Shadow and Bone: Ben Barnes teases The Darkling goes ‘full Venom’ in season 2 (Interview)

Shadow and Bone. Ben Barnes as General Kirigan in episode 203 of Shadow and Bone. Cr. Dávid Lukács/Netflix © 2022
Shadow and Bone. Ben Barnes as General Kirigan in episode 203 of Shadow and Bone. Cr. Dávid Lukács/Netflix © 2022 /

The arrival of Shadow and Bone season 2 is so close, there’s only a few days left now until we get to see Alina and Mal, the beloved Crows, and of course none other than The Darkling, a.k.a. General Kirigan. And in this next chapter of the story, he’s definitely not holding back.

The first season ended with Kirigan taking part of Alina’s power after killing the Stag. Part of the amplifier goes onto Alina, with a piece of its antlers into his own hand. This connected the two and allowed for the main antagonist to control the Sun Summoner’s power for his own selfish reasons, of course.

Though we thought he was well and truly gone having been snatched by the Volcra, the final moments of the finale showed The Darkling emerging wounded, but in all his glory with some scary looking monsters. And those are the Shadow Monsters, which play a big  role in the Netflix hit’s sophomore season.

If you thought Kirigan was dark and persistent in his agenda in the first season, just you wait! Netflix Life had the opportunity to take part in a roundtable interview with the Kirigan actor Ben Barnes, Jessie Mei Li who plays Alina, and Daisy Head who takes on the role of Genya. Below, they tease where we see their characters in Shadow and Bone season 2.

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Shadow and Bone. Ben Barnes as The Darkling in episode 203 of Shadow and Bone. Cr. D‡vid Luk‡cs/Netflix © 2023 /

Ben Barnes teases The Darkling goes “full venom” in Shadow and Bone season 2

As we know from the synopsis and trailer, Kirigan is not ready to go down without a fight. He knows what he wants, and he’s going to get it with the help of the new Shadow Monsters, as well as some new Grisha recruits that are scarier than ever.

Barnes said that he felt like in the first season, the story built up the character to show his charm and “manipulative skills,” as well as how powerful he is in this world. And in season 2, the Darkling isn’t playing around anymore.

"In this season I’m excited because those masks have all dropped and we’re looking at the way he’s sort of being poisoned from within by his literal Shadow demons. But this power also affords him the opportunity to just tell the truth how he sees it and sort of really let rip and go full dark on everything because he’s got nothing left to lose … so you can seem him go full Venom."

What could possibly be darker than what we’ve already seen? The “toxic villain,” as Barnes described him, is going to use hate and anger to drive him for most of the season. And throughout it all, there’s one person always on his mind: Alina.

"In the first season, in the fusing of the antlers between Alina and himself after they’ve killed the Stag, it’s obviously left a piece of each other with the other. And that’s a very difficult thing for him to shake. And she was representative of something hopeful to him. He really did put stock into her power and who she was, and really thought that they started something which might have made a difference to what he was hoping to achieve. So I think, again, with this kind of villainy, he believes in his agenda and is willing to suffer the consequences of chasing it."

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Shadow and Bone. Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov in episode 203 of Shadow and Bone. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /

Jessie Mei Li on Alina’s growth in Shadow and Bone season 2

And that’s why this season, Alina and Mal are more than determined to bring both Kirigan and the Fold down for good. The two are on a mission to find the remaining two amplifiers to help the powerful Sun Summoner do just that. Being in a place where Alina has grown as a person and her “emotional journey” throughout both seasons is what Mei Li is excited for viewers to see.

"I think season 1 is Alina – her arc was all about her accepting who she is and accepting her responsibility and not hiding from her truth. And then season 2 is about what she does with that responsibility. And it was really nice to play that [emotional] journey, whilst also holding on to what her core [is]. The parts of her that make her this lovable character that we all root for. That needed to stay the same no matter what situation she was in. So it was quite challenging to play but really fun at the same time."

Shadow and Bone season 2
Shadow and Bone. (L to R) Luke Pasqualino as David Kostyk, Daisy Head as Genya Safin in episode 203 of Shadow and Bone. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /

Genya’s vulnerable side comes out

And in one final tease, Head shares that we’re going to see a different side to Grisha gal Genya since we usually see the character so guarded. This season, she wears her “vulnerability so openly” following an incident between her and Kirigan. What happened and how did she reach this stage? You’re going to have to watch to find out!

Shadow and Bone season 2 premieres Thursday, March 16, 2023 on Netflix.

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