Mar 20, 2023·edited Mar 20, 2023Liked by Sanjana

So I finished the season & had myself a good cry because what the hell did I just watch? Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this. As someone who deeply resonated with the themes on loneliness & the struggle of finding your place in the world in the original trilogy, I was quite devastated that those themes were completely butchered/eliminated. My thoughts are not nearly as cohesive as yours but here are some things I wanted to say:

I agree with everything you've said. I think we can all agree that good adaptions do not need to be 1:1 correlations of their source material, but you need to maintain the integrity and heart of the story, otherwise why are you adapting the material? During pre-release press, the show runners were really firmly stressed that this season would not be like the books chalking it up to wanting to make the story their own, good adaptations not having to be exactly like the books and to not having a season 3 renewal prior to filming but wanting to include as much from the books as possible in case they were not renewed. After watching this season, it's very clear that all of this "justification" was just a scapegoat for getting the plot to end right before SOC picks up by any means possible which resulted in pretty horrendous writing. I love SOC and think it's definitely Leigh's best written book in the Grishaverse, but I don't think that means the storylines and character arcs of Ruin & Rising and Seige & Storm (which are you said do have powerful stories to tell) deserved to be butchered the way they were. I also really do not appreciate how they are trying to gaslight, for lack of a better word, any fans who didn’t like this season into believing its because they don’t understand how “adaptions” are mean to work. Eric Heisserer stated in an interview that to him a good adaption preserves the way you feel when you read the source material which ding ding ding but how can you feel that way if the adaption strips away all the nuance that allows the events of the book to have the emotional impact that they do?

Season 1 proved to me that the writers are capable of adapting source material well & making changes that enhanced the plot & made the story their own all while overall remaining true to the heart of books/characters so watching this season and seeing all the nuance of the books go out the window was quite devastating. I know most fans of the books prefer the SOC duology, but I actually came to read the books after watching the show and found the Shadow & Bone storyline and characters quite compelling with the changes the show made (ie Alina's agency and Mal's being more supportive of Alina) and was looking forward to seeing how this would play out in the subsequent books. Again based on how season 1 was done I thought that writers would potentially be able to pull off condensing books 2 & 3 while maintaining the integrity of the story but all of the upgrades that went into season 1 this fell apart this season because the writers were only interested in servicing the crow's plot line and using the Shadow & Bone characters as a vessel to do so and that felt like a slap in the face for fans of the original trilogy.

What happened to one of the most basic tenants of good writing show not tell in the S&B plot? Why was everyone talking AT each other and not with each other? It felt like they skimmed through the books, plucked out quotes that “sounded good”, and shoved them into random scenes which without their original context made them lose their meaning. The pacing of these individuals scenes were also so fast that none of the characters actually had time to digest & emotionally respond to what was being said and instead would just spout book lines back. Without this time to breathe and develop character and context, none of the characters from S&B had satisfying conclusions to their arcs. Where the characters ended this season felt forced instead of earned. Mal became Sturmhond because they were telling us that’s how it had to be … not once did we get the indication that’s given in book 2 that Mal is beginning to question what his purpose is outside of Alina. We are supposed to sit back & go … yes, absolutely I believe that. Do they think we are stupid?

The Darkling was also reduced to a one dimensional villain when he had the potential to be so much more? He came across as a kitschy villain who did bad things because he's evil and supposed to. All the nuance of his character was lost. His storyline from Demon in the Woods is so powerful because it illuminates how the systematic failures of Ravka & the rest of the world to protect Grisha made the world so unsafe for them that they were willing to kill one another if it made even just a little more power to protect themselves. It also does such a powerful job of illuminating how evil isn't born but made - we met him in DITW as a child who just wants stability, community and friendship and we leave the story seeing his life altered by the attempt on his life by someone he not only trusts but has saved the life of - the wound from which no doubts festers into the man he becomes alongside Baghra's upbringing of him as someone whose untouchable and not bound by any laws. I think a large part of the reason that was tossed out, apart from there being no time to flesh all this out, was the huge fan interest in the Darkling and Darklina. Fans went crazy for that after season 1. I think the watered down 1d villain was an attempt to squash the fan craze and also there was no time for the Darkling to be anything but a 1d villain really - he felt very S8 Cersei looking out of windows and just brooding to me. I also think it was pretty out of character for him to be so unhinged & theatrical. What makes the Darkling an absolutely terrifying villain in the books is his ability to manipulate with simply his words & charm. In the tether scenes he is able to provoke Alina so easily simply by what he says all while remaining calm & collected — where the hell did that go?

I have several other notes but also the magic system went out of the window this season? What is the point of adapting a fantasy series if you aren't going to adapt the magic of what makes fantasy so special properly? There was tons of discontinuities issues (Genya being able to heartrender/heal when we know she has never trained in those skills, Nina being to heal as well when she never trained as healer and in SOC specifically states that she isn’t sure how good she’ll be at it when she has to heal Inej - are these characters training off screen? If so, why aren’t we at least hearing a bit about that?) and also how did everyone just casually know and understand all the saint lore & Morozova's journals? In the books this wasn’t common knowledge but Mal reads the Lives of Saints & immediately goes to Nikolai about the shadow sword and he immediately knows its a fake as does Tolya. Perhaps Tolya being aware of this could be justified had we gotten to see the twins more and learn about their deep spirituality but alas that was also completely omitted this season. Nameless Grisha 0 who is working with the Darkling on whatever merzost/amplifier project also has a huge working knowledge on Morozova? I seriously don’t understand how that works because his work was kept a secret and only a select few people knew about it and even they did not properly understand it. Now if this was going to be a change in the screen universe why did we not get better explanations of his writings?

While the crows fared better, I completely agreeing that shoving so much backstory into season 2 started to eat away at the integrity of their stories as well. Once again changes are fine but when you start unraveling the chronology with which Leigh Bardugo reveals certain pieces of information to us about each Crow, the impact of that knowledge lessens and also alters the character fundamentally. I do the writers plan to handle Six of Crows better but unfortunately there is no coming back from the damage that was done to Seige & Storm and Ruin & Rising which is truly a shame. If it does get renewed for season 3 alongside a SOC spinoff, I’ll hope tenuously for redemption.

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aaaaaah I love love love your comment!!!! this is really good/so thoughtful! I so agree with you; thank you for sharing!

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hello just reading this now 2 months later (lol) but I agree with pretty much everything you said!!

I was heartbroken when they scrapped the original ending of the books, because for all the flack it gets for the optics of a girl giving up her power to be with a man the last line of the books made me cry. And for some GODFORSAKEN REASON they threw that line in??? For Nikolai to say?? While Mal and Alina parted ways???

Rushing allllll of the character development that happens in books 2 and 3 made every single relationship fall flat for me...I felt nothing when we got that Malina scene even though in the books I was having my tender heart crushed. I hated that we didn't get to see how much Mal really changed and fought for Alina. Even the Kanej scenes felt a bit random, like scenes plucked from the books and thrown into the series without the show doing the legwork to get us there emotionally.

However...I was thrilled to see Kaz using his cane, finally, for its intended purpose lmao. His revenge on Peka Rollins come to life made me fiendishly gleeful.

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