The showcase of warmth happens quite evidently between Nina and Matthias in Shadow and Bone’s “The Heart is An Arrow,” and it’s still my absolute favorite scene between the duo in the first season. No, I’m not talking about the physical sharing of body heat. I’m talking about the passing of armor, and the detail that it means so much more than just chivalry.
We’ve shared a lot of words about this scene in our full episode review, but who’s to say we can’t expand on it more? Sometimes, all two people need is to be separated from all that defines them in order to find something bigger—bolder, and exponentially better than what they could have imagined.
Matthias Helvar set in his ridiculous, patriarchal Fjerdan ways broke and found moments of genuine, infectious laughter.
The teasing, the pushing, and the pulling—then there’s the fall. The moment where once again, it’s easy to wonder if it was real, if Matthias meant any of it, if he’d really let Nina drown. And then he pulls her back making it clear that the humanity within him is just as strong as it is in her.
The light in his laughter was real and the warmth of their bond even more enamoring.
He offers her his hand then and finally introduces himself as Matthias Helvar. If you’ve read any of my reviews for other shows then you know I’m utter garbage for anyone introducing themselves for the first time. It’s just, chef’s kiss.
It’s everything and more tied in a moment that humanizes both of them so gorgeously because while they were so many things to each other days ago, starting now, they’re Nina and Matthias. Today, there are endless possibilities about who they can be.
They are two human beings who’ve found unexpected solace in the fortunate accident of surviving a wreck together. They’re supposed to hate each other. They’re supposed to be sworn enemies, but instead, Matthias gives her his “coat” in a gesture that tells us not only will he care for her now, but he sees that she’s more than just a Grisha.
She’s a human being, a woman he’s infatuated by. She’s Nina Zenik—the girl he’s now going to try to protect. It’s a journey that’ll take time to develop, but if this scene isn’t one of the loveliest, moments throughout the series than I don’t know what is.
In passing her the warmth from his back, Matthias passed on the promise that they’re in this together. We know where it leads, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a moment that’s huge for them. It’s a moment of true humanity that gorgeously reveals what can happen when people open their hearts to the possibility of seeing others beyond what’s presented on the surface.
This isn’t merely a moment of chivalry because Matthias understands fully that Nina isn’t going to gawk at that. She isn’t going to see it as something honorable—she physically needs the warmth because her clothes are soaking wet, but in the same way that he realizes he needed her in the cave, there is the understanding that they are now in this together.
She’ll use her Heartrender gifts to save him, and he’ll use whatever he has to help her. If this show wasn’t based on source material and we didn’t know that they’d end up together, it’s scenes like this that show us that they will. It’s scenes like this that prove that between Nina and Matthias, it’s about equal efforts to give and take.
It’s a scene where performances tell us so much more, too because we hear the keen promise in Matthias’ voice as he says Nina right before he passes her his coat. While Danielle Galligan is touching on the aftermath of Nina’s fall and the uncertainties, Calahan Skogman’s expression is now laced with hope. There is belief in Matthias. There is light in his otherwise darkened life.
For the first time, Matthias’ life has meaning in something he has chosen. He chooses to save Nina. He chooses to pass his armor to her. He chooses to walk this life with her, and that choice is crucial to not only his character development, but how it will impact Nina later on. It’s why the betrayal in the end hits so hard because Matthias chose Nina with full conviction here, and every part of him is stunned by the belief that she has betrayed him.
Again, Matthias passes the warmth from his back to her, it’s a showcase of just how much he’d be willing to do for her. It’s a vow to stand by her side. It’s a vow to be the very warmth that she has been through the changes she has stirred in him. It’s a vow to try, it’s a vow to give in, and it’s a vow to carry her through in every way. Enemies to partners to lovers.
And with these two, sharing anything (including a couch) is ceaselessly going to be the acute showcase of just how much closer they want to be.