We are three episodes into Eric Heisserer‘s adaptation of Leigh Bardugo‘s Shadow and Bone and wow. Simply wow. The Netflix series is really on a roll. In the last episode, we watched as Alina (Jessie Mei Li) was taken from everything she has ever known and loved and hidden within the Little Palace while Mal (Archie Renaux) could not save her. We finally got to see General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) in action when and on the other side of the Fold, Kaz (Freddy Carter) risks his livelihood to bring Inej (Amita Suman) on this job. In episode three, “The Making at the Heart of the World,” Alina begins her Grisha training while the Crows prepare for their trip across the Fold.
DISCLAIMER: This is a recap which means – you guessed it, spoilers ahead! If you are not caught up on the series, I highly suggest bookmarking this page and returning once you are done. The entire Shadow and Bone season one can be found here on Netflix.
The third episode of Shadow and Bone, “The Making at the Heart of the World” opens as Alina dreams of a stag. Just as it turns around and we see its face, there is a flash of a symbol and Alina awakens abruptly. She has written a letter to Mal explaining that she is safe within the walls of the Little Palace and not to worry. We see her try to use her power, but it appears she can’t. As she is sitting in bed, a group of women enters her room led by Genya Safin (Daisy Head). She realizes that Alina is going to need much more work to be presentable.
We get a quick montage of Alina undergoing a bath and being fussed over by the waiting staff. They start to talk about how she smells like a horse in Old Ravkan, but Alina understands them. She tells them to stop washing her and takes over their job. Genya explains that they have an hour before Alina will be presented to King Pyotr and General Kirigan needs her to be presentable. She tells Alina to hurry up so they can get started.
Alina is torn by not wanting any of this and finding comfort in the things she is being given, presently a silk robe. Another maid speaks up that the first thing they should do is make Alina’s else less Shu and Genya can see Alina’s discomfort. She tells everyone to get out and helps Alina prepare on her own. Alina begs her not to change her eyes and Genya tells her she doesn’t care that she looks part Shu; she just wants to help her look presentable.
Genya looks over Alina’s face and fixes a scar on her lip from the day before. Alina assumes she is a healer, but Genya explains that she is a Tailor. She has the ability to fix and modify one’s features. She explains that Tailors are almost as rare as sun summoners but not nearly as important. Her job mostly encompasses keeping the Queen looking young. As Genya is repairing the cuts on Alina’s body, she comes across a scar on her hand.
Alina requests that she leave that one alone since it is a reminder of home. Genya shares that she was found by a tester at the age of 11 but had been using her powers since she was three. This worries Alina, who doesn’t believe she is ready to step in front of the King. Genya reminds her that while she has only know that she is a Grisha for a day, she has been one her entire life.
“The Making at the Heart of the World” jumps to the other side of the Fold, Kaz, Jesper (Kit Young), Inej and the Conductor Arken (Charles Howard) arrive in Novokribirsk in West Ravka. Kaz explains that they aren’t just hiring him to get them through the Fold safely but also to help them sneak into the Little Palace. Kaz is after the alleged sun summoner and needs to know how the Arken will get them in safely. Arken explains that he has a contact named Nina (Danielle Galligan), a heartrender, who helps him sneak Grisha out of the palace. She believes that Grisha should be given a choice to serve the crown or not.
The scene flips to Nina, who is heading to her room when the innkeeper tells her that she is late on her payment. She uses her ability to charm him into giving her a bit more time and then tells him that a man named the Conductor will be arriving shortly to see her. She then heads upstairs, where she is packing her stuff and overhears men talking in Fjerdan. They burst into her room calling her a witch. She tries to fight them off, but someone from outside immobilizes her and she is captured.
Time passes back to the present day, where Kaz and the crew are looking over Nina’s room. Arken thinks she is running late, but Kaz knows that something else must have happened. They find a pin that belongs to the Drüskelle. It becomes clear to them that the Grisha hunters took Nina. Kaz believes that the innkeeper gave her away and Inej realizes they had a clear line of attack through the window. Kaz sends her off to investigate and once they know things are clear, they head on their way.
Arken believes they should abandon their mission, but Kaz refuses to stand down. He knows what this money all means to them and promises Arken that if he can get them across the Fold, he will take care of the rest. Arken agrees and sends each of them in search of something needed to make the journey across. The group will meet again at the wreckage of a skiff northeast on the edge of town, where they will set off through the Fold. Kaz sends Inej to get the jurda; he will take care of the goat and tells Jesper to get the coal but warns him to make no detours. The scene then cuts to Jesper making his way through the town’s market when he overhears a group gambling and joins them.
“The Making at the Heart of the World” jumps back to the Little Palace, where Genya leads Alina to meet with the King. Alina asks her if people are allowed to leave the Little Palace, but Genya tells her there is no need to. Alina keeps blowing on the veil attached to her hat and Genya explains that no one can see her until King Pyotr does. She finds a mirror and finally gets a good look at herself and realizes how silly she looks. Genya explains that the King doesn’t want to see the rugged fighter Grisha, but this perfect image of them. Alina asks about wearing a kefta (the uniform wore by Grisha), but Genya reminds her that he wants the world to see that this special girl was plucked from his army.
While Genya explains who will be at the presentation, Alina cuts her off and asks about the library she saw. Genya explains that everything within the palace is available to them and that General Kirigan built it as a home the Grisha could thrive in. Alina asks her if a Grisha has ever escaped the Little Palace when General Kirigan appears and asks if she plans on running away. She apologizes for her comment, but he makes a joke about the grand palace being the ugliest thing he has ever seen.
Kirigan asks how she slept and Alina opens up about her restless night and regardless of Genya’s “magic,” she still looks rather rough. Kirigan explains that it isn’t magic that they use but rather Small Science that allows them to manipulate things that already exist around them. Alina reminds him that this all sounds easy for him, but she doesn’t even know what she is doing. She doesn’t believe she is ready to go in front of the King. Kirigan promises her that he didn’t bring her here to make a fool of them and that all she needs to do is keep her focus on him.
Once they have the King’s blessing, because regardless if Kirigan rules the second army, he still needs to answer to him, they can begin Alina’s true training. He leads her into the presentation, where she finally comes face to face with King Pyotr (David Verrey), Queen Tatiana (Georgia Reece), and the other royal family members and their court. Alina removes her veil and finally gets a good look at the people around her. The King and Queen have something to say about her appearance and the fact that she is half Shu. When the Queen asks her maid to tell her good morning, Alina pipes up that she doesn’t actually speak Shu.
The Queen asks her who exactly she is and while she is unable to answer, Kirigan comes to her rescue and introduces her as Alina Starkov, the sun summoner. Kirigan uses his ability to create shadows that darken the entire room around them. He then tells Alina to call forth the sun before reaching out and grasping her hand. Alina releases the sun’s power from her and the entire room is illuminated in a bright light that breaks down Kirigan’s shadows. Once he releases her, the light goes away just as quickly as it appeared.
The King is overwhelmed with the performance and asks how long Alina will need to prepare. Kirigan reminds them that tearing down the Fold is no easy feat and that she alone might not be able to do it. He wants her to remain at the Little Palace to train with him. The King just asks that he train her quickly, reminding everyone that they are still at war and that there are rumors that the west wishes to become a sovereign nation. Once the Fold is torn down, the two sides of Ravka can become one again. Kirigan tells Alina she was perfect as they leave, but she doesn’t know exactly where the power came from. He explains that it simply came because she called upon it to come and welcomes her home.
Alina joins the rest of the Grisha, who take her in with open arms, though at least one, Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta), isn’t impressed with her, who reminds her that she is nothing but an orphan half-breed. Genya quickly swoops in and leads Alina away, reminding her that the entire country will be talking about her now.
Back in West Ravka, Kaz has acquired the goat when he overhears General Zlatan (Tom Weston-Jones) discussing the rumors that the old country has found the sun summoner. The general doesn’t believe the rumors and feels that now is the time for the west to break away completely. As Kaz watches the general step down from his podium, he sees him enter into his tent with the Arken. Kaz walks away instead of confronting them and meets up with Inej, who was looking for her parent’s name on a memorial wall for people who died within the Fold.
Kaz reminds her that they wouldn’t be up there as her people, the Suli, go around the Fold, not through it. Inej reminds him that the only thing she has left of her parents is the religious stitch her mother made for her and if she could just know their fate, it would bring her peace of mind. Kaz reminds her that hope is dangerous and to find a way to push this out of her mind so she can move on.
“The Making at the Heart of the World” jumps to a boat on rocky waters. Below deck, Nina is chained up alongside other Grisha who have been caught. She tries to ask the man (Calahan Skogman), tying her up where they are going. When he doesn’t answer her, she accuses him of being a slaver. That finally gets a reply from him. They take them to stand trial for their crimes in Fjerda, but Nina knows that it’s just a sham and they will all be killed.
As she is trying to fight back, she realizes that the man in front of her was the one who tied her up from outside the inn, allowing his friends to take her down. She mocks him about how much they respect women that they attacked her five on one, but he reminds her that she isn’t a woman – she is Grisha. He leaves her tied up and warns her never to talk to him again.
We jump back to Arken leading Kaz and Inej towards the wreckage along the shore of the Fold. Jesper is nowhere to be found when the group heads into a minefield; a ploy put in place by Arken to keep people away. As they get closer to the edge of the Fold, we can see tracks peaking out. Arken warns them that what they see now is nothing compared to the inside of the Fold.
Arken pulls a train-like vehicle from within the Fold and begins his preparations. As if summoned, Jesper appears, running along the shoreline, calling out to them to wait. However, he isn’t alone as an entire group of men are trailing behind him, guns drawn. It turns out Jesper lost all of the money and stole 16lbs of coal. Not the 20lbs that were needed, which makes Arken worried, but there is no turning back now. He tells them to sit still and never shift their weight and off they go into the Fold.
Back at the Little Palace, Alina tries to make her way outside but is stopped by guards when Nadia (Gabrielle Brooks) and Marie (Jasmine Blackborow) find her. They question her about being a mapmaker, the attack on her carriage and her fighting skills. Alina tells them that she barely got a swing off as they lead her off to her first lesson – combat training. Outside, Botkin (Hon Ping Tang) reminds her that every one of Ravka’s enemies wants a piece of her and asks if she knows how to fight.
In another Shadow and Bone flashback, we see Mal teaching Alina the basics of throwing punches and fighting back. In the present, she tells Botkin she has had some training and he tells her to pick an opponent and prove it. She singles out Zoya and in a single leg sweep, Zoya knocks Alina down. Not willing to give up, Alina gets up and rechallenges her. This time isn’t much different as Zoya gets the upper hand the then deals an emotional blow by bringing up Mal and insinuating something happened between him and Zoya.
Alina jumps back up as Zoya is walking away and when she turns around, Alina clocks her one right in the face. Angered, Zoya unleashes her power to throw Alina back against the stone wall. As she slowly comes to, she has visions of the white stag from her dreams. Marie and Nadia believe that Zoya is just jealous that General Kirigan is favoring Alina. It turns out that Zoya is pinning over the general, though Nadia wonders why she would when she could be with someone like her.
Botkin reprimands Zoya for her behavior and treatment of the sun summoner and is sent away. Nadia suggests they take Alina inside to get her checked out, but Alina goes refuses and goes by herself. Inside her room, Alina writes another letter to Mal, wishing he was here with her. Similar to the orphanage, she is being bullied for being different. She also mentions that she is dreaming of the stag again and while he would tell her that it isn’t real, she reminds him that the sun summoner was only a myth until recently.
The idea of the stag leads Alina to investigate the library within the Little Palace. While investigating the myth behind the stag in her dreams, she meets the King’s Spiritual Advisor known as The Apparat (Kevin Eldon) Genya had warned her about. He realizes that she was looking for information on the lore behind the Stag and pulls a few books for her. He explains that the lore begins with a man known as the Bonesmith who knew that the Grisha would always be persecuted.
He came up with a plan to magnify their power by using his finger bones to create magical creatures that would attune only to Grisha. In one of the volumes, we see the Stag pictures alongside the Bonesmith. He explains that the Grisha learned that killing one of the creatures and melding a piece of their bone with their own, it would amplify their abilities. He gives her another book as a mark of their friendship titled The Lives of the Saints.
He then leads her to Baghra for more training. He explains that she works alongside every Grisha to help them harness their power. He also explains that most people hate the Grisha because they believe that they have not suffered. But he knows that she has suffered and warns her that she will suffer more in the time to come. Uncomfortable with the conversation, Alina heads off to meet with Baghra.
Inside the small den, Alina comes face to face with Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker), who mocks her for training with Botkin. Baghra asks her who she is and where she belongs. Alina tries to stay true to her belief that she doesn’t belong at the Little Palace and just wants to be a normal girl, but Baghra won’t hear it. Alina then says that she is a sun summoner, but Baghra finds that she doesn’t believe that either since she can’t actually summon the sun without the help of General Kirigan. Baghra warns her that Kirigan has blood and bones that amplify the power of other Grisha, which is how she was able to perform in front of the King.
Alina doesn’t believe that’s possible, but Baghra just continues to mock her about apparently knowing everything. She strikes Alina in the arm and tells her that when she believes she is the sun summoner like everyone else does, then she can come back to begin her training. Until then, she is pretty much useless. Alina returns to her room and pens a completely different letter to Mal. She opens up about her time at the Little Palace and struggles to be thankful for all that they have provided. The people are rude to her and all she wants is to be home with the first army.
In the Fold, Kaz and the crew are barreling forward in Arken’s train contraption. We hear chimes as it steams past markers put in place by Arken. He explains that this keeps him up to date on their pace and how far they still need to go. Things get a bit dicey when Arken lets it known that the tracks aren’t actually complete. He reminds them that as long as everyone stays still, the momentum and the wind turbines will carry them to the other tracks. Of course, just as he says things will be okay, we hear the screech of a Volkra.
“The Making at the Heart of the World” jumps to Alina back at the Little Palace. She is seated in between Marie and Nadia for her first dinner with the rest of the Grisha. She is served before everyone else and is also provided an otkazat’sya taster (Jacob Seelochan) to make sure her food isn’t poisoned. Nadia warns her not to get used to the fancy food and taster since General Kirigan only feeds them peasant food normally to keep them humble.
While eating, Ivan (Simon Sears) shares the news with the others from the Fjerdan front. Alina overhears that there were casualties within a few companies from the first army, including the 36th (Mal’s). He goes on to share that 13 Grisha were also lost as well. Ivan believes that the Fjredan army would be no match against Ravka once the Fold is torn down. He calls Alina out for sitting around eating instead of training and finding a way to destroy the Fold.
We jump to Kaz, Jesper and Inej within the Fold and see the train car screaming forward. Volkra are attacking the outside while everyone inside is trying to figure out what to do. They have officially run out of coal and a dead Volkra is lodged to the roof, which adds unneeded weight that will slow them down. Just as Jesper is about to lose it, Arken tells him to grab the goat.
Refusing to use the goat as bait, Jesper freaks out more. Arken tells him that the goat isn’t for the Volkra but to calm him down. All he needs to do is sit down, hug the goat and shut up. We hear a chime go off and Arken realizes that they are behind on their time and it is likely that the train car will stop inside the Fold instead of outside. To make matters worse, more Volkra are drawn to the noise caused by the train car and are attacking them from the outside.
Just as all seems lost, Jesper makes his way to the front of the train car, goat in arms and draws his pistol. One after another, Jesper fires and hits each of the Volkra, killing and knocking them off the train car. Just when all is clear, one rips right through the roof, but he quickly fires off one last shot just in time. As the train slows to a stop, they successfully make their way out of the Fold and into East Ravka, alive.
The third episode of Shadow and Bone, “The Making at the Heart of the World” draws to a close as Alina finishes her letter to Mal. She admits that she is terrified of not knowing who she truly is. That everything that they dismissed as children is actually who she really is. She is worried that now that she has changed, he won’t know or even like her anymore. But she knows that he is her home, her true north. And everything she is doing is in hopes that she will one day get back to him.
Goodness was this episode of Shadow and Bone heavy. So much has happened to Alina in the last two episodes and we are now really starting to see how she is handling things emotionally. Not only is she struggling with being taken from the only family she has ever known, but she is also expected to be this hero who is going to save everyone. Talk about an identity crisis. In the final moments of “The Making at the Heart of the World,” when she writes her letter to Mal, we can really see just how lost she is. And Jessie Mei Li is doing such a phenomenal job bringing all of the emotion to the surface.
Honestly, all of the cast is doing such a great job, from General Kirigan and the Grisha to Kaz and his crew. They are doing such a wonderful job bringing this world to life. Speaking of Kaz and his crew, the more we see them, the more we learn about them. We know that Kaz has some issues with Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly) that I am sure will come to light in the future. We see Inej struggling with losing her family and wanting to find answers but also move forward. And now we can see Jesper even struggles with gambling and I am sure we will learn even more over the next few episodes.
Every one of these characters is so well throughout and complex. It’s impossible not to fall in love with them. I also believe we are moving into almost three separate stories at this point in the show as well. We have Alina and those in East Ravka, Kaz and his crew and now we have Nina’s story shaping up. I am excited to finally see when all of these stories will overlap and where it will go from there as Shadow and Bone continues!
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