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Shadow And Bone's Ben Barnes Reveals The Kirigan Scene That Made Him Feel Sick

Contains spoilers for "Shadow and Bone" Season 1

General Kirigan, aka "The Darkling," is not a good guy in "Shadow and Bone." As played by Ben Barnes on the Netflix fantasy hit, he's a murderous manipulator who uses Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) for his own power-hungry ends, making her think he cares about her more than he does so she'll help him use the Fold (which he created) to complete the conquest of Ravka he began centuries ago to get revenge on the people who wronged him for being a Grisha. He also tortured Mal (Archie Renaux), Alina's true love. He's the kind of guy who uses his charm for nefarious purposes.

Ben Barnes himself doesn't have any illusions about Kirigan being a misunderstood guy who has good intentions but is going about achieving his goals the wrong way. "As an actor, I have to come up with ways to forgive him and motivate his choices," Barnes told The Hollywood Reporter. "But we're not pretending this man is any kind of anti-hero, really."

Kirigan does some pretty horrendous things throughout Season 1 — turning everyone in Ravka into demonic volcra, for one — but Barnes thinks the absolute worst thing his character does is a small action that shows just how cruelly, coldly manipulative he is. In fact, it's really the first time that Kirigan reveals his true personality.

The blue flowers of manipulation

In Episode 5, moments before Alina learns the truth about Kirigan being the Black Heretic who created the Fold from his mother Baghra (Zoe Wanamaker), Kirigan gives her a bouquet of blue irises, her favorite flower. He learned these were Alina's favorite flowers from Mal and gave them to her in order to further gain her trust and adoration. They almost have sex moments after he gives her the flowers.

To Barnes, this manipulative act of deception is the worst thing Kirgian does on the show. "It makes me feel sick, at that moment, because it's the most outward show that he is manipulating, and it's just so outward that it makes me feel ill," Barnes told The Hollywood Reporter. "When I saw that part in the show I was like, 'I don't want to play a bad guy, I want to play a good guy.'"

Barnes is good at playing bad, though, which is why he keeps getting roles like Kirigan and Billy "Jisgaw" Russell on "Marvel's The Punisher," characters who seem charming until they're revealed to be bad guys partway through the season. We'll see him again in "Shadow and Bone" Season 2, with all the power of the Fold in his hands.