Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet You in the Meadow” feels almost like too much plot, too many big moments, and too much action. It’s a long episode, but it’s still a heavy one, as the brunt of the season’s climax occurs way earlier than one would have expected. This, in a way, frees up the show to use to final episode as set up, but it leaves the penultimate episode feeling like it never quite catches up to all the show wants it to do.
It’s not a bad hour, though, especially for the main characters of this particular tale, of Shadow and Bone per se – Mal, Alina and a Nikolai who was always the right person to lead Ravka, but in this hour also manages to become an idea of what everyone would like their future to be. Hope is a heavy burden to carry, but that’s where Nikolai is, where he’s placed himself – and there’s very little else for him to do than trust that he’s surrounded by the right people to help him shoulder the load.
Then there’s Malina, who go into the final battle – against the Darkling, against the Fold, against the possibility that their future isn’t with each other, the same way they have gone at most things in their lives, together. But the question is, when the dust settles, will it still feel like they are meant for each other?
HOPE (A KING THAT RAVKA DESERVES)
Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet You in the Meadow” is a very good episode for Nikolai the King – exemplified by Dominik saving not just his friend but his King, and the number of people who make it their entire mission to protect him. Sure, he is indeed the King, and with that comes a certain level of respect, but in just a few episodes it truly feels like the people around Nikolai are with him not just because they have to, but because they want to. He’s Ravka’s hope for a better future, and when you have that, you’ll do anything to protect it.
But this is an even better episode for Nikolai the man. The feelings for Alina I wasn’t sure were going to actually be a thing seem to come out in this episode for Nikolai, but those feelings seem borne out of a genuine friendship and a great amount of loneliness. Is it any wonder he fancies himself in love with the only ally he has?
The most important thing is that the feelings never make Nikolai into something he’s not, or become a crutch for the plot. He doesn’t comfort Alina when she tells him about Mal because he’s secretly thrilled his romantic rival has to die, he does it because she’s his friend and he cares. Similarly, his entire conversation with Mal is about respect, not just about Mal’s feelings for Alina, and not even about what Mal is willing to do for Ravka, but about who Mal is as a man. Perhaps, in another world, they could have been friends, the hug they exchange says.
It’s almost more than could have been expected of Nikolai’s character, and it’s pretty outstanding to see the show get here without even going into the darkest part of his Shadow and Bone trilogy storyline, which I assume they’re saving for a season 3 that will surely go over King of Scars — if they get it. And there are so many reasons to hope this show gets that Season 3 – but did we ever truly expect (maybe we hoped) Nikolai would be one of them?
NOTHING TO LOSE
Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet You in the Meadow” centers Mal and Alina, but almost as importantly, it gives Mal a chance at a confrontation that seems a long time coming. The scene between Mal and Kirigan is a definite highlight of the hour, and even of the season. Not just because there’s no barb better than “cousin” at that moment, but because that moment encapsulates everything the show has been about – the two sides of the coin, if you will. The one willing to do anything, and the one willing to sacrifice everything.
Truly, both sides are wrong, in a way. There is no balance in either way of seeing things. Kirigan seems to have almost given up on Alina, on the hope and the dream that he had. He’s dying, and he knows it, and if he’s going, he wants to make sure he goes out with a bang. Mal, on the other hand, is being self-sacrificial to a fault, which in the end, isn’t all that good for Alina, either. They both claim to be thinking of her first, but in reality, they’re thinking of themselves first.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not easy to see how, within the selfishness of their decisions, Kirigan’s paint him as the villain to Mal’s hero. And Season 2 has made its moral line pretty evident, so the outcome of this is pretty dang obvious, even from this episode. The villain can’t win. The hero can’t really lose – at least not his life. That’s not how this story ends.
WE HAVE EACH OTHER (AND THAT’S EVERYTHING WE NEED)
Alina and Mal step into this battle hand in hand, and their love is both a strength and a weakness. It is the thing that gives them hope, the thing that has allowed them to become the people they are. But it is also the thing that makes them weak because it is the thing that blinds them to common sense. Mal and Alina would do anything for each other, and that’s great, that’s romantic, and that’s also probably what will lead them down a path they cannot travel together.
Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet you in the Meadow” is the final step toward the dark turn for Alina this show has been foreshadowing, and that dark turn, ironically, could only come because of Mal. The Darkling could never truly corrupt her, because she never truly loved him. But we will do many things for love …even if they are wrong. That’s how Mal became the firebird in the first place. And, ironically, that’s how Aleksander’s journey started. With a bad thing for a good reason.
But the road to darkness is paved with moments where you can make the right decision, and over and over, the man who would become Kirigan made the wrong one. That’s not on anyone but him. Alina’s turn is surely coming soon. What will she decide to do? That’s up to her, no one else, not even Mal. But his presence might prove to be instrumental once more, as she’s faced with the final battle, one for her very soul.
The fold first, though. Let’s get rid of that.
DEUS EX CROWS
Far be it for me to complain about the Crows saving the day in Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet You in the Meadow,” I will take more Crows anytime, especially if it means more of my favorite combinations the book didn’t really give us, like Alina and Inej and of course, an expansion of the relationship between two characters I always thought would really get along if they spent some time together, like Kaz and Nikolai. But the thing with the Crows is deus ex machina at its finest, and on the heels of the Darkling just going into the Fold and deciding to stop before it consumed everything, it’s just a little too much to hang the plot of the entire season on.
Particularly when we consider that Inej gets there what feels like ages before Kaz, Wylan and Jesper. I guess they just really had to wait for the most dramatic moment to make their entrance. Kaz Brekker does love an entrance. Oh, and Tolya conveniently finds himself separated from the Crows, and in the right place to take out five people? All good, that’s normally how these things go. We don’t need an explanation or anything.
The show wants you to – almost expects you to – handwave all these things away, and on an episode that has so much going on, it’s easy to fall into their trap. I’ll still take them doing characterization right over them getting these little things right, but that doesn’t mean all these little things don’t rankle, or that they don’t add up.
Things I think I think:
- This beginning of the episode is very cult leader of you, Darkling.
- Oh, joy. Amplified with Baghra’s bone. That’s totally not going to get messy, for everyone.
- I had a moment of …isn’t the King dead? And then I remembered he is AND NIKOLAI IS THE KING NOW.
- Kirigan and Mal is actually kind of a fun dynamic. And “cousin” is a FLEX.
- Alina giving me emotions as she talks about Mal. Who am I?
- But Jessi Mei Li. Oustanding, truly.
- “I was so driven by power.” FORESHADOWING AGAIN.
- Perhaps the most surprising thing about this show in Season 2 is how well the Nikolai/Alina friendship works. Like, I even get why he could confuse it with more …he’s got no one else. But also, this is 100% true friendship, as it stands.
- I was not prepared for Nikolai and Mal.
- “Just deserve her.”
- David and Genya are King of Scars levels of cute.
- Genya trying to hug Alina. The way they all get it, right away. The way everyone’s trying to think of an alternative. Even Nikolai being like, yup, I like it, because he’s not in this to “get the girl,” above all. I LOVE IT.
- More Tamar and Nadia, please.
- ORDINARY THINGS. Let them get there.
- “If love can ever be called that.”
- Meh, Pekka.
- Have we discussed how much I love Luke Pasqualino’s portrayal of David?
- Ok, but if the Darkling can move the fold, why did he stop? The volcra could have taken care of Nikolai. It makes no sense.
- Dominik, I knew you were doomed.
- No, David. No. No. No. NO.
- “Brave and unbreakable, Genya Safin.”
- If I don’t see a body, David is not dead.
- Kaz Brekker is the most casual man in the middle of a drag-down fight.
- The moment of Zoya, Inej and Nina holding hands got me too.
- Well, oookay Alina. OKAY.
- Are we gonna get rid of the fold here, then? And the Darkling?
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet You in the Meadow”? Share with us in the comments below!
Shadow and Bone Season 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.