“Shadow and Bone” is a Profound Disappointment

Season two of the critically acclaimed show left much to be desired


Season two lacked a clear storyline, instead using a jumbled, over complicated plot.

Audrey Miracle, Assistant Editor

After two years, the long-anticipated “Shadow and Bone” Season 2 is out, but it’s not what you’d expect. Upon rewatching Season 1 as preparation, I came into Season 2 expecting continued brilliance but was instead met with a supersized version of the first season: more characters, more fighting, and more plots. While Season 1 did a fantastic job of adapting Leigh Bardugo’s famed fantasy series, Season 2 threw any and all accurate adaptations out the window, creating a jumbled mess of a show.

Before I continue on my crusade of bashing Season 2, I would like to note the phenomenal acting of the show. It’s no wonder that many of the actors are in the running for Emmy nominations, as their characters almost make up for the bungled mess of a plot. The one exception to this is Patrick Gibson’s portrayal of Nikolai; his interpretation did not quite live up to Nikolai’s description in the books. However, Jack Wolfe did an amazing job bringing Wylan to life. Wolfe managed the perfect balance between Wylan’s timidness and his intelligence, as well as Wylan’s growing affection for Jesper.

Another bright spot was the costumes and the visual effects. I was in awe of the incredible videography in Season 2. My favorite moment is in the episode in which Tolya and Tamar are introduced: a scene that utilizes various shots along with dramatic music to lead up to the reveal of the characters’ faces. 

Even so, neither the acting nor the scenery could save the damage done to the show’s plot. Instead of following the plot of Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising (the last 2 books in the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy) as was expected, Season 2 combined 4 random books from the Grishaverse into 1 season and changed the endings. The second season did use the plot from Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, but for some inane reason it also added in parts of Crooked Kingdom (the second book in the Six of Crow duology) and King of Scars, both of which take place after the conclusion of the Shadow and Bone trilogy. The jumbling of 4 books into 1 season made for a very messy plot that was unpredictable to the point of being incomprehensible. 

Spoilers ahead! Now you are probably wondering where in the show the plot leads astray from the books or from what was expected, and I can tell you that there are too many. My first issue came with the plot for the Crows’ in the first few episodes. After returning from Ravka, Kaz, Inej, and Jesper find themselves accused of the murder of Tante Heleen, and that Pekka Rollins has somehow acquired the Crow Club. Unsurprisingly enough the 2 are connected, and so Kaz devises a plan to clear their names and destroy Pekka Rollins’ empire. 

While the writers did have more creative liberty with the Crows because their written stories have not yet begun, I do not think this grants them the ability to take their stories and use them in the wrong order. The destruction of Pekka Rollins and his empire happens in the book Crooked Kingdom, and there is significant buildup to this moment. All throughout the Six of Crows duology you read about the horrible Pekka Rollins and how he is the reason for Kaz’s suffering. To put such an important part of the series as a little subplot point in the beginning of the season washes away its significance. 

Another plot issue I had was the way the season ended and where it left off with different characters. Instead of going off to live with Mal on a farm after losing her powers saving him, Alina is instead staying in the show as the main character. Not only that, she is engaged to Nikolai and now has the powers of the Darkling, supposedly a side effect of using Merszost to save Mal. I will say once more that it is perfectly normal for writers to alter the plot when adapting a book, but something this major should not have been changed.

Not only does it change Alina’s story, it affects Zoya’s as well. A major part of the books Rule of Wolves and King of Scars was the slowly growing romance between Zoya and Nikolai, because of which Zoya becomes Queen of Ravka. I believe this is an integral part of the Grishaverse, and plays a big role in Nikolai and Zoya’s character development. Without Nikolai and Zoya’s engagement, how do the writers plan to accommodate for the many puzzles their romance solves? Who will save Nikolai from the demon inside him? How will the shaky alliance between the Shu and Ravka be formed? These twisted endings affect a multitude of characters, and leave me wondering how can the show continue after such as bloated plot in Season 2?