March 25, 2023

As for the Darkling’s future, at this point, I’m not sure anyone who has ever read a fantasy novel—or who watched Season 1 of this series—really believes that Aleksander is really most sincerely dead for good. (Particularly because he’s so insistent that Alina makes sure there’s nothing left of his body. Ominous!) But, as Alina, Genya, and Zoya light his funeral pyre, he certainly at least seems as though he is dead for right now, and we’ll have to see what happens when we get to whatever part of this story is meant to adapt King of Scars.

Mal Becomes Sturmhond

Although the book versions of Mal and Alina technically get a happy ending after the events of Ruin and Rising, it seems as though their television counterparts are going to have to wait a little longer to be together forever. (In Bardugo’s novels, the two retire to a quiet life of anonymity and open an orphanage together.) 

Here, Mal is more than a bit unsettled by the revelation that he’s technically a magical creature of legend and worried that he and Alina only found one another and fell in love because of forces beyond their control. How can be sure their feelings are even real if they were only drawn together in order to fulfill a specific destiny as Sun Summoner and amplifier?

Unable to be at peace, Mal decides he needs to take some time apart in order to work on himself—and hope that he and Alina find their way back together when they can be certain they’re choosing one another for the right reasons. It’s Nikolai, for clearly self-interested reasons since he is also clearly crushing on Alina himself, who offers Mal a solution—take on his former fake identity of the famous privateer Sturmhond, which will allow him to serve Ravka, see the world, and maybe get some perspective on what he wants out of his second chance at life along the way. Tolya, Tamar, and strangely enough Inej, all head off with him, for adventures and future stories unknown.

Nikolai Is King of Ravka—But He Has A Shadowy Secret

As Nikolai prepares for his coronation, it’s clear that not everything is as rosy as it appears in the newly reunited Kingdom of Ravka. When The Apparat visits the new king, the priest is very clearly not on Team Nikolai and angry about his decision to taunt Fjerda by holding his ceremony on the night of a major Fjerdan festival. He taunts the young king about the legitimacy of his claim to the throne and claims that he wouldn’t be where he is without Alina—and her legendary power as Sun Summoner—at his side. 

But it’s clear wrangling with his chief priest is the least of Nikolai’s problems, after he experiences a stabbing pain in his shoulder, precisely where he was stabbed by one of the Darkling’s nichevo’ya shadow creatures. He removes his shirt to reveal shadows spreading across his back from the site of the injury, and when he looks in the mirror, he sees a nichevo’ya as his reflection. Has the King of Ravka been infected by the Darkling’s monsters? Does he now have dark magic of his own? Or, worse, is he becoming one of them?

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