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'Shadow and Bone' Season 2 Ending Explained: Is There Peace in Ravka Now?

Collider 3/16/2023 Therese Lacson
© Provided by Collider

Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for all of Season 2 of Shadow and Bone.With the Crows and Alina (Jessie Mei Li), Nikolai (Paddy Gibson), Mal (Archie Renaux), and all their allies fighting against General Kirigan aka The Darkling (Ben Barnes) and his forces, do our heroes have enough to face off against the Black Heretic and his shadow monsters, the nichevo'ya? The second season of Shadow and Bone covered a lot, from the crows going to Shu Han to Alina being engaged to Nikolai to tearing down the Shadow Fold, there is a lot to unpack from this season. But at the end of it all, where do our heroes stand? Who lives and who dies? And where might they end up in the future?

RELATED: ‘Shadow and Bone’ Season 1 Recap: Where We Left the Grishaverse

Mal Is the Firebird and the Third Amplifier

After revealing that Mal is a Morozova descendant (making him a distant cousin of The Darkling), the group realizes that in order for Alina to be powerful enough to destroy the Shadow Fold, she must kill Mal and claim his power as she did with the Sea Whip and the Stag. In the penultimate episode, we see Alina and The Darkling face off, with the two of them using the cut against each other (with Alina's made of light). Alina fatally injures The Darkling, but The Darkling fatally injures Mal as well.

Knowing that he is about to die, Mal pleads with Alina to kill him and claim him as the third amplifier, and after a tearful and emotional goodbye, she does so. After taking his power as the third amplifier, power explodes out of her and destroys the Shadow Fold, clearing the skies and killing the volcra as well.

Does The Darkling Die?

With The Fold gone, Alina faces off against Kirigan. She tells him that the world will remember that she and Mal tore down the Fold, but he warns her that what she's done has solved nothing. He tells her that the world needs a monster and that he, of course, can be hers. While the idea of balancing out her light with his darkness sounds nice, it's also clear that The Darkling is on death's door. Not only has he been injured by Alina, but the magical merzost that saved his life and creates the shadow monsters is killing him.

We've seen throughout the season that while the nichevo'ya fight for him, Kirigan also doesn't control them. And when Alina shoves him to the ground, his shadow monster attacks Alina even when he orders it not to. It's only because Inej (Amita Suman) uses the Neshyenyer blade to kill the monster that Alina survives the encounter. As Kirigan reminisces on the potential of peace that he once could have had with Alina by his side, and remembering his kiss with her from Season 1, Alina picks up the blade and kills him.

Falling to the ground, he asks her to make sure there's nothing left of him, as Morozova bones can be used as amplifiers, and then dies looking up at a clear blue sky and Alina. When they hold his funeral, they burn him where he died at the spot where the Fold first was created to prevent him from being used as an amplifier or a martyr.

How Does Mal Come Back to Life?

With Kirigan defeated, Alina focuses on Mal. Nina (Danielle Galligan) is there to help, but he's been dead too long. Even with The Darkling and Baghra's (Zoë Wanamaker) warning fresh in her mind, she chooses to use merzost to bring Mal back to life. We see the black tendrils crawl up her hand when she touches him, and then we see Mal in some kind of afterlife where he is in the meadow by their childhood orphanage. He seems to be at peace, but he is quickly pulled away when he is brought back to life. It seems clear to both Mal and Nina that something is wrong with the revival.

When the whole group is reunited, Alina goes to speak to Mal who reveals that the feeling he had, the connection he felt toward Alina, is gone. He once referred to her as his true north, which was an indication of his Morozova bloodline, but now he doesn't feel it. Unsure if they fell in love with each other by choice or simply because of destiny, Mal seems adrift and purposeless.

Uncertain of where to go, Nikolai and Alina offer him a new path. Nikolai gives him the title of Sturmhond, knowing that Mal wants to be a privateer, and Alina encourages him to take it. He agrees, boarding the ship with Tolya (Lewis Tan) and Tamar (Anna Leong Brophy) to lead a new life. He and Alina agree that if they find each other again in the future, it will be their choice to be together, not just destiny.

Why Does Inej Leave the Crows and Kaz?

Throughout the two seasons, we've seen Kaz (Freddy Carter) and Inej dance around each other. It's clear that they have feelings for each other, with Inej even dreaming of a romantic moment with Kaz when they were poisoned in Shu Han. But, as we learn in this season, Kaz's trauma and the death of his brother is the reason why he has a phobia of touching people. When Inej returns from destroying The Fold, Kaz offers her a lead on her family.

Inej was sold into sex slavery as a child, bought by the Menagerie, and her indenture was eventually paid off by Kaz. She was separated from her family at a young age, and Kaz reveals that he's found the slaver that could lead her back to her family. Although Inej is happy to hear that he's been searching for her family all this time, she recognizes that her relationship with Kaz can't develop any further at this moment.

When Kaz says he wants her, he's still unable to touch her without his gloves on and Inej won't accept that. It's a sad and tender moment, one where we can see the longing in the two characters, but ultimately Inej leaves him. She joins Mal, Tolya, and Tamar on the privateer ship, and the next time we see her, there has been a time jump, and they have found the slaver that Kaz mentioned.

What Happened to David and Genya?

When we last saw Genya (Daisy Head), she was trapped in a dumbwaiter that David (Luke Pasqualino) forced her into to protect her from an attack. After the enemies are defeated, Genya runs back to the kitchen where they were hiding and finds nothing but a blood splatter on the wall. She mourns him when she realizes she doesn't feel his heartbeat. But is David really dead? You know what they say, if you don't see a body...

She returns to his quarters where she finds a ring design in his jacket and a ruby. This is a reference to an earlier episode when David asked her what her favorite gem is. He played it off as it being a joke among Durasts, but he clearly intended on proposing to her.

What Is Going On With Nikolai and the Shadow Monster?

With his family dead, Nikolai remains the last living member of the Lantsov royal family, and after the Fold is destroyed he plans his coronation around a major Fjerdan holiday. We haven't visited Fjerda properly yet, but we got a glimpse of Fjerdan druskelle (Grisha hunters) in Season 1 when they attacked Alina and, of course, Matthias (Calahan Skogman) is a druskelle as well. In the final episode, we cut to the Fjerdans who see that the Fold is gone in Ravka. As the country bordering Ravka to the North, the two nations do not have a very positive relation and now that Ravka is united, this could spell trouble in the future.

On the day of Nikolai's coronation, we see the Apparat warn him of this when he comes to see the soon-to-be king. There are also hints to how strong Nikolai's claim to the throne is now that he is no longer betrothed to Alina. And when the Apparat leaves, we see Nikolai undress and see that when he was attacked by the nichevo'ya, and the attack left him scarred with merzost. Instead of seeing himself in the reflection of a mirror, he sees a nichevo'ya. It's unclear what exactly happened to him, but it is clear that he'll have more problems on his hands than just political subterfuge in the future.

A New Triumvirate For the Grisha

We next see Alina dressed in a gown for Nikolai's coronation. Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta) and Genya come to visit her and the three of them form a Triumvirate together. Alina tells Zoya to train the future Grisha that they recruit, though now there will be no more colored keftas or separate orders. Then she tells Genya to make the Little Palace like Nikolai's Spinning Wheel, a place where all people can feel safe whether or not they are Grisha. Alina will travel to Shu Han, intending to make alliances for Ravka and also to return the blade back to Sankta Neyar.

Matthias Is Pardoned, But It's Too Late

The season hasn't been particularly kind to Matthias. He spends the majority of his time in Hellgate, the prison where he's been sent after Nina called him out as a slave trader in Season 1 in order to save his life. Plagued by steamy dreams of Nina and struggling with the emotions he feels for the woman who sent him to prison, he goes to Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly) in Hellgate and asks him to put him into a fight even though Kaz has paid to keep him out of them.

Unfortunately, Nina arrives too late with the pardon she receives from Nikolai to get Matthias freed from prison. She watches as Matthias enters into a fighting cage and is initially told to fight wolves. Wolves are sacred to Druskelle and Fjerdans, so Matthias refuses, even managing to calm the wolves to join his side. But when the guards come in, trying to goad the wolves into attacking, Matthias fights them, getting himself thrown back in prison. Nina tries to stop the fight but to no avail — she drops the pardon. Matthias and Nina meet eyes before they are dragged away. Might take longer to get to that happily ever after than Nina thought.

What Is Jurda Parem? And Is Alina a Shadow Summoner Now?

With the Crows rich thanks to Nikolai's gold, they return to Ketterdam. Kaz rebuilds the Crow Club, also buying out indentures from the Menagerie like he did for Inej. He gathers Wylan (Jack Wolfe), Jesper (Kit Young), and Nina together at the end to tell them about a new job. There's a new drug on the market, it's called Jurda Parem. The drug makes a regular amplifier look like child's play, making Grisha a hundred times more powerful. The chemist fled Kerch but was captured by the Fjerdans. With such a dangerous weapon in the hands of the Fjerdans, the group must do everything they can to stop the spread of Jurda.

But it might be too late. We cut back to Ravka, where Nikolai is being crowned king. Alina stands at his side and the people applaud. But the joy is short-lived. Because a Fjerdan woman, a Heartrender, is clearly under the influence of Jurda Parem and uses her abilities to attack the king and his guests. About to die, Alina suddenly reaches out and summons the Cut, only this time it's made of shadow, and kills the Heartrender but cutting her in half. The Apparat and Nikolai look shocked, and the camera closes in on Alina whose face turns from shocked to a small smile.

If you've read Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse books, you might have an idea of where the future stories could lead, but there are many changes that will leave even book readers uncertain on where our heroes might end up if we get a Season 3. Alina becoming a shadow summoner leaves us with the question, will she eventually become like The Darkling? Kirigan warned her that this would soon happen to her, and Kaz implied that the Ravkans would soon feel like Alina has outstayed her welcome after they are done applauding her for tearing down the Fold. Has Alina taken on the new mantle of The Darkling? Only time will tell!

Shadow and Bone Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

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