I also love the way that the show fleshes out Inej, both in terms of her past and how the overhanging threat of returning to the Menagerie impacts her choices, as well as the way her religious beliefs shape who she is. (There’s something honestly wonderful about the fact that she gets to meet and know Alina, who is – and will become even more fully – revered as a saint by her faith, and I just love that for her.)
Kayti: I agree! For the first half of the season, I wasn’t sure if it worked, and I do think that has something to do with the weakness of setting in this adaptation. For parallel storylines to work well, they need to have a strong sense of world-building. In that way, even if there aren’t explicit plot or character connections between the two (or more!) storylines, then each storyline still adds something to the other(s) by virtue of telling us something about the larger world they share. Game of Thrones did this famously well, as does The Expanse. In Shadow and Bone, the articulation of setting is one of the adaptation’s weakest elements—the world and its cultures don’t truly feel real or lived in to me—and I think that hurts the integration of these two book series.
That being said, once the characters and plot collide in the second half of the season, this integration works incredibly well for me. I loved the final episode for so many reasons, but one of the big ones was for how integral the Six of Crows characters (or at least Jesper, Inej, and Kaz) felt to this climax—I mean, Inej throws a dagger into The Darkling! By the end of this season, it didn’t matter to me that the world-building didn’t quite work because I was so invested in these characters. (And I loved the Inej/Alina stuff, as well.)
And then, of course, we have Nina and Matthias off on their own, little subplot, giving me the Jon Snow/Ygritte vibes. Again, this subplot picked up steam for me. At the beginning, I didn’t know why we should care, but these actors really brought their “A” game when it came to their Enemies to Friends to (Almost) Lovers journey, complete with There Is Only One Bed and Huddling For Warmth. I never stood a chance.
Lacy: There is Only One Bed!!! Truly, the best romantic trope there is. Heart eyes emoji.
You’re really right about Shadow and Bone and how it articulates setting. On some level, the fact that the Shadow Fold is the most fully realized location in the show makes a lot of sense – it’s huge, monstrous, and terrifying. But this focus has the downside of making almost everywhere else look and seem exactly the same. (I really would like to know how many viewers didn’t/haven’t yet realized that Kerch is an entirely separate country with different laws about Grisha.)