Shadow and Bone 2×06 “Ni Weh Sesh (I Have No Heart)” is, once again, a very good character episode – and a problematic one in some respects, particularly when it comes to Ohval. She at least gets some depth in this hour, but she still ends up being just a piece to move the plot along.
The problem with the representation in Shadow and Bone has been not just the weird mixture of real-life ideas and prejudices with a fantasy setting, but the fact that the show seems to pick and choose when they matter and when they don’t. If you can see past the issues, however, the way every storyline progresses in this hour, and what it builds up in the final two episodes, is actually pretty good – not exactly book-accurate, but good nonetheless.
Because this episode gets to the heart of what makes these characters work, while also exploring the ways in which they could grow. Nikolai takes a backseat as the Crows, and Malina come to the forefront, and the parts that lifted out of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the way the show makes the Crows work within that storyline all make sense – unless you’re a book purist.
And honestly, I would have told you I was a couple of weeks ago. I am, in a lot of respects. But this loose adaptation, if we can call it that, has made me a new person, apparently. I will always have the books, and love the books, but there’s also a lot to love here, and it’s really easy to just see them as different things if you need to. This isn’t Bridgerton sidelining Kate Sharma to introduce a love triangle involving sisters that no one wanted, this is a different way to thoughtfully explore the characters I loved. And I can live with that. More than that, I can enjoy it.
YOU THOUGHT PAIN WAS YOUR WEAKNESS
It’s hard to quantify what Kaz, Inej, Jesper, and Tolya see in the hallucinations caused by Ohval’s poison. Is it their greatest fear? Kaz and Tolya’s hallucinations would point to this. Is it their greatest hope? Inej and Jesper’s hallucinations lean more in this direction. Or is it worse, is it the intersection of both, and how the thing you want the most can also be the thing you fear the most … or at least fear losing the most?
Tolya’s hallucination is the most straightforward, his sister, Tamar, dead. It’s an obvious blow, but a blow nonetheless. Because Tolya and Tamar have Nikolai and have a place in Ravka, but in many ways, only have each other. And when your world is made up of just one other person, the mere thought of losing them is crippling.
Kaz sees Jordie, of course, but he doesn’t just see Jordie, he sees himself losing Jordie again, falling into the water, and the fear and helplessness of that moment of loss. In the end, though, Kaz also sees Inej coming to save him, Inej touching him, and pulling him out of the darkness and into the light of the world she inhabits. And no, he isn’t ready for it, the shock of the moment is too much for Kaz to process, just as his feelings for Inej have always been. But now that he saw it, it’s hard to escape it. Hard to not want it. Kaz might be a master of control, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want. Doesn’t yearn.
Inej’s hallucination is the flip side of Kaz’s, because she sees herself touching him, the intimacy she has always both wanted and dreaded — because intimacy for Inej has been just pain and loss of control. Inej dreams of being loved, being touched — and feeling safe in that touch because it comes from someone she trusts completely. But in the same way, Inej is the one to snap out of the hallucination because Inej also dreams of Kaz. And she, of all people, understands who Kaz Brekker is and what he isn’t.
That means she is uniquely suited for seeing through the hallucination. It might be all that she wanted, but it can not be a reality, at least not anytime soon. And though the dream remains, reality is more important for Inej. She loves Kaz, yes, but she has never loved the easy version of her dreams. Instead, she loves the broken, complicated version of Kaz that exists in reality, and she won’t let herself be fooled, not even by her own desires.
Jesper, on the other hand, finds peace in his hallucination, the kind of peace that can only be found by realizing that yes, loss is real and it can never be truly healed, but the people who loved you never truly leave you, and the best way to honor their memory is to not run away from who you are.
HOME (SO MUCH ABOUT IT DEFINES WHAT YOU BECOME)
In many ways, the theme of this episode is home, what that means to you – and in turn, what that home makes you. For Mal and Alina, home is and has always been each other. Not just because they had no one else, but because they always found understanding, support, and yes, love (even before they had a name for what they felt) in each other. And no, that doesn’t mean Mal is in any way responsible for all Alina is, all she can be, but it is true that, sometimes, the people who love you help you get to where you need, if only because you know that if you stumble, they will still be there.
Home isn’t always about who you grow up with, though. Sometimes home is about finding that person who sees the special things about you and who is proud of who you are – all that you are, even the things you think are bad or shameful. The person who wants to share life’s wonders with you. And finding that person, that’s sometimes the real treasure. Jesper never thought he would. Neither did Wylan. And yet here they are, and finding each other is the best heist either of them has pulled off.
Then there’s Kaz and Inej, who don’t have a home, but who could be each other’s home. Deep down, they both want that. They yearn for it. But there’s so much baggage to unpack. For Kaz, it’s letting himself see past what he lost, while for Inej it’s letting herself hope and trust that this time, she won’t be let down. That the rug won’t be pulled from under her. And though Kaz and Inej trust each other up to an extent, and love each other more than they love anyone else, there’s still a lot of growth left till they can be where they need to be.
Shadow and Bone 2×06 “Ni Weh Sesh (I Have No Heart)” doesn’t really explore all the other characters, but for Tolya and Tamar home is simple, each other. But what is home for someone like Nikolai? A King who is ready to lead, someone who has many people on his side, and yet has very few real friends. It feels like a question for a possible Season 3, but that doesn’t make it any less of a valid question.
I KNEW IT TOO (FROM THE BEGINNING)
Shadow and Bone 2×06 “Ni Weh Sesh (I Have No Heart)” is, in many ways, the ultimate Malina episode, and yet it is also the episode that so clearly encapsulates how little of their connection, of their love, has been their choice. There’s no doubt Mal loves Alina – he’s literally willing to lay on the sword for her, and there is also no doubt Alina loves Mal, she unequivocally tells him so this episode, but how much of that is a conscious decision to love each other and how much is just that they were drawn to each other because Mal’s destiny – as the third amplifier – was always Alina.
I remember in my youth thinking the idea of destiny was terribly romantic, but as an adult, the notion has lost most of its shine. I don’t want a preordained destiny, and I don’t want that for my heroines either. I want a love that I choose, and that I have to choose every day day after – even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. That’s the worthwhile love, the one that you fight for, not the one that comes in a made-up package meant just for you.
And maybe that’s what Mal and Alina are, too. Destiny doesn’t negate choice. They can still choose each other. But for now, what they have – as beautiful as it seems, and as real as it is to them, because Jessie and Archie truly sell it, in every second of their performance, isn’t all it can be. There are still two episodes to fix this, if the show wants to.
Things I think I think:
- “You’re taking to power well, I see.” Too much foreshadowing.
- “You will not know what price it demands until it is too late.” MORE FORESHADOWING.
- All good, Mal isn’t emo or anything.
- Good to meet you, Dominik.
- “Greatest friend of my life” gave me EMOTIONS, though. This Nikolai has layers.
- The visions were A LOT.
- Wylan being adorable outside at the same time was perfect, though.
- Baghra’s story time was actually very interesting.
- “Until I found one that felt like HOME”
- Baghra is seeing through Mal. And we’re going there already. If you know, you know.
- “Hope is a lie.” Are you good, Darkling?
- Casual genocide, why not? Not even his first time.
- Tolya is the real hero of this story. He saved them all, in the end.
- Honestly, I’d take Jesper’s vision. It feels like peace.
- Convenient blood door, CONVENIENT.
- “I need you. I want you.” But what do you want the most, Mal or power?
- The “May I?” from Kaz in Inej’s vision just took me OUT.
- The Kanej scene might be the sexiest thing on TV in 2023.
- Wylan figures it out because of course he does.
- Inej struggling because she has to touch Kaz and she knows he wouldn’t want her to, but he’s dying, and it’s TOO MUCH.
- “Who are you without your vengeance?” is a good question. Do you have an answer, Kaz?
- “What is the wort of life if you have no one left to fight for?” This hallucination isn’t pulling any punches. And then, of course, he sees Inej. Because she’s the answer.
- Inej asking for forgiveness for touching him.
- “You must sacrifice yourself upon her blade or the Fold remains.”
- CASUAL THINGS.
- Somehow this reveal in episode 6 doesn’t bother me. Maybe because I thought the books were too slow to get to it.
- This Darklina scene is kinda disturbing. And by kinda disturbing I mean really, rally disturbing.
- I guess the Crouching Tiger vibes are better than Party City feels from the last episode.
- Force the issue?
- Yadda, yadda, you’re gonna take everything from her, so she has no shelter but you, okay, gotcha, what else?
- Oh, that’s your whole plan? I mean, it’s not exactly new. You have expressed this sentiment 7343 times before.
- “Have some faith in me”? FOR REAL?
- Well, that’s one way to cut the connection to Alina.
- Real feelings from the Darkling here don’t really change much.
- Kaz saves the day, because of course.
- She made it?!
- There are way too many saints, I cannot keep track.
- “You guard against pain, you guard against joy.”
- “He’s not my weakness, he’s my universe.”
- I’mma fling myself into the sun THIS APPLIES TO KANEJ AND WESPER AND EVEN MALINA.
- “We each fight for what matters most.”
- Using your first (bad) husband as a table is a MOOD.
- “You are too old to be a terrible Durast.”
- Wesper is PERFECT.
- “Someday someone is going to sweep you off your feet so hard you won’t know what hit you.” YES..
- WE KNOW WHO IT WILL BE.
- THERE ARE THOSE WHO DROWN US AND THOSE WHO PULL US OUT?
- Punch me in the face, it’ll hurt less.
- “Hope is dangerous. Clouds your judgment.”
- I mean, valid but also ouch, but also Kanej angst is the only angst ever.
- Okay, I don’t take it back, but also, I have never felt as much for Malina as in this last scene.
- Cousin Aleksander is the worst.
- But also, good plan, what can I say?
- So annoying that her last memories had all the info he needed.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Shadow and Bone 2×06 “Ni Weh Sesh (I Have No Heart)”? Share with us in the comments below!
Shadow and Bone Season 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.