Young Aleksander Kirigan rides through the forest on his horse in great hurry, headed to his cottage where another Grisha is waiting. Soldiers are destroying villages and trying to capture all Grisha. As he’s trying to get his friend to escape with him, soldiers arrive to the cottage and surround it. He exits the house to confront them, and they shoot arrows at him, which he pulls out one by one while the Grisha in the cottage uses her powers to heal him. Suddenly, soldiers grab her and bring her out to use her as leverage. Aleksander grows more upset as he gets chained and watches her get stabbed. In anger, he breaks the chain by summoning shadow and then kills them all in one swoop. He grabs his friend and rides to where other Grisha are living and asks for his mother, Baghra. He enters her room and tells her they need to fight the king and his soldiers. He feels used and betrayed after winning a war for the king, and now he wants him and everyone like him dead.
Kirigan wants to create an army of Grisha and give them more power to fight the king. He goes to look for writings that could help him and others gain more power. He finds a line and whispers it. He then exits the building to see soldiers waiting for him. The Grisha inside hide as Kirigan acts as their shield. He raises his hands and mutters something under his breath, which lets out a ring of shadow. But he is then consumed by the dark magic and shadow, and the shadow explodes outwards, creating a tall wall and expanding—the Fold has been created. As he leaves with his mother, she looks at the creation in horror, asking him “What did you do?” His response? “I made something.”
Returning to present day, Kirigan and his Grisha are close to Alina, and are able to narrow down her exact location. Meanwhile, Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are hiding in a barn, where Inej is stitching up her injury. Kaz wants to go back to Katterdam, but Inej doesn’t want to—can’t— go back. After her taste of freedom, she doesn’t want to be put back in her cage.
Elsewhere, Alina and Mal are trying to keep warm while on their search for the stag. Alina says she needs to kill the stag to stop Kirigan from taking its power. At that moment, Mal senses something nearby. They continue forward with anticipation and there before them is the stag. Mal hands Alina the gun and she takes aim. But as she points the deadly weapon towards the animal, she has a change of heart, believing there is another way to prevent Kirigan from getting its power without having to take its life. She approaches the stag slowly and reaches out to touch it. As she grazes her fingers on its nose, a ball of light shines around her. But before we can see this special connection to its fullest extent, a shot rings out and the stag falls. Behind Alina is the Grisha, having just taken harmed this animal on Kirigan’s behalf. Mal retaliates by shooting at the Grisha, but they then shoot Mal with an arrow in the chest. Alina runs to him and uses her power to pull the arrow out. Kirigan then arrives, calling on shadow to attack them. Alina goes to the stag and creates a shield of light around the stag and Mal. Kirigan tells her to give her the stag and he’ll save Mal. Faced with that ultimatum, Alina chooses to let the shield go. The Grisha immediately take Mal and Kirigan kills the stag by cutting its head off. Surprisingly, he keeps his promise and has the Grisha heal Mal, but then takes both him and Alina as his captors.
Inej comes to say goodbye to Kaz before she leaves, bringing him his cane that Jesper fixed. Kaz tells Inej that she was right about the Sun Summoner, that she’s real, but he still doesn’t believe she’s a Saint. With sincerity, she asks, “What do you believe in, then?” Kaz looks her in the eyes and tells her he believes in himself, Inej, and Jesper. He has more faith in Inej because she watched over him, not any Saints. You can tell that Inej is touched by this, and that there is a connection that these two have that isn’t like any other. Inej tells Kaz that she can’t return to the Menajerie, and Kaz promises her that she won’t. Later on, the three of them are hiding just outside the Fold where they had left the vehicle they came across it in, trying to figure out how they’re going to get it across the second time without a guide to help them. In very unfortunate timing, as they’re discussing this, the vehicle blows up in front of them. Now, they have to find another way across. Kaz decides to give up on the Sun Summoner mission and just board a ship to cross the Fold and get back home. So, they go undercover by having Jesper assume someone’s identity, and Kaz and Inej being his “bodyguards.”
In captivity, we find Alina bound to chains and being forced to put her power into the bones taken from the stag. Kirigan attempts to convince her that what he is doing is right; that the only thing more powerful than him and Alina is the two of them together. With their powers united, they can end wars and protect their own people. Alina, under pressure, reluctantly agrees to help in order to save Mal. Kirigan has one of his Grisha place one of the stag’s bones on her neck, while another bone goes on Kirigan’s hand. As the Grisha says some words, the bones begin to meld into their skin and attach itself to their own bones. What Kirigan didn’t mention before this ceremony was that although their powers will be combined, he is the one who controls it. Alina tries to fight back but is unable to. Kirigan is now more powerful than ever before.
Alina gets taken in a carriage to the front lines by the Fold. She sees Mal being taken somewhere and calls out to him, but she is taken into a tent. As she waits there, uncertain of what is to happen, Genya comes in. Alina gets upset with her that she helped Kirigan track her, and that when she had warned her of powerful men, she should have warned her of herself too. Genya responds by saying, “We are his pawns, nothing more.” She doesn’t have the wherewithal to stand her ground and fight back, much different from Alina. Genya leaves the tent, leaving Alina in heartbreak that her supposed friend had betrayed her.
In another tent, Mal is in chains, and Kirigan comes to see him. Mal begs for Kirigan to kill him, because if he’s kept alive he’ll hunt him down to kill him. Kirigan deflects by telling him he had read Mal’s letters to Alina and that he saw that Mal never appreciated her—but he did. (Did he though??) He doesn’t accept Mal’s request, because he knows that if he doesn’t kill him, time will do it for him. Kirigan leaves and a guard is placed on watch of Mal. When the guard falls asleep, Mal attempts to loosen his chains. He sees a goat pass by and calls it over, using something on his chain to get his own shackles open, and escapes.
Returning to Alina’s tent, Kirigan enters to see her dressed up, showcasing the stag’s bones at her collarbone. Alina confronts him about what he did, having enough of his lies. He claims everything he has done was for the safety of Ravka and for the safety of Grisha. Alina retorts by saying that she could have made Grisha safe but he never gave her a choice. Kirigan keeps telling her that she can’t do that on her own, and neither can he—they can only do it together. The same old nonsense he’s been spouting. She responds by telling him that “You could’ve made me your equal, instead you made me this. You don’t care who suffers as long as you win.” In the biggest gaslight ever to be spoken, he tells Alina, “Fine, make me your villain.” Like, Kirigan, bro, have you not been listening to yourself this entire season? I would say that the manipulation, deceit, lies, murder, and a bad-intentioned heart you’ve showcased would make you a villain. The fact that he is so blind to his wrongdoings truly makes him a villain because there is no remorse or self-acknowledgement of his actions. He walks out of the tent and is told that Mal has escaped and demands that if he gets anywhere near Alina that he should be killed on sight.
The ship to enter the Fold is getting ready to leave for the big showcase being put on by Kirigan. Jesper, in his disguise, is able to get a pass onto the ship with Inej and Kaz. Kirigan walks onto it with Alina and the other Grisha, chaining Alina to the ship’s floor so she cannot escape. We then see Mal hiding in the hull of the ship. Once everyone is aboard, the ship takes off, and they enter into the darkness of the Fold, history about to be changed. For better or for worse, we don’t know.