Shadow and Bone Season 1, Explained

In her original books, the ‘Grisha’ trilogy and ‘Six of Crows’ duology, Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo has created a lively, vibrant, and diverse world, a perfect representative of what a modern-day fantasy series should be. ‘Shadow and Bone,’ Eric Heisserer’s (‘Arrival’) Netflix adaptation, successfully emulates this. By merging two different book series, it creates scenarios and interactions that cannot be found in the source material, and the web series is so much better for it.

The story predominantly takes place in Ravka, a monarchy influenced by 19th century tsarist Russia. A few hundred years ago, a man known as the Black Heretic created a strip of pure darkness known as the Fold, separating Ravka’s eastern side from the west. Since then, the country and its people have suffered greatly. With the coming of the protagonist, Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), that is all about to change, as she is the Sun Summoner, a Grisha who can potentially destroy the Fold and unite Ravka. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Shadow and Bone’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Shadow and Bone Season 1 Finale Recap

Both Alina and her childhood friend Mal (Archie Renaux) lost their parents in Ravka’s border wars with its neighbors Fjerda in the north and Shu Han in the south. They grew up in an orphanage in Keramzin, constantly encountering inherent prejudices from the Ravkans for their mixed parentage. They both get involved in the war efforts, Mal as a soldier and Alina as a cartographer. When Mal is selected to be a part of the unit that will escort the Grisha through the Fold, Alina ensures that she will be on the sand skiff.

When the Volcra, the winged, flesh-eating creatures residing inside the Fold, inevitably attack, Alina’s long-dormant ability as the Sun Summoner is triggered, saving all who are on the ship. Alina subsequently meets General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), the Grisha or Second Army leader, who moves her to the Little Palace, the Grisha stronghold in the Ravkan capital Os Alta. Meanwhile, master thief Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) and his crew, Inej (Amita Suman) and Jesper (Kit Young), accept the job of abducting the Sun Summoner and delivering her to the wealthy merchant Dreesen.

As the series progresses, Alina learns that Kirigan and the Dark Heretic are the same people. She runs away from the Little Palace, receiving accidental help from Kaz and his crew. Eventually, she reunites with Mal, and they find Morozova’s Stag together. However, Kirigan and his selected group of Grisha catch up with them. Kirigan kills the Stag and then melds Alina with a collar made from the Stag’s antlers, seemingly gaining control of her power.

In the season finale, titled ‘No Mourners,’ Kirigan and Alina travel into the Fold on a sandskiff together. He has invited ambassadors of various countries under the pretext that they will see the destruction of the Fold. Unbeknownst to Kirigan, Mal and Kaz’s crew are also on the ship. They meet and decide to work together. Kirigan’s plans soon become clear. Baghra was right. He weaponizes the Fold with Alina’s power and begins destroying Novokribrisk, the main city of West Ravka and the epicenter of the anti-Ravkan uprising.

Eventually, Alina manages to break free of his control and realizes the truth about the Stag amplifier. Kirigan and Mal fight before the former are attacked by the Volcra. Elsewhere, Nina (Danielle Galligan) lies, declaring that Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman) is a slaver, leading to his arrest by Kerch bounty hunters. All main characters, Mal, Alina, Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, and Matthias, end up on a ship to Kerch. The season ends as Kirigan emerges from the Fold, grievously wounded but very much alive.

Shadow and Bone Season 1 Ending: How Does Kirigan Survive the Fold?

Kirigan, like Alina, is an extremely rare type of Grisha. His Shadow Summoning ability has granted him near-immortality. A few hundred years earlier, he created the Fold while battling Ravkan soldiers. He had hoped that with his power, he would create potent amplifiers to augment the Grisha abilities, just like Morozova had done with animals. Instead, he ended up transforming all the people in the region into the Volcra. Being their creator and arguably the most powerful Shadow Summoner in the world, Kirigan seems to have some level of control over the Volcra.

Earlier, he tells Alina that he is a beacon to them. Whenever he enters the Fold, the Volcra are drawn to him. This is what happens during his fight with Mal. He seems to be winning when a Volcra attacks from behind. Alina, Mal, and the others believe that he has died. In reality, he has managed to create a new type of shadow creature, the nichevo’ya, which are not bound to the Shadow Fold. The closing moments of the season show a bruised and bloodied Kirigan emerging from the Fold and commanding the Volcra to follow him. It took him a few hundred years, but he finally has an army of his own to help bring utter destruction to his enemies.

What is Small Science? What is Merzost?

The Grisha abilities are defined as Small Science. A Grisha has the ability to control objects or elements at their most fundamental level. When Alina calls it magic while conversing about her ability with Kirigan, he corrects her by saying that Small Science always abides by natural laws. In contrast, Merzost is pure magic. It requires incantations. As Baghra explains to her son, if Small Science augments the Grisha, Merzost takes innate energy from the Grisha to work.

The only person to have successfully used Merzost in recorded history was Morozova when he created his amplifiers. It is revealed in the penultimate episode that Baghra and Kirigan are both related to Morozova, the Bonesmith himself. It is that connection that emboldens Kirigan’s desire to take such drastic steps as creating the Fold. At the time, he was arrogant and foolish enough to believe that he could handle whatever his creation threw at him.

What Powers Does Morozova’s Stag Grant Alina?

Morozova’s amplifiers or creatures are largely believed to be mythical. But then, Alina, the Sun Summoner, appears, and the realm of possibility suddenly expands exponentially. Alina learns from the Apparat (Kevin Eldon) that a Grisha has to infuse a piece of the animal into themselves to tap into the amplifier’s full potential. And for that, one has to kill the animal first.

After Kirigan kills the Stag, he believes that he has full access to Alina’s powers through the antlers. However, a vision of the Stag helps Alina realize the truth. The power itself acts as a safeguard against ill-use. It has to be willingly given and not forcefully taken away. Only after understanding this does she breaks Mirigan’s hold on her.

Do Kaz and Pekka Know Each Other?

By all indications, they do, although Pekka doesn’t seem to remember. In his earlier days, his actions led to the death of Kaz’s brothers, and Kaz has been consumed by vengeance ever since. When Dreesen offers a million Kruge to travel across the Fold and bring back the Sun Summoner, it places the two men on each other’s paths. Kaz desperately wants to destroy Pekka and considers taking risks that he would have otherwise thought foolish. Both Inej and Jesper even point it out to him.

Why Does Nina Betray Matthias?

After the Drüskelle ship they are traveling on hits a storm front and sinks, Nina and Matthias quickly realize that they have to rely on each other if they want to survive. It’s not easy for either of them. The Drüskelle is an elite squad of Fjerdan soldiers whose primary duty is to capture the Grisha and take them back to the Ice Court for a sham trial and eventual execution. Matthias is a witch hunter, specially trained to hunt the Grisha, while Nina is a heartrender, an order of Grisha who can affect the mind and body.

They are each other’s natural enemies. But that doesn’t matter in permafrost. They survive with each other’s help, and a romance starts to bloom between them. However, when they reach a town, Nina discovers that Fedyor (Julian Kostov) is waiting for her there. Realizing that if the Grisha captures Matthias, it will mean his certain death, she claims that he is a slaver, prompting the Kerch bounty hunters to apprehend him.

Matthias, who lost consciousness because of Fedyor’s powers, doesn’t know any of this and wakes up in a cell in the ship bound for Kerch. Nina’s hopes of freeing Matthias start to crumble when she learns that he will be placed in a prison named Hellgate for about a year or two before his trial. Feeling a deep sense of betrayal, Matthias reverts to his old self, once more seeing Nina with suspicion and distrust.

Read More: Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 7: Recap and Explainer