Is Shadow and Bone Season Two Any Good?
Is Shadow and Bone season two a thrilling ride or a disastrous mess? What are the creators planning next? And what are the chances Netflix will commission more Grishaverse content or pull the plug?
I have been waiting for Shadow and Bone Season 2 for almost two full years, so when it came out on March 16, I was eager to see what the creators had cooked up this time. I’d heard mixed early reviews and was interested in forming my own opinion.
Well, consider my opinion formed, because here is everything I enjoyed — and disliked — about Shadow and Bone Season 2, with spoilers marked so you can skip them if you want. I’ll also be speculating about what the show’s chances of renewal are, given its performance this week.
My Shadow and Bone Season Two Review: The Spoiler-Free Section
I’ll just say it upfront: overall, I liked this season. Yes, the plot was messy and they changed some things from the books, but I had a good time, and that’s really what I was looking for. Just think of it as Grishaverse: the Remix, and you might have a more fun experience.
In some cases, I liked the changes for the show better. My main complaint about the Shadow and Bone trilogy was that Alina felt like a passive protagonist for longer than I liked. At the beginning of the second book, Siege and Storm, she’s trying to go into hiding, but the Darkling kidnaps her and forces her back into the plot. Later, Prince Nikolai keeps forcing her into the plot.
In the show, however, Alina has the firm goal of defeating the Darkling right from the start. It’s not necessary for her to be kidnapped, because she intends to return to Ravka as soon as she obtains another amplifier that will make her power stronger. Alina maintains this strength of character throughout, and I felt like she was driving the plot of the show more than the plot drove her.
In terms of the Crows, I always love seeing them on screen, and there are plenty of references for book fans to enjoy. There was a plotline brought in from Crooked Kingdom, which I was initially iffy about, but upon reflection I think it worked pretty well while still leaving stuff to adapt in later seasons.
The plot as a whole has the backbone of the second and third Shadow and Bone books (Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising), but there was a bunch of extra stuff added — some from other Grishaverse books and some that was brand-new for the show. It definitely felt overstuffed with weird pacing at times. I described it in my initial TikTok review as a “rigorous massage for my brain,” and I stand by that, but I do wish there had been a longer runtime to let everything breathe a little.
The ending is quite different from the books in some significant ways, but I think it made sense for the most part. One thing I’m certain about is that if this show gets renewed, there’s enough interesting setup for one HELL of a season three!
More quick-fire things I liked:
I enjoyed all of the new cast members, but most especially Jack Wolfe as Wylan and Anna Leong Brophy as Tamar.
Kanej (Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa) is my favorite fictional couple of all time, and I was thoroughly served!
This season certainly doesn’t skimp on the romance, and I loved the chemistry between Mal and Alina, Jesper and Wylan, and Genya and David too.
All of the cast deserve kudos for their performances, but Freddy Carter especially brought it as a ruthless, off-the-rails Kaz Brekker.
Getting to see Novyi Zem and Shu Han really expanded the feel of the Grishaverse.
Guest cast member Tuyen Do was a delight, and I won’t spoil the details of her character’s backstory but it made me teary in the best way.
More quick-fire things that disappointed me
I found the Darkling a bit of a wet wipe this season, relying on his loyal Grisha and his shadowy nichevo’ya creations to do his dirty work. Ben Barnes still put in a great performance but he spent most of it brooding in a dark room.
Relatedly, the Darkling’s new henchwoman Fruszi was just annoying.
Several action scenes had this weird slow-mo editing that felt jarring to me at times (though there was this one scene with Inej where it REALLY worked).
One apparent character death was heartbreaking and I am still in denial about it.
Let’s Talk About That Ending (Spoiler Warning!)
Here be spoilers, so if you don’t want to get spoiled for the ending of Shadow and Bone season two, skip this section!
Hoo boy, that last episode was a trip! For the most part, I thought the changes from the books were logical, and set up some super interesting stuff for a possible Season 3.
The book version of Alina didn’t want any of the responsibilities piled upon her, so her happy ending was to retire with Mal and take care of orphans (though she isn’t even completely happy about losing her powers). However, with Show Alina being a more active protagonist, it made sense that she would want to help rule Ravka.
It also makes sense to me that Mal and Alina would break up for now. It must really mess with your head to feel drawn to someone your whole life, and then find out it might only be because of some weird hereditary magic. I have hope that they would get back together in a third season, though. I thought it was cool that Mal became Sturmhond, but it did also make me laugh because of:
Presumably, Alina’s shadow powers are a result of her using merzost to resurrect Mal, and I’m SUPER interested to see where that would go in Season Three. Maybe a corruption arc?? I’m also really excited about the possibility of seeing Nikolai turning into a nichevo’ya, especially since the writers have talked about their hopes of getting into the psychological aspects of his transformation, Jekyll and Hyde-style.
I’m not super happy about David’s apparent death, which didn’t happen in the original Grisha trilogy. However, show writer and producer Christina Strain said that David’s death was left uncertain (we didn’t see a body) and his return will depend on factors like actor Luke Pasqualino’s availability, so I’m still holding out hope! (You can watch the clip of Christina addressing David’s fate about 46 minutes into this interview)
Spoilers averted :)
What Do We Know About Possible Later Seasons?
The showrunners have confirmed there are two projects they want to make next: Shadow and Bone Season 3 and a Six of Crows spin-off. My impression is that the Crows show would be released before Season 3, and here’s what we know about it so far:
A Six of Crows spin-off covering the Ice Court heist is already written
It will contain eight episodes
The writers have been hyping it up as some of the best scripts they’ve ever seen
Less is known about Shadow and Bone Season 3, except that it would weave in the events of the King of Scars duology, which presumably means getting more of Nikolai and Zoya.
However, these future projects are not guaranteed, and will only get made if Netflix says so. Which brings me to …
Will The Show Get Renewed???
The creators of the show seem to be shooting for two goals: getting renewed for a season three of Shadow and Bone, and getting greenlit for a Six of Crows spin-off. Both of these will rely on Season 2 doing well in its first 28 days after release (that is, before April 13).
Time for some wild speculation about how likely that is!
We have some early statistics on how the show has done in its first few days after release, and according to the site What’s On Netflix (which is not affiliated with the company Netflix), Shadow and Bone is likely currently teetering on the edge between a cancellation and a renewal.
The numbers for the first four days of its release (50,400,000 hours viewed) were apparently a little underwhelming, but weeks 2 and 3 will be crucial in determining the show’s future. One upside is that Season 1 of Shadow and Bone climbed back into Netflix’s top five most-viewed TV offerings in the week of Season 2’s release (24,070,000 hours viewed), suggesting a continued interest in the series as a whole.
Then there’s the matter of budget. Shadow and Bone Season 2 supposedly had a budget of between about 3 million and 5 million dollars per episode. By contrast, The Witcher Season 1 cost around 10 million per episode, and even more thereafter. Shadow and Bone’s relative affordability might mean it can scrape a renewal without having to do the same numbers as The Witcher.
Another factor that Netflix may consider is the popularity of the Crows. If Netflix thinks people will be more likely to tune in for a Crows spin-off, that might boost the chances of getting our Ice Court heist on screen.
In fact … get your clown wigs out, because it appears that Production Weekly (an industry publication that lists upcoming shows that are hiring professionals to work on them) is listing Six of Crows in this week’s issue. This may mean that, behind the scenes, Netflix is hiring crew for the spin-off. It’s not renewal confirmation by any means, but it indicates that there’s a strong possibility that development on Six of Crows is going forward.
Suffice to say, though, if you want to ensure a Six of Crows spin-off and/or a third season of the main show, you’d better be streaming Shadow and Bone Season 2 to get those numbers up.
What do you think of Season 2 of Shadow and Bone? Are you excited for potential future seasons and/or a Crows spin-off? Comment your thoughts!
I swore up and down that I was going to read tons over spring break, and then I … didn’t, LOL. But I still have a couple of books to tell y’all about!
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I mainly read this because I wanted to watch the DJATS show knowing the full story, and I’m glad I did! This was a pretty fast read full of drama and angst. I found Daisy super annoying, but at least she somewhat learned her lesson.
For more thoughts, see my full review of Daisy Jones and the Six here!
Made of Stars by Jenna Voris
This was an ARC of a book that comes out on Tuesday, and if the idea of Bonnie and Clyde in space excites you, you should definitely check it out! I loved the sci-fi politics, death-defying escapes, and the explosion of an ending (let’s just say I did NOT see it coming!)
What's Going on in the Secret Writing Cave?
I’ve cracked 75,000 words on the draft of my adult fantasy novel, and the plot is definitely coming together in some places. In other places, it’s just a giant mess. But once I have a complete draft, I’ll be able to go back through and make sure everything hangs together properly.
Thank you so much for reading! Until next time, bookish friends.
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