Netflix’s fantasy drama series Shadow and Bone has been a wondrous success. It masterfully brings to life Leigh Bardugo’s enchanting Grishaverse universe-a world rife with magic, intrigue, secrets, and violence- with a cast of engaging characters, and an enthralling plot that features a heist, a lot of romance, and some fierce friendships.
Here are some reasons why the show ABSOLUTELY nailed it.
While Alina and the Darkling’s relationship might’ve been the central focus of the novel, it is the Crows who steal the show on-screen. Kaz, Inej, and Jesper make up an unlikely thieving crew- driven by ambition and past debts- but their daring and well-executed plan of kidnapping Alina goes disastrously and hilariously wrong. Yet despite their goof-ups, the power of friendship shines through as the trio remain steadfastly loyal to each other. Each with a specific set of skills and quirks, the interactions between the Crows are a delight to watch.
Long before the Shadow and Bone series was in the works, fans on Tumblr cast Ben Barnes as the ideal General Kirigan. Ben Barnes reportedly took a print-out and brought it to the auditions as proof that he was the perfect fit for the role. And indeed, he is. The Darkling is brooding, angsty, and temperamental, even as he appears as a formidable general, a powerful magician, and a very charismatic man, and Barnes plays the villain with passion and enthusiasm that makes him quite irresistible both to Alina and to the viewers.
The show is visually gorgeous, turning the fictional land of Ravka into a wonderful world, bristling with its own folklore, history, and culture. From the intricate details of the Grisha’s finely woven costumes, the majestic wonders at the Little Palace, and the debauchery and decadence at Ketterdam, the art direction is evocative and awe-inspiring and makes for great escapist television.
Nina is a Grisha spy who is captured by the prejudiced Fjerdan witch-hunters while on a mission. Matthias, her Fjardan captor initially treats her with loathing, even as he is curious about the Grisha and their ways. And after Nina saves his life when they are ship-wrecked, he gradually starts warming up to her. It’s the perfect enemies-to-lovers trope at work that also teaches an important lesson about questioning assumptions and letting go of prejudices, in a hilarious and wholesome manner.
While crossing the Fold, Jesper grabs hold of the goat Milo for emotional support. But that isn’t the last we see of him. Later, Milo with a lucky bullet hanging at his neck finds his way to the imprisoned Mal, who uses the bullet to break free of his shackles. Milo unknowingly sped up the plot and saved the day. All hail Milo, the best goat.
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