Top 10 Reasons We Love Shadow and Bone Season 2
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Shaina Higgins
It was tough to narrow this down to 10! For this list, we'll be looking at the exciting return to the Grishaverse, and all the strengths of the first season that have been amplified on this second trip. Be advised, this video will contain some spoilers, but we'll try to avoid giving away too many specifics. Our countdown includes some new faces, different perspectives, backstories and more!
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Reasons We Love “Shadow & Bone” Season 2. For this list, we’ll be looking at the exciting return to the Grishaverse, and all the strengths of the first season that have been amplified on this second trip. Be advised, this video will contain some spoilers, but we’ll try to avoid giving away too many specifics. Are you planning to brave the Fold and return to Ravka? Tell us what you’re most excited to see in the comments!
#10: New Faces
Part of the strength of “Shadow & Bone” is its wide array of compelling characters. And season two brought several great new additions into the story. Who doesn’t love a few good pirates, after all? Along with the Captain known as Sturmhond, we get his lieutenants, Tolya and Tamar. The twins are a strong addition to any scene, whether for their deadly fighting skills, or just for their laid back good humor. Even if not all of their talents are always appreciated. Back in Ketterdam, we pick up Wylon. Gentle and unassuming, you would never guess that this character would make such a bang. Indeed, the Crows’ new explosions specialist quickly becomes a vital component to the success of both their mission, and the season.
#9: Exploring the Map
While we got a taste of the island nation of Ketterdam in Season 1, most of the story transpired in Ravka. The Fold ravaged country remains the central location of Season 2, but we also get more of a sense of the wider world of the Grishaverse. The season opens with Alina and Mal arriving in Novyi Zem. This peaceful, prosperous place strikes a strong contrast to Ravka, both aesthetically, and culturally. Back across the True Sea, we rejoin the Crows on their home turf. The Ketterdam underworld of Season 1 gets a bit more fleshed out, with factions coming into clearer focus, and Kaz’s feud with crime king Pekka Rollins taking center stage. And later episodes whisk us away on yet more interesting travels.
#8: Side Quest to Shu-Han
Ravka’s southern neighbor has been alluded to in both “Shadow and Bone”’s book and television series, but in Season 2 we finally get to visit it when the Crows go with Tolya and Zoya to retrieve a mythic sword. Not only does the mission have vital implications for the plot, but their adventures there help lay down some important foundation for the development of multiple characters. In some stories these branching plot lines can feel like a distraction, but “Shadow & Bone” really makes the most of its side quest. It also uses the Asian inspirations that inform Shu-Han to give us one of the best fight scenes of the season. We hope future plots will give us more time to explore this setting.
#7: Dual Perspectives
Season 1 expanded on book characters like General Kirigan, but still stayed closest to Alina’s point of view. Season 2 pushes even further, spending a significant portion of time with Kirigan as he and Alina oppose each other from afar. Though he is never made sympathetic, we do get to really appreciate the complexity in him, from the reasoning for his actions to his fraught relationship with his mother. We also see him at his most fragile as he endures the physical cost of his powers. These choices all make Kirigan a much more nuanced character. Though he is still unquestionably a villain, he is far more human and far more interesting than his facade suggests, and the story feels more rounded out as a result.
#6: A Longer Shadow and a Higher Profile
Blunt, pragmatic Baghra played a key role in Season 1, both as Alina’s teacher and as the one to sound the alarm on Kirigan’s true intentions. Season 2 gives her even more play within the story. Not only does she continue to advise Alina, but she is able to act as one of the few people who can get under Kirigan’s skin, and their dynamic is always interesting to watch. Also getting a welcome boost is Nina Zenick. She spent Season 1 largely isolated from the main story, but as Kaz’s new heartrender now she’s thriving right in the thick of it. The Crows always seemed like a well-oiled machine, but capable, witty Nina was apparently the missing element all along.
#5: The Game is Afoot, or Rather, Awing, Again
Much though we love our Ravkan heroes, it’s the Crows most of us want to take off with. The only thing that’s changed in Season 2 is that there’s more of them to love. The Crows act as a bridge in the story between some sense of realism and the fantastical elements of the Grishaverse. Though they come with heightened skills of their own, their concerns feel closer to being relatable. They can always be counted on for an exciting heist, and their group dynamic is endlessly fun to watch. This season explores their bonds more deeply, but doesn’t skimp on any of the criminally good action we’ve come to expect from this group.
#4: Expanded Backstories
We definitely respond to Kaz’s stoic mastermind and Jesper’s wisecracking gun slinger, but we were always waiting for the day we’d get to dig deeper on both of them. Season 2 obliges this curiosity. Jesper’s secret abilities come up early, but it takes a while before it’s clear why he was hiding his talents in the first place. A few heart to heart talks and a vision sequence give us answers, as well as helping him along a satisfying arc to self acceptance. Kaz, on the other hand, remains a work in progress. Through flashbacks we see the tragic losses that forged him. However, we also see the lingering effect of the trauma, which is something he hasn’t completely faced yet.
#3: Deeper Shadows
Like many fantasies, Shadow & Bone revolves around the threat posed by one great, looming supernatural force. However, while General Kirigan and his Shadow Fold are the most immediate danger to Ravka, there are deeper issues afflicting the country that can’t be solved by banishing the darkness. We saw stirrings of political unrest in Season 1, but Season 2 digs into the country’s unsavory side, with the expanded Fold being used to justify the renewed persecution of the widely distrusted Grisha. We also witness the very personal harm done to people by a royal family who doesn’t see them as human. Though Ravka has protectors who want to save it, it’s clear that the Fold is just the start of a long reckoning that must be had.
#2: Love is All Around
Is love strength or is it weakness? That question is a theme throughout the entire season, and one keenly explored in a whole spectrum of romantic relationships. Of course Alina’s bond with Mal continues to play an important role in her story. However, the series avoids tired traps like dwelling on love triangles (or quadrangles), to, quite literally, spread the love around. From the flirty sweetness of Tamar and Nadia to the mutual longing between Kaz and Inej. Genya and David give us some heart-melting highlights, and we see the deep understanding beneath their long-term crushes. Great as they are, this season’s OTP status goes to Jesper and Wylon. Relatably awkward as they fumble through the start of their relationship, we can’t get enough of this adorable pair.
#1: Room to Grow
The end of Season 2 puts us out into uncharted waters. Though we see the main conflict of the “Shadow & Bone” book series resolved, there’s nothing but open horizons for the characters. For one thing, the show has already woven together different Grishaverse series, and there are indications that that trend will continue going forward. There’s also room for invention, as every character is left in place that promises a new start or some kind. Whether it’s a new heist, a new adventure, or a new era for Ravka, everyone is set up to turn the next page. And potential threats have already started to emerge. Whatever awaits our heroes in the future will undoubtedly bring excitement. And we can’t wait to go along for the ride.