Shadow and Bone 2×03 “Like Calls to Like” Review
Shadow and Bone Season 2, Episode 3, “Like Calls to Like,” is one of the show’s strongest narratives, drawing on little moments to add layers and depth to the characters, as well as their most meaningful relationships. The episode’s theme probes the audience to pay attention to what truly matters, despite where our allegiances might lie, asking us to look toward what’s best and necessary. Still, moving elements from Siege and Storm onto the small screen, the show finds its more compelling chess pieces when taking from Six of Crows.
While we’re headed toward combining worlds again, it’s hard not to wonder what the shows would’ve been like if they remained separated from one another, coming together in crossover fashion as network television does. This isn’t to say that the Grisha arc is bad by any means, but it needs more work to be as captivating as the events at Ketterdam. Or perhaps, that’s merely this writer’s preference. That said, there’s a clear picture in this episode that veers us toward the season’s primary objective—destroying the Shadow Fold.
In the coming episodes, there are issues within Shadow and Bone Season 2 that I’m not qualified to speak on, and it’s a shame the writers were not made aware to do better. But there’s one area where we have vital growth from the previous season, related to Zoya Nazyalensky’s character arc. When fans expressed frustrations with the series pitting women against each other, Shadow and Bone 2×03 “Like Calls to Like” brings the exact opposite onto our screens, showing substantial character growth while developing a brilliant new friendship. In “No Mourners,” it’s apparent that Zoya’s rage still clouds her judgment, despite her decision to align herself with Alina and Mal. Whereas the Zoya Nazyalensky that stands before us today is a woman who’s not only experienced tremendous loss, but one who understands that authentic alliances matters more than anything in the world.
There’s something to be said about the revere in Sujaya Dasgupta’s voice when she asks Alina, point blank, why she’s apologizing for something that isn’t her responsibility. She takes it one step further when she affirms to Alina that the guilt punctured in her by the Darkling doesn’t belong there, and it’s something she needs to let go of before they all move forward in destroying the Fold. For what it’s worth, this moment is proof that, if nothing else, the women in the Grishaverse are well on their way toward establishing deeper friendships than the romantic relationships in their lives. (Yet, we’ll still wait patiently for the Zoya and Nikolai interaction.)
While we’re on the topic of Nikolai, the episode reveals his true identity as Prince Nikolai Lantsov to Alina and Mal, enlightening that Sturmhond is his way of giving back to his people. Although there might be hesitations between the two of them having the same face, it’s not necessarily something that changes too much in the show’s canon when the spare’s role is erased at the palace. Frankly, it works to showcase the type of people his family are and why, plus how he differentiates as drastically.
Toward the end of the episode, he proposes the fake engagement, initiating that if he and Alina pose as a married couple, then perhaps the allegiance with Grisha and Otkazat’sya will show a united front in restoring Ravka. If nothing else, it’s good that the show isn’t leaning too heavily into a love triangle with Mal, Alina, and Nikolai. We don’t need one, especially when the Darkling is still in the picture, and it ultimately takes away from the friendships that could develop further. The dynamic at the Grisha sanctuary is made significantly better with moments like this, as well as Mal’s continuous support, which is considerably lacking in the books.
Like Calls to Like
Elsewhere, the Darkling wreaks further havoc, touching all the wrong people and ultimately showing why I could never personally root for him beyond that. As much as some of his actions in the first season could be excused, drawing on the humanity that Ben Barnes brought to him, much of that is gone today while he’s entirely in his villain era. And credit where it’s due, but Barnes’ performances make him that much more ruthless because today, it’s more challenging than ever to see any glimmer of good left in him.
Whatever once remained died on the raft in the Fold. The villain who stands before us today would stop at nothing to ensure that he contains the pain brewing within by finding more power, which involves cutting off his mother’s finger to use the bones as an amplifier, as Morozova did. And if that weren’t bad enough, those who’ve read the books and heard the cries know that what he pulls on Genya is beyond redemption. As if she hasn’t endured weirs of trauma in the hands of a corrupt king (with the Darkling’s full awareness), marring her the way that he does isn’t simply because he feels betrayed, but it’s to exhibit further that there are no limits to what he’ll do.
To Discover Magic
Jesper Fahey might be a Durast and all too familiar with the wonders it involves, but when he watches Wylan Hendricks play the piano, he discovers true magic for the first time in Shadow and Bone 2×03 “Like Calls to Like.” There’s so much brewing in the outskirts between these two, and Kit Young brings everything to the forefront as he shows us the words Wylan’s movements rob him of. In the most dazzling and illuminated form, we watch as Jesper understands that an indescribable gift sits before him, taking back all his hesitations at the beginning of why Kaz hired Wylan in the first place.
The show does something riveting by changing their initial meeting a bit, making it abundantly clear in this episode that there was undoubtedly a one-night stand in the past. Except, Wylan left, and Jesper couldn’t remember because, in his defense, it was dark. But as mentioned in “Rusalye,” stroopwafels were involved and clearly far more as the chemistry that awakened the night they met is well and alive today as they’re sent on a lone mission to uncover what Pekka Rollins is hiding at his country estate. Only Jesper is hiding something too, and as Jack Wolfe expertly shows us, Wylan is already picking up on it.
Still, the moments between these two are brilliant in contrast to the books. While it seems quick, Young and Wolfe are doing an extraordinary job of building up the tension between them through stolen glances that linger a little too long. Like calls to like is a fascinating concept because while it heavily touches on the soulmate’s trope, it also draws on the slight similarities that make opposites so perfectly compatible. Jesper is reckless, whereas Wylan is calculated—one’s outgoing while the other is shy, yet the innate comfort they’re both clinging to and staying for is a beautiful thing.
Despite adorably walking away for dramatic effect, Wylan isn’t going anywhere. He isn’t going to walk away or abandon Jesper upon learning the truth about his abilities or when his darker sides come to the surface. He’s here to stay, and it’s already so extraordinary to see them in this light.
As frustrating as it is that we have yet to get Matthias out of Hellgate, it’s riveting that the series is doing a diligent job of showcasing how impenetrable the prison is. It deserves its name, that’s for sure, and when we do eventually get him out, it’ll make it more rewarding (if not tragic if the events of Crooked Kingdom remain). Still, the episode gives Nina a chance to, at the very least, see Matthias while proving to him that she’s still out there trying.
Matthias Helver remains enthralling because Calahan Skogman plays him with walls higher than the hedges enclosing him. It’s challenging to decode where his character’s head is at in the show, but for a split second, blink, and you’ll miss it—there’s hope in his eyes. And that’s entirely due to what Skogman allows us to see because the character has yet to grapple with forgiving himself, let alone Nina. For Nina Zenik, Matthias Helvar is the love of her life—there’s no doubt about it. She tells us as much. But for Matthias Helvar, she’s his ultimate undoing; only he’s yet to understand that it’s a good thing. Her pushing and probing make him better, stronger, and, more importantly, freer.
However, the price of freedom is not always worth the risk, and in her brash attempt to call out to him while he fights the other prisoner (cannibal?), Pekka Rollins witnesses. There’s a moment before pressing play on Episode 4, “Every Monstrous Thing,” where I wondered if Nina would turn on the Crows, but thankfully the writers don’t go there, allowing her to confront Kaz about Pekka’s offer instead. “What you did tonight made you a Crow”—Nina understands this, perhaps even better than she ever did as her Grisha-calling, which makes her choice the right one amidst a whole batch of frenzied decisions.
Uncovering the Tells
The show understandably takes liberties with Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, and with the scenes we get in Shadow and Bone 2×03, “Like Calls to Like,” there’s a clear understanding of the detail that this moment is integral to bringing Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa closer. Because of his silence, she must understand why she’s fighting for her life. She knows no one’s looked out for him because he’s told her as much, but it’s also easy for her to question whether he genuinely cares for their lives. Could he have simply said those words because he thought she would leave then? How could no one be there to look after him? Only it’s the truth, and it’s the kind of truth that changes everything. Amita Suman remains the strongest performer in the series with a scene like this when she boldly demands to know why he’s gambling with their lives.
“Pekka Rollins killed my brother,” he says, and it’s all she needs to dive straight into the trenches with him. That’s it. The moment simply requires his truth. They aren’t where they were in Crooked Kingdom to discuss where their aversions come from and why they’re a hindrance between them, but they are at a place where she can now understand that it’s all worth it. Because the same love for family that draws him, pulls her in too, and it’s where they connect somewhere in the middle as two people lost in a world that’s taken too much from them.
Here at Marvelous Geeks, I’ve discussed the Crooked Kingdom bathroom scene in length, and there I’d said: “People so often equate intimacy to sex or physical touch, but intimacy is an ever-present tether, a lodestone that moves, heals, and adores every part of another’s soul. It’s always present in a myriad of ways, connecting two people even while they are physically distanced from one another. In the shadows, with burnings embers of a fire, wherever the place, whatever the situation, where intimacy resides, it’s perpetual.”
This is one of the many moments of intimacy we get between Kaz and Inej where he tries. And it matters, right? In all his flawed, deeply complex means of deflecting, this is Kaz Brekker trying. Nina doesn’t need to tell him to check on his Wraith. Wylan doesn’t have to remind him of where they are. No one has to say a word because he pushes and bars himself so viciously because the sole thought of Inej in pain destroys him. And we understand the crux of this through Freddy Carter’s subtle yet expressive performances—we see it in the way his jaw clenches, the flashes of rage and agony in never-ending battles through his eyes, and all the unspoken words left to fill the spaces between them.
He knows she’s in pain, and he hates himself for it more than anybody else could, carrying that agony as a tell that no one sees because of the cane. Just as it happens in the book, he tries to aid her wound while she softly asks if there was no one to protect him, and he counters with the same question, full of rage and assertion on her behalf. Her breath catches, allowing us to pinpoint the exact moment she realizes how interconnected they remain in this battle—the fires they’ve both walked through, searching for the freedom they could only find with each other. But their moment isn’t now—today, it’s about what Inej knows she needs to do because otherwise, she’d be hunted and taken back to the Menagerie. “I won’t let that happen,” he tells her before disclosing the truth about Jordie, and he means it. She knows it despite her rage, but this is still her cross to carry, and thereby, he tells her to look out for the assassin’s tells.
Inej then asks Kaz if she has one, and he states, “you shift your weight onto your back leg before you lunge,” prompting her to slowly turn and softly ask him for his. (I love that the subtitles emphasize “softly.) “The limp. The cane. No one’s ever smart enough to look for the real one.” Kaz replies—no further words needed to showcase (at least to the audience) that she’s the real one. His past and the constant barrels of loss that he carries are “his weakness”—and as his voiceover tells Inej while she’s in battle, “not feeling pain is a weakness.” Here, Kaz Brekker affirms that he not only carries his own weight but hers, too, refusing to grapple with the fact that she’s the best part of him because it’s not something he can fully process yet. And that’s what makes the scene that much more intimate because the uncertainties bleeding together with the convictions add layers to their relationship while strengthening every part of them that needs protection.
She’s his strength, his weakness, and everything in between because she’s the only one capable of wielding through the walls he sets up. Brick by brick, he stacks, but she steps in from the shadows, reminding him that in his darkest hours, she’s never far behind. And this small gesture, this choice to help clean her wound, no matter how shitty he is at it, is his version of saying a thousand words in silence—I’m sorry, I’m here for you, I hate that you’re in this mess. It flashes through him like one shooting star after another, showing the audience how much he aches when she’s down, even for a moment.
Inej Ghafa is the only person who gets a softer side of Kaz Brekker—the only person he lowers his voice and lets down his armor for, however briefly, in his own way. She’s the only one he doesn’t have to be Dirtyhands around—the only one who won’t exploit his agony for her own gain. He might not fully understand that she’ll shield him through it all, but he undoubtedly feels it, allowing the pieces of himself he tucks away to come out only around her. And that’s why the moment matters—the ways in which Freddy Carter and Amita Suman allow the characters to have intimate conversations in silence, using words when it’s necessary—when it’s imperative.
What Can Be Forgiven
In Shadow and Bone 2×03 “Like Calls To Like,” Inej Ghafa using her Sankta Alina blade to kill the assassin who threatened to take her back to the Menagerie, then praying for his forgiveness, is why she’s the true light in this show. Inej doesn’t want to kill. She hates it with every part of her. But she’s now at a place where it’s sometimes necessary—for her own safety, the Crows, and when the world is full of slavers like this who’ll stop at nothing to use young women against their will.
But her heart is bigger than this world, and it’s all for those who can’t protect themselves. For the kids like her and Kaz, who would’ve found themselves in his clutches again—this kill is for them; it’s a battle necessary for the world she wants to live in. The wars she engages in today are never selfish, never done to test her own strength. In the same way, Kaz doesn’t involve the Dregs to chase more blood but because he understands that men like Pekka Rollins in this world are dangerous to all sectors of the Barrel. The two of them having their individual battles to contrast their moment of intimacy together is so riveting to show the synchronicity in their relationship. Together, even when they are physically apart, in a way that only they can exhibit.
Shadow and Bone 2×03, “Like Calls to Like,” is imperfect, but it’s filled with some of the best moments that reiterate why these dynamics matter and how tragic the lives of these characters indeed are at the end of the day. It’s about putting puzzle pieces together for the big picture and allowing the characters the agency to choose what they want to do for themselves.
Midnight Heists and Further Thoughts
- 90% of my notes for Shadow and Bone 2×03 “Like Calls to Like” are in caps lock. You’ve been warned.
- “What you did tonight made you a crow,” will live rent free in my mind for a while.
- HOW MUCH MORE BABY KAZ / JORDIE FLASHBACKS BEFORE I DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS??!!?!?
- The softness in his tone when he goes to find Inej. Second Inej, even softer. NO BUT I CAN’T.
- Royal spare to the throne—a great line.
- “I was responsible for hiring Kaz Brekker and his crows.” We love to hear it spoken aloud.
- The reunions in this episode were fantastic. Adrik and Nadia with Alina then Zoya and Alina. YES.
- It’s heartbreaking to know that Zoya’s aunt didn’t make it.
- Wylan and Jesper’s faces when Aldy plays was HILARIOUS.
- AMITA SUMAN IS SO GOOD IN THIS SCENE. HER FACE. HER EYES. Her voice. How it softens when she says you owe me that much. I CAN’T.
- The fact that he winces at her wound and doesn’t even look up when confessing!??? SEND HELP.
- THEN WE DESTROY HIM. POINT BLANK.
- THE WAY THAT THEY’RE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER HERE. HOLY JESUS.
- I LOVE NINA AND INEJ TOGETHER. “He’s shit at first aid.” He tried, okay? He tried. It’s cute how people think they can fight Kaz Brekker
- And yet it’s horrible how much shit he can take because he’s so damn used to pain.
- Inej’s knife fights are so well choreographed. I don’t know what to do with myself.
- “He won’t know when to stop until you put him down.” Oh, this feels like it’s going to come back somehow. But also, a great motivator for men like him
- “You know all the places to cut? I know all the places too.” GROWTH. INEJ. LOVE OF MY LIFE.
- David has seen TOO MUCH.
- “Actually, you’re walking away for dramatic effect” is so perfect for Wesper. SO PERFECT.
- Of course, Kaz already knew about the kid. Of course.
- Kaz is drinking alone. I HURT.
- Dramatic Kaz Brekker shouldn’t be hot, and yet here I am.
- MATTHIAS FEEDING THE WOLVES. I’M GONNA SOB.
- NIKOLAI AND ZOYA ARE IN THE SAME BUILDING. I NEED THEM TO SPEAK.
Now streaming on Netflix: What are your thoughts on Shadow and Bone 2×03 “Like Calls to Like?” Let us know in the comments below.