“Getting lost can happen even when you know where you are.” – Alina
This week’s episode starts with another dream of the infamous mythical white stag that has been encroaching on her consciousness. So far, we have not heard much in regard to the stag and its potential significance, but it’s obviously something that’s of importance for the series plot development. Needless to say, we’re very intrigued to see where it goes. After being rather abruptly awakened, Alina is cornered by a stream of maids who are there to get Alina looking presentable. Its here we get the second wave of the anti-Shu sentiment that is very much still integrated within Ravka. After having been introduced to the tailor Genya, she is told she needs to bath and to be done up considerably. One of the ladies in waiting comments with a stony face “I’d star by making her eyes less Shu.” The atmosphere in the room immediately takes a step dive and tensions rise. Genya sends everyone from the room and makes her lack of prejudices / bigotry perfectly clear to Alina. Like us she has no time for anyone whose even slightly racist or xenophobic and we are heeeere for it!!
We finally get to put a face to the name when we meet Nina. She first magics her way out of trouble when her landlord complains about her being late for the rent and threatens to make others, aware of her power, knowing she’d be hunted for it. But she works her Heartrender powers, and all is well. Until she gets to her room and find the Druskelle that he had already contacted about her. (Druskelle = elite members of the Fjerdan military, trained to infiltrate deep behind enemy lines and kill or kidnap Grisha.) Meanwhile the Crows led by Kaz Brekker are preparing for their trip across the Fold, with each member being tasked to retrieve something for the arduous journey ahead of them.
We encounter the Darkling (Aleksander the Shadow Summoner) for the second time when he comes to collect Alina and bring her to King Pyotr. And learn that the Little Palace was built solely to house and protect Grisha. To allow them to learn, train and flourish and be protected from the likes of the aforementioned Fjerdans. Alina’s introduction to the king goes fairly splendidly, making a huge wave and after her demonstration, is met with a deafening round of applause. Being hugged by everyone in the crowd is obviously a heart-warming scene but is then followed by a seemingly kind comment and hug from Zoya (a fewllow Grisha), only to have a nasty remark being said close up to her ear, whispered so no one else will hear. More discrimination – but this time from a well regarded Grisha, not a lowly maid.
Our crows begin their treacherous journey with one of the most adorable baby goats in hand. Alina is taken to training, and her paths cross with Zoya again, who after sparring and Alina manages to get one single shot in, she sees red and uses her powers against Alina. Knocking her back with such force that it throws her across the courtyard and knocks her out. Interestingly, we again see the white stag, before she regains consciousness, from her eyes point of view in the trance she’s looking up at the stags head as its coming into focus, and it turns its head towards her to stare straight at her. More stag imagery, at this point it surely isn’t metaphorical – we’re guessing it’s a layer of foreshadowing that he and this Stag will cross paths and are quite possibly intrinsically linked somehow. She then has her first encounter with The Apparat, who slots things into place for us. He tells of the lore of the Stag.
“It all began with this man, one of the first Grisha in recorded history. The Bonesmith. He knew the Grisha would always be persecuted and so he worked on a plan to magnify their power. He made creatures from his own finger bones, mythical animals brimming with power, attuned only to Grisha. They learned that killing one of these beasts and then melding and then melding a piece of it into their body would amplify their powers. Sometimes the gain was minor, but with the right binding, the increase in power was astonishing. They kill the animals to take this power, only the Grisha who takes that life can take that creature’s power.”
Following this, Alina has her first lesson with Bagrha – the woman who trains all new Grishas in controlling and strengthening their abilities. But her first lesson goes very far from well. Alina still somewhat clinging to life away from the Little Palace, her mind and heart still very much with Mal, she writes to him
You once told me you were the most scared when you were lost. But getting lost can happen even when you know where you are. You told me about Cardinal North and True North. Cardinal North is a direction on a map. True north? True North is home. Its where you feel safe. And loved. You, have always been my True North Mal.