Ravka, the kingdom that Leigh Bardugo introduced to her readers in her Six of Crows series. The kingdom now with flesh and blood thanks to Eric Heisserer, showrunner of Shadow and Bone. To me, it’s one of 2021’s greatest not so guilty pleasures, and now it’s back on Netflix with a new season of eight episodes. My review of Season 1 may help readers catch up, but here’s a quick synopsis of that. The Darkling (Ben Barnes) has a sad backstory that made him create The Fold, a dark Unsea that tears Ravka apart. His spectral opposite is his protegee and ex-girlfriend Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li). She tries to destroy The Fold and fails. Tech critique – they light The Fold well, for the most part anyway.
The fantasy series continues this season with Alina on the run but Ravka brings her back in. Her quest to defeat the Darkling gets new allies like Tamar Kir-Bataar (Anna Leong Brophy), Tolya Yul-Bataar (Lewis Tan). Both are mates on a ship,their captain being a mysterious man calling himself Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson). The Darkling is also regrouping. In Kerch, Kaz (Freddy Carter) and Inej (Amita Suman) deal with their own drama. Thankfully, they’re not letting that said drama into the Crows, who get two new members. The first is Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), who only joins them because they might help her free Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman). The second is Wylan Hendricks (Jack Wolfe), whose barbs with Jasper (Kit Young) lead to more.
Shadow and Bone‘s first season was great because of its world building, and Heisserer and crew, like most writers’ rooms embarking on a second season, need to find a balance between building within or without. If anything, they do a little bit of the former. Most of the characters survived season one, and the show picks a few to harness. We get to see Alina’s other lover Mal (Archie Renaux) do fight scenes. The same goes for Kaz, as the show gives him a balance of fight scenes and flashbacks that the fans waited for. The third fighter is Matthias. Depsite his pacificism, the prison guards push him into the jail’s fight club. A Zimmer-esque score accompanies these fights.
This Babe Ruth-y world building approach does let some of its characters fall on the wayside though. Depending on who you ask, Alina’s best friend Genya (Daisy Head) is either just as much of a fan favourite as The Darkling or a character who’s just there. The show makes her feel like the latter at most times although her few and far between presence has a poignant moment, and then theey shove her back in the background again. The same goes for Genya’s boyfriend David (Luke Pasqualino). This season also feels like they try to solve all of its conflicts, but thankfully, the finale gives hints to new ones that will make viewers wait for Season 2.
Lastly, I’m going to pretend to be a teen and talk ships, which I will list by importance. The show is commendable for havign a lead that does externally express her sexual feelings. The show also connects the dots between sex and violence without overdoing both and being problematic about it. Anyway, ships. First – Helnik, although this ship only brings me pain and suffering. Matthias is as shirtless as he is in the poster but he occasionally wears clothes. Second is Tamar and here be spoilers, Zoya, another female character that the show sandbags.
Third is Wesper. I don’t care if they end up together but then there’s nothing tearing them apart other than Jesper’s inner saboteur. This placement exists because of security reasons. What iterests me more about Jesper is his self discovery. Fourth, David and Genya, because of the lack of material. Fifth, Malina. I’m part of the vocal minority that doesn’t want her with the Darkling. I’m not mad at this third love interest though. Last is Kanej. Without giving anything away, Toyla makes this ship sink and thank Saints.
Watch Shadow and Bone‘s second season on Netflix.
- Rated: TV-14
- Genre: fantasy
- Release Date: 3/16/2023
- Directed by: Bola Ogun, Mairzee Almas
- Starring: Anna Leong Brophy, Ben Barnes, Jessie Mei Li
- Produced by: Rand Geiger, Thane Watkins
- Written by: Eric Heisserer, Erin Conley, Nick Culbertson, Vanya Asher
- Studio: Chronology, Loom Studios, Netflix
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