SPOILERS FOR SHADOW AND BONE AND THE GRISHAVERSE NOVELS AHEAD!
One week since the premiere of Netflix’s Shadow And Bone, and my series of individual episode reviews is finally complete…but I’m the type of person who becomes hooked on a single show for a lot longer than just one week, and I know a lot of you out there are the same way. And I know – from personal experience, because this is how Netflix is – that there’s nothing more agonizing than binge-watching a show in a single day and then having to wait for another season, sometimes for years.
In the meantime, obviously we’re going to have to speculate about Shadow And Bone season two – which Netflix is waiting to officially confirm, although What’s On Netflix, a site with a very strong track record specializing in exclusive information about the streaming service, reports that a second season was renewed behind-the-scenes back in March. And with the first season trending very well in its first week and word-of-mouth strong, it doesn’t seem at all unlikely that season two is coming. It’s just a matter of when – and of course, where we’ll pick up with our beloved cast of characters.
Now, most of my big elaborate theories about things tend to miss the mark by a couple hundred miles (i.e. the Grim Reaper hint in WandaVision means that Ultron is returning!), so this post is going to take each main character in Shadow And Bone one-by-one and just sort of…sketch out their potential paths forward, drawing on information given in the books but taking into account the sorts of changes that Shadow And Bone has already made to the source material.
Last time we saw Alina in season one, she and her best friend Mal (platonic soulmates until proven otherwise; sorry, Malina shippers) were headed into the unknown on a ship, but their journeys promise to run parallel to the Crows for at least a little while, and I won’t be surprised if the duo take refuge in Ketterdam now that they need a place to lay low while Alina works on a plan for how to destroy the Shadow-Fold. In Siege And Storm, the second book in the original Grisha trilogy, Alina and Mal hide away in the town of Cofton in Noyvi Zem (where they actually meet a younger Jesper Fahey), but having them stay in Ketterdam declutters the story and requires one less set. In the book, she goes hunting for the second of Morozova’s legendary Amplifiers, a leviathan known as the Sea Whip, crossing paths with the buccaneer Sturmhond (more on him in a minute).
But if Alina and Mal do stay in Ketterdam rather than Cofton, and with Shadow And Bone now caught up to the main events of Six Of Crows, Alina might come into contact with a very different kind of Amplifier without even needing to take her adventure on the high seas. The plot of Six Of Crows revolves around the creation of a mysterious and addictive new drug known as jurda parem, which affects Grisha, enhancing their powers enormously, and often to a dangerous degree. Squallers who take it gain the ability of flight, Durasts turn lead to gold…just imagine what a Sun-Summoner could do. The drug circulates in secret around Ketterdam, but jurda is grown in Noyvi Zem around Cofton, so Alina could come in contact with it there too.
In the books, you can usually expect Mal to simply tag along behind Alina wherever she goes, thereby robbing her and himself of much independence. His role as her protector quickly leads to him becoming obsessively overprotective, and it’s…a lot, honestly. Shadow And Bone‘s showrunner Eric Heisserer said he wanted “Malina” to share their first kiss in season one but that others on the creative team objected; and that he plans to get his way in season two (the only thing that could ruin this show for me). I’ve already made it clear that I’d prefer Mal and Alina to grow individually outside of their borderline constricting relationship with each other…but the fact that I can’t hazard a guess as to where Mal could go apart from her shows that they haven’t done enough even on the show to distinguish their arcs.
The Crows (As A Team)
Although some fans have been pushing for the Crows to spinoff into their own series (and I’d love for that to happen), I suspect their story and Alina’s will continue to run side-by-side in Shadow And Bone. And while I do think there’s a good chance we’ll see them embark on their infamous Ice Court heist in season two, their first order of business upon returning to Ketterdam will be taking care of their current client, Dreesen, and Pekka Rollins – so far, all we know of Kaz’s plan for that is that he needs a Heartrender neither man would recognize. Thankfully, I have a theory about how this might play out. We never learn what Dreesen wants with Alina Starkov, only that he’s a “wealthy merchant”…and Six Of Crows kicks off with the death of a wealthy merchant who’s been taking Grisha captive and testing jurda parem on them.
In the books, this merchant character is named Councilman Hoede, but it would be easy to switch the name to Dreesen. Hoede, it’s later revealed, was working on the jurda parem with a merchant named Jan Van Eck (who needs to be played by Richard E. Grant; this is not up for debate), who sends the Crows on the mission to the Ice Court. My theory is that when the Crows return to Ketterdam in season two, Jan Van Eck will end up taking care of Dreesen for them – not out of the kindness of his heart, but to cover his tracks and erase evidence of the link between the two merchants. Then he’ll track down the Crows with his own offer of five-million kruge to break into the Ice Court and kidnap jurda parem‘s creator, the Shu Han alchemist Bo Yul-Bayur.
But if my theory is correct, that still doesn’t solve the problem of Pekka Rollins – whose agents will probably be waiting for Kaz Brekker and the Crows as soon as their ship docks in Ketterdam. Fighting Pekka gives Kaz a personal stake in season two, and provides an organic opportunity to peel back layers of his history with Pekka via flashbacks. In the books, this backstory is gradually revealed over the course of Six Of Crows, and I hope Shadow And Bone is similarly patient, rather than dumping it all at once. I also hope to see more of Kaz’s brilliance as a strategist: constructing bigger, more elaborate plans, and collecting information on everybody – including Jan Van Eck’s son, Wylan, whom in the books he lures into his gang as leverage over the merchant.
While Inej will always be a major part of the Crows’ storyline, she also has her own character arc apart from the team – and the end of season one hints at that, with Inej suggesting to Kaz that she’s not committed to staying in Ketterdam. This is true to the books, where Inej has a lifelong dream to explore the world on her very own ship, but Shadow And Bone gives Inej an opportunity to pursue that dream much earlier than the books – especially since the buccaneer named Sturmhond might be rolling into town any day now. Another storyline worth exploring (and one that could tie into Sturmhond’s arc) is one from Crooked Kingdom, where Inej is hunted by an assassin named Dunyasha Lazareva, who claims to be an heiress to Ravka’s royal family – and whom Inej believes to be her “Shadow”.
Shadow And Bone‘s first season dropped numerous hints to the fact that Jesper is a Grisha Fabrikator – specifically a Durast capable of manipulating metals and other solid materials, something that possibly contributes to his skills as a sharpshooter. Ivan the Heartrender senses his power during one of their duels, but Jesper later shoots him dead, thus protecting his secret; which he’s kept hidden since watching his mother – herself a Durast – die while using her power to absorb poison into her own body. This could be explored through flashbacks in season two, but a major element of Jesper’s story going forward will be his relationship with Wylan Van Eck; the Six Of Crows duology’s most prominent LGBTQ+ romance.
With Nina’s backstory having already been adequately explored in Shadow And Bone‘s first season, she can only go forward from here. As in the books, she’ll be entering Ketterdam on the same ship as Matthias Helvar, but whereas the Fjerdan will be shipped off to Hellgate prison, Nina will be in need of work to survive – and in the show, she’s just made the acquaintance of Kaz Brekker, who’s looking for a Heartrender. In the books, it’s mentioned that Nina was forced to choose between working for Kaz or Pekka Rollins when she arrived in Ketterdam, ultimately choosing Kaz after Inej hand-delivered his business-proposal by scaling a six-story building in the pouring rain (a scene I’d love to see reenacted). I think the same will hold true in Shadow And Bone, but Nina’s previous service for The Darkling might be a cause for conflict if it ever comes up again.
While Nina gets deluged with opportunities, Matthias will be rotting in Hellgate next time we see him – and blaming the Heartrender for his troubles. In Six Of Crows, he spends months imprisoned, but the physical and emotional toll it takes on him is apparent thanks to two things that won’t work in the show: firstly, his long golden locks are shaved off (whereas in the show, he’s only had short hair); and secondly, he’s forced to kill wolves, sacred animals to the Fjerdans, in prison cage-fights. Shadow And Bone worked some wolf-imagery into the Fjerdan costume design, but never touched on the significance of that choice, unfortunately. Regardless, it won’t be long before Kaz has a reason to break Matthias out of Hellgate, whether for his first-hand knowledge of the Ice-Court or something else.
After staggering from the Shadow-Fold with Volcra scars lacing his beautiful face and his fabulous black kefta irreparably shredded, The Darkling is going to be on a war-path in season two – and in Shadow And Bone‘s closing moments, he displays the ability to command an army of shadow warriors called nichevo’ya, who will become his greatest weapon in the ongoing battle for Ravka. In the books, he hunts down Alina, and forces her to join him on a quest for the second Amplifier, employing the privateer named Sturmhond to guide them through the frigid northern seas. In the show, if Alina remains in Ketterdam, that means The Darkling may have another chance to match wits with Kaz Brekker when he comes for her…but directly tying him into the Ice Court heist will be difficult.
There are few characters who pop up more frequently throughout the Grishaverse than Nikolai Lantsov, the illegitimate prince of Ravka who first appears while disguised as a privateer named Sturmhond and pretending to work with The Darkling. Nikolai’s charisma wins him many fans among the general population, but he suffers the constant disdain of his older brother Vasily – an incompetent elitist who gets exactly what he deserves in the end. In Shadow And Bone, the Ravkan royal family hasn’t been very well-established yet, nor has any mention been made of the young prince and his flying ship, but Nikolai is coming in season two; and we can expect his casting to be a big deal.
Wylan Van Eck
Although I’ve never loved Wylan’s character as much as I love some of the other Crows, I’m very interested to see how he’ll be adapted. His backstory certainly lends itself to dramatic adaptation, with his father Jan Van Eck disowning him on account of his dyslexia and attempting to have him murdered to protect the Van Eck family’s reputation in high society. Wylan goes into hiding and changes his name, setting himself up as a “passable” demolitions expert while retaining some of his aristocratic snobbery. Ironically, it’s his connection to Jan that lands him on the Ice Court heist, as Kaz is under the impression that he can be used as leverage over Jan; learning too late that the merchant would happily kill his own son. Eric Heisserer has promised that Wylan will “a hundred percent” be in Shadow And Bone‘s second season.
So which Grishaverse character is your favorite, and where do you want to see them end up in season two? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!