Shadow and Bone: (Full season)   Show Only 
April 26, 2021 3:06 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Shadow and Bone is an American fantasy streaming television series developed by Eric Heisserer for Netflix that premiered on April 23, 2021. It is based on the Grisha novel trilogy, the first of which is Shadow and Bone, and the Six of Crows novel duology by Leigh Bardugo.

The eight-episode TV series is set in a war-torn world plagued by the Shadow Fold, a swath of permanent darkness separating East from West Ravka, inhabited by carnivorous winged creatures known as Volcra. Orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov discovers she is a Grisha, a magic user, with the legendary power to create light, which could be the key to setting her country free from the Fold. Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of Grisha, serving under General Kirigan, the Shadow Summoner. But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are treacherous forces at play, including a charismatic crew of criminals called the Crows, and it will take more than her new powers to survive it.

(I'm suggesting "full season" because it all dropped at once and a lot of people seem to have binged it)
posted by Mogur (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I was working up to making a post for this as well - did you purposeful pick "show only" instead of "books included"? The "Six of Crows" portion is extremely different in the show vs the books ... I don't want to distract from this discussion and and create a Books Included if you want to keep this post focused on just the broadcast.
posted by jazon at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2021

I just posted a 'Books Included', ha!
posted by oh yeah! at 3:28 PM on April 26, 2021

Yes, I came to the show completely unbooked, and will probably stay that way, and I figured that (like the Expanse threads), this could profit from a "Show only" vs "Books included" partition (thanks, @oh yeah! !).
posted by Mogur at 4:40 PM on April 26, 2021

First up, I was hella confused for the first two eps because I thought that first disastrous skiff voyage went straight through the Fold from East to West. It didn't - it either turned around or got turned around and came back out East again, close to where it left.

Second up, even with that teeny caveat, I loved this series! The set design, costumes, music, alll the background details right down to the Cyrillic-ish alphabet shows up everywhere were all on point and added to the depth of the world.

Also loving what a drama queen the Darkling is.
posted by Mogur at 4:44 PM on April 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm glad I gave this a try; of the books I've only read Six of Crows (enjoyed it) and had no idea that this series was based on those books; about halfway through the first episode I clued in that the reason some of the characters and setting felt familiar was because i knew them from SoC.

Going slow, but enjoying it.
posted by nubs at 7:20 PM on April 26, 2021

I saw the first episode. I don't really like the central magical relationship, but I do like the criminal gang so I think I will watch more of it.
posted by fleacircus at 9:10 PM on April 26, 2021

About this show
(so far am only on episode 3)

The costuming, the magic system, the world building, the very well delivered exposition, the characters, the diversity of the cast, did I mention the costuming?

The Hats - oh so many hats!
posted by Faintdreams at 5:09 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is this thread supposed to be episode 1 or the full season 1?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:44 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Full season. I couldn't see how to mark it that way (you are given a choice of episode number, but not a choice of "Full season" in the drop-down, unless I'm missing something), so I wrote in "Full Season".
posted by Mogur at 6:48 AM on April 27, 2021

Another of the many many details I loved was the army tents in Ravka. Totally different from what I was expecting from an army encampment, but still very fitting while looking somehow organic at the same time. Reminded me of Morrowind, of all things.
posted by Mogur at 6:49 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Full season. I couldn't see how to mark it that way (you are given a choice of episode number, but not a choice of "Full season" in the drop-down, unless I'm missing something), so I wrote in "Full Season"

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Episode drop-down there's an option for "All"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:37 AM on April 27, 2021

I'm through four episodes, and that's through force of will to not binge this all at once. The production values are outstanding. I found the Fold journeys very suspenseful, even though (because?) I didn't really know what was happening.

I love the criminal gang, especially Jasper, who is clearly meant to have a following. The actor playing Kaz? He has the face of a WWII Nazi villain, and it sort of works with this character. I'm enjoying the heistiness of their storyline, even though I probably have no idea what's actually going on.

The world-building in general is opaque, and I don't even mind. It's not like I actually need to understand which army is the grisha one. I could probably have a better grasp on the character of East and West Ravka and who is in which place. It's not that I don't care, but I'm enjoying the series without knowing the details. It's been really nice so far to see women as soldiers, grisha, corrupt business owners, charismatic criminals. They're beside the men in an unremarkable way, and I've really liked that.

My only problem so far is that I feel like we're getting a love triangle between Alina, Mal, and Krigan. But, we see Alina and Mal mostly as children. I thought they were brother and sister when they were first introduced.
posted by gladly at 7:51 AM on April 27, 2021

I know nothing of the books so maybe it gets better but so far 3 episodes in and the production value and lore and performances are all excellent. It looks amazing when we're not working through incredibly tedious YA romance. It feels like Mal and Kirigan are Peeta and Gale 2.0. There's also the squicky (to me) trope of magical girl will fix broken man. Alina and Kirigan, the Grisha and Fjerda on the ship.

It's so well made though that I'm trudging through.
posted by M Edward at 11:52 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am obsessed after only 2 episodes. I found this guide helpful and not spoilery (it lays out the characters and locations)
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:29 PM on April 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

Just finished episode 5. The twists! I also love how Alina's mixed-race identity in the show is a central part of her character and a well-thought out part of this universe. Great article from Teen Vogue talking about that world-building with Alina's actress, Jessie Mei Li.
posted by WedgedPiano at 2:49 PM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I found this guide helpful and not spoilery (it lays out the characters and locations)

Okay, that is extremely helpful. I had no idea that the Crows were from an entirely different country than Ravka. I thought Kerch/Ketterdam was a city within Ravka.
posted by gladly at 8:16 PM on April 27, 2021

Watched this over two nights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute! And what a great cast. I especially enjoyed that (SPOILERS)........

Heroic General/Spurious Love-Interest Guy turned out to be bad, and that Creepy-Probably-Evil Crime-Boss is at least partly made out of marshmallow.

I worry that Zoe Wanamaker (Baghra) is getting typecast as a magical educator who &^%$ing CAN'T TEACH FOR NUTS, bloody hell woman, stop whacking your students when they can't do something right away, you suck. And you can't teach Quidditch either.

I suppose Maria Montessori hadn't been born yet even in the real world.
posted by Coaticass at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2021

(Oh yeah, in addition to enjoying the wealth of female and diverse characters.)
posted by Coaticass at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2021

First up, I was hella confused for the first two eps because I thought that first disastrous skiff voyage went straight through the Fold from East to West.

Yeah, I went through that bit of confusion, too. Even when I decided the skiff turned back, I had a hard time keeping track of where in the heck half the action was taking place anyway. With only eight episodes, I guess they had to pack in an unwieldy number of characters and plot points and whatnot into the early episodes (I've only made it through the first two so far).

One plot point that really confused me...When the skiff was attacked in the Fold and the one crewman went over the side and ran. We then see a group of officers standing on a dock apparently waiting for the skiff to arrive. The lead officer notes that they're two hours overdue. Then, the lone crewman runs out from the fold.

Throughout that scene, I felt led to believe that the scene on the dock was on the other side of the Fold waiting for the skiff to make it through, which led me to ask if this world had some form of long-distance communication? How else would people on the far side of the Fold know to expect the arrival of the skiff? That assumption was later further confused when that same lone crewman ended up being interrogated in the gangster's cellar. I was "WTF? How did he get all the way back there? Or, are the city scenes on the opposite side of the Fold than the military scenes?" It was all very confusing. I opted to believe our focus is still on the side of the Fold the story began...which is the East side, right?

I kind of would like to know a bit more about the fold's genesis, because there seems to be a solid undercurrent that implies it's a recent development and there was regular contact between east and west once. I assume that's coming at some point?

Anyway, so far it's been enjoyable!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:16 AM on April 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm only two episodes in, and while I'm enjoying the Kaz, Inej, and Jasper hijinks in town, and even the whole Kirigan and Alina story seems interesting, but the Mal and Alina storyline is just absolutely not doing it for me.

Still, it's interesting enough to want to keep up with despite the childhood wubbbb stowwy that seems to want to be the focus of a full third of the plotting.
posted by Kyol at 6:09 AM on May 3, 2021

I'm enjoying this a great deal, we still have a few episodes to go. 3/4 of the family have not read the books, my daughter has ALL of the books and is loving it, she's doing a pretty good but not perfect job of not spoiling us, complaining about where they've changed things (which is apparently a lot), etc. We all seem to be in tune for things like shouting "Jesper! What are you thinking!" at the screen.

It's YA fluff, but very well crafted YA fluff with excellent actors and costumes and scenery, and that's just perfect right now.
posted by feckless at 11:28 AM on May 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

From what people familiar with the books have been saying, the characters in the separate books have been diminished by being presented together in that the Crows can't help but look less powerful while the Shadow set can't help but look less dimensional, but I have to say that without the Crows showing up I probably would not have persisted because the bland orphan set up was doing nothing for me.

The fact I finally let it play long enough to become interested enough to turn on the subtitles so I could figure out what was the fantasy lingo is kind of a ridiculous hurdle it managed to leap, and now that it's got so much set up set up, it'll be interesting to see where it goes. Wasting all that set design and world building would be more than a shame if nothing else, but can they contrive a way to bring back the goat?
posted by provoliminal at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

We finally finished-up the series last night and I guess we enjoyed it. But, I have to say the finale was kind of underwhelming, I think largely because it's all ends-up serving as a set-up for possible future series. Nothing really gets resolved.

The biggest disappointment was how alternately powerful/useless Alina was. It was like her character kept jumping from being the most powerful being in the universe to being a helpless maiden lying on the floor, with no in-between. There was even the moment when she declares to The Darkling "You needed me, but I never needed you", does something powerful, then...nothing else. Um...?

Colorful though they may be, I'm not sure I want to see the Crows gang featured any more than they were in this series. I dunno why, but they never seemed like a very competent bunch. Kaz, especially. He's good at looking all deadly serious and whatnot, but he never actually does anything, as far as I can recall.

And what's the deal with Mal? Is he Grisha or not? I mean, the guy more-or-less absorbed bullets in the forest, but no one has caught on to it?

Anyway, I actually do hope there's another series.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:37 AM on May 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I binged this and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Occasionally I said: "Wait, what?" but then I reminded myself this is fantasy and it's okay to let things slide.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 9:33 PM on May 6, 2021


Yes, I watched this series over three evenings. It is fluff. But I found I kept having to rewind over what I thought was fluff and pay attention, because important stuff did happen. This show really needs a good map! And, it sounds like the series gets better?
posted by rebent at 8:59 PM on May 7, 2021

So we finished it and I still maintain that Mal and Alina are dull dull _dull_. I mean c'mon, Nina and Dude Druskelle off in the Northlands had a better relationship. The Crows were great through and through. And the scene in the ballroom when they presented Alina, I turned to my wife and said "ah hah, see, you can tell it's YA fiction here."

Still, it was entertaining and I hope it gets another season.
posted by Kyol at 6:23 PM on May 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have been calling the crows 'stupid crime babies' (to go with the Legends of Tomorrow, who are stupid time babies), and, to be clear, they're all my favorite. Well really, it's Jesper and Inej.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:21 PM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

So, I'm up to Episode 3 now.

General: Oh I love the costuming, the set design, all the details in the worldbuilding...the designers did an incredible job. And hey, fantasy with guns! And I suppose the pseudo-Victorian look is the in thing right now, butt here it works better than in say, The Irregulars.
Episode 1:
*Wow, our heroine has the bland hero syndrome in spades.
*So has our heroine's little stunt gotten all her friends in the cartography squad killed? Yes. Yes she has. Is she going to face any repercussions for it? Of course not.
* Why of why do they have open-faced wooden boats for the crossing? Is there whole point to present an hors d'oeuvre player to the gargoyles? They have breech loading trifles, surely they could make an ironclad with rifle ports.

Episode 3:
* Anaj is so much more interesting than the main character. Like an Elizabeth Bear character wandered into the story.
* I am so left flat by the Designated Cishets in this. Especially creepy seductive mentor. Is it too much to get even some LGBTQ subtext?
*And the snarky red haired women in pretty sure wandered in from a Bujold novel.
* I. WAS. RIGHT! Though not perfect, a steam powered COVERED vehicle can keep people alive! If it was properly armored, with gun slits, the gargoyles would not be nearly as much of a threat. Where's Dr. Miguelito Loveless when you need him?
posted by happyroach at 8:34 PM on May 16, 2021

Is it too much to get even some LGBTQ subtext

Without giving too much away, there might be something worthwhile in your future. Though admittedly not from anyone in the primary love triangle (excepting the Alina/Genya lingering looks and face touches)
posted by dinty_moore at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2021

I really enjoyed this series! It is very Young Adulty but that just makes it easy to follow and a bit fluffy, a nice snack after so many heavy meals of more complex stories. Jessie Mei Li as the lead is really fantastic, she carries the show, and putting her against Ben Barnes works really well.

The product design is great too. I'm not quite sure why Imperial Russia is the theme of choice but it works very well. The series was mostly filmed in Hungary, including a bunch of the castles and stuff, there's a detailed guide to location shots (with spoilers). They reused some sets from The Witcher.

One theme that felt very strong to me was Alina's racial heritage and the discrimination she faced. I didn't read the books but I gather that's an addition to the story for the TV show. It felt a bit clumsy and annoying in the first episode but it ended up working very well, I can't imagine the story without it. I also really liked the addition of the Crows although that felt a bit slapdash, not well integrated. But their story is great and a nice balance to all the palace hijinks.

Looking forward to Season 2.
posted by Nelson at 10:23 AM on May 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older Critical Role: The Genesis War...   |  Shadow and Bone: Shadow and Bo... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments