Shadow and Bone season 1 recap: 6 things to know before season 2


Like so many Netflix shows, Shadow and Bone had a long, healthy break between seasons — it’s been nearly two years since season 1, so… make that a really long healthy break. That means you might need a quick refresher on the happenings of the first season of the Grishaverse.

Season 1 mainly rested on the story of Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), the long-awaited Sun Summoner recruited by General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), also known as the Darkling, to tear down the Shadow Fold. But that’s not the sole storyline. Battling their way to Alina is Mal (Archie Renaux), Alina’s childhood best friend who’s a little bit in love with her, along with the Crows (Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, and Kit Young), a gang hired to kidnap her. There’s also Nina (Danielle Galligan) and Matthias (Calahan Skogman), a Heartrender and her captor who find themselves thrown together in the most unlikely of circumstances.

[Ed. note: This post discusses the end of season 1 of Shadow and Bone. Only read past here if you came here to be spoiled and/or remember what happened.]

Alina realized she trusted the wrong allies

Alina (Jessie Mei Li) standing with antlers coming out of her collarbone with the Darkling (Ben Barnes) standing behind her

Photo: Attila Szvacsek/Netflix

After working with him all season to try to bring down the Fold, Alina finally realized Kirigan was using her not to destroy the Fold but to expand it. Turns out the Darkling is actually hundreds of years old, the very Shadow Summoner who created the Fold all those centuries ago. His plan was to use the Fold as a weapon, and Genya (Daisy Head) was unfortunately down to help him.

Ultimately Alina wins against the Darkling in the season finale — she regains control over the sun powers Kirigan sought to control in the final battle, and rescues everyone on the ship from the Fold and its monsters.

But also, before she figured out what he was up to they kissed, a romantic dynamic sure to complicate things for season 2.

He got a stag bone in her neck though

Before Kirigan lost, he managed to get another Grisha to embed the bone of a stag into Alina’s neck (a way of amplifying magical powers) and bond himself to the amplifier. The hope was that he’d be able to control her power himself — since whoever kills the stag is supposedly the one who gets to control its massive amplifying abilities — but Alina finds that the stag is actually the one who chooses who to bestow its powers on. And it chose Alina after she spared its life (or tried to, anyway).

Though the bones no longer stick out of her collarbone they way they do for most of the season 1 finale, Alina still has the stag (and its power) embedded deep within her.

Mal and Alina ended up together

Alina once again saves Mal from the darkness of the Fold, and the two end the first season doing what they tried to do the whole time (sort of): disappearing into the world together.

Of course, this time they’re doing it with the intent for Alina to someday return and tear down the Fold. For now, though, the safer thing for them to do is fake their deaths (or at least hers; as the Sun Summoner she’s higher profile than he is as “the Tracker”) and hide out while she builds her power up even further.

What happened to the Darkling?

The Darkling (Ben Barnes) screaming and shooting shadows outside himself

Image: Netflix

After Alina uses her regained sun powers to strike back against him, Kirigan and Mal start fighting next to the ship. Ultimately Kirigan gets swept up by a Volcra in the midst of all that… or at least Mal and Alina think that’s the last of him. But as we see in the final moments of the season, Kirigan is actually alive and (by Fold standards) well, walking out of the expanded Fold looking a bit worse for wear with at least a few face slashes. Unfortunately he’s also backed up by some creatures from the Shadow, who he commands to follow him out of the Fold.

The Crows have to settle their debts

While the Crows set out to do a heist and kidnap the Sun Summoner to settle their debts, they come up pretty empty-handed (if still the best part of season 1). As they head back to Ketterdam, they’re facing a few antagonists who will be expecting them to pony up: Dreesen (Sean Gilder), the wealthy merchant who hired them, and gang leader Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly).

Luckily Kaz has a plan: They need to get a Heartrender, and “it has to be someone neither of them know,” a plan Nina overhears.

Nina got Matthias locked up as a slaver

Though Nina and Matthias dreamt of taking their enemies-to-lovers act to a place where they — a Grisha and a Drüskelle — could live together in peace, things went south pretty quick. While holed up in Os Kervo, they get spotted by one of Nina’s former Grisha pals, who threatens to have Matthias arrested. In a panic, Nina claims Matthias is a slaver (knowing he’ll only be arrested for that, and not for being Drüskelle, which would get him killed).

This almost immediately backfires: Though she says she would retract her statement once he gets to court, his cellmate points out that could be a year or two from now. In the meantime, they’re headed to Hellgate, the terrifying Kerch prison.

Shadow and Bone season 2 premieres on Netflix on March 16.

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