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Small Details You Missed In Shadow And Bone Season 2

If you love a strong dash of intrigue, romance, and shadow monsters in your tales of adventure, "Shadow and Bone" will scratch your sprawling TV fantasy itch. While the series comes with its challenges, it doesn't disappoint on the action front or tiny blink-and-you'll-miss-them moments that enrich the viewing experience.

Season 2 follows our favorite pack of thieves and participants in palace intrigue as Alina (Jessie Mei Li) tries to take down the ominous Shadow Fold and its Darkling creator. Everyone is out for survival, gold, power, or love — and pretty much everyone is hiding something. This season is emotional, intense, and full of wall-to-wall performances and filmmaking that will take your breath away.

You can still enjoy the show if you haven't read the books by Leigh Bardugo (this writer hasn't) — but the density of storytelling in "Shadow and Bone" (and multiple names for everything and everyone) can sometimes be overwhelming. The show doesn't pull its punches or slow its pace when it comes to the drama, so let's sneak into a non-lethal market square for a cup of unpoisoned tea as we sift through the spoiler-heavy small details you missed in "Shadow and Bone" Season 2.

What's up with that bee?

In Episode 8, a bee lands on Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta) very conspicuously. She quickly brushes it off, but eagle-eyed viewers won't be able to do the same. Fans of the books may know exactly what the buzz is about, but if you just watch the show, it's hard to tell. Nothing is on screen by accident in a series with this level of production design, so we know that bee means something ... but what?

Is the bee a little living Horcrux containing some rotten scrap of the Darkling's soul? Is it the cleverly concealed spying eye of one of Kirigan's (Ben Barnes) comrades? Or could the bee simply be a cheery sign of the flowering future sure to be at hand for East and West Ravka, and a sign of a great thaw to come between Ravka and the icy northern land of Fjerda? Just kidding — but this is obviously an ominous bee and a sure sign that somebody is going to get stung.

Also, in the final scene of Season 1, it's revealed that Kirigan, thought dead, is actually alive. Note: that episode is titled "No Mourners." Episode 8 is named "No Funerals" — which says something on its face. Kirigan is believed to be dead again and that bee is very much alive. We don't think the writers are just being cute naming their two season finales after the Crows' odd way of saying "good luck."

The golden compass

Nikolai Lantsov (Patrick Gibson) has many names — Sturmhond the Privateer, the Prince, and eventually (almost) Ravka's new king. He also has a lot of inventions in The Spinning Wheel and a lot of love in his heart. Nikolai loves his privateer's life and his country, and it soon becomes quite obvious to viewers that he might just be starting to love Alina — or at least like like her.

Nikolai wants Alina and Mal (Archie Renaux) to be happy, but there's also a bit of a vibe between the man who would be a good king and the Sun Summoner. So when Alina gives Nikolai his ring back, he gives her the golden compass from around his neck as an incentive to find her way back to him after destroying the Fold. Alina, not a fan of accepting hard-won gifts of love (or legitimately good advice and Shadow Blades), returns the compass to Nikolai quickly — but not before Dominik (Louis Boyer), Nikolai's bestie, notices.

Apparently, Nikolai doesn't part easily with his compass — not that Alina notices at all. While romance may not be in the cards for Nikolai and Alina, knowing that the compass means a lot to Nikolai makes his gift of it to Mal — along with his "Sturmhond" identity and a life of freedom — all the sweeter. Nikolai loves Mal as much as Alina and wants his friend (and his compass) to return to him one day, in one piece.

Kaz Brekker's VIP

Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) is one detail-oriented Barrel Rat and is a study in obsession and intensity. So of course his long-term, multiple-heist, Ketterdam-spanning plot for revenge against Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly) would involve Kaz needing Pekka to sign a contract with a VIP: a very important pen.

The pen brandished for signature in Episode 4, "Every Monstrous Thing," isn't the exact same pen as the one we've seen in flashback before, but Kaz imbues the gold pen with the same "magic trick" from the day a similar pen was "pulled" from Kaz's ear, uncle-with-a-quarter style, back when Kaz was a wide-eyed orphan enjoying the annual Sankt Emerans festival outside of Pekka's house. Cut to many years, a dead brother, and a devastating plague later and the pen is in play again.

Of course, Pekka sees no direct link between how Kaz presents him with a golden pen, just like he sees no link between the "firepox" and the ship it "came over on" until Kaz spells it out for him. Pekka doesn't even recall Kaz's brother's name until Kaz reminds him of the "pigeons" he once plucked. While viewers have seen Kaz's past haunt him via flashback, fear of touch, and a thirst for revenge, their showdown makes clear that revenge only keeps details sharp in the minds of those seeking justice for long-forgotten crimes. To Pekka, a pen is just a pen — and a pigeon is no rare bird.

Baghra killed her own sister

There is more going on with smoke monsters in "Shadow and Bone" Season 2 than "Lost" and "Game of Thrones" combined. Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker), Kirigan's mother, has big opinions on these shadow monsters (Nichevo'ya) and shares them in between spilling major family tea in Episode 6, "Ni Weh Sesh (I Have No Heart)."

Baghra reveals a bit about herself in the midst of sharing key tidbits of family drama and advice with Mal (he's Kirigan's cousin, he's the Firebird, he's gotta die) and Alina (don't ever use merzost). Baghra paints a picture of her father, the powerful Grisha, Ilya Morozova, as way more into her younger sister than her. When Baghra was a child, her sister broke a little swan figure of Baghra's — so she used The Cut to break her sister's neck. Oops!

Even though child Baghra didn't know the scope of her own power, her father did. Morozova used merzost and a finger bone to reanimate his daughter. By doing so, he made the third amplifier — the Firebird that would one day lead to Mal's turn as the Firebird. If Baghra seems relatively chill about the dirty deed of killing her own sister long before she helped raise the broodiest living threat to Ravka, it's because she's accepted who she is. She calls it as she sees it, and welcomes Mal to the family by informing him they are both "the cursed progeny of a madman."

Kirigan lives - kind of

Kirigan, The Darkling, The Black Heretic, K-Money — whatever you want to call the man – does die in Episode 8. Just as he recalls smooching the Sun Summoner as the one time he knew peace, Alina takes him out with a Shadowblade to the belly. It's not a great way to go, but hey, it's gotta be better than death by shadow monster blood cough.

Kirigan begs Alina to make sure there's nothing left of him. Alina agrees — she doesn't want him turned into an amplifier or martyr. We see Kirigan's body burn on a funeral pyre at the ending of "Shadow and Bone" season 2 ... but it might not mean he's a goner. Kirigan's Grisha gang decimated Nikolai's Hummingbird ship because Vladim (Shobhit Piasa) amplified them with Baghra's bones. So if a bit of bone dust could make them nearly-unstoppable magical killing machines, what could Kirigan's whole severed hand do?

The hand Baghra cut off her own son has clearly slipped Alina's mind in Episode 8, but in Episode 7, "Meet You In The Meadow," we see Kirigan staring at it as it rests on a box before Vladim fits him with his magic metal hand. So where is that hand now? What plans did Kirigan make for it? This could just be a plot hole, but if not, we've really got to hand it to the creators for hiding a possible link to the Darkling's reanimation in plain sight.

Sturmhond's story sounds familiar

A renowned pirate sails the seas, stealing treasure and making a name for himself in all corners of the kingdom until one day he tires of his title and gives his life of adventure over to a young farm boy. The young farm boy assumes the mantle of the pirate and becomes the new iteration of The Dread Pirate Roberts — er, we mean – Sturmhond, the privateer.

Mal and Nikolai's Sturmhond storyline has strong "The Princess Bride" vibes and we're not complaining. There are many parallels between "Shadow and Bone" and one of the greatest "kissing book" movies of all time, and not just at this moment in Episode 8. Both the series and "The Princess Bride" have their fair share of action, romance, drama, and evil rulers — and their own version of the notorious six-fingered man.

Kaz Brekker spends this season going after the man who stole his family's small fortune and his older brother's life. His confrontation with the wicked and remorseless Pekka Rollins in Episode 4 is only missing Kaz shouting "you killed my brother, prepare to die!" We hope that now that Kez's time in the revenge business is done, he finds something better to do — or heist — with his life. Anything else would be inconceivable.

David's heartbreaking gem talk

While fabrikator David Kostyk's (Luke Pasqualino) prowess with gems is clear, it's much easier to be a fan of his work with them this season than last — even though we need a box of tissues to get through it.

David makes tailor Genya (Daisy Head) some improved appendages in Episode 7 and asks her what her favorite gem is because it says a lot about a person. Genya realizes she needs a new favorite, as her old pick was an emerald, and only held meaning to her because she wanted the approval of royalty. David is pleased when Genya lands on a ruby as her new favorite and lets her know rubies are even stronger than emeralds. It's a sweet moment, but also a deep one, because of Genya's vulnerability and David's respect for her, even without her "beauty" as armor.

These two finally get to develop their relationship instead of Genya being consumed with trauma and David being treacherous by default of his own mono focus on work. Their genuine and respectful bond is a lovely development, which makes it all the more devastating when David is gone (and presumed dead) after protecting Genya from the shadow monsters in Episode 7. In Episode 8, Genya weeps into his personal belongings, especially when she discovers a perfect ruby among them, along with a small drawing that appears to be a design for an engagement ring.

Jesper is ready for heavy metal

Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) is a sharpshooting smart-mouth who loves to get in and out of trouble. From his easy charm, impulsive nature, and inability to miss a shot, it's hard to believe Jesper isn't already ready for anything. But his big button-throwing showdown in Episode 7 — as well as a shout-out of "my man!" to Wylan (Jack Wolfe) — shows all of Ravka and beyond that Jesper is now fully ready to be himself.

Jesper is revealed to be Grisha, a secret durast who can manipulate matter. It's part of what makes him such a great shot, and also so restless and reckless; his repressed magical energy bursts out of him in, let's say, short-sighted ways. Jesper uses his power in small and secret ways because his mother, also Grisha, died using her powers. When he happily dreams of her in Episode 6, she encourages him to accept himself fully. Then, a saint sasses Jesper to do the same. Ohval, AKA Sankta Neyer (Tuyen Do) lets the Crows leave with the Shadow Blade and advise Jesper to use any metal available to him to fight.

Jesper takes the advice to heart and allows himself to fully tap into his powers when it comes to his relationship with Wylan and his relationship with magic. It's a healthy arc for a compelling character, and even more reason for Young to keep sharp with his stunt training.

A team of rivals?

Tolya Yul-Bataar (Lewis Tan) and his sister, Tamar Kir-Bataar (Anna Leong Brophy) are a twice-as-nice addition to the Season 2 cast, but a couple of small moments in the back half of the season have us wondering if Kaz might one day disagree.

Tolya has an imposing presence and proficiency in battle, plus, the man is (and loves) a snack. Tolya's taste for treats signals how cool of a customer he is under pressure. Tan told Netflix's Tudum blog: "I wanted to add a levity to the character physically that represents that harmonious, monk state that he's always in. In almost every scene, except for really intense action scenes, I'm eating something."

Tolya also has a taste for poetry and is always quoting some. It's played as a joke for much of the season until Kaz Brekker recognizes a stanza Tolya recites in Episode 7. Tolya bonds with Kaz over their "appreciation for beautiful things." But it becomes clear when Tolya welcomes Inej (Amita Suman) aboard Nikolai's airship that he and Kaz both appreciate Inej — and Kaz may have stiff competition (in addition to his own demons) for Inej's heart.

Making merzost of a bad situation

Kirigan is the ultimate bad boyfriend of the Grishaverse. Driven by an obsession with Alina's power, and later her love, we know the character that has launched a thousand fanfics has a very unhealthy relationship with the concept of control. Kirigan is bad enough exerting his own control and manipulation on others, but the tables turn when it comes to the killer shadow beasts he fashions for himself using the dark magic of merzost.

While it's clear for much of Season 2 that Kirigan's nichevo'ya aren't the healthiest influence on him, it's only made clear in Episode 8 that Kirigan has very little influence on the actions his shadow buds take. Perhaps the creatures are fed only by primal instincts to feast and control, but when one attacks Alina of its own accord, Kirigan strikes out but is powerless to stop it.

Alina gets by with a little help from her friends and accuses Kirigan of not being able to control his creations. Does this stop her from using the power of merzost herself later? The same merzost Baghra warns her to never use? The merzost Kirigan is clearly poisoned by and can't control in the long run? Nope, she uses it as soon as she kills Kirigan to bring Mal back to life. Hopefully, she won't get as lost in the merzost sauce as Kirigan did.

Kaz Brekker's changing feelings

Will Kaz ever be a happy man? Mmm .... doubtful, but he is a reinvigorated businessman by the end of Season 2. Kaz has left his quest for revenge against Pekka mostly behind, paid out his cuts, and gotten Inej clear of her contract. While he's grown enough to admit he has feelings for Inej, he's also not ready to truly act on them.

In Episode 8, Kaz is as honest about his feelings for Inej as he can be. It's a hopeful, if painful, comparison to how he opens up to her in Inej's Episode 6 hallucination. In the dream, Kaz removes his gloves and takes her hand. In real life, Kaz still can't bear to remove the gloves he wears as a condition of his plague-and-trauma-induced fear of touch. We've seen those flashbacks where he touches his poor dead brother's belly on a pile of dead. Inej recognizes how much Kaz's admission has cost him, but values herself enough to let him know she'll have him without his armor — or not at all.

While Kaz's gloves still aren't off, it's clear his heart and mind are open (sort of) to new possibilities. You can tell by how he changes his cane topper from an eagle to a plague-masked crow. Long, beaked plague masks are an attempt to fend off deadly disease, and a hopeful, metaphorical style choice that we hope goes beyond skin deep for Kaz.

The Cut to the feeling

If you're going to use dark magic, we suppose saving a room full of people from choking to death on their own blood and vomit is a good time to do it. Whether or not Alina consciously deployed The Cut, or lashed out with it as Baghra recounted she did as a child back in Episode 6, who is to say?

All we know by the end of Season 2 is that, though Alina spent the entire season not knowing how to use The Cut and being warned to never use it after she killed Kirigan and brought Mal back to life, she "The Cut" a rug. Alina's quick thinking or lack of impulse control did seemingly save at least some of Nikolai's coronation guests from a grisly death at the hands of a Grisha hopped up on "jurda parem." But what did Alina lose with this win?

By killing the Darkling, Alina clearly absorbed some of his power and quite likely, some of his trademark obsession and madness. When she throws The Cut out there, it manifests in a dark cloud of magic rather than Alina's trademark warm light. The light is reserved for Alina's eyes which sparkle with a frightening glee that bodes quite dramatically for a potential Season 3.