‘Shadow and Bone’ Creators Explain That Season 2 Ending and Tease Season 3: ‘We Were Devious’

Showrunner Eric Heisserer and author Leigh Bardugo break down those big changes from the books

Amita Suman as Inej in "Shadow and Bone" on Netflix

“Shadow and Bone” Season 2 expands an already complex universe by taking on more source material from Leigh Bardugo’s books, countries in the Grishaverse and four completely new characters.

Ben Barnes’ General Kirigan returns as the central antagonist, a looming presence not always onscreen but more psychologically. Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux) also drive the plot in their search for two more magical creatures to amplify Alina’s powers so that she can tear down the fold once and for all. The two Keramzin orphans ultimately accomplish these goals, but not without some unexpected sacrifices and revelations. 

The second and third amplifier creatures — the Sea Whip and the Firebird — come from the books, as does the plot twist that Mal is actually the Firebird because he has Morozova’s bloodline. Showrunner Eric Heisserer credited Bardugo’s books for the road map that he and co-showrunner Daegan Fryklind used for this season, but the “Shadow and Bone” Season 2 ending diverges heavily from the book series’ conclusion.

At the end of “Ruin and Rising,” the third book in Bardugo’s trilogy that factors into “Shadow and Bone” Season 2 as well as the second book “Siege and Storm,” Alina and Mal survive everything thrown at them and settle down to live a normal life. The departure becomes evident when Alina makes a loaded decision to bring Mal back to life after she has no choice but to kill him. In the books, a heartrender revives him in the crucial window of time that his heart could stop working.

“That discovery by Alina goes to the cost of merzost. She used merzost to bring Mal back to life, and she knows that it always has a price attached to it,” Heisserer says. ”In the books series, at the end of the trilogy, Alina loses her sun-summoning powers so she is back to being otkazatsya essentially. “

Merzost stretches past the natural balance of Grisha powers that manipulate matter to create matter where there wasn’t any before. The Darkling used merzost to create and expand The Fold as well as his Nichevo’ya creatures that are difficult to kill. Not only does Alina lose her sun-summoning powers like she does in the books, but she also gains the Darkling’s ability to summon shadow, which does not happen in the books.

“We were devious in deciding that she gets the Darkling’s power set instead. So that is a revelation for her and her relationship to Kirigan now, after the events of [the finale] will be an interesting question,” Heisserer continued.

The Darkling’s merzost also manages to wreak some last-minute havoc before it dies with him. One of the Nichevo’ya wounds Nikolai’s shoulder. Alina dons a large crown during his coronation, before which he has a terrifying vision of becoming the shadowy creature.

“[Alina’s] relationship to Nikolai, who seems to be infected with Nichevo’ya that could mutate into something new to him, could be a new storyline that we explore in Season 3, that is essentially ‘King of Scars,’ which is another one of the Grisha books,” Heisserer said. “Those two will have an interesting relationship going forward considering that both of them have some literal darkness.”

The soon-to-be king of Ravka, with whom Alina enters a political marriage alliance, represents hope for what has become a divided Ravka thanks to The Fold. Alina vows, as leader of the Grisha second army, to do away with colored keftas that divide Ravkan Grisha into categories.

“The heroes of this series are always about breaking down the existing structures. So to a certain extent, because there’s only so fast the Ravka can move, Alina wants to see those lines erased and those lines recreated,” Leigh Bardugo told TheWrap.

“Those aren’t natural to Grisha. If you’re Zemini, if you’re in Novya Zem, they don’t train that way. They don’t think that way about their power. They consider that a limitation. And similarly, Nikolai wants the first and second armies to work together. He wants to break down that division because he knows that only makes them weaker. So I think that that’s always a theme in the books and I think in the show as well.”

Mal feels unsure that he wants to be with Alina anymore after figuring out that he was drawn to her as an amplifier, so he takes off on The Hummingbird under the mantle of Sturmhond with Inej (Anita Suman), who goes in search of her brother who was sold to a slaver a while ago. The slaver ship to which Kaz (Freddy Carter) has tipped her off makes an appearance on the horizon at the very end of this second season.

Heisserer also said he’s hoping Netflix will greenlight a “Six of Crows” spinoff series that would continue this story.

“You really haven’t had a chance to meet Nina and Matthias very much. You know that she has been pining for him and wants him out of Hellgate,” Heisserer said. “And the first part of that book is Kaz and the Crows breaking Matthias out of Hellgate because he ends up being their inside man to get into the Ice Court for the larger heist, so it’s a small heist that gives you a taste of the big one. We thought we had to properly set the stage for that in Season 2, and have him just roiling with emotions, most of them contradictory, so that when that reunion happens, we are on pins and needles to see how it goes. And if it can be corrected.”

The showrunner added that the idea would be to have the “Crows” and “Shadow and Bone” characters reunite in a later season.

“Ideally, the two groups would live as parallel shows that will follow on the same timeline trajectory with the occasional cameo appearance that you can dovetail in that allows audiences to know where in the timeline each of them is,” Heisserer said. “Ideally for a fifth season, but if not earlier, we would reunite both groups one more time in the back half to go after a common enemy, which I can’t talk to yet.”

Scripts for the “Six of Crows” spinoff have been written, but Netflix has not ordered the show to series. Nor has “Shadow and Bone” been renewed for Season 3 just yet, so fans will have to wait a bit longer to see if any of this setup will get paid off.

“Shadow and Bone” is now streaming on Netflix.