Happy Friday, bibliophiles!
Season 2 of Shadow and Bone has finally come out, and with it came so much potential—new and beloved characters were finally being introduced, and with the melding of the original Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows storylines, we were finally getting material that was actually from the latter books. But although it was entertaining overall, it’s clear that a few things have started to get lost in translation in this new season. Still a fun watch, for the most part, but I have more gripes than I did than for season 1.
Now, tread lightly! This review contains spoilers for seasons 1 & 2 of Shadow and Bone, so if you haven’t yet watched it, read this at your own risk!
for my review of season 1, click here!
Enjoy this review!
SHADOW AND BONE, SEASON 2 – NETFLIX REVIEW
Most of what I liked from season 1 ended up carrying over (CGI, casting, etc.), so, again: see my original review for most of that. But here’s what I liked about season 1 in particular:
- Nikolai and Wylan: Nikolai and Wylan were my favorite characters from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows respectively, so I was nervous going into this season. Nothing lives up to how we picture characters in our imaginations, but I’d say that Patrick Gibson and Jack Wolfe both did a good job at bringing these characters to life! Gibson definitely captured Nikolai’s lovably over-the-top swagger and charm, and his outfits were stellar as well. Similarly, Wolfe played Wylan’s shy and sensitive personality wonderfully, and as in the books, he had some solid chemistry with Jesper (Kit Young).
- We’re actually getting some of the Six of Crows plot now? It had to happen eventually, given that the showrunners were combining both series and the fact that the audience largely liked the Crows more than the Shadow and Bone plot (understandable). Even with the tweaks that happened to make it work into the main storyline, it was still super fun (and also harrowing—the Jordie flashbacks, anyone?) to see some of the more iconic events from the book come to life. And the band’s finally all together! Almost…
- More screen time for David!! DAVID! MY BOY! He was one of my favorite side characters in the books, and I’m so glad that he got to have more attention in this season. Luke Pasqualino played his gentle, awkward personality so well, and his newfound chemistry with Genya…getting all of the old Shadow and Bone feels from back in the day…🥲 love those two
- We don’t have to deal with the Darkling anymore…for the time being: The decision to smush the plots of Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising was certainly interesting one; again, it’s easy to see that it happened after the overwhelming audience preference for the Crows, and it definitely expedited some of the less interesting parts from those novels. Unlike the new Six of Crows stuff from seasons 1 and 2, this felt a bit more seamless, and even though I’m sad that we won’t quite get everything, it still makes sense. It’s messy, but it…kind of worked. And, as the title suggests, I’m glad that we won’t have to put up with hipster Darkling for a while. I say “for a while” because from the “”twist”” ending, it looks like they might be going the King of Scars route if they continue the Shadow and Bone plot…I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought him back. Ugh. They handled him super uncomfortably (see my s1 post for my issues), so I hope they keep him dead in the Netflix series. I can dream.
- The Hummingbird: HUEHDKSJHSHJKDKHFSHSJKDLFHDJDFHF FANTASY FLYING SHIP GO BRRRRRRRRRRRRR
Again, most of my gripes from season 1 carry over. I’m staying mad about Nina not being plus-sized. Do better, Netflix.
- Tamar and Tolya: Other than Nikolai and Wylan, a lot of the newly introduced characters in this season felt especially gimmicky, and these two fell right into that. I remember thinking that they were mildly interesting in the book, but they were sort of forgettable in my experience. And Netflix somehow made them…worse? Had it not been for the “teehee Tolya will take any opportunity to recite poetry, silly goofy man,” and their genders, these two would’ve been indistinguishable. And both of them ended up being annoying—again, Tolya just had the poetry gag, and Tamar was just there to deliver slick one-liners and look cool. Not really a highlight. Eh.
- Why are they making some of the characters so gimmicky all of the sudden? I know. This is a show based off of a YA book, and a lot of these characters are meant to be over-the-top. In the case of Kaz Brekker, for instance, it still works. But it feels like they’ve just taken qualities of existing characters and amped them up for no reason? I saw it most prominently with Jesper; there’s so much more nuance to his character than just being a charming gunslinger, but that’s…the only thing season 2 ever did with him. They just reduced him to being the comic relief character and erased all of his other characters, which is a massive disservice to him and Six of Crows as a whole. And don’t even get me started on that ridiculous attempt to break the fourth wall and then cut away. WHY.
- The New Six of Crows plotline. Again. The initial Six of Crows plot in season 1 was somewhat entertaining, but it was pretty obvious that it was shoehorned in just so that they could try and fix up the timeline. And somehow, by some horrific miracle, they managed to make another new plot that was EVEN WORSE. WHAT WAS THAT. They weren’t even trying to hide the fact that they needed some time to stall before getting to the more climactic parts of the series. They just went on a sloppily-written heist and then got trapped in a room with a poisonous gas that somehow made them all relive their tragic backstories? How much more hackneyed can you get? Some of the laziest writing I’ve seen in ages…
- The Darkling’s henchmen: Again: gimmicks. Ridiculous. No wonder they were so disposable.
- THIS ONCAT ERASURE WILL NOT STAND: self-explanatory. You thought you could tide us over by throwing a goat in season 1 for comic relief? THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, AND WE WANT THE CAT.
(it’s me, I want the cat)
NOT NECESSARILY GOOD OR BAD, BUT JUST KIND OF FUNNY:
- Why is Freddie Carter constantly making that face? You know the one. Does the role of Kaz Brekker somehow have a prerequisite for being in a constant state of sucking in your cheeks?
Inej: I will have you without armor, or I will not have you—
Overall, I have much more mixed feelings about this season; a lot of the issues I had initially were exacerbated much more this time around, but it was still entertaining to watch and somewhat well-acted. As a longtime fan of the books, it’s been interesting to see how they’ve been adapting these two series, and although they were less faithful this season, I’ve still been compelled to see how it all plays out. So I’d give it a solid 3.5 stars since it was still fun, if not frustrating.
TW/CW: graphic violence, war themes, animal death, depictions of illness, child death, loss of loved ones, body horror, blood
That’s it for this TV review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!