The Second Season Of ‘Shadow And Bone’ Showcases The Admirable Quest For True Love And Survival – Review
The Fold is expanding, and with time quickly running out, Alina (Jessie Mei Lee) must make many sacrifices to save her world from being permanently submerged into darkness. The second season of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone is here, increasing the intensity of every attribute fans enjoyed from the first installment. While the journey to find a solution for the oncoming war is the main plot’s focus, the journey, not the destination, makes this series worth watching. Love, friendship and betrayal are central to the platform’s adaptation of the book saga written by Leigh Bardugo.
After the first season’s events, when Alina supposedly defeated the evil Darkling (Ben Barnes), the Sun Summoner has been tormented by constant nightmares during her sleep. These dreams included, but are not limited to, sections of the Fold expanding, taking over more Ravka territory and forcing the population to leave their homes. Small reminders of how the dangers of this war affect the regular people from this universe are displayed constantly throughout the show, adding pressure to the shoulders of the protagonist as if she didn’t have enough problems already.
The subplot regarding how the different countries have a negative perspective of Alina thanks to the Darkling is fascinating, forcing the hero to face the consequences of the significant role she has to play in the history of the Grishaverse. She is no longer a child, and while she can count on multiple allies, she knows that this is her journey at the end of the day and, when the time comes, the hardest choices will have to be taken by her. During one of her visions, the Darkling reminds her how immortal beings can develop a particular kind of loneliness that no other person gets to experience, planting the seed of fear into the heart of the Sun Summoner.
While many of her friends prove to be worthy allies, no one is closer to Alina than Mal (Archie Renaux). After several moments of tension between the childhood friends, they finally begin to explore their feelings for each other during this season. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, and Shadow and Bone knows that the construction of on-screen intimacy can’t be forced. When these characters share a private moment, the camera lingers on them without rushing, allowing the audience to experience the buildup of a romance that was way overdue.
Everything lines up to make this romance the main attraction of the series. The score, pacing, and the lead’s performances come together to create a love story that will keep you glued to the screen. It is rare to find a romance portrayed in a film or television series that feels real and warm. Sure, you might see actors doing their job and looking great on camera, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have chemistry with each other. When it comes to Lee and Renaux’s characters, you feel the excitement worthy of an awkward first date in the middle of a fantasy apocalypse. The heart of Shadow and Bone is this couple, and it feels refreshing that the show is proud of that fact.
Behind the reinforcing love story, the darkness grows, becoming stronger each day. Ben Barnes returns to play the role of the Darkling, the powerful general obsessed with pursuing Alina and everyone who dares to help her. The actor is clearly having plenty of fun with his performance as Kirigan, with his signature charm and fantasy villain style taking center stage during the second season. The main difference in his look is how his face is severely hurt from the events of the first installment, letting Barnes perform with his own set of bad-boy scars. Clearly, the team behind the series knows what makes a dreamy villain so appealing, and the actor also knows how to take advantage of that.
With a powerful romance leading the narrative, earnest performances from the entire cast, and a ticking clock raising the story’s stakes, the second season of Shadow and Bone shines as bright as the powers coming from its Sun Summoner. If you liked the first season, or you consider yourself a fan of fantasy romance, the new episodes have plenty to offer, telling the story of how there is no looking for survival from the darkness without love. Jessie Mei Lee, Archie Renaux and Ben Barnes tell a compelling tale with their performances, allowing their characters to grow beyond what they had established the last time Netflix adapted the Grishaverse. The quest for the light has begun, and you won’t want to miss it.