The Grishaverse expands as Shadow And Bone returns
SHADOW AND BONE’S FIRST season culminated on an ominous note. Sun Summoner Alina (Jessie Mei Li) and her childhood best friend, Mal (Archie Renaux), believed they had defeated the villainous General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) and left him for dead. The Darkling, however, survived and emerged from the Shadow Fold with the ability to generate his own shadow creatures. And, by the looks of it, he was really pissed off.
“What you saw at the end of the season is he’s created new monsters called Nichevo’ya,” co-showrunner Eric Heisserer tells Red Alert. “They are the way he survived the Volcra attack in the Fold. The Nichevo’ya are essentially unstoppable. They are the T-1000s of the Grishaverse and make him an incredibly formidable opponent. But they also come with a price.
“They are created from merzost, which is the forbidden magic that created the Fold in the first place,” he continues. “He has once again dabbled in something that he shouldn’t, and now he has to deal with the cost that it takes on his body, and his psyche. The others around him have to figure out how to deal with a toxic boss.”
Unaware of the looming threat, Alina and Mal set out on their own to seek more amplifiers. The objects will boost Alina’s light powers, hopefully granting her the ability to protect her country.
“The longer that it takes Alina to come back strong enough to destroy the Fold, potentially the more people from her home country are killed,” Heisserer says. “She is driven by that fear, and by that nagging guilt, that there is nobody else. Alina has to step up. But she is paired with a man that loves her deeply and wants to make sure that self-care is part of that path, and that she doesn’t burn out and kill herself before she gets there.”
“We will see some changes to her powers as she takes on new amplifiers,” elaborates co-showrunner Daegan Fryklind. “We talked about them in the [writers’] room in terms of the stag is strength, the sea whip is anger and the firebird is an additional characteristic. In terms of the effect of it, too, it’s how we are playing with these different elements and emotions that she is taking on as she is levelling up.”
In addition, there’s Malyen, Alina’s long-time friend, companion and protector. To prevent them from becoming too codependent, the writers spent time fleshing him out. Mal’s trajectory remains a secret, but Fryklind teases “that doesn’t mean there isn’t tension and drama between the two of them. Alina is getting a bit power-hungry. He is seeing this happen. That just makes a more interesting dynamic between the two of them.” Then there’s the Crows crew, including mastermind Kaz (Freddy Carter), gunslinger Jesper (Kit Young) and assassin Inej (Amita Suman). Typically busy pulling off some heist, these criminals will be on a separate mission motivated by something other than money.
“In this case, it could be revenge,” says Heisserer. “It could be survival. There are other aspects in play I can’t speak to.”
Building on the existing mythology required introducing some new blood: the Crows recruit Wylan (Jack Wolfe), who becomes the team’s demolition expert. Wylan shares some history of the group, particularly Kaz.
“Wylan gets roped into the latest shenanigans the Crows find themselves in,”
Heisserer says. “He is put on a mission to help the Crows and that’s how we get to see him interact with the rest of the team, including Jesper.”
On the flip side, Alina encounters Nikolai (Patrick Gibson), the Prince of Ravka. Operating under the alias of dashing privateer Sturmhond, he commands his own armada of ships. Nikolai will also spice up the romance department as he vies for Alina’s affections. “That was a really beautiful dance that Patrick did, shifting between those two characters, because they are quite different,” Fryklind says. “Sturmhond is charismatic and owns the room. Nikolai is somebody who had the role of responsibility thrust upon him at a certain point. He does a shift in accent between the two characters.”
Among the other newcomers are twins Tamar (Anna Leong Brophy) and Tolya (Lewis Tan). A former mercenary, Tolya masterfully wields a number of weapons and is deadly in combat. An asset in battle, Tamar is dedicated to safeguarding the Sun Summoner. Even scarier: both siblings are Heartrenders, beings capable of inflicting damage upon the internal organs of any person within their line of sight.
Tan’s roles in Mortal Kombat, Wu Assassins and Into the Badlands tapped into his decades of martial arts training. Shadow And Bone will similarly play to those strengths.
“We have an incredible stunts department this season, who really put Lewis through the paces and created stunts for both Anna and Lewis, that worked complementary towards each other,” Fryklind concludes. “Tomar’s weapons are double axes. Tolya has a long sword. They are also Heartrenders, too, so they can use that. They just prefer to fight more than they like to heartrend.” BC
Shadow And Bone is on Netflix from 16 March.