Season two of Shadow and Bone is packed with plot. Our fearless Sun Summoner Alina is trying to tear down the Shadow Fold and bring peace to Ravka and stop General Kirigan and his insatiable appetite for power. Meanwhile, Kaz Brekker and his Crows are involved in a deeply personal turf war over in Ketterdam before being sent on an important heist mission in Shu Han to obtain a sword that could mean life or death for Alina. There are also pirates who aren’t pirates, firebirds who aren’t firebirds, secret Grishas, shadow monsters, a Sea Whip, several compelling love stories, and sure why not, a boat that can fly. It’s a lot.
That’s especially true when it comes to the finale episode, which surprisingly wraps up the major conflict we’ve been watching play out for two seasons with 45 minutes left to go in the episode. It’s a sign that not only is this episode a doozy, but that it’s setting up a whole host of new problems for our main characters to deal with should there be a season three. So what’s important to glean from this wild finale and why? Let’s take a closer look at eight huge moments from “No Funerals” and what they might indicate lies ahead should Shadow and Bone get to regale us with another chapter in its epic adventure.
Alina kills two boys, one Fold
Previously on Shadow and Bone: At the end of episode seven, in the middle of the Shadow Fold, Alina and Kirigan perform competing Cuts — Kirigan’s is made of shadow, naturally, and Alina’s, her first, is made of light. She injures Kirigan, but Kirigan’s Cut hits Mal. It’s a fatal blow and they both know it. The finale kicks off with what we all feared but knew was coming once we learned that Mal is the third amplifier and only by Alina killing him will she have enough power to bring down the Shadow Fold: They’re gonna have to kill that boy. Obviously, Mal is a dreamboat and all he wants to do is help Alina in her quest to save Ravka, so he holds a blade to his chest, showing her what she needs to do. He also makes the line “make them redraw all the maps” so fucking swoony, so his death really hurts (me on a personal level). When Alina and Mal push the blade into his chest, all the pain and love in that sacrifice amplifies Alina’s power more than we’ve ever seen, and it decimates the Shadow Fold. It’s just … gone.
Kirigan, who is gravely injured thanks to Alina’s Cut and to his unwieldy shadow monsters, tries to get a little sympathy in the end by implying he almost had real love for a moment with Alina, but sorry, we’re not buying what you’re selling, sir. Alina plunges the Neshyenyer — the special Durast-made sword the Crows brought back from Shu Han — into his chest and ends their fight once and for all. It’s honestly a little underwhelming? But Kirigan does make one last sorta-selfless gesture in making Alina promise to destroy his body so that nothing is left. This might make more sense to those who’ve read Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone book trilogy, since the novels spent a lot of time discussing using Grisha bones as relics and amplifiers, meaning Kirigan’s bones would be extremely powerful. Still, good riddance to you!
And with that, the major conflict, and Alina’s mission, is resolved. Of course, its aftermath will bring with it an entirely new set of problems.
Alina does the one thing she was explicitly told not to do, because of course
You didn’t think Alina was just going to let the love of her life die, did you? She tries to make it happen through the proper channels: She has Nina use her heartrender and healer powers on him, but Mal has been dead several minutes and a knife through the chest isn’t, like, the easiest thing to pull someone back from. Nina works hard, but to no avail. Alina tries to be subtle about it, but unable to let Mal go, she summons merzost and uses it to resurrect her number-one tracker.
A quick merzost refresher: Merzost is a dark magic Grisha can use to create something out of nothing. This is an abomination to Grisha because their powers, what they call “the small science,” are pretty much the opposite of that, summoning already-existing elements. Because the use of it is so abhorrent, there is always some sort of cost to the person’s soul (please see: Kirigan all season long). Nina is the only person who sees Alina use it and when Mal comes to, Alina doesn’t let him in on it either, she lets everyone believe Nina brought him back. She might be beside herself with joy to have saved Mal, but she hasn’t even begun to think about the consequences.
Mal sets sail
The first price Alina pays for merzost: Mal returns feeling like something’s off. His whole life he’s been able to find True North and has felt an overwhelming connection to Alina — all of that is gone now; his purpose is gone now. The show isn’t immediately clear on whether this is a direct consequence of merzost, if it was lost the moment he died, or if it’s because his job as an amplifier was completed. Regardless, Mal feels adrift and he’s begun to question his entire life up to this point. Was everything, including his feelings for Alina, just some predetermined destiny because of who his ancestors were? He wants their love to be a choice, but in order to do that, he needs to figure out who he is now.
Basically: Mal’s being a real Sad Boy about the whole thing, and what’s better for a Sad Boy than some time at sea? Nikolai and Alina come up with a plan: Let Mal take on the Sturmhond privateer moniker and set sail. He’ll see the world, make some money, and free a bunch of slaver ships. Surely, if we get a season three, Mal will find his way back to Alina, but for now he says goodbye and heads out along with Tamar and Tolya and one surprising crew member: Inej Ghafa.
Kaz + his gloves AAF
Kaz Brekker really went through it in season two but the big, bright light at the end of it all was that he showed some actual, positive growth. Now, you might not think Kaz being able to tell the woman he loves that he wants her is that big of a deal, but it is momentous for the Bastard of the Barrel, who since the harrowing events of his childhood — in which he almost died from fire pox and spent days floating on a barge of dead, plague-ridden bodies — has closed himself off to human connection and human touch of any kind. Even the thought of it sickens him. So that moment he shares with Inej in the chapel is huge. But it’s still not enough. He might want to be with Inej, but he’s still unable to take those gloves off and she knows it, telling him, “I will have you without your armor, Kaz Brekker, or I will not have you at all.” It’s an achingly brutal response. It’s all so heartbreaking, in fact, that Inej decides to part ways with the Crows and join the Sturmhond crew.
And friends, if you didn’t clock Inej taking notice of Tolya, her smitten crewmate, assisting her onto the boat with his bare hand, I advise you to watch this episode again. Suffice it to say that if we get to see the next chapter in the Crows’ story, the dynamics between Kaz and Inej will be steeped in tension.
Matthias Helvar, unpardoned
Our reformed drüskelle (Grisha hunter) is sidelined for most of the season, off in a real hellscape of a Kerch prison aptly called Hellgate. Thanks to Nina offering her Grisha skills to Kaz and the gang, Kaz pays off a guard to keep Matthias out of the prison’s regular inmate gladiator fights, a.k.a. the Hellshow. It’s all Nina can manage for the love of her life — who, obviously, still blames her for being in prison in the first place — until thanks to the events of the season, she becomes buddies with the Sun Summoner and the new king of Ravka. She’s able to secure a pardon for him, but in the heartbreaking last few minutes of the episode, when she arrives at Hellgate, she finds newest inmate Pekka Rollins running things. He’s pushed Matthias into such a rage (mostly about Nina and the vows he broke because of her) that Matthias has agreed to be the star of the Hellshow. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that Pekka is a true asshole and set up a match between Matthias and … three wolves.
Here’s the deal: In Fjerda, especially for drüskelle, wolves are sacred animals and the thought of harming them is unimaginable. Things get crazy in the pit when Matthias refuses to fight the wolves and he winds up attacking and killing a whole bunch of guards. So, yeah, that pardon is useless. Matthias is going to make things really difficult for the Crows when they inevitably need to break him out of there — which wink, wink, they will — isn’t he?
The call is coming from inside Nikolai’s house (body)
Okay, now, this is a season-ending reveal right here. If you were paying attention during Nikolai’s final battle with the Nichevo’ya before Kirigan died and they dissipated, you may have noticed something a little … off. As he’s preparing for his coronation as king of Ravka, we find out what: As he looks at his reflection, he suddenly sees a Nichevo’ya standing there in his place. Nikolai is the shadow monster. And those wounds on his chest and back — exactly where the Nichevo’ya in his final battle were holding him — look an awful lot like merzost, and they are growing. So, that’s not great.
Two other things regarding Nikolai in these final moments that might be important should we get a season three: First, the apparat’s appearance. The Apparat, who you may recall was the king’s creepy adviser who initially pointed Alina toward Morozova’s amplifiers in season one, actually has a much larger role in the Shadow and Bone book trilogy than he does the series thus far; he also plays a role in the Nikolai-focused King of Scars duology. The Apparat is not a fan of the new Ravkan king, just FYI. The second important detail is that Nikolai’s feelings toward Alina have only grown since the season’s start. When Alina asks if they’ll have to put on a show and kiss at the coronation since they are still engaged and he says no, “not unless you’re thinking of me instead of trying to forget him,” oh buddy, I felt that. Those feelings are sure to make things complicated as time goes on!
Say it with me: JURDA PAREM
I have to imagine that the moment the phrase “jurda parem” is uttered by Kaz Brekker at the end of this episode, fans who have been tuning into the show solely based on their love of the Six of Crows books flipped. Jurda parem is the crux of the entire duology, which means that if we get a season three, we’re probably, finally, going to get some version of the Six of Crows novel plot.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. How is jurda parem introduced at the end of season two of Shadow and Bone? Well, just as Kaz is gathering his remaining Crows — Jesper, Wylan, and Nina — to bring them in on the biggest job they’ve ever been offered to take on, we also begin Nikolai’s coronation ceremony. Kaz is telling them about this dangerous drug, jurda parem, that can amplify a Grisha’s powers one thousand times over. Grisha on jurda parem, well, as Kaz puts it, “it could make the destruction of the Shadow Fold seem like a Spring picnic.” It is also, highly, highly addictive. He tells the Crows that the scientist who created this drug was recently captured by the Fjerdans and is awaiting trial in one of their prisons. They need to break the scientist out of this prison because if the Fjerdans are able to use this scientist to weaponize jurda parem, “the consequences would be unimaginable.”
We get a little taste of what that really means back at the coronation, where the Fjerdans have planted a Grisha strung out on the drug. When she takes a hit she reveals just what it can do. Clearly a heartrender, this Grisha is able to begin killing everyone in attendance with a small movement of her hand. We’re talking blood and guts pouring out of them — and no one is safe from it. Unimaginable is right.
The Sun Summoner goes dark
The only way this Grisha can be stopped is Alina. She is able to summon enough of her power to perform the Cut and stop this woman in her tracks. That’s great and all and we’re so, so glad, but what those in attendance may not have caught is that Alina’s Cut wasn’t made of light this time — it was made of shadow, just like Kirigan’s. Even more troubling? Whatever taste of dark power she got in that moment, the tiny smile on her face indicates that she really, really likes it. Is Alina going to go evil? Can we imagine Alina on jurda parem? Friends, I believe we were just introduced to the real cost of Alina’s dalliance with merzost.