way. He was perfect and the way he moved that freaking cane…I just have no words. Kit Young brought more humor to Jesper than I thought I needed. I mean, I already loved him in Six of Crows because he was hilarious. But in the show Kit brought out a whole new level of levity and he was just so precious. Now to Amita Suman, she breathed more life and new layers into an already great Inej. They all have great chemistry together and I loved watching them on screen.
Jade: My first reaction is to say Inej, Jasper, and Kaz. I was really dubious about Kaz starting off (as Lizzie well knows), but I ended up loving him and the rest of the Crows. That said, I also loved several of the other characters. So maybe upon rewatch or if you catch me on a different day, I’d say someone else?
Actually, I’d already like to amend my answer to include the goat. I really loved the scene with the goat.
Naomi: Favorite characters so far? I’ll take The Crows! I haven’t met them as book characters yet, but on screen they are so well acted. Kaz seems stern and rigid, but you can see he has a heart- and it seems to be set on someone. I love that Inej holds on to her faith even though she has so many reasons to be an unbeliever, not to mention my girl’s skills with the knives. I absolutely loved Jesper. He was a character that I thought would annoy me, but his charisma, his sense of himself and his gun slinging skills have made me a fan.
I have to say, I wasn’t so taken with Alina, but I’m hoping that changes. I don’t want to simply root for her because she’s the “good” in all of this. I want to like her! Sadly, I like the Darkling. I know, I know. He’s terrible, right? Everytime he explains his side, I’m like, “Okay, maybe I see your point.” All jokes aside, the General is a very compelling character, and when he speaks to Alina about how they are gonna change the world, I can see exactly how she fell for it.
Jasmine: Okay, first off, thank you Lizzie for giving us permission to choose our top three because I would never be able to pick just one. My top three favorites in this are definitely Jesper, Kaz, and Inej. In that order. I love my Kaz don’t get me wrong but, Kit Young just did something to me when he was playing Jesper. I loved Jesper in the book anyway but Kit is so talented and he has a way of delivering his lines that is so smooth. I really loved watching his gunslinging skills for sure because wow.
Kaz, well Kaz is Kaz and Freddy Carter did a phenomenal job of bringing him to life. All of his emotions and movements screamed Kaz Brekker. I could never see anyone else playing him, not possible. It’s Freddy for me and only Freddy.
Amita is Inej and that’s all there is to it. She brought a fierceness to the character that was obviously there in the books but it’s much different to see it showcased on screen. Inej has gone through a lot in her life and Amita did a great job of capturing that but also giving us a feeling that we still have so much more to learn about her.
Shelby: I’m just going to echo everyone else at this point. I love all of these characters for different reasons, because they’re all so complex and rich. Even the Darkling’s motives are compelling to examine. But does anyone really expect me to choose anyone other than Kaz, Inej, and Jesper? I don’t think I can put them in order because that would stress me out way too much. The entire cast does a phenomenal job of bodying these characters. Even though Shadow and Bone is set in a fictional and fantasy world, these characters feel like real people because of the hard work of everyone involved with this show. I think my affinity for the Crows could be boiled down to what Kaz tells Inej about why Crows are the way they are, why they’re admirable creatures. The way those three have each other’s backs through thick and thin, through hell and back, through the Fold and back. I can’t turn my back on that. Their chemistry, much like the rest of the cast, is more than electric. You can feel sparks through the different pairings, especially Kaz and Inej. There’s so much history and hopefully a future for these three to explore together (and, likely, apart), and I’m eager to watch it all. I’m a sucker for a loyal, found family, and that’s the Crows. That’s also Mal and Alina. This is why it’s so hard to pick just three characters!
Shelby C: I don’t want to just echo everyone else, but yeah, The Crows are my favorite. Kaz, Jesper, and Inej are the characters that I wanted to spend time with the most. I love the found family dynamic and criminals that are very good at their job are kind of my thing. I was sold Six of Crows as Leverage in a fantasy setting and I haven’t been disappointed so far.
Shana: Kaz is my absolute Number One in this show, which is weird considering when I first read Six of Crows, it was a difficult adjustment after coming into it from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. But as I kind of started to hint at here, there’s something about him that hits me on a personal level. I don’t think a lot of people get to see characters who are averse to touch out there on television a lot; if they even do, they’re portrayed as “weird” and “off” or whatever. Kaz isn’t like that. Freddy Carter’s acting choices were great at indicating that Kaz wasn’t comfortable with being warm and snuggly, but it was never presented—either in print or on screen—as any kind of flaw. It’s just who he is and comes from a very real place. There’s also just something purely delicious about the way he always has a plan and is utterly ruthless with his enemies, while being a mushy teddy bear inside for the people he loves. I think I have a character “type” there somewhere…
What was your favorite ship, and why? You can pick a runner-up, if needed.
Lizzie: This isn’t even a question, for me. Kaz and Inej aren’t just my favorite ship on the show, they’re one of my favorite ships all time. I made a playlist about them! And there’s this shared love letter. There’s very little I can add to what I’ve already wrote about them. I love them, Your Honor.
Lyra: I’m gonna cheat because I can. Alina & Mal and Kaz & Inej are tied for me. Alina & Mal in the show are comfort, kindness, and hope personified. They are the friends to lovers trope that I’m totally down for. And from what I’ve learned from those who have read the book, this ship has gotten a major upgrade that no other ship involving Alina can even compare. As for Kaz & Inej, I come to appreciate them even more with every chapter that I read of Six of Crows. And going back to the episodes (Youtube has all the Kanej scenes from Shadow and Bone together) they are a delight. They are what happens when unshakeable trust meets patience and strength. And every step they take, no matter how small, cements the future they are going to have at each others side.
Beata: Kanej, and it’s not close. I wrote about them a few months ago for I Will Go Down With This Ship, so I had high expectations from the start, and they were definitely met. I would have liked to see more of each of them individually, but I think their relationship was really well done, and really true to the books. So much of their relationship is in the little moments. The ease they feel around each other. The glances, the eye contact, where you can tell they’re communicating without words. Kaz constantly trying to pretend that Inej is only an investment to him, when you can tell it’s more than that. Kaz literally being willing to sell the crow club for Inej’s freedom. Kaz trusting Inej on this job, even knowing that she refuses to kill. Inej killing someone to protect Kaz, when we know that goes against her morals. So many of the decisions Kaz makes in this show are for Inej, but he doesn’t make those decisions just to keep her safe – he respects her too much for that – or out of some hope that she’ll want to be with him. He does it because he knows that Inej values her freedom, and he wants to help her win that freedom, even if it means losing her. This is so accurate to how their relationship works in the books, and I am so impressed with the way it was done in the show. This is the best relationship in the show and the entire Grishaverse, hands down, and there are no runners-up. However, since Lizzie is giving me the chance to talk about more than one ship, I will mention Nina and Matthias, whose scenes were all straight out of the books and my imagination. Also, I was shocked at how much I shipped Malina in the show, considering that I never cared about them in the books.
McKenzie: Kanej. Kanej. Kanej. They are straight fire and that chemistry…can I have that kind of chemistry with someone please? When Kaz calls Injez not just another investment and no one is like her that is basically him saying, I fucking love you and no one compares. How can you not ship them at that point? What more do you want?? This is such and OTP and if you love them go read Six of Crows because you get more moments. I will be going down the fanfic lane with them so please send recommendations my way.
Jade: Okay, so I’ll be honest. It took longer than it should have for me to get into Kanej because I thought Lizzie was telling me I was going to love a different ship entirely, and I was distracted as I tried to find a polite way to let her down easily. And ask her if she even knows me. So will I be watching every Kanej scene with an eagle eye on my rewatch? Maaaaybe.
As a secondary ship, I am rooting somewhat for Alina and Mal (more than any rival ship to that pair, at least). I can see how on the page, they might not be the most electric pair. But the actors brought a nice dynamic and chemistry to their scenes. I won’t say I’m at a point where I’m ready to go down with that ship, just yet. But I may have the tiniest soft spot for them.
Naomi: So, I am gonna say the absolute worst thing; however, there is a very huge BUT involved. I definitely ship Alina and Mal. They seem fated for one another and though it could come off as cheesy, it doesn’t. The best friends to lovers thing looks like it will be a winner in the show. BUT, before General Kirigan was revealed as the evil, centuries old Black Heretic, his encounters with Alina were piping hot. I’m sorry, they just were. After he made her wear the horn collar, not so much.
Jasmine: Since I read the Six of Crows duology, I’ve been shouting to the heavens that it’s Kanej all day everyday. I have the prints hanging on my bedroom wall to prove my devotion to this unexplored relationship. Kaz and Inej are everything. These two mean so much to each other and they both have a lot of pain to work through from their past and that’s what is keeping them from truly being together. I would have loved to see more moments with just Kanej onscreen having those intense book moments but, this is only season one so there’s still time. I NEED that moment from Crooked Kingdom and I will not stand for us not getting it.
The show did a great job of showing how much Kaz and Inej mean to each other. The way Kaz would say things to Inej that had a different meaning than what was being said. For example when he tells her “No saint ever watched over me. Not like you have,” that’s the Kaz way of telling her that she is who he believes in and that she means more to him than she could ever possibly know. And noooooooow I’m back in my Kanej feels all over again after typing this.
Shelby: Where do I start with Kanej? I guess I’ll start with blaming other people for my feelings. Leigh Bardugo had to go and write these amazing characters with this deep-rooted love for each other. Then, Netflix brought them to life with the incomparable performances by Freddy Carter and Amita Suman. I am genuinely stunned by them. I knew I was down for the count with Kaz and Inej from their very first scene together. When Kaz looks at her and says, “She isn’t like you. No one is,” I knew it was over for me and for them. That’s it. They’re in love, though it’s going to be a long journey for them to even mutter those words to each other. Am I hoping for a massive declaration at some point? Yes, because there is some part of me that is a hopeless romantic.
Regardless, every single one of their scenes is undeniably charged with so much admiration, respect, and tension. I mean, Inej killed someone, she commited a sin, to save Kaz’s life. Kaz took on a Volcra with his cane to save Inej’s life. Then, there’s those quieter moments that really aren’t all that quiet when you think about everything that’s being conveyed in the silence. They find ways to fill that silence with glances that sometimes turn into the most intimate prolonged eye contact. They fill it with near touches and almost overt declarations of love. There’s something that screams OTP about a couple that’s not even a couple yet and still finds a way to demand your attention. They demand each other’s attention. I dare you try and find a scene where these two aren’t looking at each other, sometimes even without the other knowing. I love their love, and I don’t even think Kaz and Inej are all that aware of the gravity of their feelings yet.
To be fair, I do want to mention that Alina and Mal are a close second, and they really caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to root for them as much as I did. Well, I knew at a certain point to not root for her and the Darkling, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with Mal and Alina’s potential. I think the appeal for me is that their deep, profound friendship will be the foundation of whatever romantic comes next. They know each other better than anyone else, and I like that. They fully see each other as much as they’ve fully supported each other. I think Alina and Mal have a promising future. I’m sure there will be some obstacles, but they’ve given me a handful of reasons to believe that they’ll survive those together.
Shelby C: I can’t really pick a favorite yet. It’s shaping up to be Kanej, but I need to see more of them. They have all the makings of my favorite ships, so I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Shana: Thanks to doing a look at all four of the “top” ships, I don’t even know where my heart really is anymore. There are cases for and against pretty much all of them, but I’d say Shadow and Bone (unlike some shows) has made a very clear choice about who’s best for Alina. I also know where this is going, so…Yeah. I think that’s all I’ll say about that.
Kanej is easily the least problematic and most interesting, though. There’s something between Kaz and Inej that just goes beyond…Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had someone who was willing to burn the whole world down for us, even if it meant crawling on their hands and knees to get to us?
As far as mostly unexplored or background ships go, I would very much like to see more of David and Genya going forward, please and thank you.
Pick your top 3 moments of the season
Lizzie: I already picked my top 3 Kanej moments, but I will say their moment by the fire is my absolute favorite moment this entire season. Since I did wax poetic about that on my Kanej article, I will say number two is probably the entire fight-sequence in 8, because it was amazing to see these characters all come together, not just Alina and Mal with the Crows, but with Zoya too. Knowing what comes later, that’s super exciting. Finally, despite Beata thinking her having emotions for the Darkling would make us fight, I actually really like him as a villain, and really love his confrontation with Alina in episode 7, ending with the whole “Make me your villain.” Such a well acted, powerful scene.
Lyra: I’ve got to say my favorite 3 moments from Shadow and Bone are as follows (keeping into consideration how messy situations are my bread and butter): 1) When Kirigan gave Alina those flowers and I realized how much of a two faced liar Ben Barnes character was and how Alina was going to kick his ass one day. 2) When Alina and Mal were thinking about each other and reaching out their hands as if the other was next to them. 3) When Kaz was an emotional constipated man and told Inej, “No Saint ever watched over me. Not like you have.” Boy, just tell her you love her.
Beata: Number one has to be Kaz and Inej’s conversation by the fire in episode 7. Was it a bit early for them to be so open with each other? Maybe. But that scene was so true to their characters. Number two would be Kaz with the goat. I, personally, love goats, so seeing Kaz walking around with a goat under his arm and that grumpy expression on his face added years to my life. Number three would be Nina and Matthias’s banter while they undressed in the cave. What can I say? I came here for the Crows only, and I got what I wanted.
McKenzie: So many scenes to choose from but for me this is easy. First, it would be between Kaz and Inej in episode 7. I’m with Beata on this one, like it just moved me and its Kaz and Inej in their moment. Second, would be between Jesper and Milo the goat. Those were hilarious moments that just made me love this show more along with his character. This last one is hard to decide on, but I will go with Alina and Kirigan when they are making out on the desk. I don’t really ship Alina with anyone from the book Shadow and Bone because Mal has no personality and is so annoying and then the Darkling was just eh. But in the show, my god, those two had me rewatching that scene a couple of times not going to lie. An honorable mention would be between Matthias and Nina why they are trying not to freeze in that hut.
Jade: Ooooooh…I’m not sure that I’m in a palace where I’m ready to pick top three yet. I think I really missed a lot the first time I watched, and I really want to delve in now with a greater understanding and see what resonates with me. That said, there’s a decent chance that the scene with Jesper and the goat makes it somewhere on the list. Not a 100% chance. But a pretty good one!
Naomi: Let’s see. I love when Baghra reveals that she is the Darkling’s mother and his true motives. When she unveils the old portrait of him and tells Alina The Darkling has been patiently waiting for years to find her, it was just shocking.
I also enjoyed when The Darkling told Mal that he didn’t have to kill him, time would do it for him. It was so brutal, but delicious! Why do I like all the dark stuff??
Oh, I do have a third! Jesper’s pure disgust as Inej sews up her wound! I was dying!
Jasmine: Okay Lizzie, you played us with this question. You allowed us to have our top three favorite characters because you knew this question was coming next. I have far too many favorite moments from Shadow and Bone but since we are being forced to pick three, here’s mine:
- That Kaz and Aleksander confrontation because holy shit was that the thing I did not know I needed until I saw them walking towards each other. Also, I will say it felt a little James Bondish when Aleksander says “You really should have stayed in Ketterdam Mr. Brekker.”
- Jesper on the train! I mean, Kit was PURE magic in that scene. From the yelling “I’m not throwing out the goat!” to his gun skills, I was blown away.
- The kiss between Alina and Aleksander after the party before everything goes to shit. It was so sensual and then when he asked “Are you sure?” because consent is ALWAYS sexy. And we can’t forget when he ran back up to her for a final kiss because that moment was super cute. I know Aleksander is the villain but I do think there was definitely as part of him that felt something for Alina.
Ya know what, I’m sneaking a fourth in here too lol. Every time Alina brought the light, especially during the party when she put on the show for the King at her official unveiling. It’s just so smooth and it’s almost a seduction when she looks at Aleksander as she does it.
Shelby: Why are you doing this to me? I can’t possibly pick! I have too many. At least ten scenes ran through my mind as soon as I read the question. Ugh! Well, I’ll tell you three scenes I loved, but I can’t put them in order. The first would be Kaz and Inej by the fire on Episode 7. The speech about Crows and then yet another declaration of love from Kaz by saying, “No Saint has ever watched over me. Not like you have.” It’s an unforgettable moment.
A second would be Jesper and Milo on the train, because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s so perfect that I don’t think it needs an explanation.
A third favorite scene would be Alina commanding her power, like she always could, without Kirigan’s interference in the final episode. It is hers, after all. There’s something so energizing and powerful about seeing Alina’s confidence grow in the face of a man who wanted it to be as diminished as possible so that he could gaslight her into believing she couldn’t succeed with him. She proved him wrong and she’ll come back in a second season (fingers crossed) with more control of her abilities than he’ll expect. Then again, Kirigan will have the same amount of time to hone in on his villainous ways, but we’re not there yet. Plus, that final scene isn’t about Kirigan, at least it doesn’t come across that way to me. It’s all about Alina, as it should be. What can I say? I love our Sun Summoner.
Shelby C: Three favorites, that’s fairly easy. One has to be any time Jesper is being suave with his guns, it’s very cool. Second is the Kirigan and Alina kiss on the desk. They have amazing chemistry and I don’t even really ship them, but that scene was a glimpse to who they may have been able to be under different circumstances. Third is any scene of Matthias and Nina sniping at each other. They play off each other so well. I love a good enemies to lovers and they are setting it up perfectly.
Shana: Mine are mostly going to be simple, nerding-out to the books, things.
The way I squawked when I heard “no mourners, no funerals” was utterly and completely inhuman. Same goes for “make me your villain.”
The third would be either seeing Kaz and the Darkling go at it or Kaz’s introduction…just that cane slamming down on the table. That sense of “it’s him” was a lot to handle. A lot in a good way…but…a LOT. (This maybe counts as cheating and listing four, but I said what I said.)
What would you say is the message of Shadow and Bone? What did you take away from these characters?
Lizzie: I think Shadow and Bone is mostly about not accepting that you have to be what the world says you are, or what your circumstances, or your luck has determined. This is a story about people who are more than what the world says they can be, who are more than their traumas. So, I think that’s a really powerful thing that I took from this characters, and it’s a really good reminder for everyone who might be feeling a little lost and alone.
Lyra: At the heart of Shadow and Bone is a story about found families. Doesn’t matter where you come from, where you grew up, or who taught you about life. There comes a time for us all when we decide who we choose to let in our hearts, souls, and homes. And it all starts with a choice. That’s what Shadow and Bone and its characters have taught me.
Beata: I think that Shadow and Bone is, at its core, a story about misfits. It tells us that, no matter where you come from, you can achieve great things – but you should never forget where you came from. This message is way more clear in the show than it ever was in the books, because they cast Alina and Mal as people of colour, and they brought in the Crows. It ends with Alina getting a taste of incredible power, and realizing that it is not all she thought it would be. And who does she turn to when she realizes who the Darkling really is? Mal, her friend from the orphanage. Who helps her escape, and promises to keep her secret? Not some powerful grisha, but a plucky group of criminals from Ketterdam.
McKenzie: Shadow and Bone has so many different themes you can pick up on that are all equally important. For me it was about how people from different backgrounds were coming together to escape and start to fight the darkness that is plaguing their world. That is not easy to overcome in today’s society and people are so toxic and don’t let go of grudges to help others. But they did.
Jade: Is it weird that I didn’t really think about what message it might be sending until you asked this question? I guess the first thing that stood out to me as I pondered this question is that it’s really a story about not just coming to understand who you are, but coming to accept who that turns out to be. Even if it wasn’t what you expected (or even necessarily wanted) it to be. And even if the rest of the world – or a hefty chunk of it – sees you as something different, even less, than what you see within yourself.
Naomi: I’m sure there are lots of messages to take away, but one that stood out to me was that even the most powerful people can let others diminish their power if they are not mindful. Alina struggled to bring out her light until let go of pining for Mal and worrying what he might think about her being Grisha. She also had no idea she could over power The Darkling until she was able to feel and understand her own connection to the stag.
The other I could see is that love is a very powerful emotion. Receiving it can propel us to do greater things that we could ever imagine, but the loss of it can set utter devastation in motion.
Jasmine: For me, I think the message of Shadow and Bone is not to let your past define you. Every single one of these characters has gone through a lot and despite it all, they have made it through. Sure, they still have hurdles to climb but who doesn’t in life? One of the other things that I think is an important takeaway is that even with a disability you can still do great things. Kaz having to use a cane doesn’t define him at all and in fact it makes him stronger. I honestly can’t recall seeing a character like him before. Every character is unique in their own way and I think that’s something special.
One of the other things I can take away from this show is that we all need to realize the greatness inside ourselves and not let someone else tell us if we are good enough. Alina was always so unsure of herself and she let the men in her life define her. Let’s be honest, they controlled her choices whether it was outright or not. She dimmed her own light for Mal before she even knew she was Grisha. She sacrificed her life because she was so afraid of being separated from him. Then when she met Aleksander, she was once again told who she was supposed to be. Once she started to learn more about herself, and then eventually about what type of person he really was, she found out she didn’t need him or any man for that matter to show her how powerful she could be.
Shelby: This is a hard question to answer because there’s so much to take away from this show and these characters. There’s layer upon layers of messages and themes that feel resonant to today. There’s the constant battle between lightness and darkness, that anyone can be either with any given circumstances. Plus, there’s the messages of love and survival and how those are so integral to each other. That we need people to survive. Season 1 of Shadow and Bone is heavily focused on Alina’s self discovery of her powers as a Grisha but also her identity beyond that. No matter what part of my life I’m in, there will always be something appealing about stories about identity and self discovery, because that journey doesn’t stop when you reach a certain age. You’re always learning and growing, and that’s good.
Shana: There’s this really beautiful idea in Shadow and Bone, and in a lot of YA fantasy that didn’t seem to exist back in my day (I’m geriatric now for saying this, ok?), that you can come from literally anywhere and still be important. Better yet, you can be a girl who comes from literally anywhere and have the fate of the entire world on your shoulders; it’s not always the men who are the heroes. Quite often, in fact, they’re the villains. A lot of the stuff that I read growing up had male heroes, or if the main characters were girls, they weren’t doing anything particularly special in terms of saving the world or having superpowers—they just kind of were. They were great at whatever it was they were great at, but they didn’t occupy these spaces.
The heroes also never seemed to come from anything other than “good” families and backgrounds. Not so with Alina Starkov or with any number of my other favorites from the modern era (see also: Mare Barrow, Henrietta Howel, Jude Duarte, etc…)
What’s really nice about the Grishaverse, though, is that it’s not “just” the characters with powers who are special. Kaz Brekker is no Grisha, and his backstory is pain…But he’s still the absolute best at what he does, regardless. Kanej was stolen from her family and forced to endure something absolutely no one ever should, but she is vital to the Crows and, in spite of everything, is still just pure good. The world may be ugly, but she did not let it get to her.
Even amongst the Grisha, no one is just special because of their ability to manipulate the Small Science. Nina Zenik’s powers of persuasion have nothing to do with her being a Heartrender; she’s priceless just for being who she is.
I could go on and on, but I’ve probably already made my point. So, shutting up on that part.
The other thing Shadow and Bone teaches us—and again, this is going back to why the Darkling is a favorite, despite him being “bad”—is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is far too easy to make yourself the villain if you think “I alone can fix this” and set yourself on a path of trying to do too much, too singularly. There are lines, and they may be very fine ones, but some are not to be crossed.
Just like anyone can be a hero, no matter if they started out a bastard or an orphan…Anyone can be a villain, no matter if their original goal was to save others like them.
What would you like to see going forward?
Lizzie: I don’t know HOW, but they gotta give me what comes next with the Crows in there. Plus Wylan. I require Wylan. But I especially want to see Nikolai, because he is the only reason I even got through the first three books, and one of my favorite things about King of Scars/Rule of Wolves. Besides, he and Kaz are gonna be BFFs so, if they start interacting earlier, so much the better.
Lyra: Kirigan getting his ass kicked by the very women he manipulated and groomed. Oops. Did I say that out loud? Sorry, not sorry. I would also like to see Alina and Mal working on redefining their relationship now that they’ve grown as individuals. And I’d like to see Kaz and Inej work at appreciating each other a little more by telling the other how they feel. I know, that’s a tall order. But I’m patient and have all the time.
Beata: I mean, I feel like I’m obligated to say more Crows. I just want to see more of Kaz being Dirtyhands, the Bastard of the Barrel, and more of Inej being the Wraith. I want to see their skills! I want non book readers to know how awesome they are! I’m especially excited to see Matthias interacting with the other Crows, especially Kaz, because their dynamic is so good in the books. I’m also really curious to see how the show develops Mal and Alina’s relationship going forward, since I’m so much more invested now than I was at this point in the series. But then again, book 2 is where I started to actively dislike Mal, so I’m a little bit nervous. Also, Nikolai. Specifically, the Crows interacting with Nikolai. Please tell me that’s going to happen.
McKenzie: This is really simple for me, more Crows. I would be happy with a spinoff. I would still watch Shadow and Bone for Alina, Kirigan, Mal and Nikolai but I want a separate show just for the Crows.
Jade: I don’t really know where this story goes in print, so I can’t say what I’m looking forward to seeing for the series. But I do want to see more fleshing out of certain characters’ backstories. In particular, I feel like there’s a whole lot about Kaz that has only been hinted at so far. But I also feel like there are other characters I want to get to know better, as well. So, really, wherever this ride goes, I’m down for it. Ready to jump in without knowing what I’m in for. And undoubtedly sending my friends countless confused texts as I try to figure out what’s going on!
Naomi: More Crows backstory and more Darkling! I want to know more about everyone! I was delightfully surprised by the show and hope to be again.
Jasmine: MORE CROWS!!!! I need alllllllllll the backstories especially Kaz because like Shana said, we need that hurt. I definitely agree with Beata, the non book readers need to really experience the greatness of the crows. I also want my Nikolai. Casting him, if it hasn’t been done yet, is going to be difficult. I want to, no scratch that, I NEED to LOVE that man!. If he isn’t book Nikolai or better, then I don’t want it.
I am also incredibly curious to see how they will continue things with Mal and Alina because obviously we know The Darkling is just getting started on his reign of terror. Like Shana, I need more of that unapologetic evil. With the blending of worlds I also wonder if the crows and the Grisha will have future run-ins because now that they have all gotten to know each other, I’m sure people will be wondering if this will happen again.
Shelby: Everything. I know that’s a copout answer, but it’s true. I want to see more of everything. As much of Season 1 drops us in the middle of this world and we have to find our bearings, which more often than out happens through a general appreciation of and connection to Alina, these 8 episodes feel like they barely scratch the surface of what’s left. There are plenty of books, so much source material, left for Netflix to explore if we’re lucky. I want to see all of it and then some. I think the way Netflix melds the Crows with Alina’s story is pretty seamless, and I imagine there’s going to be some more original content (divorced from the source material) that will continue to see their stories overlap. That’s so exciting!
Beyond that super vague answer, I want to see more of the Crows in Ketterdam and their individual backstories. Shocker, right? We get a bit of Inej’s backstory in this first season because it works to be included this early on. I’m not sure if the same would for Jesper and especially Kaz, knowing what I do about his backstory. But that’s why a Season 2 (and hopefully more) is so great. We’ll get that time and space to tell everyone’s stories fully, like they deserve.
Furthermore, I want to see how Nina and Matthias eventually come together with the Crows — if they even come back together themselves. I want to see Mal and Alina’s adventure like we saw Nina and Matthias’ isolated story during Season 1. Selfishly, I want another showdown between Kaz and Kirigan because that was an unexpected delight that teased the arrival of Wylan. Imagine what a second confrontation could do!
Lastly, I want to see more of the love stories and the found families. That’s the heart of Shadow and Bone for me. I find it incredibly interesting that Kirigan orbits around both concepts, but he can’t fully find his place within either with these characters. He’s announced himself as a villain, so I want to see Shadow and Bone run with that. I want to see that darkness grow, but I also want to see the light expand. The humor. The love. I want more of it. I want more of it with Mal and Alina, Kaz and Inej (!!!), Nina and Matthias, and the Crows. Hopefully, someone might come along and knock Jesper off his fight. *wink wink*
Shelby C: I just want to be able to go back to that world again. To visit these characters and this setting. I obviously want more of the Crows, but just going back into the Grishaverse has me giddy.
Shana: I need Shadow and Bone to give us Kaz’s backstory. Make. Me. Hurt. Those pages are some of the most devastating on the page, so seeing them come to life…It needs to happen. Now. And please, for the love of God, stay true to him. Don’t give in to people who don’t understand the importance of seeing a character like Kaz and make him suddenly into all sorts of physical things. It’d just be wrong to go there. I don’t care how hard I ship it…Anything involving Kaz and touchy-feely is a NO from me.
I also can not wait to see how this series brings some of Siege and Storm to life. (I’m assuming that’s where this is going, at least.) Give me the nichevo’ya. Make them terrifying as fuck, as they should be. And lean in to the Darkling being that villain already! I absolutely need to be able to look beyond Ben Barnes’ pretty face and see all the ugliness inside. I’m saying it wasn’t there in the first season, but I just want pure, unapologetic evil.
Nikolai is another obvious demand. I need the actor to be able to play with that huge personality. Since the casting, thus far, has been amazing, I’m not too worried. But there needs to be a lot of wit, a lot of charm, and everything worthy of being dubbed “the too-clever fox.” Emphasis on fox, honestly. Make him foxy. Pretty, if you will.
Shadow and Bone is available to stream on Netflix.