Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1: Recap and Explainer

Developed by Netflix with Eric Heisserer (‘Arrival‘) serving as the showrunner, ‘Shadow and Bone’ is a rare addition amongst the fantasy adventure live-action TV or web shows as it merges typical fantasy tropes with historical inventions such as gunpowder and the steam engine. It is the web adaptation of Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Grisha’ trilogy and ‘Six of Crows’ duology. Like ‘Game of Thrones,’ the show has been named after the first book of the series.

The pilot episode, titled ‘A Searing Burst of Light,’ sets up the plot’s premise and introduces some of the main characters. It effectively enunciates the daunting immenseness of the primary supernatural problem, the Fold, that the characters face before revealing that the protagonist, Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), seems to have what it takes to solve it. Here is everything you need to know about the episode’s ending. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Alina has lived in the Kingdom of Ravka all her life, but she has to endure prejudice from other citizens because of the Shu features that she inherited from her mother. Ravka seems to be in constant war with its neighbors, Fjerda to the North and Shu Han to the South. Alina grows up with her friend Mal or Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux) in an orphanage in Keramzin.

The woman who looks after the children ensures that Alina will have a pen in her hand as an adult and not a rifle. Alina becomes a cartographer and joins the war effort. When she learns that Mal is a part of the escort tasked to take the Grisha through the Fold, a narrow area covered in the darkness that splits Ravka in half, she makes sure that she will be part of the expedition by burning maps of certain critical points of the other side of the Fold.

During the journey, they are attacked by the Volcra, a race of winged creatures that inhabit the Fold. As both the Grisha and ordinary soldiers start to die around her, Alina’s dormant power as the Sun Summoner gets activated. The ensuing blinding white light forces the Volcra to flee. In the City of Ketterdam on Kerch Island, Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), master thief and the owner of The Crow casino, learns from his spy Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) that wealthy merchant Dreesen (Sean Gilder) is looking for a crew to travel across the Fold to retrieve something for him.

Kaz’s crew intercepts a message from Dreesen that the merchant wants a Heartrender Grisha. Kaz acquires the services of the one named Milana before Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly), the leader of the powerful gang Dime Lions, can get his hands on her. It is revealed that Dreesen has captured Alexei (Antonín Masek), one of Alina’s fellow cartographers and part of the recent expedition through the Fold. Dreesen wants to know what happened in the Fold and needs Milana because Alexei seems to have lost the ability to articulate his thoughts.

Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 1 Ending: What is Dreesen After?

The show establishes Dreesen as an extremely powerful and rich merchant. When Kaz learns from Inej that Dreesen is willing to pay a million Kruge for the job, he even remarks that Dreesen can afford it. During the Volcra’s attack, Alexei jumps out of the skiff and tries to escape on foot. A massive burst of energy knocks him off his feet. When he turns around, he sees that Alina is glowing with pure white light, and realizes what she is: a Sun Summoner. Alexei is the first person of the expeditionary unit to get out of the Fold.

After Alexei relates this to Dreesen, Kaz, and the others with Milana’s help, Dreesen shoots him. He has gotten what he wanted. If Dreesen had let Alexei live, his competitors would have also exacted the information from the youth. The show depicts that different cultures in that world view the Grisha differently. In Ketterdam, they seem to be regarded as prized commodities. A Sun Summoner is the rarest of all the Grisha, making Alina the most sought-after possession for someone like Dreesen. This is why he hires Kaz, Inej, and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) to steal her from the Ravka military.

What is the Fold?

As mentioned above, the Fold or the Shadow Fold is a swath of darkness that divides East Ravka from its western counterpart. On both northern and southern sides, the Fold stretches beyond Ravka’s borders into Fjerda and Shu Han. West Ravka, being adjacent to the sea, has access to maritime commerce. The Grisha often leads expeditions through the Fold to the other side to acquire necessary provisions. The particular mission in which Alina and Mal take part is organized to get food for the military. The main mode of transportation through the Fold is the sandskiffs. Enabled by the power of the Grisha, these vessels can sail on the sand.

Some of the characters, including Kaz, imply that there are other monsters in the Fold besides the Volcra. The Fold was created by the Black Heretic hundreds of years ago. He apparently had the same abilities as the leader of the Grisha, General Kirigan. If Alina has the power of light, with which she is supposed to destroy the Fold, then we can presume that both the Black Heretic and General Kirigan have the ability to control darkness, the complete opposite of Alina’s powers.

Who Are the Grisha?

The Ravka military is categorized into two subdivisions: the First Army and Second Army. The First Army is made up of ordinary citizens of Ravka, like Mal and his friends Mikhael (Angus Castle-Doughty) and Dubrov (Andy Burse). The Second Army is exclusively composed of the Grisha, with General Kirigan as their leader. There seem to be several types of the Grisha. Some can control the elements. For instance, Zoya Nazyalensky (Sujaya Dasgupta) is a Squaller and can manipulate wind.

On the other hand, Milana is a Heartrender and can make people reveal whatever they are thinking. So, it appears that she works with physical bodies. Furthermore, Kaz mentions a group called Fabrikators, who can manipulate metal, earth, glass, and other objects. So, it appears that there are at least three main types of the Grisha. As a Sun Summoner, Alina likely falls in the first group.

Read More: Where is Shadow and Bone Filmed?