Thursday, March 16, 2023

REVIEW: 'Shadow and Bone' - Alina and Mal Explore New Worlds as Kirigan Expands His Influence in 'No Shelter But Me'

Netflix's Shadow and Bone - Episode 2.01 "No Shelter But Me"

On the run and plagued by nightmares, Alina finds a moment of peace with Mal. Trouble awaits Kaz, Inej and Jesper upon their return to Ketterdam.

"No Shelter But Me" was written by Eric Heisserer and directed by Bola Ogun

Alina is haunted by visions of the Fold expanding. It's perfectly reasonably considering the trauma she has just endured by Kirigan. He sought to weaponize the space that has divided Ravka for centuries. He created it in a vast display of power brought on by emotion. Alina is more motivated than ever to destroying it. She doesn't believe she is powerful enough yet. She has been strengthened by one amplifier. The Stag chose her to carry its power. She accepted it. That's how she was able to defeat Kirigan even as he sought to exploit her powers for his own gain. He wasn't killed by the Volcra. Instead, he was saved and even given his own upgrade in power. He still found a way to weaponize the Fold. He now has a way of summoning and controlling creatures of incredible strength. He once again finds himself in a situation where the Grisha are being hunted down for what they can do. The world now sees Kirigan and Alina as responsible for more destruction. They never sought to bring down the Fold. Instead, they only wanted to amplify it as a means to control other nations. It has always been a battle for submission from Kirigan. Alina was always tentative about her true strength. Now, she is determined to prevail. She instinctively understands Kirigan still remains a threat. That may be nothing more than the visions she receives. However, those have been prescient before. She should heed those warnings. She is focused on her mission now, with Mal loyally by her side. The two finally act on their romantic feelings for one another. It's such a relief to see them in that context instead of just talking around how they truly feel. Their bond has always been defined by love. They couldn't voice those words until now. It was always apparent. They can survive any obstacle that stands in their way. And yet, no where in this world is safe. They have the freedom to go places they have never gone before. It's in search of the next mythical creature who can amplify Alina's ambitions. They have a plan. It's already disrupted because a high bounty has been placed for her capture. The Crows were previously motivated by a one million kruge payoff for capturing her. But now, she exists as a symbol. She remains a saint to some. Communities still revere her as the potential savior. They see the beauty and wonder of the Grisha. They don't have to be at odds with the community or used as weapons. They can simply offer possibilities to anyone who seeks to make a difference in the world. That's not always inherently good. People are complicated in that way. Alina's humanity is so often overlooked. Instead, she's a prize to be collected. She has a similar mindset to the creatures she seeks. But she also has a noble goal. That's meant to ground her actions as justified no matter what.

Meanwhile, the Crows are off on their own completely separate journey upon their return to Ketterdam. It places them amongst characters and conflicts that haven't been important since the beginning of the series. The trio became much more vital in the narrative once they crossed the Fold and became engaged with Alina's concerns. And now, their story is separate once more. Kaz decides to sell out Alina's location because he believes she has to be able to fend for herself now. He can't be trusted to protect her because he has own ambitions worth saving. Kaz is incredibly loyal. He wants to free Inej and Jesper from whatever chains that confine them. He's completely accepting of Jesper as a Grisha and not just an incredible sharpshooter. He provides Inej with a choice of where she wants to go with her freedom. And yet, Kaz is also on his own personal quest for vengeance. He's still traumatized by his youth. He easily falls into a panic attack upon being reminded of how the world refused to acknowledge his humanity. Pekka Rollins is the source of all that vitriol. The Crows return to the city learning that they're wanted for murder. Rollins has framed them. It's all the opening salvo of a much greater conflict. Kaz easily recruits more to his ranks. He makes a deal for Nina's abilities as a Heartrender. He also requires more explosives from a reliable source. Kaz opens destruction onto the city where it will hurt Rollins the most. This conflict needs a bit more personal context. The five members of the Crows look out at the city knowing the aftermath of this action is about to be even more extreme. They are loyal to Kaz for one reason or another. Nina is determined to rescue the love of her life from prison. Kaz may not be able to follow through on that promise of a prison break. He is upfront about that. He easily could be blinded by his quest for personal vengeance. He still ultimately cares about the people who work for him. That's inspiring. It allows the viewer to see his humanity. That is never lost. This world has to be more than the constant threats of war. It has to be about the prosperity possible for those just trying to survive. The Crows know all too well what it's like to be discounted by society. That's why they bonded with Alina and Mal on their journey. Of course, the stakes are much higher and more extreme than that. As such, everyone should expect a significant escalation as the season develops. These stories will have to come together at some point to provide more meaning for the characters. How they evolve individually before reaching that point is also significant. Things have changed for all of them. They haven't been for the better even though they stopped Kirigan once. That wasn't good enough. And now, they are fighting for a world that may never live up to their ideals. It's still a noble and honorable cause meant to exact justice on those who've manipulated it all for their personal gain for years.