Netflix’s newest show, Shadow and Bone, is off to a great start.
Based on the best-selling books by Leigh Bardugo, the show Shadow and Bone has two riveting storylines that intertwine more closely as the show progresses.
Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1 introduces compelling characters, intriguing dynamics, and a strong setting, along with the plot.
“A Searing Burst of Light” immediately introduces us to Alina Starkov, a cartographer, and her best friend, Mal Oretsev, a tracker. They both currently serve in Ravka’s First Army, as Ravka fights a never-ending war with Fjerda and Shu Han.
But what makes Ravka unique is the Shadow Fold, a region of darkness crawling with monsters. The Shadow Fold splits Ravka into two sections, essentially condemning the country because few who cross the Shadow Fold make it to the other side.
Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1 starts right in the action when Mal unexpectedly gets called up for a mission that requires crossing the Fold.
But before this mission, Alina and Mal were ordinary orphans from Keramzin, a village in East Ravka. They grew up together as best friends and eventually joined the First Army with other otkazat’sya, non-Grisha soldiers. Although Alina and Mal belong to different army units, their friendship has never wavered and remains as strong as ever.
Alina and Mal’s close-knit friendship certainly hints at a potential romance, given their strong feelings for each other. We never tire of the best friends to lovers trope.
However, many readers do not like Mal in the books because of his bland personality, selfish hypocrisy, and disrespectful attitude.
While Mal still might be a little bland on Shadow and Bone, he is certainly no longer Alina’s uncaring, selfish, and disrespectful friend. We might root for these two to get together on the show. Mal cares just as deeply for Alina as she does for him.
Alina: If it goes wrong, come back. You’ve lost enough to it already.
Mal: I’ll find my way back to you.
Throughout “A Searing Burst of Light,” we see how much Alina and Mal love each other. Alina burns a set of maps just to jump on the same dangerous mission that Mal will go on — a mission that will most likely result in everyone’s deaths. At the same time, Mal is furious to learn that Alina joined the mission. He begs her to stay behind.
Furthermore, Mal does not run off with a strange girl the second they make eye contact. He does not leave Alina hanging in the dust. Mal turns down Zoya, a Grisha who tries to seduce him. He breaks into her tent to steal some food for Alina. While he is attracted to Zoya, he still turns her down and brings the stolen food to Alina.
Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1 does an excellent job establishing Alina and her friendship with Mal. We are excited to see what happens next, especially considering once they were in the Fold, Alina saves the ship by summoning sunlight, revealing that she was Grisha all along.
Before this moment, Alina never thought anything of Grisha, other than occasionally looking at them with disdain. But Alina’s life changes forever once she summons light, meaning that she is not only Grisha, but she is the Sun Summoner, a being that was mythical until Alina came along.
Grisha are humans that can manipulate matter, also known as Small Science. There are three orders — Materialki, those who manipulate composite materials; Etherealki, those who manipulate the natural elements; and Corporalki, those who manipulate the human body.
However, “A Searing Burst of Light” ends before Alina realizes that she is Grisha, so we will have to keep watching to see what happens next.
When I was young, I was afraid of the dark. When I got older, I learned that darkness is a place, and it’s full of monsters.
Shadow and Bone’s other Storyline takes place in Ketterdam, the capital of Kerch, a country located on the other side of the Shadow Fold.
We meet Kaz Brekker, the owner of the Crow Club and the leader of the Dregs, his gang. Members of Kaz’s gang include Inej Ghafa, a spy desperate to escape the brothel, The Menagerie, and Jesper Fahey, a sharpshooter who loves to gamble.
Inej brings a lead on a job worth one million kruge. After a night hunting down the necessary tools to secure this job, the Crows find out that Dreesen, their potential employer, wants Alina Starkov, the Sun Summoner.
Of course, this requires crossing the Fold, something Kaz, Inej, and Jesper will have to figure out how to do so on Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 2.
But in the meantime, “A Searing Burst of Light” introduces these characters and their dynamics with each another. The Crows may still be missing Nina, Matthias, and Wylan, but it is an absolute delight to get to know Kaz, Inej, and Jesper.
They are three distinct characters with three unique personalities, which is precisely what makes them so fun. They captivate us instantaneously with Kaz’s determination, Inej’s unwavering faith, and Jesper’s wit.
Readers already know that Kaz, Inej, and Jesper make a great team, but now, even those who have only seen the show know it, too.
We are excited to follow their storyline in crossing the Fold to get to Alina. We imagine it will be no easy feat, and we are curious to see how they will go about it.
Dreesen: No businessman worth his salt hires his first applicant.
Kaz: No. No, I understand. Of course, I will have to report you to the guild for kidnapping and harboring a prisoner without chain of title.
Dreesen: You wouldn’t.
Kaz: No businessman worth his salt bargains for what he can take.
Readers may have been nervous about how Kaz, Inej, and Jesper will intertwine with Ravka’s characters, considering Six of Crows takes place two years after the Shadow and Bone trilogy.
But so far, it is a relief to see that Netflix pulls it off effortlessly and naturally. We hope the introduction of the remaining Crows — Nina, Matthias, and Wylan — will seamlessly fit the storyline.
Inej: So? What’s our move now?
Kaz: You’re the one of us who believes in a higher power. If we’re going to survive a round trip through the Fold, we’ll need a miracle or two.
We want to hear from you, Fanatics!
What did you think of Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1? Was it a compelling pilot? What are you hoping to see on future episodes? If you read the books, what do you think of how they interweaved Six of Crows with Shadow and Bone?
You can watch Shadow and Bone online right here, at TV Fanatic!