Our fear from the previous episode quickly subsides as Mal, painfully injured, walks into a First Army camp, where he is now safe and able to recover from his near-death experience. He later gets approval from the commander to deliver the news about the stag to General Kirigan himself, and begins his journey to the palace, for what is sure to be an interesting intersection of storylines and characters.
At the palace, Inej, Jesper and the traveling group are on their way in to perform. Kaz has snuck in by going undercover as a guard. Within the palace, Alina is in her room talking to a couple other girls, when Genya comes in to prepare her for the party that will introduce her to Ravka. She lets Alina know that there has been no word from Mal, but Alina, who has begun to distance herself from him, says she no longer needs updates about communication from him. In this conversation, Genya makes sure Alina knows to be careful of powerful men, which is definitely a bit of a foreshadow to what is to come this season. They are then interrupted by a man who comes in with gloves to help her enhance her performance. Yet, she is able to do a lot without the help of them, and respectfully declines using them.
Elsewhere in the palace, Kaz is scoping the entrance to figure out how to get in, but before he is able to explore to the fullest extent, Grisha come down the hall and he has to hide. By the stables, Inej is practicing her acrobatics and talking to Jesper, while Jesper is simply not paying attention, as he has his eyes on the cute stable boy. Inej breaks his stare, asking him if he believes the Sun Summoner is real. He believes it’s a party trick, but Inej believes that it’s real.
Genya and Alina, dressed and ready to go, walk down a hallway of the palace but Alina gets distracted by the festivities outside. She wants to go out there and experience it, since she’s just been stuck inside training. Although Genya is reluctant at first, she and Alina lose the guards and sneak outside. Alina sees a performance about her and is fascinated but also nervous about her having to perform in front of everyone, and as she is talking to Genya, Jesper, who happens to be there at the same time, overhears her, and now is the only one from the crew who knows who the Sun Summoner is. He quickly goes to tell Kaz and Inej that he saw her, and that she’s part Shu. Kaz then mentions that the door to the secret room has. Grisha lock, but the Contractor has a way to get through it with a device. They then decide that the Contractor will be the one to grab the Summoner, while Kaz and Inej will clear everyone, and Jesper will find a way to get them out.
General Kirigan is getting ready when Alina comes in, and helps him put his kefta on. They talk about the spectacle of the performance she’s about to put on. She mentions how she was nervous at first, but not anymore. She finally feels like she belongs here as a Grisha and that she belongs to something greater. Kirigan takes what she says to heart, and says how what she said means a lot to him, and that she means a lot to everyone—but he actually meant to say himself. Alina knows that and goes in to kiss him, and I can’t help but feel like Genya’s words are beginning to ring true. Be careful of powerful men. They will trick and manipulate you, and I’m sure that Alina will soon find that out.
It is now time for the performance / kidnapping. Jesper is back with the stable boy, flirting with him to get horses for their escape. Inej is doing her thing, being a boss acrobat. Anyone who is important is there to see the Sun Summoner for the first time. Kaz gets a drink spilled on him so he is able to go to the laundry and get clothes to give to Inej and the Contractor so they can blend in as guards. Kirigan arrives to the main room, greeting the King and Queen. Alina sees him and steps into that room, even though she was supposed to enter in a different manner. But she wanted to be with Kirigan. They then begin their performance, as Inej and Kaz are watching in the background. They step onto a pedestal, where Kirigan introduces Alina, steps down, and summons shadow. Alina then steps forward and summons light, one orb on either hand, and pushes it forward. She then brings it together, and it explodes to have light fill the room. At this moment, everyone kneels down to her, in awe of what they just saw. The myth has become a reality.
Now that the performance is over, it is time for the ambush to kidnap Alina. Jesper, after sleeping with the stable boy, now has the horses. The Contractor uses his device to open the secret door and go in to hide. However, things might shake up a bit, as Mal has arrived to the palace. He and the soldier he is with are taken to Kirigan’s room, where Kirigan asks to speak to Mal alone. He asks Mal how he knew if it was the right stage. Mal says he’s sure of it, as he looked at him head on and saw a symbol. However, to Kirigan’s displeasure, he won’t mark the exact location of where he saw it until he sees Alina. You can see how bothered Kirigan is by this, as he views Mal as a competitor when it comes to Alina, and someone who can ruin his plans for her. As another form of manipulation, Kirigan asks him to say something personal about Alina that only he would know, like her favorite flower (which is blue irises), and that if he speaks the truth, that he’ll bring her to him. But, Mal is brought to Baghra’s by her spy (without Kirigan’s knowledge), and the woman tries to kill him, but he kills her instead, and escapes. Something is not right.
Alina enters the secret room and the Contractor, instead of kidnapping her, slits her throat and shoots Genya. BUT, it ends up not being Alina, and just another Grisha disguised as her. The Contractor immediately gets caught, which Kaz knew would happen. The real Alina is still at the party, and Kaz and Inej are with her, telling her that they were to escort her to dinner.
But, Kirigan shows up, blue irises in hand, causing Kaz and Inej to divert their plans. Kirigan brings Alina back to his room and kisses her. She kisses back and things begin to get a little steamy, and he asks her consent before they continue, but before they can get too far, there is a knock on the door. Kirigan is told of the attack and that someone is in custody. Scared for Alina’s safety, Kirigan tells her to stay in his room until he returns. But, as soon he exits, Baghra comes out from behind a hidden door, grabs Alina, and tells her that she needs to leave the palace immediately to save herself from him. In quite a big reveal (at least for me, who hasn’t read the books), Baghra tells Alina that Aleksander Kirigan is the Black Heretic, and he was the one who created The Fold, and that she is his
mom! The volcra that are found in The Fold were once men, women and children. All along, Kirigan’s story and showcase of vulnerability was a ploy. He had no desire to destroy The Fold with Alina, he just wants more power. Baghra then tells Alina to go through a tunnel and turn right at the fork to escape into safety. Alina instead goes left, because she is the queen of not doing what she is told. When all of this was revealed though, let me tell you, my jaw was on the FLOOR. I was absolutely shocked but also very excited, because this turn of events was about to culminate in some action-filled episodes to finish off the season.
In another part of the palace Kaz is scrambling to evade the inferno that caught on to what he was doing. They fight and Kaz is able to take him down while hurting one of his hands. But he doesn’t stay down and is about to kill Kaz when a knife lands in his head—thrown by the hands of Inej, who is looking frightened at what she just did. They quickly escape to go meet Jesper, who is just waiting outside with a carriage and horses. Kirigan returns to his room to find Alina gone (sorry, bro, the mirage you put up has fallen!), who has exited the tunnel into the stables. Kirigan storms to his mother, Baghra, who informs him that she is gone and so is Mal. Kirigan goes onto say that Alina is the one, the future, and that his mother doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. He threatens her, saying that if anything happens to Alina, that she is unaware of what he will do. Mal, who hasn’t left the premises yet, overhears all of this.
Alina exits the stables and goes into the trunk of the carriage that Jesper had set up for his, Kaz and Inej’s escape, as he watches the entire thing. How more perfect could this have gone? Well, Kaz and Inej don’t think so, because they arrive quickly after saying that they had lost the Sun Summoner. Jesper, being the cheeky lad he is, grins and goes, “Did we?” They try prying to see what he’s going on about, but he decides to pull their leg a little while longer as they ride off the palace grounds, into a changed world for all of them.