We dive headfirst into the First Army camp on the outskirts of Chernast, the watchmen in the towers see a wounded soldier, Mal, walk in and collapse. After recuperating a little he takes off to Os Alta, to the Little Palace, to tell Kirigan himself – and of coruse to see Alina.
The Crows are in the process of sneaking their way into the Little Palace, with the troop of performers they’ve sandwiched themselves in with. All performers given strict instruction of where exactly in the Little Palace they’re permitted, and that if their caught anywhere but those areas, severe punishment will be enacted. Standard protocol of course. Alina’s friendships with Genya and the pair of squallers strengthens. But whilst Genya is preparing Alina for the demonstration, showing the elite of the kingdom the myth come to life, the Sun Summoner. She utters a seemingly sincere but strong warning:
In and around this conversation Genya alludes to the fact that the king on occasion procures her in the evenings…. Telling how her spending more time on the queens face “tends to shift the kings gaze in her direction. At least until nightfall.” So the warning seems to be not only about the king, we have to assume its meant to warn her a little of the Darkling’s power, the position he holds in the world as the leader of the First Army and the most powerful Grisha in the world. After David drops in a pair of glovers he made for Alina – making it easier to split the beans of sun – it’s impossible not to notice the gigantic crush Genya has for the Fabrikator David. Then the Crows start planning their ambush, figuring out the secret room Alina will be in after the demonstration. Genya allows Alina to get out into the fair on the palace grounds for a few moments to experience a little fun – but being incredibly cautious as if anyone recognised her, she would be in trouble and or potential danger. While Alina watches a dance troop perform a piece about her own story – Jesper happens to be near them and overhears Genya call her Alina – now knowing exactly who she is and what she looks like.
A delectable moment occurs between Alina and Alexander, Discussing her initial nerves about the demonstration. I was nervous at first. But talking to Genya, I’ve realized what this demonstration represents. I’ve always felt like an outsider. Especially when I first got here. but now I finally feel like I belong. And not just that I belong here, but to something greater. That we can offer Grisha and Ravkans hope for the future.
That means a lot to me, Alina. You mean a lot. To everyone. – Darkling
This again seems a double-layered response, on one level, seeming to appreciate her position on wanting to offer people (and specifically Grisha) hope. That said… we can’t lie.. we’d been waiting for this since their first encounter. But also, this has to be a minor manipulation, emphasizing similar interest in a dream or wish that she perpetrates. He seems highly skilled in handling people. Control appears to be something this man is highly used to and struggles whenever anything occurs outside of his say so. His apparently deferential attitude towards the king appears more like a crafted character he plays in order to have the freedom to construct a system that keeps him riding a wave above the aristocrats.
The Crows infiltration appears to be going flawlessly, having set up the Conductor with a Lynx Flush – Inej explains to Arken that lynx are pack hunters. Very smart. They’ll clear a path for the prey. Meaning Arken (the Conductor) grabs the Summoner, and they clear the path. Of course, we immediately feel that this is not the true meaning of a Lynx Flush. Otherwise, there would have been no glimmer of recognition from Inej when Kaz declares it so. We have to assume it’s a new plan that leaves the Conductor in a spot of trouble while they sneak away with the Summoner in tow. We then see Jesper fall into a delightfully flirtatious tête-à-tête with a stable-hand. While Kaz and Inej successfully impersonate two members of the Grisha assigned to protect and escort Alina from room to room during the demonstration to the hoi polloi of society. After another brief but scintillating interaction with the Darkling in the main hall, Alina performs her demonstration – after which nearly everyone in the audience watching crosses themselves, whispering Sankta Alina (meaning Saint Alina).
Mal finally makes his way to the Little Palace, and meets with none other than the Darkling himself, giving him a very vague description of where he saw the Stag (North of Chernast) he refuses to specify until he gets to see Alina. The Darkling asks for proof that he actually knows the Sun Summoner, as many people claim to do so. He asks him to tell something about her only a few would know, something personal. Like, her favourite flower? Mal responds. The iris. Irises. Blue ones. Low and behold, the darkling approaches Alina carrying a few stalks..
Kaz sends Arken after the double while he and Inej stay on the real target. Arken attempts to kill the girl who has been made to look like Alina – as a way of ensuring the Sun Summoners safety. Bagrah hears that someone has found the Stag and is being kept on palace grounds – and in the next scene someone attacks Mal, aiming to kill him but after some struggle loses that battle. We then witness what is undoubtedly one of the most satisfying kisses that has graced our screens in the past decade. Delectably delicious. The writers lift us viewers up on the buoyant air of the birth of a new love and crazed passion, only to send us crashing down with incredible momentum. The Darkling is not a descendant of the Black Heretic, he is the Black Heretic. Hundreds of years old and masterful at manipulation. His dear old mom Baghra tells us this, Alina and the viewers only understanding her relation to him once she uses her power. We thought there was only one Shadow Summoner, but here is another. The only logic being that she is his mother. Duh duh DUHHHH! Alina sneaks across palace grounds and slinks into a trunk on the back of a coach getting ready to depart. This happens to be the coach that Jesper secured for the Crows exit after having kidnapped Alina. And the universe somehow sends Alina right into their trunk with no coercion or kidnapping needed. The Crows giddup and happily set off – setting up our next episode’s plot quite beautifully.