From longtime fans of Leigh Bardugo’s books to those experiencing the Grishaverse for the first time, Shadow and Bone has proven to be a thrilling Netflix original for a variety of audiences. Rich world-building and compelling characters made the first season an addicting and binge-worthy experience.
Naturally, the first season ended with some tantalizing cliffhangers and an intriguing setup for future seasons. Nevertheless, season 1 did answer many key questions, particularly in terms of world-building, character motivations, and character development.
10 What Is The Show’s Genre?
Shadow and Bone‘s genre is high fantasy. It takes place in a fictional world filled with beings known as Grisha–individuals who can summon and manipulate matter–and the fictional country of Ravka is divided by the Shadow Fold, which is essentially a wall of darkness and shadows filled with the monstrous volcra. There are many other fantastical elements of this fictional world that draw inspiration from the real world, such as the fact that Ravka is inspired by Tsarist Russia.
While the story’s defining genre is high fantasy, it is also a heist adventure and tale of romance. The storyline following Kaz, Inej, and Jesper provides insight into the criminal underworld and follows many elements of the crime and heist genres. Many elements of romance stories are also present in the love triangle between Alina, the Darkling, and Mal.
9 Who Does Alina Fall In Love With?
Those invested in the romance want to know who Alina falls in love with. The story is far from over, but by the end of season 1, it is clear that Alina has chosen Mal over the Darkling. This is a natural development considering that the Darkling repeatedly lied to Alina and tried to take her powers for himself. Regardless of his intentions to protect all Grisha, he still manipulated her and made her his captive.
Mal, on the other hand, was supportive of Alina. He did everything he could to help her and most importantly, he let her make her own choices. Despite ending up together, Alina and Mal never actually kissed in season 1. On the other hand, Alina and the Darkling kissed on several occasions, although more Alina and Mal romance has been promised for the future.
8 How And Why Was The Fold Created?
The Fold’s existence is established from the beginning and there is a vague story that hundreds of years ago, the Darkling’s ancestor known as the Black Heretic created it. The true origins of the Fold are eventually revealed to be the work of the Darkling. In fact, the Darkling has lived for hundreds of years and is the same person as the Black Heretic.
After the woman he loved was murdered and the systematic oppression of Grisha was at its worst, the Darkling tried to create an army using Merzost. The process did not work as intended, though. The Fold was unleashed and the king’s soldiers, who the Darkling tried to make his own, instead transformed into the monstrous volcra.
7 Why Doesn’t Everyone Just Travel Around The Fold?
The easiest solution to the Fold that separates West Ravka and East Ravka would seemingly be to just travel around it. The show not only establishes that it would take many months to travel around it, but that going around the Fold requires going through Fjerda or Shu Han. The nations of Fjerda and Shu Han are at war with Ravka and they both hate Grisha.
Fjerdans train their men to hunt and kidnap Grisha and then bring them back to Fjerda to be tried and executed, which is shown in Nina’s storyline. It is no safer for non-Grisha Ravkans, as Mikhael and Dubrov are brutally murdered and Mal barely survives after they cross into Fjerdan territory while tracking Morozova’s Stag. Meanwhile, the Shu Han experiment on Grisha for the sake of scientific advancements. All these factors make traveling through the Fold a necessity for Grisha and the people of Ravka.
6 How Did Alina’s Abilities Go Undiscovered For So Long?
Children in Ravka are tested to see if they are Grisha. Those identified as Grisha are taken to the Little Palace and trained to become part of the Second Army. This raised the question of how Alina’s abilities as a Sun Summoner went undetected for so long, as she should’ve been tested as a child.
It was revealed that Alina was tested as a child, but she found a way to purposely fail the test so she would go undetected. Alina cut her own hand, ensuring that she would already be in pain, meaning that the testers wouldn’t be able to detect any sudden pain from her. Alina didn’t know she was a Grisha–she just made sure to fail the test so she wouldn’t be separated from Mal.
5 What Is The Main Religion?
While the main religion in Ravka is not given an official name, the religion revolves around the worship of Saints. Those who still follow the religion view the Sun Summoner as a kind of messiah. This is why Inej and other characters who follow the faith are in awe of Alina and call her Sankta Alina, as Sankta is the word for a female saint.
It’s also why Alina and some other characters joke or make reference to her being a living saint. The Apparat warns her of the power she now wields as a religious symbol and that people are building altars to worship her. There were also plans to explore some religious hypocrisy in a deleted scene, something that can still be explored more in future seasons.
4 When Does The Show Take Place?
An exact year when the story is taking place is never given in Shadow and Bone, but by the end of the season, there is a clear timeline of events, although it takes a while for all the storylines in the timeline to converge. Hundreds of years earlier, the story is preceded by the Darkling creating the Fold, an event that is shown via a flashback.
The main story begins with Alina and the discovery of her being the Sun Summoner. Nina’s storyline and the storyline with Kaz, Inej, and Jesper begin about two weeks later and ultimately all the storylines and characters intersect.
3 What Is Arken’s Real Agenda?
In order to complete their heist and obtain the one million kruge reward it will bring, Kaz, Inej, and Jesper need help crossing the Fold. They come to rely on the services of Arken Visser, also known as the Conductor, who profits off illegally ferrying people across the Fold. When Kaz sees Arken meeting with General Zlatan–the general trying to get West Ravka to secede and becomes its own nation–Kaz knows that Arken cannot be fully trusted.
Arken’s real agenda remains a mystery until he tries and fails to assassinate Alina in the Little Palace. General Zlatan offered a full million kruge to Arken for killing Alina, which was a better offer for Arken than splitting a million kruge four ways for kidnapping Alina. The death of the Sun Summoner would mean the Fold couldn’t be destroyed, which would help Zlatan in his mission to rule West Ravka and have it secede.
2 Why Does The Darkling Want Morozova’s Stag So Badly?
Morozova was one of the first Grisha and he created a Stag out of his own bones, a creature whose antlers can serve as an unparalleled amplifier of a Grisha’s powers. The Darkling is obsessed with finding the Stag and even sends orders for the First Army to track the animal.
The Darkling’s obsession is about more than just the simple amplification of his own power, though. It turns out that he wants to find and kill the Stag so he could use the antlers to control Alina’s Sun Summoner abilities and combine them with his own Shadow Summoning powers.
1 Why Does Alina See Visions Of Morozova’s Stag?
Alina begins to see visions of Morozova’s Stag before the audience understands the creature’s true significance or why the Darkling wants it so badly. She continues to see the visions and even after the Stag’s death, she receives a vision of the Stag that helps her break free of the Darkling’s control over her.
Alina comes to understand the Stag chose her. This is why she sees visions of the Stag and why she is able to ultimately claim all of its power for herself, despite the Darkling killing the Stag and using its antlers to try and control her.
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