Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” is the kind of final episode that lets you breathe and reflect. This is a good thing in many ways because another episode like Shadow and Bone 2×07 “Meet You in the Meadow” would have been hard to process. And yet it’s a very strange thing because we spent a good ¾ of the episode wondering what else could happen.
What happens is …setup, basically. For that third season I hope this show gets because they left so many big plot threads hanging. Some of that setup, however, is so delightful, that it’s hard to care that it’s just that. If Shadow and Bone gets canceled tomorrow, as a Kanej fan, I will be very sad I didn’t get more, and yet immensely happy I was blessed with as much as I did.
As a Zoyalai fan, however, I need more than the decently-sized crumb I got at the end of Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals.” And that holds true about Malina, Wesper, and especially, especially Helnik – who got the short end of the shipping stick this season.
Ironically, we might not even need more than Season 3. Especially if the Crows can get their own spinoff. I wouldn’t say no to more seasons of Kaz and Inej in my life, and I certainly wouldn’t mind getting to actually see Zoyalai, but this story feels like it could be very neatly wrapped up in a third season that explores Alina’s darkness, Nikolai’s reign — and even Kaz’s journey to becoming the man Inej needs and the open question of the jurda parem, with Matthias finally getting his time to shine with the Crows. At least one more is all we’re really asking. One more. Well, I also want that Crows spinoff, but at the very least, let writers end this story on their terms, Netflix. That shouldn’t be that hard.
The show handles one of the least interesting parts of the Shadow and Bone trilogy – Mal and Alina’s romance, in a way that makes it easy to root for them. And it’s not just that Jessie Mei Li and Archie Renaux have outstanding chemistry, though it is, or that the show makes sure Mal remains a constant even when Alina takes center stage, though there’s that, it’s that in Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” it deals with the idea of choice vs. destiny in a way that actually makes sense.
How can Mal come out of this traumatic almost-death and not think that, maybe, his life is about more than just being the sacrificial lamb? How can Alina go to the lengths she was willing to go to save Mal and then not let him go? The dichotomy of choice versus destiny was never really explored in the books, or at least it was glossed over – perhaps because the books painted destiny in a much kinder light than the show does.
But destiny has always felt like a cheat code. Meant to be? Okay, and what does that mean? That we don’t have to work at it? That things will just magically work out? That doesn’t feel like real love. Instead, real love is choosing the same person every day, whether it be a good day or a bad day. Alina and Mal haven’t had that. And they won’t unless Mal steps away.
“If you love something, let it go,” the saying says. “If it does not return, it was never yours in the first place.” Alina is letting Mal go. And if – when – he returns, there will be no doubt in either of their minds that what they feel for each other is not just about some nebulous destiny, but about a real feeling that has grown and strengthened, one that can commit to always taking care of, till death do them part.
THERE IS NO LIGHT WITHOUT DARKNESS
It’s in the end that one starts to think about the beginning, they say, and as Alina and the Darkling face off one last time in Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals,” who both of them are, who they might have been, and who Alina might still become are all hanging in the balance. Because of all the things he has ever said to Alina, all the manipulations, all the stuff he convinced himself of, the one thing the Darkling has always been right about is that …the world will need a monster. And in his absence, they will soon turn to Alina.
“Let me be your monster,” he tells her, but the time he could be even that has passed. This Alina isn’t the same one that hungered for his approval, the same one that could have loved a man who treated her as his equal. That Alina was betrayed and used, and she is not going back. She doesn’t need a monster, because she is sure that, no matter what, she will never walk Kirigan’s path.
And if she falters, if she falls, if darkness surrounds her … well, Alina doesn’t need a monster or a hero. She can save herself. She’s the hero of her own story. And almost as importantly, she’s got the one thing the Darkling never really had – a family. People that love her, even outside of romantic love. People who will stand between her and the darkness, and people who will stand in front of her and help her fight her own darkness. And in the end, that might end up being the difference between winning and losing the internal battle Alina is sure to be fighting next.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
The after is always one of the hardest things, Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” tells us. What do you do when you’ve won? Sometimes you were so focused on the immediate battle that the thought of what comes next is crippling, especially if what comes next is up to you. For Nikolai, the next step is being King …and yet he’s alone. For Alina, the next step is being a Saint, once more in the public eye (and grappling with that growing darkness), but she is without Mal, her one constant, just as Genya is without David (I refuse to believe he’s dead), and Zoya is without her family.
What is happily ever after? For some, it’s not so simple. The path ahead might tell them, it might bring them back to the people they’ve lost, it might help them discover peace even in their absence or it might show them that the one thing they’ve always been looking for has been in front of them all along, all they needed to do was turn the right way and pay attention.
For others, it’s clear cut. All Kaz wants is Inej, well Inej, and being able to have Inej the way he wants her. All Nina wants is Matthias, and all Jesper wants is Wylan (and vice-versa). That part is simple because all of them already have the only other thing you need to be happy – a family, each other. And happily ever after, well, it’s not an end. It’s just the beginning of a new journey, one you don’t have to walk alone.
I WILL HAVE YOU WITHOUT ARMOR
Kanej’s best moment in a season filled with iconic scenes is their final moment together during Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals,” Inej asking for more, Kaz doing his best. Because the moment lays them completely bare, and it also – despite the momentary separation – serves as a love confession of sorts. “Stay with me,” is more than Kaz has ever asked of anyone, and yet as he asks it, he knows it’s not enough. “I will have you without armor,” is Inej making her wishes and desires clear, and yet as she says it, she knows it’s not the time, not yet.
But their parting is not a tragedy, it’s a new beginning. Because the Kaz and Inej who go their separate ways at the end of Shadow and Bone Season 2 know that they will, at some point, find each other again. That’s why the close-up on Kaz at the end of that scene has him looking determined. He wants to shed that armor, he wants to be the man Inej wants …the one she deserves. And that Inej asks, that she puts what she wants – what she needs – into words, means that she believes she can get it. Or, at least, that she hopes she will.
She could have just left without those words. But she didn’t want to. She wanted Kaz to try. And he did. In that moment with her, Kaz tried more than he’d tried with anyone else in years. It just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t what she needed right then, and it wasn’t what he needed either. Instead, just like at the end of Crooked Kingdom, what Kaz and Inej need to get to the place where they can be together is …some time to grow, apart but never truly separated.
It was Mal who mentioned true north, but if this scene makes one thing clear it’s that Kaz and Inej are each other’s true north. And that means they will always, one way or another, find each other. And perhaps, the next time they do, they will be closer to actually being able to have each other in all the ways they’ve dreamed of.
Things I think I think:
- It’s very rude of this episode to start with Kaz giving Nikolai his cane.
- “I’ve got more experience with pain.”
- Come straight for my heart, won’t you show?
- MY MAN? DID YOU SAY MY MAN, JESPER?
- The Malina really worked, what can I say? I came into this show not even shipping it, and they’ve given me feelings.
- Well, that’s the fold. And there’s still SO MUCH TIME LEFT.
- Inej taking down those shadow monsters is the sexiest thing ever.
- “Now you know sacrifice.”
- Look, Imma give it to Kirigan, the world always needs a monster. Or it will create one.
- I actually like the “let me be your monster” in this context.
- But her responses? From “I will never walk your path” to “I will save myself” …MORE FORESHADOWING.
- Dang it, Season 3 please?
- So, okay, that’s bye Darkling? Kinda anticlimactic.
- Of course the final episode would have the beginning of the Nikolai/nichevo’ya storyline. Ofc.
- Eh, Alina …what did you do to save Mal?
- Kaz, be a little less conspicuous while you’re looking at Inej, please.
- Jesper, come on. You know better. Stop interrupting.
- “There’s five of us” coming from Kaz, of all people, gave me feelings.
- Look, I’m with Mal. How can he know it’s real?
- Kaz predicting the future for Alina is both unnerving and probably prophetic.
- We get it Kaz, your happily ever after is Inej.
- I’m over Pekka Rollins. Stay away, Matthias.
- LOOK IF THERE IS NO BODY, DAVID ISN’T DEAD. He’s probably a monster now, like Nikolai, and he doesn’t come back because he’s ashamed, but he’s going to figure it out somehow, and then return. I decree it.
- He was going to make Genya a ring. Let me have a moment to cry.
- Look, Nikolai and Zoya are staring at each other over Kirigan’s body, I see it.
- “It’s not the battle that takes the most from us, it’s the aftermath.”
- Genya, Alina and Zoya standing together as Kirigan burns? A+.
- Oh, that’s kind of a perfect S2 ending for Mal. Sturmhond.
- “If this path leads me back to you …”
- Kaz Brekker, you romantic. You were looking for her brother.
- Of course we couldn’t get a happily ever after for Kanej, not yet.
- “Stay with me.”
- And he grabbed her.
- AND “I WILL HAVE YOU WITHOUT ARMOR”?
- It fits so well, even if it’s under such different circumstances.
- Good for Nadia and Tamar.
- Lol, does the world need a Sturmhond or does Ravka need one?
- Inej can go, but you keep your distance, Tolya.
- Look, Inej and Mal’s path will lead them back …and Kaz and Alina will be ready.
- In the meantime, take down all the slavers.
- When Matthias called for Nina, my heart stopped.
- GET HIM OUT OF HELLGATE NOW.
- Kaz Brekker, helping out the girls at the Menagerie. Sure looks like he’s trying.
- Oh, the Apparat. I’d forgotten about him. Joy.
- No place for secrets, Nikolai. You know, like the fact that you’re turning into a monster.
- You gonna be his Queen, Alina?
- All of Ravka might love him, but no one knows him.
- “Unless you’re thinking of me instead of trying to forget him.”
- You might want to sit down to wait.
- The way I screamed at Zoya’s “I could fix him.”
- I have come to collect my Zoyalai crumbs.
- A different Triumvirate, and it kinda works.
- Oh, definitely King of Scars and …Crooked Kingdom? Thrown in getting Matthias out of Hellgate first — during the spinoff?
- Jurda parem. Yuuup. Crooked Kingdom it is.
- Oh, Alina. Who can summon shadows now?
- Was that …a smile?
- Okay, okay. I’m in.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals”? Share with us in the comments below!
Shadow and Bone Season 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.