“Shadow And Bone” shows more that not everything is always better

shadow and bone‘s first season achieved the near impossible: it combined two very different Leigh Bardugo series within the same fictional universe (The shadow and bone trilogy and Six crows Duology, which is set after the events of the former) and drew on the strength of its characters to make this fusion feel almost seamless. Although some scenes may have felt a little lame, shadow and bone was incredibly effective at selling, thanks in part to Eric Heisserer (Arrival) and his associates knitted them together.

Shadow and Bone Season 2

Two stars

Release Date:
March 16, 2023
Eric Hoterer
Alina Starkov searches the world for two legendary enhancers that she believes will give her enough power to defeat the Shadowfold, while General Kirigan will do whatever it takes to unite Ravka – even if it means taking Ravka’s own kill. Featuring characters and elements from nearly half a dozen books from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, it’s a muddled mess with major pacing issues that finds some bright spots in character moments despite the overabundance.

But Season 2, which features characters and elements from at least four of Bardugo’s books (and you can argue up to six novels with supplemental material), bites off more than it can chew. There’s too much action, too many characters trying to fight for a bit of screen time, and at times the characterization takes a backseat to make room for the action (which takes a lot of clunky rendering to set up). While the cast and characters are still bright spots — and there are plenty of moments straight out of the books that many fans will love — the whole thing is one giant, convoluted mess.

If shadow and bone Season 1 was mostly about Alina Starkov’s (Jessie Mei Li) rise to embrace her power as a sun summoner, while Season 2 was all about the MacGuffins. Fleeing Ravka with her boyfriend Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux), Alina is more determined than ever to tear down the shadow fold that divides Ravka in two. While Grisha – people who can manipulate elements, metals, or the human body – can usually only use one enhancer to increase their abilities, Alina believes that if she can unite three legendary enhancers, she can defeat the Shadowfold.

Patrick Gibson in Shadow and Bone Season 2

David Lukacs/Netflix

She already has one of those legendary amps in last season’s White Stag Antlers, which are a lot less intrusive this time. But now she is searching for the Seawhip, a legendary creature that no living human has seen, and the Firebird, about which much less information is known. Her and Mal’s search for the former puts them in the crosshairs of the privateer (rather than pirate) Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson). With his right-hand commanders heartbreaking twins Tolya (Lewis Tan) and Tamar (Anna Leong Brophy), Sturmhond has already been an unseen architect at many previous events and, with a prominent connection to Ravka, has the potential to be a powerful ally.

Alina doesn’t find it difficult to convince, not because Sturmhond is convincing. She has no other choice in this matter because most people in Ravka see Alina as a villain who worked with General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) who is still very much alive; Several nations want a bounty on their heads.

Convinced that Ravka (or at least the non-Grisha contingents also known as Otkazat’sya) is beyond saving, Kirigan turns his attention to defeating them and gathering as many Grisha to his side as possible, a quest also helped by nichevo’ya, the indestructible shadowy creatures native to Kirigan. (When nichevo’ya is a morsel to be said or remembered, characters just as often refer to them as “shadow monsters”.) He seeks a cure for his ailments, a reminder that all magic comes at a price while also offering the best does use the stag’s remaining connection to convince Alina to return to him; If that doesn’t work, he doesn’t mind forcibly bringing her back into the herd.

The result is somewhat similar The Last Jedi‘s power connections (although they first appeared in Bardugo’s books) that allow them to appear in front of each other, increasing the fear and anger that still simmers between them. Barnes doesn’t have that much scenery to munch on this time, but he takes what he can and makes a meal out of it while Kirigan reminds her how isolated her quest for power will make her. “You’re only going to get more powerful,” Kirigan taunts her in an early interaction, trying to push her away from Mal. “And he’s only getting old.”

In Ketterdam, the Crows – the ruthless Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), the secretive Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and the gunslinger Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) – must face the consequences of their long absence after their possessions have been besieged by the greatest town gangster, Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly), who is determined to lock her up; he’s not going to frame them for a little murder. But these hijinks, which are the culmination of the early episodes and show the crows growing while bringing heartthrob Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan) and explosion expert Wylan Hendriks (Jack Wolfe) into the fold of the Ravkan conspiracy, melt away for a messier heist than last time for, wait, another MacGuffin.

To say more would be into huge spoiler territory, but it does show some of the show’s flaws, such as the shortcuts it takes to introduce new cultures that are part of the vast world Bardugo created. Many of the costumes look downright cheap, especially when compared to the level of detail that went into making these Grisha Keftas.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. The show rushes into high gear as it attempts to fit as much of Bardugo’s story into the show as possible, which could both satisfy and frustrate fans. It leaves almost little room for Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman), the witch hunter from Fjerdan, who had a starring role in Season 1 but has little to do in Season 2 other than sit in a maximum security prison and be in his complicated stew Thoughts of Nina (who put him in jail so her colleague Grisha wouldn’t kill him) and getting tangled up in the prison’s infamous fighting pit. There’s a lot of longing involved, but it’s often not enough to sustain these scenes.

In some ways shadow and bone Season 2 burns through so much story that it makes you wonder where it might go next, and while the season starts off strong, it quickly becomes unwieldy. There are some great character moments hidden under the mud in some of its messiest episodes, and as entertaining as it was, it was more tiring than anything else. But there’s light even in the dark: there’s enough to remind you why you tuned in in the first place and how much more it could offer.

shadow and bone Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

*Initial publication: March 16, 2023 3:35 pm CDT

Michelle Jaworsky

Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and television/film critic at the Daily Dot. Covering entertainment, geek culture and pop culture, she has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She lives in Brooklyn.

Michelle Jaworsky

https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/shadow-and-bone-season-2-review/ “Shadow And Bone” shows more that not everything is always better

Jaclyn Diaz

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