***This post contains spoilers for the Grisha trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, Rule of Wolves, and the Shadow and Bone Netflix series.
If you know me, you know I’m complete Leigh Bardugo trash. Always have been, always will be. One time back in 2017 I had a conversation with her about the Hamilton references in Crooked Kingdom (yes, they’re there and they’re 100% intentional) and it was pretty much the best moment of my life. Kaz Brekker is my all-time favorite fictional character, period, bar none. When I first read the SoC duology many years ago, I saw myself in him in deeper ways than pretty much any other character ever, and the ways I relate to him have only increased as time goes on (I use a cane now too, but sadly mine is not lead-lined, Fabrikator-made, or crow-topped). Don’t even get me started on the perfection of Bardugo’s other characters and her exquisite worldbuilding and the twisty turny heists.
All of this is to say, I’ve been waiting for the Shadow and Bone Netflix show to come out for a very long time–and having just finished the entire show, I absolutely could not be happier. (I pushed myself through the fatigue and headaches and brain fog to watch all eight episodes in three days, which is quite a feat for me because I really struggle to watch TV shows.)
I’m too tired to write an eloquent, well-thought-out blog post about everything I loved about the show. So instead I’m just going to share a bullet point list of some thoughts I had and then we can squeal about it all in the comments together. (Because there was a LOT of squealing going on during S&B, and during the Grishaverse reread I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. Just ask my cat.)
Also, please appreciate this tweet that I personally think is absolutely hilarious but has only gotten 12 likes:
(I also want to preface this post by saying I’m not overlooking the problematic elements of the show. While I’m not qualified to speak on this, here’s a Tumblr post with some good tweets on how the racism toward Alina was handled in the show.)
Okay, carry on:
- First of all, the casting was just *chef’s kiss*. Kit Young made me fall head over heels in love with Jesper more than ever before. Freddy Carter brought Kaz’s rock salt rasp to life. Jessie Mei Li embodies Alina–literal sunlight–in the most beautiful way. I could go on. Zoya and David and the Apparat didn’t really look how I pictured them (Zoya’s bangs just make me think of Samantha the American Girl), and while Danielle Galligan did a great job as Nina, I’d be remiss to not mention the fat erasure that went on there. (Seriously, it wouldn’t have been that difficult to cast a plus size actress.) But overall, the casting was absolutely brilliant–every single actor on the show was talented, lovely, and just so so perfect.
- Ben Barnes is FORTY YEARS OLD?!! I Googled it because I thought he must be getting old by now, but I didn’t know he was THAT old! (yes forty is very old to me) After I found that out, all I could think about every time he came on screen was how old he is.
- I was really pleased with how they did Kaz’s limp. I was watching carefully to make sure the cane was more than just an accessory, and I appreciated how he was in visible pain without it.
- If you want book Kaz, may I direct you to the church scene. Everything about that scene just SCREAMS Kaz Brekker. (For the most part I think his character was pretty true to the books–although Pekka’s men were holding him skin to skin in one of the first episodes and he didn’t really have a big reaction to that? I was wondering if there would be any flashbacks for any of the Crows to get a little more of their backstories, but they said virtually nothing about Kaz, so if you didn’t know the books you might be left hanging. Like, it was obvious why he uses a cane, but they never addressed his gloves.)
- I think they did a really good job melding Alina’s story and the Crows together! It was fun to have fresh Crows content that still incorporated those favorite characters. Although it did make my brain hurt a little bit trying to figure out the timeline.
- So, is Baghra immortal too???
- Also, how could anyone ship Alina with the Darkling? I just don’t get it, lol. And I definitely could’ve lived without seeing the two of them groping all over each other. “Stupid choices,” indeed. Mal isn’t perfect but the Darkling is literally an immortal creep. You can’t get much worse.
- Also also, I have to know: Did Leigh help with the makeup?! (Major props to the costume and makeup teams, whoever they were!)
- I know I already mentioned how good Kit Young was as Jesper, but he deserves his own bullet point! I’ve always liked Jesper–I’ve always loved all of the Crows–but Kit had me laughing out loud every time he came on screen. His charm and swagger was perfect for Jesper and I think he’s made Jesper my new favorite character. Like, when he’s admiring himself in the mirror? You KNOW Jesper would do that. And the part where he goes “was that sign damaged before?” I was DYING! Also, I was wondering if the show would reveal that Jesper is Grisha and they did touch on it a couple of times (in the laundry fight with Ivan, and when he fixed Kaz’s cane) (this is leading me into a whole other point about the Easter eggs that only book fans would recognize, but I’ll stop now).
- And the friendship between Jesper and INEJ??? Also deserves its own bullet point, because it translated SO well on screen and made me really really happy. Like, she trusted him enough to ask him to kill someone for her. I just.
- (If you can’t tell, I’m pretty much only here for the Crows, lol. I also thought it was interesting seeing the Crows out of their element–Ketterdam–and in so many different settings. And before the Ice Court job, so before they met Nina and Wylan and Matthias.)
- Even though Zoya didn’t get a lot of on-screen time, they showed her character arc throughout the show really nicely. (THAT’S YOUR FUTURE QUEEN OF RAVKA, PEOPLE!!! I STILL AM NOT OVER RoW, I’M SORRY!!!)
- Also, the CINEMATOGRAPHY. It was so, so, so well-done from that aspect. Just beautiful.
- The soundtrack too!!! I will definitely be utilizing the soundtrack to write some otherworldly novels in the future. It was absolutely glorious. (However, every time I look at Shadow and Bone images online I immediately get the main melody of the Narnia soundtrack stuck in my head. I mean, Ben Barnes. Can you blame me? Also, the parts with Matthias and Nina wandering around in the ice and snow wearing furs just scream LWW. Haha.)
- And the VFX! Honestly, every aspect of the show was just so well-done and it created an amazing immersive experience.
- I really wish we’d had Wylan and Nikolai in this season! There were already so many other characters to keep up with, though, and I know it didn’t fit with some of the timeline. I’m super excited to see their casting in the future (assuming we’ll get more seasons? I think things are looking pretty good considering the show is #1 on Netflix this weekend?). Mostly I’m just ready for Jesper + Wylan banter haha. (I thought we were going to get Wylan in this season when Jesper started talking about wanting an explosions expert? Like I thought they were setting that up? But I guess not.)
- Speaking of characters, I think we all know who was the real MVP of the TV series–Sankt Milo of the rails, the emotional support goat. Saving our nervous farmboy Jesper, saving captive Mal, what can Milo not do? Milo the goat always understood the assignment.
- David THREW THE ACTUAL SHADOW AND BONE BOOK AT JESPER, I REPEAT, HE THREW AN ACTUAL COPY OF SHADOW AND BONE AT JESPER
- The Caspian-esque hair in the Darkling flashbacks. Hahaha.
- I have apparently been saying SO many words and names and places wrong for the past five years, but if you know me that really should be no surprise.
- I liked how they incorporated Inej’s faith–both in obvious ways like her conversations with Kaz about the Sun Summoner, and in smaller, more subtle ways that showed how her faith is such an integral part of who she is.
- While we’re on the topic of Inej, the scene where she divested herself of all 14 knives (which were all actually hidden in Amita’s costume!) had the same energy as Jace pulling out all his weapons before he went into Dorothea’s house in TMI hahaha. Is there a name for that trope because it’s my favorite thing of all time.
- Also I’m lowkey disappointed we didn’t get to see Kaz rip a man’s eye out. Just saying.
Phew, okay, I just read back over this and it’s a lot. Sorry not sorry for the aggressive amount of caps. Hope somebody enjoys my post-Shadow and Bone brain dump–please come fangirl with me in the comments!!! I’m so, so, SO pleased with how the show came out. We’ve suffered through so many terrible screen adaptations over the years; we were due for something good and this more than makes up for all the others (looking at you, Percy Jackson).
Finally, I’ll leave you with this tweet from Emma Lord that pretty much sums up my life right now:
Have you read Leigh Bardugo’s books? Have you seen the Netflix show? (You really should read the books first but if you’re a new fan from the show, we can still be friends 😉 Please fangirl with me in the comments because I am the epitome of “head empty no thoughts only shadow and bone.” Ok going to sleep now!