Shadow & Bone Season 2 Premiere!

Last Thursday (March 9, 2023) I had the privilege of attending the World Premiere of one of my favorite adaptations – Netflix’s Shadow and Bone.

For those unfamiliar it is based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse books. If you’ve been around me in real life or online you’re probably aware of my obsession love for this world and Leigh’s work (that might have to be another post entirely). BUT I’m here to talk about that night and the first episode of season 2.

Before I go any further I have to thank Natasha Polis and Christine Riccio for making this possible:)

From L to R: @amandajustvibin, @heathertraska, me, @tashapolis, @tayamillerr, @tessanetting, @xtinemay

This was my first event where I was accompanying talent on the carpet and not just there as a fan which had it’s pros and cons. It did mean that a lot of friends I was hoping to see who were in the ‘fan’ section weren’t really accessible but from all of their accounts it sounds like they had a fantastic time!!

It is hard to put all of this into words, particularly the afterparty and the conversations I was blessed enough to have with creatives who have inspired me for years, even before they joined the Grishaverse. This would be a real essay if I included all of that, but if you’re curious feel free to reach out. For now, let’s just dive into the first ep.

Spoiler Free Episode 1 Thoughts

First off, this theater (the Netflix TUDUM Theater) was GORGEOUS!! It reminded me of one of my favorite local theaters with the twinkling lights everywhere.

Season 2 of Shadow is explained as follows: “The second season picks up in the aftermath of the first season’s epic finale, as Alina and Mal search for new allies to help destroy the Fold for good. Meanwhile, the Crows return to Ketterdam in search of their own new alliances as heist once again puts Alina in their path.”

We jump right in with this first episode. The first thing to hit me was the reminder that Jessie Mei-Li is so f***ing fantastic as Alina who – as a 2010s YA protagonist – is fleshed out and much more established in this show. She is youthful and hopeful and this season is for the Malina shippers I just know it.

Alina and Mal are taking every moment they can to live together and the moments of bliss we see them awarded with are heartwarming. Their moments in the episode 1 are classic Alina and Mal – thank the saints Archie Reneaux is the best Mal – and there are wonderful callbacks to season 1 (particularly in regards to blocking them in positions reminiscent of holding hands in the meadow, which we saw throughout season 1).

Back in Ketterdam things are, well, things. This is spoiler free and difficult when all I want to do is scream about the Crows but I must remain strong.

Kaz, Jesper, and Inej have arrived back without Alina Starkov. A failed job with a deliciously satisfying reveal. Having gone back and watched the first season, I am curious if this reveal was predetermined or a new decision. It works either way and I think fans will either see where it’s going or be pleasantly surprised.

We’ve seen in trailers that the Crows are coming together!!!! Nina is brought on to the team and we’ve got a demo man!!!! Wylan is here and he is perfect. Jack Wolfe is brilliant and I cannot wait to get more of him this season. He falls into the chemistry of the existing crows so beautifully.

The episode 1 highlight in terms of performance, is 1000% Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker. I mean it when I say that I think this season we are really going to get Kaz. The Kaz that Leigh wrote. Book Kaz – or as much as we can without his internal monologue. Which is terrifying but already a thrill. There is a moment in this first episode that had me completely stunned both by performance and “oh shit they’re already going there”.

Some other characters we know are arriving include Nikolai / Sturmhond, and the twins: Tolya and Tamar. Again, no spoilers, but Lewis Tan and Anna Long Brophy are perfectly cast and their entrance is perfection. I spoke with the showrunners, Eric Heisserer and Daegan Fryklind, after and congratulated them on giving the twins the coolest and sexiest introduction ever.

Ben Barnes is going to do his Darkling thing and I’m very curious what it will look like this season. They are definitely staying true to aspects of the book – particularly the connection between Alina and the Darkling across distance – but I’m intrigued by how he will gather his forces. We do see Genya at the end of the episode and I already know she is going to break my heart and be a standout of this season (as she should).

Critically, I think this season may be more interesting that the first. Part of this is the benefit of an established world, we get to move beyond Ravka and explore other countries and dynamics. The difference in pacing alone is evident in episode one. Episode 1 goes balls to the wall and dives right in. There is a lot happening but my hope is that subsequent episodes will have a bit more breathing room.

What can we expect this season?

I adore the Grishaverse. I adore TV and the creation of worlds. However, I am not a purist when it comes to an adaptation, particularly one based on a YA series. Leigh’s work has always been fantastic, but I also do not think it is outlandish to say her work has improved over the years. S&B was her first series and it was one of the first big steps into a large fantasy world for YA in the 2010s. As a result, there are inevitable changes made from page to screen and that is the fun of adaptations and fresh perspectives.

If this season combines books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, I will not be upset, so long as it is well done and not rushed! The difficulty also includes Netflix’s tendency to end shows around season 2 and I would rather complete a story than end on a cliffhanger. HOWEVER, I do think that if this books will be combined AND the show is renewed, the next thing we can expect from Heisserer and Fryklind’s team/s is a Six of Crows spinoff, which I am thoroughly and eagerly praying to the saints for.

XOXO Grishaverse fam

The best part of my evening – aside from networking and interactions with this inspirational cast and crew – is being around fans.

Part of me wished I could be in that fan pit celebrating and fangirling with everyone. Sophia (@shots_by_sophia on IG/TikTok) hosted the red carpet for the Shadow and Bone Instagram and I feel honored to see her grow, flourish, and prove people wrong. Fandom is powerful.

Some other wonderful people include Mayanne (@mayannecosplay) is a treasure and I love her and the impact of her Tamar cosplay is *chefs kiss*. A final shoutout and thanks to the wonderful humans that are Aaron and Mina (@aaronrivin & @minakess). They’re beautiful examples of the power adaptation has to bring those previously unfamiliar with a story into a world and community that is thrilled to have them. (Also just thanks to Mina and our awkward eye contact).

See you on the other side of the fold.

xoxo, Kendra

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