We are officially in the second half of Netflix’s very first season of Leigh Barudgo‘s Shadow and Bone. So far, Eric Heisserer and his crew have done such a fantastic job bringing this story to life on the screen. In the last episode, we watched how Alina (Jessie Mei Li) slowly let go of her past and grew closer to General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) and life at the Little Palace, not knowing that Mal (Archie Renaux) was risking his life to find the Stag. We also got to watch Kaz (Freddy Carter) and his crew go on the first heist of the season and secure transport to the Little Palace! In episode five, “Show Me Who You Are,” Alina’s bond with Kirigan only grows stronger as time drifts closer to the royal party, where Kaz schemes to snatch her. But will Mal arrive in time with news of the Stag before things can go south?
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.
“Show Me Who You Are” opens as Mal barely returns to the first army camp at Chernast with his life. At the Little Palace, Marko (Pedro Lloyd Gardiner), Inej (Amita Suman), Jesper (Kit Young) and Arken (Charles Howard) are going over the paperwork with a member of the second army as they wait to gain entrance. The soldier warns them that the writ from the Queen allows them limited access and they are not allowed to leave the group or carry weapons. If they break the rules, they could be fired…or fired upon.
While he is talking, another guard spots a man underneath one of the carriages who is attempting to sneak in to see the Sun Summoner. As the guards rush around him, we see that Kaz dressed as a member of the army securing his way into the Little Palace. Inside, Alina is chatting with Marie (Jasmine Blackborow) and Nadia (Gabrielle Brooks) about Maria’s failed attempt at accepting a date to the party. Genya (Daisy Head) arrives and ushers the two girls to another fitting before setting her sights on helping Alina prepare.
She tells Alina that there is still no word from Mal, but Alina tells her not to worry about updating her anymore and that she must have a lot on her plate. Genya opens up to Alina about how the Queen (Georgia Reece) has become overly bossy, demanding she awake before dawn to assist her. Alina offers to accidentally blind her during the demonstration later, but Genya says she doesn’t mind. When the Queen is looking her best, the King’s (David Verrey) gaze tends to shift to the Queen’s direction at least until nightfall.
Alina asks Genya about what life might be like after the Fold is torn down. She has always seen herself traveling to visit the True Sea or seeing the libraries at the University of Ketterdam. Alina then remarks that Mal wanted to retire to a farm, but she never really liked those. Genya reminds her that Saints might not get to retire once the work is done. She then shifts the conversation to her attire for the performance. General Kirigan had requested that Alina wear black, but Genya believes she should return to blue once she is done. However, Alina has decided she is going to stick with black from here on out.
Genya tells her that she likes seeing Alina happy and making choices, but she warns her to be careful of powerful men. Before she can continue, they are interrupted by David Kostyk (Luke Pasqualino), the Little Palace’s resident Fabrikator. He was responsible for creating the blue light used by skiffs crossing the Fold. Kirigan had asked him to create a glove that will allow Alina to split one beam of light into two easily and that it is important to remember her show of power will help convince allies to stay true to the cause.
Alina puts the glove on and uses it to summon the sun and split it into two rather easily. While the other two marvel at what she can accomplish, Alina removes the glove and performs the same summon again without even breaking a sweat. She returns the glove to David and thanks him for making it, but she feels she will be alright on her own. After he leaves, Alina realizes that Genya must like him. Genya refuses to speak a word of it.
Somewhere else in the Little Palace, Kaz makes his way through a hallway going over the plan. He searches out an ambush point between the room where the event will take place and the dinner. He is walking without his cane, making it hard on his bad knee though he continues. We can overhear Inej saying that someone should be with him, but he knows he can manage. He is worried about Inej blowing her cover and knows Jesper needs to plot out the escape route.
Kaz knows that there is a gap between the event and dinner and that Alina will most likely be placed in a room where she can be kept safe while they wait. He realizes that the room they will be holding her in has a hidden door that only a Grisha can unlock. As he is investigating the door, he overhears someone coming and hides. He watches from another room as the door is opened and inside, he sees another Grisha who we know is Marie.
Elsewhere in the palace, Inej is practicing her rope routine while Jesper is eying up a stablehand (Jesse Badger). Inej reprimands him for spacing out and reminds him he needs to be finding their way out. Jesper tells her that he is doing just that, but she sees it as flirting with the stablehand instead. He pretends like he hasn’t even noticed the young man and Inej says this is all funny until the carriage they steal isn’t fast enough to getaway. But he reminds her that it isn’t the carriage the makes the difference but the speed of the horses.
Inej mocks him about being so proud about being right and he fires back that the Sun Summoner has invited half the world to see her do a party trick. Inej is clearly offended by this and asks him if he really thinks that’s all it is. Jesper says that Kaz believes it to be a trick and he is rarely wrong. But Inej already knows how he feels; she wants to know what Jesper thinks. He thinks that as long as they get paid, it doesn’t matter if she is really a true saint.
“Show Me Who You Are” shifts back to Genya and Alina making their way to see the new Kefta designed for her when Alina spots the festival setting up outside. She begs Genya to sneak her out before more people get there. Genya is worried that people will notice her, but Alina reminds her that the only people who know what she looks like are those within the palace itself. She just wants this one thing before her entire world truly changes. Genya is worried about the two guards who are stationed with them, but Alina handles them.
While we don’t get to see it, Alina tells Genya that she put on her best Bahgra (Zoë Wanamaker) impression. (If there are deleted scenes, please let this be one of them!) Outside, they travel from booth to booth, taking in the sites of the performers. Genya tries to get her back inside when we see Marko begin a presentation telling the story of Alina Starkov. Alina remarks that they will be amazed when they realize the girl looks nothing like their portrayal.
She makes the joke about telling them they have it wrong, but Genya stops her. They don’t realize that Jesper is getting ready just a few short feet away and overhears them. He catches a glimpse of her before Fedyor (Julian Kostov) finds them and begins reprimanding them. Alina, worried she got Genya in trouble, takes the blame, but Fedyor breaks character and admits he was just trying out his Ivan (Simon Sears) impression. He warns them that they do need to hurry back inside before Ivan actually comes looking for them.
At Chernast, General Bohdan (Hugo Speer) writes a report to General Kirigan. Mal arrives before he can send off the message and demands to go as well. They are worried that he is in no condition to ride. Mal believes it is his duty to inform Alina and General Kirigan that he found where the Stag is located. Bohdan agrees that Mal and Tofin (Jimmy Clark) will ride together. It is clear that Mal isn’t holding up so well physically, but he has the heart to keep going forward.
Back at the Little Palace, Jesper informs Kaz, Inej and Arken that he saw the real Alina Starkov and that she is part, Shu. Inej asks Kaz again what is in the room he found. He tells her it is a fitting room where she will go between the event and dinner. Arken understands that this is where they will be grabbing her from and everyone is on board until Kaz warns them about the hidden door and a lock only Grisha Materialnik can manipulate.
Arken knows how to get through the door using a very powerful lodestone which he keeps in his bag at all times. Kaz decides to assign Arken the job of grabbing the target while the rest of them stand guard until it is time to get out of there. Inej is worried, but Kaz tells her it is pretty much the only way since he knows how to get through the Grisha locked door. Their job is to be the lynx pack, which means to clear the path to and from the prey. Ultimately, Arken will grab the target, Kaz and Inej will clear the path and Jesper will provide the getaway car.
In General Kirigan’s quarters, he is preparing for the event when Alina finds her way there. She overhears him calling out for Ivan’s help with his Kefta and she takes it upon herself to help him. He tells her that he heard about her ability to split light without the use of the gloves. She thanks him for the gesture and he tells her it was just a safeguard in case she got nervous. Alina isn’t, though; she did think about throwing herself down the stairs once or twice in the beginning when she was. Kirigan warns her that she would be out of luck since he has healers for this sort of thing.
Alina opens up to Kirigan that she truly understands what her demonstration represents for the world after talking with Genya. She admits that when she arrived at the Little Palace that she felt like an outsider, but now she feels like one and them. Alina also feels like she is connected to something greater, something that will offer Grisha and Ravkans hope for the future. Kirigan shares how her words mean so much to him. How she means a lot…to everyone. Before he can say anything else, Alina crosses the room and the two share a kiss. He tells her that not many people actually surprise him, but an attendant arrives before anything can go further.
In the stables, Jesper is investigating, trying to find the faster horses. The stablehand he had been eyeing up earlier finds him and offers his help with finding the ambassador’s horses. He requests the pair of Percherons, but the stablehand actually wants to know which ambassador Jesper is working for. He rattles off a name and the stablehand asks him how he likes it there. Jesper gives him a vague response and tells him that the more he travels, the more he learns that where you are doesn’t matter as much as who is with you.
The stablehand enjoys that piece of advice and asks for more. Jesper tells him that when you really want something, it is better to act without thinking than to think without acting. The stablehand almost recognizes him as a part of the troupe earlier, but Jesper tells him that he is a terrible actor, but he isn’t against light role-play. And all of Jesper’s flirting wins him a few moments in the hay with the lovely stablehand.
In the palace, Inej is doing her rope routine when Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta) passes, overhearing another woman call Inej Zemeni and correcting her the Inej is Suli. Upstairs she enters into the party where we see Fedyor trying to feed Ivan sweets and people gossiping about the absence of the certain West Ravkan general. The woman makes a smart remark about how they wouldn’t risk their lives being this far behind enemy lines. The other gentleman realizes that the rumors about their succession are true and the lady shares that this is why he is turning a blind eye to the Drüskelle. Depending on how the rest of the evening goes, the two make it clear they might need to re-examine their support of him.
Elsewhere Kaz is hiding in a corner when a gentleman passes by and Kaz spills a drink all over himself. He stumbles out and runs into Ivan, who demands he gets changed regardless of his orders. Kaz sneaks off and grabs a fresh set for him, plus a set for Inej and Arken. Kaz heads back to the party where Kirigan joins the King and Queen, who remark about the certain quaintness the Little Palace has always had.
Alina and Genya are making their way upstairs. It is too early for Alina to arrive, so Genya tells her they should head to the waiting room. Alina, however, has different plans and decides to enter into the fray early. Kirigan leaves the King’s side right away and joins Alina. He reprimands her about arriving without palace guards but then tells her she looks lovely. She tells him that it looks like he needed saving. The room is dazzled by Pavel (Andy Apollo) and Polina (Kelly Gough) putting on a show with their fire tricks while David watches Genya without her noticing.
Afterward, Kirigan tells Alina that now is her time to show the world what she can do. Inej meets up with Kaz, who points out the reflective glass that can be used to bounce light to trick the crowd in where the light is actually coming. She refuses to answer him and goes and takes her place a few steps away. As Kirigan helps Alina onto the small stage, he asks if she is ready. She believes she is and he tells her that she knows who she is.
Kirigan announces Alina and tells the room that she is their key to liberation before using his shadows to darken the entire room. Everyone has their eyes on her, including Kaz, who is clearly looking for anything to prove that Alina is a fake. On the platform, Alina steps forward and summons a small globe of light in both hands and sends them out into the room. With everyone watching, she explodes the light out, burning away Kirigan’s shadows. Everyone realizes that the Saint they have been waiting for has arrived and begins to bow at her feet. Inej is completely overtaken with emotion and finally knowing that what they were after was the real deal.
In the stables, Jesper and the stablehand clearly had a good time. Things get cut short when another gentleman comes looking for the stablehand (who we learn is actually named Dima). They share a parting kiss. Outside, the man is giving orders to Dima about not allowing anyone to leave per the general’s orders. In the background, we can see Jesper sneaking away with two of the horses from the stables.
Upstairs in the hallway with the hidden door, Arken is able to open the lock using the loadstone and hides inside. At the palace gates, Mal and Tofin arrive with the letter for General Kirigan. The soldier at the door mocks them about the Stag myth. Mal fires back that they have a living saint within their walls this exact moment and he dares scoff at a myth? They warn him that if he doesn’t let them in, he will tell the general that he turned them away. He agrees but tells them to leave their weapons at the gates. As they head inside, we see another soldier (Katrina Durden) overhear them.
Inside, Alina has left the party and is being escorted down the stairs when the Apparat (Kevin Eldon) stops her. He congratulates her on earning the pride she now wears. She thanks him, but he warns her that she is becoming very dangerous and she will become even more dangerous in the future. He believes that she has no idea how large of a role she has to play and that people are erecting altars to Sankta Alina as they speak. She is confused on why they would do that and the Apparat tells her there is something far stronger than armies, kings and generals. And that is faith.
Before he can go on, Genya arrives and pulls Alina away, but the Apparat reminds her that she needs to remember how strong faith really is. We swap to Mal and Tofin wait in Kirigan’s quarters. Kirigan arrives, asking if these are the two who claim to have found the Stag. Tofin admits that it wasn’t him but Mal who found it. Kirigan asks who Mal is and instantly recognizes him when he shares his name, job and division. Kirigan is clearly surprised that Mal is here and asks everyone to leave them.
Once alone, Kirigan asks about Mal’s well being who tells him that he is fine. Kirigan then jumps right to the case about the deer. He is worried that with so many deer being in the wild, how does he know that he found the right stag? Mal shares the picture Alina drew of the Stag and tells him that the one he found was the exact same one. It was twice as big as any other Stag and all white. Mal also shares that when he looked at him head-on, he saw the symbol that appeared in Kirigan’s book as well.
Convinced, Kirigan continues to ask Mal questions about the Stag. Was it alone or in a herd? Mal tells him that when he found it, the Stag was alone but had traveled with a herd. Kirigan asks him where he saw the Stag. Mal shares that it was north of Chernast but won’t give him the exact location until he can see Alina. Mal explains that they are friends and that he will tell Kirigan where to find the Stag once he sees her. Kirigan is skeptical because so many people claim to know the Sun Summoner just to get within her presence.
Mal tells Kirigan to ask Alina about him, but Kirigan wants to know something about her that only a few people would know. He wants to know what he means and Kirigan throws out her favorite flower or book. Mal answers quickly that her favorite flower is blue irises. Kirigan tells him that he will have Mal shown to a room and if he is correct, he will bring her to see him. Mal agrees and Kirigan leaves him in the room alone.
Out at Bahgra’s place, the soldier who overheard Mal and Tofin’s arrival warns her that they have found the Stag. Bahgra doesn’t believe but still wants more information. She tells her to bring the two soldiers to her so she can learn more. The soldier then informs Bahgra that they have already been taken to the general who had issued the order to find the Stag. Bahgra warns her that they can not let Kirigan obtain that kind of power. She shares a plan with the soldier, though we have no idea what it entails.
Inside the palace, Alina makes her way back to her hidden room. Once inside, Arken attacks her and slits her throat. He tells her that this is from General Zlatan. Genya overhears the commotion and rushes in. She is able to get him to the ground, but he pulls out a gun and shoots her, thankfully hitting her kefta. Arken rushes out of the room but is surrounded by soldiers who take him captive. In the room, Genya crawls over to Alina’s body but calls her Marie. As Marie lay dying, she asks Genya to undo the changes so she can die with her own face.
Downstairs we see Alina talking with Nadia and Fedyor while Kaz and Inej keep watch. He explains that when he found the room earlier, he saw two identical dresses—one for Alina to wear and the other for her double. Alina was needed for the demonstration, but afterward, they would deploy the double. We see Marie disguised as Alina walks past Mal in the hallways, who tries calling out to her. Kaz shares that he sent Arken after the double while the two of them stay on the target. Inej warns him that Arken will be caught, but Kaz believes he chose his fate when he met with Zlatan a few episodes back.
Inej is worried that Kaz was wrong, but he knows that they are the only two men in the world who profit off the Fold and tearing it down will ruin both of them. He realizes that Nadia and Fedyor have walked away, leaving Alina alone. They make their way over and tell her they are escorting her to dinner. She isn’t sure for a moment, but she is hungry and agrees to go with them. From across the room, Pavel, from the performance before Alina’s earlier, notices something is amiss and begins to follow them.
Kaz and Inej only make it so far before Kirigan arrives to take over her care and gives her blue irises, which she seems really happy about. He orders the other two to return to their posts. Knowing they don’t stand a chance, they back off and decide to go with plan b. But then Kaz notices that Pavel is following him and decides to go with plan f and tells Inej to stay on the target. She warns Kaz that he is an Inferni and not to take any chances.
Outside, Mal is walking with Bahgra’s spy and shares that he hasn’t told General Kirigan exactly where he can find the Stag. He asks her where she is taking him and she gives him a vague response. Once inside, she attacks him and sends him tumbling down the steps. He finds Tofin’s dead body and realizes that she means to kill him. He goes toe to toe with her and when he thinks he has her pinned, she unveils herself as a Grisha. But that isn’t enough to stop him and he eventually kills her and makes his way back towards the palace.
Kirigan escorts Alina to his own quarters instead of taking her to the changing room. He asks her if she would rather attend the dinner, but Alina decides that Marie can manage with the help of Genya. The two share another intimate moment together before that is broken up by the arrival of guards. Ivan tells Kirigan that Marie and Genya were attacked in the fitting room and Alina was the target. They caught the suspect and Kirigan tells Ivan to wait. He tells Alina that he needs to step away for a moment and will leave his guards outside until he is back.
Within the room, a secret passage opens and Bahgra appears. She tells Alina that she needs to leave. When Alina tries to fight, Bahgra calls her a stupid girl and pulls her through the passageway. Bahgra tells her that she is trying to save her from being a slave for the rest of her life. Alina tries to convince Bahgra to go back and that General Kirigan can help, but Bahgra tells her that she is trying to help save her from him.
She explains that Kirigan wants to expand the Fold and use it as a weapon just as he created it. Confused, Alina remarks that The Black Heretic created the Fold. Alina argues that Kirigan has been helping her train to get stronger, but Bahgra knows he was just trying to distract her with dreams of their future together. He wanted her to be dependant on him and the things he gives her, like the gloves. And in the season’s biggest plot twist, we learn that General Kirigan is actually The Black Heretic. Alina doesn’t believe her right away and Bahgra uses her Grisha ability to summon shadows just like Kirigan can. Because in another plot twist, Bahgra is his mother and she shares that Kirigan has been alive this whole time, waiting for Alina to appear.
Bahgra warns her that he plans to use Alina to weaponize the Fold and use his lonely, sad, wounded boy story to get closer to her. To make her feel bad for him and want to help him. He has had centuries to practice exactly how to win over naive girls. Bahgra tells Alina that Kirigan has been obsessed with gaining more power and that she almost gave him the Stag. Now the best thing for Alina is to hide. Alina argues that she will fight back, but Bahgra knows she is still too weak. She sends her off into the tunnels below the Little Palace with directions on where to go. Alina goes against Bahgra’s directions and ventures off on her own.
“Show Me Who You Are” jumps to Kaz hiding from Pavel among some pews. Just as Pavel thinks he has Kaz cornered, things change drastically and Kaz crushes his right hand. Kaz knocks him out and starts making his way out of the small cathedral room. But Pavel wasn’t knocked out and jumps up and grabs a flame with his left hand. Before he can use it against Kaz, Inej throws a knife into the back of his head and kills him. It is clear that this affected her, but the two don’t have a moment to waste and rush off to find Jesper.
Outside, Jesper is waiting with the horses as he hears guards rushing by. Inside, Kirigan returns to his quarters to find it empty of Alina. We jump to Alina, who finds her way out into the stables and grabs a different cloak before heading out into the yard. Kirigan also heads outside to find her when he runs into Bahgra, who warns him that she knows everything and knows Alina is missing. He heads off and we see Mal hiding behind some trees, having overheard the conversation.
We cut back to Jesper, who is still hiding behind the statue and spots Alina make her way out of the stables and climb right into the trunk on the back of their carriage. Moments later Kaz and Inej arrive and tell Jesper that they lost her. He laughs this off and tells Kaz all he needs to do is ask. So Kaz asks him if they know where the target is. He doesn’t answer and as “Show Me Who You Are” comes to a close, Jesper, Inej and Kaz ride away with Alina in the trunk of their carriage.
I am going to need a moment to process the rollercoaster this episode of Shadow and Bone was. The thoughts and theories I had leading into this episode were completely shaken by the end. I’m looking at you, General Kirigan! Between the last episode and this one, I fell head over heels for this character trying to forget what I knew from the books. Ben Barnes, I tip my hat to you. I was really liking where the story was going (and remember things can always change from book to screen) and wondered if they were going with a different approach to his character. But I was wrong and I’m not mad about it.
Alina, throughout this episode, goes from one extreme to another. Again a reminder to us that she has almost no one she can trust. She thought she was falling in love with General Kirigan, but it turns out he was just using her and lying this whole time about who he really was. He has a lot to answer for in the next couple of episodes. We also see Mal come so close to reconnecting with Alina, yet she falls through his fingers. But with her having escaped the palace, we can all assume he will be hot on her trail. And can we talk about how even though The Crows’ plans kept failing, Alina still managed to walk right into their paths?
Speaking of The Crows, I wanted to touch on something that happened towards the very end of “Show Me Who You Are”. Inej killed a man. Up until this point, it has been made very clear that Inej does not like to kill and pretty much refuses to do so. But when faced with the choice of allowing Kaz to die or kill, she chose to save her friend. Her religion means everything to her, but is this the beginning of her finding that sometimes those around her are more important? Just like Alina is dealing with changes in her life, I suspect we will see Inej deal with the aftermath of who she is becoming as she stays by Kaz’s side.
The one downside of this episode is we don’t see Nina (Danielle Galligan) and Matthias (Calahan Skogman), but I will let that slide…for now. We had so much going on and for the first time, everything has pretty much taken place in one central location. But now that we have made it over the hump of the season, we are about to head into wrap-up territory. What do you expect to happen next?
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