After that rollercoaster of a fifth episode, Netflix’s fantasy series Shadow and Bone is heading into wrap-up territory. The series is based on Leigh Bardugo‘s novel of the same name and adapted by showrunner Eric Heisserer. In the last episode, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) and Alina (Jessie Mei Li) grew closer though the truth of who he is sends her running to hide right into the hands of The Crows. In episode six, “The Heart is an Arrow,” Kirigan hunts down information on the crew who took Alina while Nina (Danielle Galligan) warms up to a Grisha hunter (Calahan Skogman).
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 Heart is an Arrow” opens as General Kirigan joins Ivan (Simon Sears) and Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta) in interrogating Arken (Charles Howard). He tries to lie and say that he was following The Crows because he thought they were up to something suspicious and was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ivan knows he is lying because as a Heartrender, he can tell when Arken’s heart shifts as he weaves in bits of the truth with his lies.
Kirigan realizes that the man sitting in front of him is the Conductor that Nina has been spying on this whole time. Kirigin suspects that Arken had something to do with Nina’s disappearance, but he swears it wasn’t them. Kirigin starts to piece together that General Zlatan (Tom Weston-Jones) hired Arken to kill the supposed Sun Summoner. He only joined The Crows as a way to cover his tracks and pin everything on someone else.
Arken admits to everything and offers to help Kirigan by getting close to Zlatan and killing him if he is willing to pay half of what Zlatan would pay for Alina’s death. Kirigan doesn’t need his help and decides to kill Arken by suffocating him in the shadows.
In the trunk carriage, we see Alina summon the light. Locked inside, she does some quick thinking of uses the light and a magnifying glass to burn a hole through and knock the lockout. Once outside, she comes face to face with Kaz (Freddy Carter), Jesper (Kit Young) and Inej (Amita Suman). They realize that she wants a way out of East Ravka and offer to assist her in her escape. However, Alina has no interest in being anyone’s captive. They try to stop her, but she summons a light to blind them. Inej, having seen the power twice, backs down and lets Alina escape.
Back in the Little Palace, Fedyor (Julian Kostov) meets with Kirigan and tells her that he has a lead. Kirigan thinks it is Alina at first, forgetting he had asked him to find Nina. Fedyor explains that Nina was taken captive by Drüskelle, who have a witch hunter in their ranks named Matthias Helvar. She was on her way to the Ice Court. They had been tracking it until a storm tore it apart and now they are unsure what has happened. Kirigan sends him on a mission to bring back any Grisha he can find or one of the captors.
The scene swaps to Nina struggling to stay afloat in the water when she comes across a board carrying an unconscious Matthias. She uses her powers to speed up his heart to wake him up. At first, he isn’t too keen on helping her, but she reminds him that she needs his strength just as much as he needs her powers to stay warm. Together they make their way to shore. Let it be known, Titanic, that two people fit on that board. I’m just saying.
Alina, who has successfully escaped Kaz and his crew, tries to find food in the village of Ryevost. However, being half Shu seems to mean people are allowed to be rude to her. Instead of picking a fight, she moves on, trying to find someone who can help her. She overhears Jesper asking around about her and grabs another disguise before making her way out of the market.
At the Little Palace, Kirigan calls upon Zoya to inform her to prepare for a mission to find Alina and the group who kidnapped her. He tells her to also recruit Ivan and the Inferni Polena (Kelly Gough). He also tells her to bring David (Luke Pasqualino) the Durast. Kirigan has a job for him once they find Alina. Zoya isn’t sure Alina was actually kidnapped. She thinks that she might have used them to help her escape from the palace. Kirigan has trouble believing that she ran off, but Zoya believes that she never really belonged. Kirigan understands exactly how Alina felt, having dealt with it himself.
He apologizes for snapping on Zoya and she asks him why he no longer calls on her. She insinuates that when he was stressed about what was happening in the kingdom, he would call on her to take his mind off of things by joining him in her bed. However, he no longer cares about Zoya in that matter and will relax once he has Alina back. He leaves Zoya behind and it is clear that she is jealous of his obsession with Alina.
“The Heart is an Arrow” jumps to Nina and Matthias, who have washed up onshore. Neither knows what side of the border they have ended upon. Nina is worried they have ended up on the wrong side and in Fjerdan tells him that they need to find shelter before it gets too cold. He is shocked (and rather annoyed) that she speaks Fjerdan like a native. It turns out Nina speaks six languages because it’s her job. The two get up and start making their way to find a shelter. Matthias tells her that she is his prisoner, but she reminds him that detail depends on what side of the border they are on.
Back in Ryevost, Alina bumps into soldiers. They realize that she is part Shu and start to try and get her inside. She summons the light to blind one of the men before running off. They continue to chase after her and she eventually makes her way into the woods. Just when she thinks she is about to be caught, Mal (Archie Renaux) finds her and helps her to safety.
Matthias and Nina find a recently used hut in the mountains that will work as a shelter for now. Nina starts to strip out of her wet clothes, which sets Matthias off. She calls him prudish and he fires back that she is immodest. Nina tells him to join her to stay warm and alive, or is he too scared. Matthias isn’t afraid of her and decides to join her, but she won’t let him in the bed unless he takes off his clothes first. After more bickering, he tells her to turn around and strips off his clothes.
Nina, not thinking he is anything special, sneaks a peek and is clearly impressed. He joins her in the bed and she tells him he is like a burly squid. Nina tells him to get closer and then rolls over and reaches for his chest. He freaks out for a moment and she tells him that she promises not to ravish him and he fires back that he hates the way she talks. Without another word, she uses her power to speed up his heart and warm him up. Once he is good, he pulls her hand away and in Fjerdan, she says, you’re welcome and rolls over and falls asleep.
Outside of Ryenost, Mal and Alina are finally able to stop running. Mal offers her something to drink and tells her not to drink all of it. When his back is turned, she throughs the bottle at him and she starts to argue about where he has been. How she wrote him every day and he never wrote back to a single one of them. He fires back that he wrote her nearly every single day and never heard from her. She mocks him about a gorgeous Squaller (Zoya) and asks if he is still afraid of Grisha women. He tells her that he is only afraid of ones who keep secrets from him.
Mal asks her how long she knew that she was Grisha which she responds that she only just found out when the rest of the world did. He reminds her that she cheated on the test when they were children, but Alina stands by the fact that she did that not because she knew she was Grisha but because she didn’t want to leave him. Mal tells her that he has been trying to get back to her this whole time. He searched out the Stag on Kirigan’s orders because they were her drawings and he thought she was showing him the way to her. But it turns out Kirigan stole the drawing from her private journals.
Alina explains that Kirigan has been obsessed with finding the Stag to amplify his power and that Bahgra was right the whole time. Kirigan knew that if another Grisha claimed the Stag, they would rival him in power. Now that everything is on the table about how Kirigan lied and manipulated Alina, she can see that she always had Mal in her corner. She reaches out and Mal embraces her as she thanks him for finding her and he reminds her that he always will.
In Ryevost, Inej returns to Kaz at the pub and she tells him that no horses were missing from the stables. Kaz asks her how the target got away and Inej comes clean about just letting her go. He reminds her that because of that, they are going to fail this mission. She fires back that they took a job to steal a fake Sun Summoner, but it is clear that Alina is the real thing. However, Kaz still believes that everything they have seen so far has been an illusion.
She doesn’t care about his cynicism; she knows what she saw and what she believes. Kaz tells her that he can’t trust her to work as a team if she is going to be led by her religion. Inej sees this as a threat of being sent back to the Menagerie. He warns her that if they fail this mission, none of them will have a place to return to since Heleen (Deirdre Mullins) will keep The Crows Club and Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly) will take whatever is left. This confuses Inej, who doesn’t know that Kaz gave up the deed to the club as collateral to bring Inej on this mission. She tries to ask him more but Kaz storms away.
Alina and Mal find shelter for the evening, but cooking anything is out of the question as a fire would produce smoke the soldiers might be able to see. Alina tries to figure out what is wrong with Mal’s shoulder, but he tells her that he is fine. He is more worried about freezing to death than starving. Alina tells him that she can help with that and reaches out for him and summons a small ball of sun in her hands. It doesn’t produce any smoke, but the heat keeps them warm.
Mal is amazed that she was able to learn to control her powers. She tells him not to be scared of it, but he isn’t. He could never be afraid of her powers. She then asks if it is her that he is afraid of. He tells her that isn’t the case either, but she tells him that she saw it in his eyes back in Kribrisk. He apologizes for taking this long to see her for who she was truly, but he sees her now.
“The Heart is an Arrow” shifts to Nina as she awakens the next morning with Matthias arm thrown over her in bed. She finds it funny that he is so embarrassed that he feels the need to get up immediately. He shares that he can’t wait to be back in his own bed and she makes the smart remark that she can tell just how much he hates sleeping next to her. Matthias asks her why she acts like this and she admits that she likes to see him turn red. He calls her lewd and that Fjerdan women are modest and are caretakers while the men protect them.
Nina says that sounds like a recipe for miserable people and in Ravka, men and women train and fight side by side. Matthias believes that this is why Ravka will lose the war and that women aren’t made to fight. Nina, of course, believes it not natural for someone to be as stupid as they are tall but clearly, Matthias is standing before her. He tells her that Fjerdan girls don’t want to fight, but as she learns, he has actually never asked one. Nina tells him that she can wait until he loses to a girl, but Matthias doesn’t think that will happen in this lifetime. She offers to do it herself and this makes him laugh.
Jesper returns to the pub in Ryevost just as Kirigan and his group arrive in town. Jesper lets Kaz know that the triggers are set and they are ready to go. Kaz is worried if they don’t move soon, Kirigan will be on their trail. Kaz warns them that they need to move on without the girl and Inej reminds them that they have no more money. Outside, Kirigan tells David to stay in the carriage while the rest go in search of Alina and The Crows.
They spot the carriage they used to escape and when a soldier opens it, the bomb goes off. Inside the pub, Kaz and the rest overhear the bomb and plan on splitting up to take on the Grisha one on one. As they make their way outside, they spot the Grisha and Polena recognizes one of Inej’s knives and realizes that it is who killed her brother. Polena strikes out against Inej, dealing damage to the people and buildings around her. Zoya tells her that revenge is fine but to be smart about it. The groups split up and Polena heads off after Inej.
Jesper finds his way into a laundry room and hides among the hanging sheets. Ivan follows him in and while he can’t see him, he can track him through his heartbeat. Jesper fires off a shot hitting him right in his kefta. He tells Jesper that clearly no one has told him that the kefta is bulletproof and Jesper decides he really likes a challenge. Ivan continues to pursue him, but every time he thinks he is getting close, Jesper is one step ahead of him as he continues to shoot at Ivan in the same spot.
Inej tries to hide in a coal cellar, but Polena is hot on her trail. She decides it is easier just to fight Polena rather than keep running. The two go toe to toe for a bit before Polena hits her with fire which blows up a gas pipe and throws Inej into a pile of coals. When the smoke dissipates, Inej has disappeared, but Polena can see the blood on the wall. In the laundry room, Ivan continues to search out Jesper when finally Jesper hits him one last time. The blow knocks Ivan on his back and Jesper moves in to deal the final blow. Ivan asks him who he really is and Jesper calls himself a big softie for not shooting him in the head. When Ivan tries to claim that Jesper is something, Jesper knocks him out instead and tells him he should have stopped while he was ahead.
Out on the street, Zoya follows Kaz, but when she finally reaches up with him, it turns out the man is someone else. Down in the boiler room, Inej jumps out from behind Polena and stabs her right below the heart. She warns her to wait until the healer is close before pulling it out, or she will die within seconds. Polena swears that if Inej lets her live, she will hunt her down and kill everyone that she loves before finishing her off. Inej decides that it is better for her to kill Polena than let her live and pulls the knife out.
In a back alley, Kaz comes face to face with Kirigan. Kirigan tells him that he knows they took Alina and now he wants to know where they stashed her. Kaz tells him that they didn’t take her, that she left the Little Palace on her own. Kirigan refuses to believe him and asks where she is. Kaz stands by the fact that he doesn’t know where she is, but it was pretty clear to them that she wasn’t going to be anyone captive anymore. Kirigan summons shadows to strike out against Kaz, but he is able to use a flash bomb to blind Kirigan long enough to get away.
“The Heart is an Arrow” shifts to Alina and Mal getting ready to head out. Alina tells him they won’t make it far if she can’t treat his wounds. She applies a poultice she learned at the orphanage with cloves to ease the pain. He doesn’t think she used enough. She asks him how this happened and he tells her how they were caught on the wrong side of the Fjerdan border and while he was able to make it back alive, Dubrov (Andy Bruse) and Mikhael (Angus Castle-Doughty) weren’t so lucky.
Mal tells Alina that they need to keep heading west until they hit the Fold, but she thinks they should seek out the Stag. She wants to find the Stag before he can and stop him from using it as his amplifier. Alina also thinks that she will be strong enough to destroy the Fold if she can use it. Mal asks Alina if that is why Kirigan wants the Stag, but she believes he wants it for some other reason that she doesn’t know.
In the cold mountains, Nina is busy chasing after Matthias. She believes they are lost, but Matthias tells her that his people don’t get lost. They are trained to overcome these types of situations. She tells him that he really needs to relax, but he doesn’t want to. Nina asks him what he thinks will happen if he lets his guard down. She realizes that if he does, then he will start to like her, a Grisha. That if he allows himself to be open with her, he might start to see her as human.
Matthias admits to her that he does like her. She asks him why that is so horrible and he accuses her of being loud, lewd and treacherous. He doesn’t know if she is being true or using her powers to mess with his insides and drawing him in. He was warned how charming Grisha women could be and believes that is why he feels this way. Nina realizes that he believes that she is just a Grisha seductress trying to beguile him with her womanly charms. She jokes around with him when all of a sudden, the ground gives out from under her. He chooses to save her life instead of letting her fall to her death. He helps her up and the two finally introduce themselves to each other as friends instead of enemies.
Back in Ryevost, Inej meets up with Kaz and Jesper, but she is too wounded to ride alone or with someone else. They spot a carriage perfect for the taking. Jesper opens the door to find David hiding within. He throws a book at Jesper and tries to jump out the other side when Kaz knocks him out with his cane. A little while later, Kirgan returns to where the carriage should be and Ivan is helping David up. He offers to go after them, but Kirigan tells him not to bother. She isn’t with them anymore and on her own. David shares that if they can get within a mile of her, they can locate her by the ring Genya gave her.
Mal and Alina continue to head north following the trail of the Stag. Mal tells her that they need to be more careful heading into enemy territory and he has to take his job seriously now that he is a bodyguard to a Saint. Alina warns him that he has to live, so if she does anything heroic, he can share it with the world and then they can write songs about her. He also compliments Alina on how she is looking, asking if that is a side effect of being a summoner. Alina realizes how Kirigan has lived so long, but she doesn’t share it with Mal.
She also refers to him as Aleksander, which prompts Mal to ask who she is talking about. She tells him that Aleksander is General Kirigan. Alina tries to open up about her stupid choices at the Little Palace, most likely her relationship with Kirigan, but Mal tells her not to worry about that. He just wants to continue to protect her. The two continue moving forward.
“The Heart is an Arrow” draws to a close with General Kirigan questioning one of the soldiers about Alina’s whereabouts. He tells Kirigan that another soldier from the first army came through looking for her, a tracker. Kirigan realizes that Alina must be with Mal and they are in the woods heading after the Stag.
Guys, Mal and Alina, are finally back together! The last Shadow and Bone episode we saw Mal and Alina side by side was the very first episode! Clearly, quite a bit of time has passed since everything has happened and they have a lot to figure out. It’s clear now that Kirigan was trying to break her connection with her past life by not allowing either of their letters to reach each other. There is a small moment where Alina snaps at Mal for not responding to her, but I am glad to see that Kirigan hasn’t broken her enough that she can’t see what is really happening here. Now she can lean on Mal to help guide her as they search out the Stag.
We also see a change in the relationship between Kaz and Inej. In the last episode, she saved his life by breaking her rule of not killing, but in this one, they butt heads over Inej religion and allowing Alina to getaway. It is also made clear that he hasn’t told Inej that he turned over his deed to The Crow Club for her freedom. I doubt he will leave her behind (and it is clear that since this is prequel content for them that they stay together), it comes down to what will happen between the two of them. Will they find common ground to forgive and move on, or will this drive a wedge and take this group in a different direction?
And finally, we get more Nina and Matthias. Watching her break down his barriers little by little is so satisfying. It is clear that he comes from a very sheltered group of people who have no interest in expanding their knowledge of the world around them. Especially the Grisha. Nina just wants him to see and understand that she is a human, that they all are. And while she may be snarky and lewd sometimes, she is still deserving of his respect. She also has a lot to learn about his culture aside from their hatred of Grisha. I can’t wait to watch how the two of them bound over their differences and teach each other the beautiful things their cultures have to share. Plus, have you seen Matthias? Nina sure has.
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