Shadow and Bone Recap: What Happened Before Season 2

With Netflix's Shadow and Bone returning for a second season, here's everything you need to remember before diving back into the Grishaverse.

Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers for season 1 of Shadow and Bone

Based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels, Netflix’s fantasy series Shadow and Bone is set in a world where a shadowy vale full of monsters known as The Fold divides the land. The country of Ravka suffers the most from this division. Not only is the country split in half by The Fold, but other countries like Fjerda and Shu-Han have used The Fold as an excuse to declare war on Ravka. Because of threats from The Fold and outside it, East and West Ravka put a lot of resources into their military – the First Army made up of humans and the Second Army made up of matter manipulators known as Grisha.

Shadow and Bone follows Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) as she discovers powers she didn’t know existed and learns that she might be the key to reuniting the world and stopping the needless conflict once and for all. With season 2 of Shadow and Bone out now on Netflix, here’s everything you need to remember before returning to the Grishaverse…

The Sun Summoner Awakens

Alina Starkov and Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux) have been best friends since they were children at an orphanage in Keramzin. As adults, Alina and Mal are now soldiers for the First Army, with Alina serving as a mapmaker and Mal as a tracker. After Mal is recruited for a dangerous mission across The Fold, Alina forces herself onto the team to keep them together. The Second Army’s Grisha are confident that their new skiff has the ability to make it through the darkness safely, but not everyone is so sure.

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Not long after they enter the darkness, the ship is attacked by winged creatures called Volcra and most of the ship’s soldiers – both Grisha and human – are killed. As Mal is about to be carried off in the winged creature’s talons, Alina begins to glow, unleashing a force of light only told of in legends.

The Fold was created centuries before by a Grisha known as the Darkling, who possessed the rare ability to control shadow. In the years since, it’s been foretold that a Grisha with the ability to summon the power of the sun would appear to take down The Fold and bring peace to the land. Originally thought to only be a myth, Alina’s show of power shocks everyone, including her. Children are normally tested for Grisha abilities at a fairly young age, but because Mal was unable to take his test due to an injury, Alina found a way to cheat to avoid being separated from her friend.

While Mal recovers from his wounds, Alina is whisked to the tent of Second Army leader General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), a Grisha who is thought to be a descendant of the Darkling, to test her power. Once her abilities and status as a Grisha are confirmed, Alina is taken to the Grisha headquarters at the Little Palace to prepare for her introduction to the world as its future savior.

An Irresistible Opportunity

Meanwhile, in the Kerch capital of Ketterdam, the owner of the Crow Club, Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), hears about a job that could change his friends’ lives for good. Wanting to claim the opportunity before his sworn enemy and mob boss Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly), Kaz recruits his friends Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) to discover what the job entails. After hiring a Heartrender – a Grisha with the ability to control and read heartbeats – and a somewhat mild interrogation, they discover that a businessman named Dreesen (Sean Gilder) is offering one million Kruge to whoever can bring the Sun Summoner back to Ketterdam alive.

Dreesen gives them the job over Rollins, but the trio can’t leave just yet. First they have to find a safe way across the Fold and convince Inej’s handler Tante Heleen (Deirdre Mullins) to let her leave the city. While Inej does have some freedom to move about Ketterdam, she was sold to Tante Heleen’s brothel at a young age and is technically owned by her. Heleen first offers to let Inej go in exchange for killing a trafficker known as The Conductor that is selling to a rival brothel, but once Kaz and Inej discover that this man is their only chance to make it across the Fold, Kaz offers the Crow Club as collateral instead.

Once Inej is freed, the three meet The Conductor, Arken (Howard Charles), and prepare to cross the Fold in his unique coal-powered vehicle. They were originally supposed to meet a Heartrender named Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), but she was captured by Fjerdan Grisha hunters before they could meet. After obtaining a special kind of coal and an emotional support goat named Milo, they cross the Fold nearly unscathed. The coal runs out too early, but Jesper’s skill with a gun gets them across without turning into Volcra food.

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The Little Palace

On the way to the Little Palace, Alina’s caravan is attacked by Drüskelle, the same kind of hunters that kidnap Nina on the other side of the Fold. General Kirigan arrives just in time to save her, and personally escorts her for the remainder of the journey. Once at the Palace, Alina meets Genya (Daisy Head), the royal family’s Tailor – a rare Grisha power that gives one the ability to not only heal wounds, but also to change the appearance of themselves and others. 

With Genya and Kirigan’s help, Alina prepares to meet Ravka’s king and show him her powers. After the demonstration, Alina begins training. She makes a few friends, but some of her fellow Grisha are jealous of her popularity and how close she has become with Kirigan. To help speed things along, Alina is sent to train with Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker), a wise and powerful Grisha and the only other living Shadow Summoner. Baghra is tough on Alina, but ultimately gets her to embrace her powers and learn how to control them.

The King throws a huge party to introduce Alina to the world, and this is where the Crows are planning to get to her. Without Nina to show them the way into the Palace, they have to find other ways to sneak into this high security exclusive event. Inej and Jasper use their acrobatic and marksman skills respectively to convince a traveling circus troupe to allow them to join for the Winter Fete, while Kaz finds a way to disguise himself as a palace guard.

They obtain palace blueprints that allow them to make a plan and form multiple exit strategies. By the night of the party, they have a nearly foolproof plan. Things go wrong, however, when Arken betrays them and tries to kill Alina for the ruler of West Ravka. Even though he was unsuccessful and Kaz had inklings of his betrayal, the heightened security gets them spotted before they can find Alina.

The Truth About the Darkling

At the Fete, Alina wows the crowd with her abilities and finally feels her powers aren’t such a bad thing. After her body double is attacked by Arken, Alina is whisked away to Kirigan’s chambers, where they share a brief romantic moment before he’s called away. Before he can return, Baghra appears through a hidden passageway, begging Alina to escape before it’s too late. She reveals that she is Kirigan’s mother, and that Kirigan is not just a descendant of the Darkling – he is the Darkling. Baghra knows that her son doesn’t really want to help Alina destroy the Fold, and that he wants to instead use her abilities to make himself and the Fold more powerful.

Baghra tells Alina to follow the passageway and wait for someone that will help her to safety. Not wanting to take any chances, Alina decides not to wait and instead sneaks into a seemingly empty carriage that turns out to be part of Kaz, Inej, and Jesper’s escape plan. Once she’s discovered, she manages to briefly blind the trio with her powers and escape. Inej is also beginning to have second thoughts and doesn’t do much to stop her leaving after witnessing Alina’s powers at the Winter Fete and believing her to be a true saint.

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The Tracker and the Stag

While at the palace, Alina discovers that the stag that she’s been drawing since childhood is more than just a recurring dream. The stag is potentially real and it’s a mythical amplifier that has the ability to make Grisha more powerful. Without Alina’s knowledge, Kirigan sends one of her drawings to the First Army, ordering them to do whatever it takes to find the creature as long as they don’t kill it.

After their separation, Alina and Mal try to stay in contact by writing letters that mysteriously never seem to reach the other person. When Mal recognizes Alina’s drawing, he’s the first to volunteer for the tracking mission, hoping that it will lead to their reunion. Mal successfully finds the Stag, and offers the information to Kirigan in exchange for letting him talk to Alina. Before he can give Kirigan the exact location, Baghra comes for Mal and tries to kill him so that Kirigan won’t find it.

Alina and Mal find each other again after they both flee the palace. They realize that someone at the Little Palace has been keeping their letters from getting to each other, and reconcile without any hard feelings. Alina and Mal go after the Stag, hoping to reach it before Kirigan does. Just as they find the Stag and Alina begins to bond with the creature, Kirigan catches up to them, killing the Stag and claiming the power for himself. He captures Alina by using Mal as leverage and sets off toward the Fold.

The Heartrender and the Fjerdan

Nina Zenik is captured by Drüskelle before she can meet the Crows, but that isn’t the last we see of this Heartrender. While on a ship headed for Fjerda, a storm causes the boat to crash leaving her stranded with one other survivor – one of the very men who held her captive. Despite his clear hatred for Grisha, Nina convinces Matthias (Calahan Skogman) that they’ll have to work together to stay alive. They find shelter in the harsh winter climate, and develop feelings for each other as this endeavor brings them closer together.

Once they reach civilization, they decide to leave their lives behind and start a life together away from the politics of the Grisha and Drüskelle. Just as they start to feel free to let their guard down, a Heartrender named Feydor (Julian Kostov) finds Nina after being sent by Kirigan to bring her back home. Not wanting to go back, or for them to kill Matthias for being a Drüskelle, Nina announces to the tavern that Matthias is a slaver who kidnapped her, using Kerch laws against the trade to guarantee that Matthias would get to leave the city unharmed while awaiting trial. What Nina didn’t realize, is that Matthias would be sent to Hellgate prison until the trial, and the Kerch legal system isn’t known for its speediness. While on the ship to Ketterdam, Nina tries to reassure Matthias that she did this to protect him, but Matthias feels betrayed as though this was Nina’s plan all along.

Kirigan’s Betrayal and the Fall of West Ravka

Once Kirigan and Alina reach East Ravka’s army base at the edge of the Fold, he recruits Durast David Kostyk (Luke Pasqualino) to fabricate the stag’s antlers into amplifiers for him and Alina. This increases their power, but because Kirigan killed the Stag, it also gives him control over Alina’s abilities. Kirigan takes her into the Fold, bringing visiting dignitaries on board the ship under the guise of taking it down once and for all. 

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Using Alina’s powers to shield the ship from the Volcra, they nearly make it to the other side of the Fold unscathed. However, instead of taking down the fold, he uses his newfound strength to expand its reach, engulfing the West Ravkan city that sits along the edge. 

But Kirigan doesn’t get away with his plan that easily. Unbeknownst to him or Alina, Mal and the Crows snuck aboard the ship. Mal because he wanted to save Alina, and the Crows just because they needed a way to get back home through the Fold after Arken was captured and killed. But after they realize what Kirigan is doing, they agree to help Mal distract him and help Alina get free. With Kirigan distracted, Alina is able to cut the Stag antler from his hand, giving her control over her powers once again. With the power of the Stag, Alina shields the ship once more and drives away the Volcra, but not before Kirigan is dragged away by them, seemingly to his death.

The Other Side of the Fold

The Crows, Mal, Alina, and former Kirigan ally Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta) leave the Fold as the only survivors, and decide to go their separate ways. Alina offers the Crows some of the jewels she was forced to wear, hoping to buy their silence and loyalty, and they agree to keep her plans secret. The Crows head back to Ketterdam, hoping that they’ll be able to buy their freedom and not be in too much trouble for returning empty handed. Alina and Mal set off together, with Alina hoping to learn how to control her powers with the amplifier so that she can take down the Fold on her own. But of course, things don’t remain hopeful for long as Kirigan stumbles out of the Fold some time after, wounded but very much alive.