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The Ending Of Shadow And Bone Season 2 Changes Everything We Know From The Books

Contains spoilers for Season 2 of Netflix's "Shadow and Bone"

Season 2 of Netflix's "Shadow and Bone" is less of an adaptation and more of an amalgamation of many adaptations. Where Season 1 brought two of Leigh Bardugo's novels ("Shadow and Bone" and "Six of Crows") to the small screen, Season 2 brings four. The "A" plot is both "Siege and Storm" and "Ruin and Rising," while the "B" plot is both "Six of Crows" and "Crooked Kingdom." As if that weren't enough content to be getting on with, Season 2 opts to fabricate an entirely new ending for the "A" plot, which concludes the battle between Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and General Kirigan (Ben Barnes). And by reshaping the conclusion to Bardugo's first trilogy of novels, Netflix completely changed everything. 

In Netflix's version, Alina dissolves the Shadow Fold with the combined might of her three amplifiers, powerful artifacts taken from those she sacrificed: The Stag, the Sea Whip, and the Fire Bird — her true love, Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux). Once that blight is removed, Alina takes on the Darkling and slays him with Neshyenyer, a magical sword created by Sankta Neyar (Tuyen Do). Afterward, she resurrects Mal. Despite her protestations otherwise, Alina is essentially a god. Very little is beyond her will. 

Unsure how to exist outside of his connection to Alina, Mal takes to the seas in the guise of Sturmhond, the old pirate persona of Nikolai Lantsov (Patrick Gibson). In the meantime, Alina and Nikolai ascend the thrones of Ravka as king and queen. It's heartbreaking and sweet, and readers of Bardugo's works will recognize the last few sentences as the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen.

Repercussions and a quiet life

In both versions of the story, Alina battles Aleksander and defeats him — but that is where the similarities end. The sword arc is new because Netflix needed to justify shoehorning the characters from "Six of Crows" into a finale where they did not belong, so Alina got a magic MacGuffin stolen and delivered by the Dregs of the Barrel. In "Ruin and Rising," when Alina sacrifices Mal to create her third and final amplifier, the Sun Summoner's power is increased but only for a moment before it is wholly dispelled from her body. Alina's abilities are spread across the land, destroying the Shadow Fold and finding a thousand new homes in a thousand new people. When Alina slays the Darkling, she's just a regular human with a knife. 

Secondly, Mal's resurrection is thanks to Tolya Yul-Bataar (Lewis Tan) and Tamar Kir-Bataar (Anna Leong Brophy), who are able to use their heartrending abilities for more than killing. With her true love alive once more, Alina and Mal convince Nikolai to fake her death so that they can live a quiet life, running an orphanage together. Nikolai still becomes king but he does so alone, without a queen by his side. What's more, the alias of Sturmhond is never passed on to another person. It stays in Nikolai's back pocket for future use, just in case. 

Looking to the future

Leigh Bardugo's conclusion to the "Shadow and Bone" trilogy sidelined Alina and Mal so that further stories set in the Grishaverse could follow other characters. By the time the "Six of Crows" duology is supposed to roll around, everyone thinks Sankta Alina is dead, a martyr who upheld equal rights for Grisha around the world. When the point of view returns to Ravka with the "Rule of Wolves" duology, which follows Nikolai and Zoya Nazyalensky (Sujaya Gupta), Alina and Mal are still content to stay out of the spotlight for as long as possible. To their minds, they've done their part. 

But Netflix doesn't seem to care about what Alina and Mal want. Just as the streaming site chose to introduce Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) and his crew ahead of schedule by strip-mining their future heists for prequel content, it feels as though the goal is to keep Alina and Mal around beyond their respective narratives. The series proved that respecting the source material is not the primary goal by cramming four books into one season and slapping a brand new ending onto the story, so anticipate further deviations in the future, should Season 3 be permitted to exist. 

Expect Alina to create the Grisha Triumvirate, which she mentioned in the Season 2 finale but was supposed to have created two books prior. Expect her to pay for using Merzost to resurrect Mal, something she was never supposed to do. And expect Mal to enjoy a series of brand-new adventures because, apparently, sticking to the script is just too hard.