Shadow and Bone season 2 ending explained: What’s next for Alina after SPOILER?

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

After a nearly two-year long wait, Shadow and Bone season 2 has finally premiered on Netflix! Since April 2021, fans of the hit Netflix original series have been anxious about what would happen next after that shocking season-ending reveal.

There’s no doubt that with the power of the Shadow and Bone fans, the second season will be one of the biggest Netflix shows of the year. It’s definitely among the most anticipated new releases of the year and will certainly rank among the best Netflix shows of 2023.

As the exciting season progresses, there are so many changes and thrilling developments for Alina as she searches for the amplifiers and looks to take down The Darkling and the Shadow Fold. Let’s dive into what happens at the end of season 2 for Alina, Mal, the Crows, and all of our favorite characters.

WARNING: Major spoilers ahead from Shadow and Bone season 2?

Shadow and Bone season 2 ending explained

The ending of Shadow and Bone season 2 features a lot of bloodshed, a lot of answers, and a lot more new questions. Even though the second season covers the bulk of the biggest events in the second and third books in the Shadow and Bone series, the season finale opens up the door to a new and potentially game-changing story for Alina and the Crows.

Below we’re breaking down four of the most burning questions viewers might have after watching Shadow and Bone season 2 and its finale, beginning below with the amazing and jaw-dropping reveal of the Firebird’s identity.

Is Mal the Firebird in Shadow and Bone season 2?

After finding the sea whip early on in season 2, Alina then sets her sights on tracking down Morozova’s third amplifier, known as the Firebird. As her trusted tracker, Mal looks to lead the search for the Firebird, but Baghra reveals some surprising revelations before the search can really kick off.

While opening up to Alina and Mal about her origins, which includes Morozova being her father and having a sister whom she’s responsible for killing and her father using Merzost to revive her sister. They come to realize that Mal is the distant relative of Baghra’s sister, who passed down her power as the third amplifier through generations to Mal. Not only is he the distant cousin of The Darkling, but Mal was Morozova’s third amplifier, the Firebird.

Because he’s the Firebird, it’s the reason he was always able to find Alina, why they were always drawn to each other. He had this power inside of him that he’d never known about, and while it doesn’t make him Grisha, it does make him a bigger piece of this puzzle and the key to bringing down the Fold.

Is Alina now a Shadow Summoner in Shadow and Bone season 2?

Being that Mal is the Firebird, it’s part of the prophecy that he must die at Alina’s hand in order for her to assume the third amplifier’s power. While Alina had previously struggled with the deaths of the stag and the sea whip, she struggles 10 times over with the prospect of having to kill the love of her life in order to save Ravka.

Naturally, once they fill in the whole team on the Firebird revelation, a new plan emerges: Tamar, a heartrender, will stop Mal’s heart for two minutes, allowing Alina to bring down the Fold. Prior to this, David would fuse a fragment of Mal’s bone with Alina’s to save time and also give Alina the Firebird’s power after Tamar stops his heart. But you know what they say when you make plans.

The Darkling expands the Fold and his Grisha ambush before they have the opportunity to put their alternative plan in motion. Even though Alina connects to the Firebird’s power just by Mal touching her wrist while in the Fold, The Darkling’s interruption forces Alina to use the Cut, and Mal gets hit in the process. To end his suffering, Alina drives a knife into his heart. As he dies, Alina absorbs his power and destroys the Fold.

Nina, a heartrender, rushes to help Alina save Mal, but her attempts to revive him are unsuccessful. After killing The Darkling, Alina returns to Mal’s side to help Nina give him a “reminder” to come back, but it appears Alina uses merzost to revive Mal. Dark shadows fill the veins of her hands as Mal returns to life. In the end of the finale, as Alina fights off the drug-induced Grisha, she appears to create shadow rather than light. This hints that the cost of merzost was that she’s now a Shadow Summoner.

Do Alina and Mal break up in Shadow and Bone season 2?

Being brought back from the dead would shake anyone up, and for Mal, it’s no picnic. He’s also grappling with the reality of the thing that made him special, his purpose, no longer being part of him. What does he do now that he’s served his life’s purpose? He was the Firebird… now what? Mal’s much too modest to revel in being a hero.

As Alina moves toward her next chapter serving Ravka, Mal searches for what he’s to do with himself, and that doesn’t involve being the leader of her guard. She offers him a role as a privateer, and though this new path takes them away from each other, Mal vows that if this choice leads them back to each other, they will know their love was theirs, not some prophecy.

Yes, Alina and Mal break up and go their separate ways, but not before Mal could flash one last grin to shatter all of our hearts into a million pieces. Nikolai gives Mal his compass and dubs him the new Sturmhond, as Tamar, Tolya, and Inej join him on board the Volkvolny/Hummingbird in search of Inej’s family on a tip from Kaz. The last we see them, they’re tracking a slaver ship in the ocean.

What’s happening to Nikolai at the end of Shadow and Bone season 2?

It seems as though Alina isn’t the only one with a dark secret lurking inside. After a visit from The Apparat before his coronation ceremony, in which the priest taunts the king-to-be about not being where he is without Alina, he feels a sudden pain in his shoulder. It’s in the same location as the nichevo’ya injury he received during battle with The Darkling’s Grisha.

Nikolai removes his jacket and shirt to look at his shoulder, but it’s when he turns around that we see the darkness spreading through his body at the sight of the healed injury. When Nikolai looks in the mirror again, he sees a nichevo’ya as his reflection, giving him quite the fright. Does this mean the King of Ravka has been infected by The Darkling’s monsters and might now hold some dark magic of his own?

What is the drug jurda parem that the Crows are trying to stop?

At the same time as Nikolai and Alina’s coronation, Kaz reunites with his Crows — Jesper, Nina, and Wylan — with an important update about a new opportunity, which he refers to as “the most lucrative job we’ve ever taken.” He warns them of a new threat, an addictive drug called jurda parem that amplifies Grisha powers to over 1,000 times.

As Kaz explains, the chemist responsible for the creation of jurda parem fled Kerch following his realization of the drug’s power, though he now awaits trial after capture by Fjerdans. There’s fear that Fjerda could weaponize jurda parem, and it’s apparently up to the Crows to stop its spread.

However, Fjerdans appear to already be one step ahead of them, as a Fjerdan woman takes jurda parem during Nikolai and Alina’s coronation and inflicts pain on all of the guests, causing them to convulse and cough up blood. It’s then that Alina powers through the pain to use the Cut on the woman, but her magic comes out dark rather than light.

What did you think of the Shadow and Bone season 2 ending? Do you hope to see the story continue in Shadow and Bone season 3? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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