‘Shadow and Bone’: Lies, Lies, and More Lies (RECAP)

Shadow and Bone Episode 5
Netflix

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Shadow and Bone Season 1 Episode 5, “Show Me Who You Are.”]

And lies on top of lies. “Show Me Who You Are” showed us exactly who General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) is; and holy moly, talk about a plot twist.

Up until this point, we’d believed Kirigan was a decent guy with a lonely heart. He said he wanted to destroy the Shadow Fold, and he intended to do that and bring peace to Ravka by using Alina’s (Jessie Mei Li) powers. As it turns out, that’s not even remotely right — and he’s been lying about his identity and his past as well.

Was anything he said true? We don’t know, but at this point it’s doubtful… and it’s all especially unfortunate for Alina, who’d begun to have feelings for him as she grew apart from Mal (Archie Renaux).

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A New Relationship

Alina is adjusting to life at the palace quite well, but unfortunately, all of her letters to Mal have gone unanswered. Thankfully, she always has a friend in Genya, who helps her get ready for the ball… and delivers a foreboding warning about being careful around powerful men.

Alina then goes to see arguably the most powerful man in Ravka: General Kirigan. They talk about her upcoming performance, and she admits that she’d felt nervous until she realized what the demonstration means to the people. She wants to be able to give them hope, and Kirigan says that means a lot to him. On an impulse, Alina kisses him — hey, that’s not how this happened in the book! — and when she pulls away, they’re both smiling. “Not many people can surprise me, Miss Starkov,” Kirigan grins. While this whole “first kiss” scene changed from the source material, these two have incredible chemistry, so fans should still be pleased.

They meet again at the fete, where Alina “rescues him” from a dull conversation with the king. She’s wearing his colors, black robes embroidered with gold trim, and it’s clear he’s enraptured by her. With his help, she puts on a show for the audience, leaving everybody awestruck with dazzling lights and glowing orbs. The whole crowd bows to her and calls her “Santa Alina,” deeming her a saint.

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Everyone’s at the Palace

Mal, meanwhile, has stumbled his way to a First Army camp despite his injury. He’s found “the stag,” and he demands he be allowed to deliver the news so he can see Alina. The general agrees, and he says they’ll ride to the palace together. Mal tells the palace guard he’s found the stag, which gets him admitted to Kirigan’s quarters. Kirigan asks Mal to show him where the stag was located on a map… and Mal says he won’t do that until he sees Alina.

That doesn’t go over well with the general, who asks him to tell him something only someone close to her would know, like what her favorite flower is. Instantly, Mal answers: “Irises. But the blue ones, not the white.” Reluctantly, Kirigan says he’ll have Alina brought to him, in a different room, later. Isn’t it a bummer when your love interest’s other love interest randomly appears out of nowhere and won’t tell you where the mythical stag is? Ugh.

Kaz and his team are all set to pose as performers at the upcoming ball, which is their invitation into the palace. Once they’re inside, Kaz changes into a guard’s uniform, where he monitors the route Alina will walk later that night before her “performance.” He determines where she’ll be kept during a gap in the schedule, and he says they’ll just need cover on their way out. Jesper finds a horse that’ll get their carriage out quickly, and Inej prepares for her routine. The Conductor will get Alina, and they’ll all head out on a carriage.

Moving to Plan F

The first part of the plan goes well; Inej performs, Kaz gives her a uniform, and Jesper… well, Jesper seduces a stable hand. (It’s all part of the plan, right?) But things start to go awry when the Conductor enters the room where Alina is supposed to be held and tries to get her, but then Genya enters. The Conductor cuts Alina’s throat, which gets him captured — but it turns out that Alina was a decoy, and Kaz and Inej are in pursuit of the real one. They tell Alina they’ll escort her to dinner, clearly intending to kidnap her, but they’re foiled by Kirigan, who offers to take Alina to dinner. The duo move to Plan B, and then, as Kaz says, “Plan F.” It’s jarring to see Kaz, who’s normally a dozen steps ahead of everyone, falling behind.

Meanwhile, a few guards go to Baghra and inform her that the stag has been found. “We cannot allow him to have that kind of power,” she says. “Listen to me, carefully,” she says. She has Mal brought to her chambers, where a few Grisha attack him. They likely want him dead so he can never tell Kirigan where the stag is, but he fights them off.

DAVID APPLEBY/NETFLIX

The Truth About Kirigan

Kirigan takes Alina to his chambers, where they kiss. Things almost get steamier, but they’re interrupted by a guard knocking at the door. Kirigan answers, and the guard tells him about the attempt on Alina’s life. He closes the door and tells Alina he’ll be right back — and then he leaves, and, through a different door, Baghra enters. “Stupid girl,” she says, pulling a protesting Alina along with her down a secret passageway. “I’m trying to keep you from living the rest of your life as a slave.”

Baghra drops plot twist after plot twist, saying that Kirigan wants to use Alina’s power to expand the Fold and weaponize it. Oh, and he’s the Black Heretic; “General Kirigan” was a name he chose to hide who he really is. Oh, and Baghra can control the darkness. Why? Because she’s Kirigan’s mom. Turns out, he turned hundreds of innocent people into volcra when he created the Fold. He’s centuries old; and just as he’s been obsessed with waiting for her, he’s obsessed with finding the stag so he can have its power. She gives Alina a way out of the palace with Grisha who are loyal to her, and, mortified but determined to fight back, she takes it.

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A Lock on the Target

Kirigan meets Baghra outside the palace. The mom-son meeting is frosty at best: She tells him she’s “disposed of” the tracker, so his greed for the stag will go unsatisfied. She also says he’ll never be able to use Alina against anyone, to which Kirigan snaps that Alina is the future. “If you have put her in harm’s way, think about what I might do,” he threatens. Unbeknownst to them, Mal is listening in.

His plan foiled, Kaz is nearly killed by a guard who follows him and taunts him. Inej saves his life, throwing a knife across the room and into the guard’s head. “I killed him,” she says, her eyes full of regret, but Kaz reminds her that she saved his life. They leave without Alina, very far from their million kruge.

…or are they? Jesper, who’s been waiting by the carriage and is very far removed from all the madness unfolding inside the castle, watches elatedly as Alina climbs into the back of the carriage — clearly, she’s mistaken them for the Grisha who are supposed to be helping her. Kaz and Inej make it outside and say they’ve lost their target. Jesper says he’s not so sure. “Just ask,” he says. “Do we have a lock on the target?” Kaz asks, and Jesper grins.

COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021

Other Observations

  • It’s interesting how the Darkling and Alina scenes were changed from the book in this episode. For those who haven’t read the source material, Alina and the Darkling’s first kiss came after a lesson with Baghra, where he impulsively kisses her in the garden. I think I liked this better, because it was on Alina’s terms — instead of being shocked by his feelings for her, she surprises him. It gives her more agency.
  • I know every single line from the book can’t be kept, but I’m a little sad Kirigan didn’t say “That’s the trouble with wanting — it makes us weak” during that post-fete scene. It’s one of my favorite quotes from the character.
  • Another line we didn’t get in the show: Baghra’s line to Alina about “not letting [The Darkling] put himself beyond redemption.” Part of me wonders if that’s because the writers didn’t want to give viewers hope that Kirigan is eventually getting a redemption arc. (No spoilers, but maybe don’t hold your breath.) Or maybe there just wasn’t time for it.
  • Kirigan bringing Alina blue irises after Mal told him that was her favorite flower was a nice touch. Where did he find them so quickly? Wait, Small Science. Doesn’t matter.
  • Another major change from the book that I’m wondering how the show will navigate — in the book, Alina and Mal do meet at the ball, where they argue and Alina is left feeling like they don’t know each other anymore. That conversation frames their relationship for a decent chunk of the rest of the book, but since it didn’t happen here, I wonder if things won’t be so awkward between them when (and if?) they reunite.

Shadow and Bone Season 1, Netflix, Now Streaming