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The Ending Of Shadow And Bone Season 1 Explained

Contains spoilers for "Shadow and Bone"

Debuting April 23 on Netflix, "Shadow and Bone," the streaming service's adaptation of Leigh Bardugo's popular Grishaverse trilogy has taken the world by storm. The show is set in Ravka, a fictional country divided by the mysterious Shadow Fold, an area of overwhelming darkness and home to Volcra, vicious creatures who feast on humans. The series follows soldier and orphan Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) as she discovers her agility to control and manipulate light, making her the Sun Summoner, the one person in existence who might finally destroy the Fold and reunite the divided country.

Alina's unique power draws plenty of attention throughout the season, especially from General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), aka the Darkling, the mysterious shadow-summoning leader of the Second Army. This group consists of different kinds of Grisha — humans with the ability to practice "small science," meaning they can manipulate matter in its basic forms. Once her abilities manifest during a crossing of the Fold, Alina is whisked away for proper training as a Grisha so she can learn to control her abilities.

But that is easier said than done. As Alina attempts to adjust to her new life at the Little Palace without her lifelong best friend Mal (Archie Renaux), she must also survive a kidnapping attempt by a gang of criminals known as the Crows and two betrayals from those close to her: a Grisha named Genya (Daisy Head) and Kirigan himself.

If you're a bit confused by the show and what this all means, here's what happened in Season 1 of the fantasy series and what it could mean for additional seasons should Netflix decide to continue Alina's story.

General Kirigan reveals his master plan

The Darkling, a Grisha who can manipulate shadow and darkness, was renamed General Kirigan for the TV show. This probably happened because the Darkling sounds like the name of someone who cannot be trusted, which would have immediately given him away as the series' antagonist.

Despite leading the Second Army and befriending Alina (and even hinting that there could be something more than friendship between the two), Kirigan is eventually revealed as the Black Heretic, the Grisha who created the Shadow Fold. In the books, the creation of the Fold was the end result of the Darkling experimenting with his power. In the Netflix adaption show, Kirigan is given a backstory that sees him accidentally create the Fold after attempting to use merzost, the power of creation, to control the king of Ravka's army and stop them from attacking Grisha. Merzost is something that goes against what all Grisha are taught, which is that matter cannot be created, only changed or manipulated, and it goes badly for Kirigan, as he turns the king's men into Volcra.

In the present day, Kirigan has no desire to destroy his accidental creation; instead, he wants to weaponize it and use it as leverage to get what he wants, which is to rule Ravka himself and put an end to the wars between it and other countries. He wants to use Alina and her power to accomplish this goal, because it would allow him to control the Volcra and give him complete control over the power of the Fold.

Alina is as powerful as Kirigan, if not more

What Kirigan doesn't account for in his master plan is that Alina is as powerful as he is, perhaps more, and won't allow herself to be used. Although he kills Morozova's stag and places the antlers around Alina's neck as an amplifier while embedding a piece in his own hand, Alina severs their connection after realizing the stag chose to offer her its power, which trumps Kirigan's connection as its killer. Alina then takes back her power during a trip across the Fold, proving her powers are on the same level as Kirigan. She's even able to use the Cut, an ability to summon light (or shadow, in Kirigan's case) and wield it as a weapon to slice through various targets.

Kirigan and Alina have more in common than just their control of shadow and sunlight, and this unique connection will only continue to grow if the show follows the next two novels in Bardugo's trilogy. They eventually reveal a sort of tether between the two as a result of what has happened between them. Without getting too deep into spoilers, this tether could further complicate an already complex relationship that rests on the belief that Kirigan and Alina are two of a kind. The former will stop at nothing to try to get the latter to see this in an attempt to join him in his fight to control Ravka and give Grisha everywhere a place to call home.

Kirigan creates a dangerous new threat

Although Alina and a ragtag group of survivors, which includes Mal, Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta), Kaz (Freddy Carter), Inej (Amita Suman), and Jesper (Kit Young), defeat Kirigan and flee the Shadow Fold, it's revealed at the end of the Season 1 finale that Kirigan has not died in the Fold. In fact, he's only gotten more powerful as he has gained a new ability: He can create and control nichevo'ya, shadow creatures formed using merzost.

According to the novels, the nichevo'ya are directly connected to the Darkling in a way the Volcra are not. While fearsome and grotesque, they don't make the Darkling more powerful, but they cost him some of his power, as each new creature ultimately feeds on the Darkling's strength, draining his life force. Because we're only given a brief tease at the end of the finale, it's not clear yet if these nichevo'ya will similarly drain Kirigan, but their existence will make things much more complicated for Alina unless she can figure out how to combat them. She could control them the way Kirigan has attempted to control her, or create nichevo'ya of her own.

The Crows return to Ketterdam

The writers of "Shadow and Bone" merged two stories into one when they introduced the Crows. In the novels, they are known as the Dregs and are introduced in a duology that takes place some time after the events of the Grishaverse trilogy. In the wake of their failed attempt to kidnap Alina and the battle with Kirigan in the Shadow Fold, they board a ship alongside Alina and Mal and head back to Ketterdam. Also aboard the ship is the Heartrender Nina (Danielle Galligan), whose storyline with Matthias (Calahan Skogman), the Fjerdan Grisha hunter, ends with him in prison after Nina accuses him of being a slaver, saving him from harm.

It's hard to predict where the Crows will go from here. Netflix might spin them off into their own show, tackling the events of the books "Six of Crows" and "Crooked Kingdom." The first novel chronicles the gang's (which includes both Nina and Matthias) attempt to break into a heavily fortified palace in order to stop the Fjerdans from unleashing a powerful drug known as jurda parem onto the world. Highly addictive, the drug allows Grisha to reach new and terrifying levels of control of their abilities.

While the end of "Shadow and Bone" Season 1 would be a natural launching point for a new spin-off involving the Crows and their thrilling heist of the Ice Court, it's also possible the show's writers will continue to tell both Alina's story and that of the Crows in ongoing parallel storylines within the same series. The existence of jurda parem within Alina's story would add a new complication to any upcoming battles with Kirigan. At this point, the fate of the "Shadow and Bone" universe is in the hands of Netflix and the writers.