Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” Review

Shadow and Bone. (L to R) Lewis Tan as Tolya, Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, Patrick Gibson as Nikolai, Anna Leong Brophy as Tamar, Kit Young as Jesper Fahey, Joanna McGibbon as Nadia Zhabin, Alistair Nwachukwu as Adrik Zhabin in Shadow and Bone 2x08 "No Funerals"
Cr. Dávid Lukács/Netflix © 2023

Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” Spoilers Ahead

Shadow and Bone Season 2, Episode 8, “No Funerals,” is the type of finale that wraps some arcs up nicely while leaving others in dire straits. It’s full of endings and beginnings, both big and small, that could result in meaningful narratives if the show returns, or it could leave us with too many pieces to pick up, scouring Archive of Our Own to finish the story. Still, it’s mostly a captivating episode full of incredible performances, deeply moving book moments, and character beats that feel earned.

While the season is imperfect, it’s imperative to note that there’s so much greatness sprinkled in small moments that continue to make the series riveting on all fronts. Leigh Bardugo’s world is expansive and captivating, allowing the series to play on so many angles that it’s always thoroughly enjoyable, no matter the arc.

No Funerals

Shadow and Bone. (L to R) Daisy Head as Genya Safin, Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, Sujaya Dasgupta as Zoya Nazyalensky in Shadow and Bone 2x08 "No Funerals"
Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Except maybe (hopefully) for the Darkling. It’s time to close the door on his character and finally give Ben Barnes a chance to star as the romantic hero who isn’t a vile villain. While book readers will know that this death isn’t final because Sankta Lizabeta and others find a way to bring him back in Rule of Wolves, it should be. He’s done his part—he’s played the role, and it’s time to put it to bed and allow these women to finally rest from the years of abuse they’ve dealt with in his hands.

And while funerals are typically sad, this one has the opposite mark. It’s rewarding to finally see not only Zoya and Genya have their moment of peace but Alina too. It’s rewarding to see the women standing together, believing that their suffering is over and they’re still standing after the pain and trauma. It’s rewarding to see that in the aftermath, everyone who should be standing is standing. (Except Dominik, Rest In Peace, love of my life.

Shadow and Bone. (L to R) Daisy Head as Genya Safin, Alistair Nwachukwu as Adrik Zhabin in  Shadow and Bone 2x08 "No Funerals"
Cr. Dávid Lukács/Netflix © 2023

But this also leads us to another death in Shadow and Bone 2×08, “No Funerals,” where there’s no funeral, and that’s David Kostyk’s. I follow a general rule of thumb in all shows: no body, no death. If the writers of Prison Break found a way to bring Sara Tancredi back from the dead, Shadow and Bone writers could do the same for David. Yes, he dies much later in the books, and yes, Genya confirms that she doesn’t feel his heartbeat, but still, as a viewer, this will forever be the hope I hold onto in times like this. We don’t get a funeral for David, but the show gives Daisy Head more brilliant material to work with, as it shows Genya finding a ruby stone and the drawing of an engagement ring.

David should be allowed to make this proposal a reality, and she should get to wear the ring as long as possible, loving him openly and freely without anyone coming in her way or looming over their heads. Genya deserves as much after the dark roads the Darkling forced her to cross. He shouldn’t have even the slightest chance at victory by having his monsters take away the love of her life too.

The Price of Merzost 

Shadow and Bone. (L to R) Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, Archie Renaux as Malyen Oretsev in episode 208 of Shadow and Bone 2x08 "No Funerals" Malina
Cr. Dávid Lukács/Netflix © 2023

Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” changes the ending for Ruin and Rising by not only allowing Alina to keep her powers but by substituting them with her use of Merzost to bring Mal back from the dead. And as Baghra’s been saying throughout the season, it comes with a price, and here, the price is temporarily losing Mal while potentially dabbling with darker arts if the series resumes. Here’s the thing about Alina Starkov’s ending in the book versus the show. She doesn’t deserve to lose her powers. Yes, she and Mal deserve to open the orphanage and live happily ever after, but she should’ve also been given a chance to keep her powers in that aftermath. Now, while Shadow and Bone will return for a third season or if we’ll go into duology territory is anybody’s guess, but at the very least, Alina should remain as so because, after everything she lives through and pushes past, she deserves the freedom to do as she pleases. The jurda parem-infected Grisha deserved what was coming, so there’s hope still in how Alina could utilize Merzost differently than the Darkling did.

As much as we are to believe that Merzost infects the user, everything we see with characters like Baghra and Nikolai authenticates that a person still has agency—they have the choice to push beyond the darkness festering within. The Darkling chose power over all things, and that’s not who Alina Starkov is—she’s a woman who knows true love, as well as the cost of it. And as much as I personally dislike the soulmate trope for what it does to Mal and Alina here, it’s still crystal clear that they are the endgame that works.

Mal in Shadow and Bone 2x08 "No Funerals"
Cr. Dávid Lukács/Netflix © 2023

The series makes Malyen Oretsev significantly more compelling as a character, both in writing and because of everything Archie Renaux brings to the forefront. In hindsight, the understanding that he needs to die for Alina to harness the Firebird’s powers makes sense, but his decision to leave feels contrived for drama’s sake. Again, it’s the trope. It demands that a couple be pulled apart only to cement that they’ll choose each other over and over again. It makes sense for a duo like Kaz and Inej because there are still mountains the two must cross, but for Mal and Alina, it’s merely going backward instead of forward.

Still, as frustrating as it is, we know where it will lead and where they’ll end up. But the idea of Sturmhond being interchangeable simply because of who’s commandeering the Hummingbird isn’t an arc that works quite as much as Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” would like it to. There’s far more they could do with it here that’ll result in something more intriguing, but that’ll likely happen if and when we venture into King of Scars territory. In every way where it matters, the episode feels like the end of a Marvel movie—we merely needed a post-credit scene to hold us over about who’ll return next.

King of Scars

Nikolai Lantsov in Shadow and Bone 2x08 "No Funerals"

Shadow and Bone 2×08, “No Funerals,” wastes zero time showing the audience what book readers also know by revealing the detail that a Nichevo’ya infected the new King of Ravka, Nikolai Lantsov. We get a brief flash of it as he takes off his shirt to reveal the scar and a monster looking at him from the mirror, exhibiting that his problems are about to get a lot bigger. It works well here because, truly, we should go into duology territory, leading to some long-awaited romance crumbs with an “I can fix him” comment from Zoya.

If the show’s smart, pushing any sort of romantic angle between Alina and Nikolai will end with this season, allowing the events of King of Scars and Zoya’s awareness to take centerfold. The friendship we could get with Alina and Nikolai is already fascinating, and there’s no need for anything more added to the equation. It’s unnecessary and pointless. We don’t ever need more of the love triangle trope. Similarly, seeing more of Nikolai with the others further proves how seamlessly his edges fit with theirs. He’s good and kind where he needs to be, snarky when it matters, and deeply appreciative, which is the detail that stands out most when he’s trying to give his inspiring speeches. Taking a moment to reflect on those who’ve passed, to showcase that he’ll carry them all with him, authenticates why two people like Tolya and Tamar are so fiercely loyal to him.

They’d all do what Dominik did in a heartbeat because Nikolai matters to them as a person—not just a king. On the Hummingbird, they all have a home where they can be free and happy. They get to be themselves, without any retribution, and they get to live. It’s in these details where the show continues to be best with the dynamics it fortifies, proving that it could give us all of these characters doing absolutely nothing but talking about their day to one another, and we’d tune, popcorn in hand. The loyalty and immense love that the cast has for one another is so infectious that we see it clear as day in their characters. It makes the sweet moments much more wholesome and the intense ones even more exhilarating.

Gilded in gold and armor, the ending preludes Nikolai’s journey in a way that’s already engrossing to see. Patrick Gibson has done an insurmountable job with the character thus far, confirming that he’ll outdo himself when it’s time for him to shine best. As unnecessary as the incessant blood-spouting scene in the end is, it inarguably shows the darkness that’s coming to Nikolai’s life as he crosses through unrecognizable trenches to find ways out.

The Four Five Rogues of Ketterdam

The Four Charming Rogues of Ketterdam in Shadow and Bone 2x08

Though separated, the five Crows continue to prove their love for one another only grows with every tumultuous battle, and seeing Inej and Jesper tightly embrace while Kaz watches is both heartbreaking and beautiful. We also get moments of it in the newly destroyed Fold with Nina leaning on Inej after understanding Alina used Merzost. There’s a story here one day, and when all six of them are together—it’s time to combine Taylor Swift’s “You’re On Your Own, Kid” and “The Great War.” You rarely feel a love this powerful amongst friends, and though they could not be more different from one another, the love the Crows share remains indescribable.

Further, while it’s understandable why Inej leaves at the moment, it doesn’t mean that she abandons them, and the worst part is that we don’t actively see a goodbye with Wylan, Jesper, and Nina. Still, we know that she’ll be back if (hopefully when) there’s a spinoff. It almost feels as though the decision was made without thought for what it’d require later, but it still fits her character and how she’d operate when she has the freedom to look for her brother. As much as Shadow and Bone is a prequel to Six of Crows and we venture into some book territory, the events of the penultimate and Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” prove that they are now ready to take on something as massive as the Ice Court Heist, especially with Kaz’s narration in the end.

Related Content: Why Jesper and Inej’s Deleted Scene in ‘Shadow and Bone’ Season 2 is Important to the Story

There’s a new Crow Club, an extension of the Slat probably, just as it is in the books, and one of the greatest battles of their lives that will lead to revelations about themselves and the choices to embark on relationships that matter. The episode doesn’t answer how much time passes before the final battle and the last few scenes, but it’s at least got to be a few months or weeks, given clothing changes, construction, etcetera. And the one question that remains is the faith of the sixth crow—because while it makes sense that we wouldn’t have gotten Matthias out now, it doesn’t make sense to leave us with that final moment of Nina shouting his name while guards taking him away again. Nikolai could offer another pardon, couldn’t he? What’s Pekka Rollins still pulling there, because if anything, we now have concrete proof that we haven’t seen the last of him.

The Crows are resilient, each in their own way—they’re familiar with a kind of pain that others don’t quite realize, which is riveting, considering Kaz even mentions it when offering his cane to Nikolai because he can temporarily be without it. It’s fascinating that in all the haze, Nina isn’t giving up on Matthias, looking toward her friends who are happy and in love with the hope necessary to claw her way into an impenetrable prison and save the love of her life. It’s almost hard to believe, after Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals,” that we’ll still see Matthias’ death when all they’ve known is pain. We could hope, right? We could hope for survival.

Still, amidst that pain—there’s joy. Incandescent, brimming joy in the face of a man who’s so visibly proud of his man, he doesn’t even care who’s listening. Jesper and Wylan don’t need a label right now because even the absence of one shows that they are each other’s person—the one they turn to after the shipwreck, the one whose hand they want to hold after everything’s been said and done. It’s about desires and the endless choice to stand firmly by their partner because they’re the light they’ve found in all this darkness. Jesper and Wylan are each other’s light. Nadia and Tamar are each other’s joy. Kaz and Inej are each other’s safe space. Nina and Matthias are the great loves of each other’s lives. There’s so much beauty here, in every area where the romance is concerned, making each of the quiet moments worthy of eons of exploration.

Without Armor

Kanej in Shadow and Bone armor scene
Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

In our relationship deep dive, I talk extensively about Kaz and Inej bringing one of the most iconic book scenes to life in Shadow and Bone 2×08, “No Funerals.” The timing could not be more perfect, despite us not being in Six of Crows territory, because everything we get in “No Mourners” and “Nih Weh Sesh (I Have No Heart)” led them to this moment. Kaz Brekker needs to speak these words aloud if he’s going to ensure that Inej Ghafa knows how much he values her presence.

“If Shadow and Bone does one thing best, it’s how it proves that when Kaz Brekker truly needs Inej Ghafa, she’ll be beside him in a heartbeat. (And the same can be said about her.) She’s right on time at the church to save his life in “Show Me Who You Are,” and the one who pulls him from the crowd in “Yuyeh Sesh (Despise Your Heart),” and she’ll be there wherever the future takes them next. It’s also why she doesn’t leave in “No Shelter But Me.” Inej will not abandon Kaz when she firmly believes he could need her because the intuitive, indescribable magnetism that binds them works like a lodestone to bring them closer. 

She’ll have him without armor because she’ll help bear the burdens with him, pull him out of the waves, and set him free—Inej could guarantee as much because she cares enough for Kaz to stop at nothing to ensure that he’s okay. She’s also familiar with her own pain and trauma. “Then we’ll destroy him,” she says, without a shadow of a doubt, when she learns what Pekka Rollins did to his brother. “I couldn’t leave you, not like this,” she affirms when she chooses to follow him instead of the mark. (And this happens even after he spitfires that she’s his weakness, giving Inej every textbook reason why she should leave.) Yet that’s not her. It’s not him, either. Kaz Brekker, of all people, doesn’t need anyone to coddle him; he needs to be understood, and he needs to be taken care of because allowing someone in isn’t a weakness but denying the satisfaction of love is. He needs someone to present him with challenges while understanding his limitations and the treacherous heartaches running through him. He needs someone who believes that he can be better while they respect his agency.”

Relationship Deep Dive: Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa

When it comes to Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa saying their goodbyes, it always ends with something bigger—something proving that they could never stay away from one another for too long because the love that’s between them is too strong to endure the separation. Today it isn’t, you were right, it’s stay—stay in Ketterdam. And it leaves us with Kaz nodding to confirm that for her, he’ll try. And he does so, hiring Kesh and buying out all other indentures with the promise of no-skin trade at The Crow Club is all for Inej. It’s because of her. It’s for the girls like her who are robbed of their agency, and he knows better than anyone where that could lead, permitting him to give back as much as he can to prove that he’s trying. He wants her more than anything. He’s not just saying it solely to inspire her to stay. He’s doing it for all of them—because buried beyond the monster is a man who cares far more than all the gold he claims to only care for.

Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” is an ending with the space to explore far more than what we get. It delivers excellent fight sequences, gut-wrenching emotional moments, and some of the show’s best character-driven moments. It understands that the story isn’t over yet, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see it all come to life.

Midnight Heists and Further Thoughts

  • Dominik, love of my life. You deserved to live.
  • We’ll settle those thanks in gold. OKAY, DRAMATIC BUFFOON.
  • “HIRE A WRITER TO JOT DOWN OUR STORY.” I volunteer as a tribute!
  • Jesper: “I’m sorry, did you say Mal is a bird?” I CAN’T.
  • “I’ve got more experience with pain.” MY BABY GOAT.
  • A LOT keeps happening in this chapel.
  • MY MAN! “We haven’t actually put a label on it yet, have we?” JESPER, I LOVE YOU.
  • “Mal and I changed the world.” Oh, I adore this.
  • “Let me be your monster.” And now he’s embracing it.
  • What would we do without Inej? What would anyone do without Inej?
  • Tolya and his poetry are A+, and I’d listen to it any day.
  • “I’m not giving up on my happily ever after. I’ll claw my way to one if he’ll let me.” NINA HONEY.
  • Matthias about Kaz Brekker: “I don’t even know him.” Oh, honey, you will.
  • Adrik being by Genya here is lovely.
  • Tolya and Tamar could be such fun Cosplay.
  • GOATS!!
  • So funny having the Crows at Darkling’s funeral
  • LOVE Nina’s dresses. And I love women hugging each other.
  • I also really do love Mal’s flannel
  • C H U R C H. Kanej have their most significant moments at a church, and it D E S T R O Y S me.
  • Her hair down. God, that says something.
  • HE’S BEEN LOOKING FOR HER FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you can start here!!!!!!!!!!! (these come from my episode notes, friends.)
  • THEIR HANDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Slaver ship. She looks so good as a pirate. BUY HER SHIP KAZ BREKKER.
  • Matthias fighting the wolves murdered me.

Now streaming on Netflix: What are your thoughts on Shadow and Bone 2×08 “No Funerals” Let us know in the comments below.


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