Season 2 of ‘Shadow and Bone Review: A Great Start That Wastes Its Potential

Season 2 of 'Shadow and Bone
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After a fantastic first season, it’s safe to say that when Shadow and Bone were renewed, expectations were high, and I fully expected to enjoy Season 2. However, a promising initial few episodes rapidly give way to a jumbled sophomore effort that crams too many narratives in at once and gives away far too much, far too soon.

Season 2 crams in the plotlines of no less than six of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse works, including not only Shadow and Bone but the other two books in the trilogy, Storm and Siege and Ruin and Rising, both of the Crows books, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, as well as parts of King of Scars and The Lives of Saints.

While these are all fantastic books (especially the Crows duology), it’s a shame that they’re all crammed into one season, leaving little time to properly appreciate what’s going on in one narrative before we’re whisked away to another.

That’s not to say Season 2 doesn’t have some epic moments. The reappearance of The Darkling (Ben Barnes) is both epic and badass. He’s the antagonist of the story, but it’s difficult not to be pleased that he didn’t die from a volcra attack at the end of Season 1. He’s more dangerous and insane than ever before, and he’s hell-bent on vengeance. Even still, Barnes’ portrayal has a human element to it that makes you almost root for him, even while he’s doing bad things.

Like other iconic villains like Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in Black Panther, you can see where Kirigan is coming from and what he’s attempting to accomplish, even though his methods can be horrible.

Barnes is having a good time in this role, and it’s exciting to see. In a nutshell, The Darkling is one of the season’s highlights. He’s deliciously diabolical, and fans will devour him.

Of course, there’s Alina, the show’s primary attraction (Jessie Mei Li). She’s hungry for more after learning to own her power in the first season. This season, she’s on the lookout for two of Morozova’s famed amplifiers, the Sea Whip and the Firebird. As she discovers that the Darkling has survived, she becomes even more eager to demolish the Fold and finally defeat him.

Her self-assurance has risen to nearly boastful proportions, and she’s stronger than ever now that she’s reunited with her childhood buddy and true love, Mal (Archie Renaux). She’s an engaging protagonist, although her presence is occasionally overshadowed by the more colorful personalities surrounding her.

Among the season’s new characters are the privateer and adventurer Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson), aka the prince of Ravka, and the warrior twins Tolya (Lewis Tan) and Tamar (Anna Leong Brophy). Each of their first appearances in the series makes you want to cheer; they’re flawlessly cast, almost precisely as you probably imagined them in the books.

But, as the tale progresses, there is some overacting, which is to be expected in a fantasy series, but it becomes distracting from the story at times and with everything going on this season, attention is not always a good thing. Season 2 is difficult to summarize because there is so much going on.

Alina and Mal join forces with Nikolai, Tolya, Tamar, and others to locate and defeat the Darkling. At the same time, Kirigan is assembling his army of Grisha and wielding the deadly nichevo’ya shadow creatures he created in the Fold.

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