Warning! Full spoilers for Shadow and Bone Season 1 below. Be sure to check out our spoiler-free review of Shadow and Bone right here.
No Mourners. No Funerals. If those words mean something to you, then you’re probably already a huge fan of Shadow and Bone. The epic fantasy saga has finally made it to the screen in Netflix’s stunning fantasy epic. But after an action-packed eight episodes, you might have some questions about the fate of Mal, Alina, the Darkling, and the Crows. So we’re here to solve the mysteries, answer your queries, and break down that epic finale.
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What Was the Darkling’s Plan in Shadow and Bone?
Throughout the series, General Kirigan has been at the core of the struggles of Ravka. Though he was introduced as a potential savior, Baghra later revealed that rather than being a reluctant hero trying to fix the mistakes of his ancestor the Black Heretic, Kirigan and the Black Heretic are one and the same. Yep, Ben Barnes’ sexy Grisha leader is actually a centuries-old madman and probably the most powerful Grisha who has ever lived. And he was the one who created the Fold. So if that was the case, why would he want Alina to help him destroy it? Well, the show hints that under that fancy black kefta, Kirigan might have a little regret for what he created. And he does have an allegedly noble goal: to protect Grisha from the oppression they’ve faced at the hands of the human world. But as it’s revealed in the finale, even with all of that said, he doesn’t really want to destroy the Fold at all.
Instead, his plan was to use Morosova’s stag to control Alina’s powers. Thanks to the Durast David, he was able to meld the amplifier to Alina’s skin and use a strange device to connect it to him. Then, on the trip into the Fold where the pair were meant to destroy the dangerous wasteland, Kirigan instead expanded it, demolishing the shores of Novokribirsk and in turn his competition. It was a violent play to terrify the delegates aboard the skiff and to take total control of Ravka and the surrounding territories. But thanks to the agency and power of Alina Starkov, his plan only managed to destroy Novokribirsk before she put a stop to it.
How Did Alina Gain Control of the Amplifier?
So how did she manage to break the Darkling’s control? Well, earlier in the series it was established that whoever killed an amplifier was the one able to wield its power, but the reality of the situation was actually different. While that does work in practice, there’s a deeper connection between the amplifier and Grisha, one of agency and choice. In the moment that Alina decided not to kill the Stag and to instead try to find another way, she was chosen by the creature. That choice allowed her to break the Darkling’s connection and control. It’s an interesting bit of lore that isn’t concretely introduced until the most recent novel in the series, Rule of Wolves, but it’s a powerful moment that redefines Alina and her powers.
With her connection to the amplifier far more powerful than the Darkling’s, Alina is able to beat back Kirigan and save the Skiff. But while it seems like a happy ending for those who survived, it might not be the end of the story for the Black Heretic.
Why Did the Crows Switch Sides?
One of the biggest changes from the original Shadow and Bone book was the inclusion of the group of young thieves from Ketterdam known as The Crows. Kaz, Jesper, and Inej were introduced on a mission to kidnap Alina, but during the finale, they became unexpected allies to Alina and Mal. While it’s hard to call Kaz Brekker “a good guy,” he is a character defined by survival. And, in the end, allying with Mal and Alina was a choice that would help him and his team live to see another day. With the Darkling on a shadow-making spree, the trio needed a way out and the best way was the Sun Summoner. Plus, the fact that Inej is a woman of faith and believes in Alina and her power to change the world also probably helped push Kaz in the right direction. Once the crew escaped off of the skiff, Alina paid Kaz off with a piece of jewelry given to her by the Darkling. It’s a smart nod to the fact that Kaz didn’t make a choice based on morals. And that while it might have helped Alina and Mal survive, the former is very aware of the fact that Kaz would have captured and sold her if it had been an option.
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What Happened to the Darkling?
With the combined might of the Crows, Alina, Mal, and the Squaller Zoya, it seemed like the Darkling might have been defeated. Thrown into the darkness of the Fold, the show wanted us to think he’d been consumed by his own creation and the terrifying creatures known as the Volcra. But as he walked out of the Fold in the final moments of the finale, it was clear that not only is the Darkling not dead but he has a new power. Ben Barnes’ regal villain was followed out of the Shadow Fold by creatures made of pure darkness. In the books, these horrifying beings are known as Nichevo’ya. The creatures are creations of the Darkling and can be manifested at will as a near-immortal army with an unending supply of soldiers.
Where Are Alina and Mal Going?
While the show doesn’t explicitly state this, we know they’re getting out of Ravka and are headed for freedom. While the show hasn’t gotten a second season yet, if it does then it’s likely it will take from the second book in the series, Siege and Storm. In that story, Mal and Alina escape Ravka and go on the run to Novyi Zem, but are being hunted by The Darkling and those who want to wield Alina’s power. So even if they do end up somewhere else in the (theoretical for now) next season, expect them to face down the Darkling sooner rather than later!
What did you think of Shadow and Bone Season 1? Let’s discuss in the comments. And then vote in the poll below too!
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