The trailer for Shadow and Bone Season 2 dropped just three weeks before its March 16 premiere on Netflix, and that was enough time for fans to deduce we’re getting Kaz Brekker’s backstory. Fans couldn’t tell if story would be one flashback or if it would happen over multiple episodes, and people were not thrilled with the idea of his tragic past being rushed in one episode. But, don’t worry. The showrunners kept show fans guessing for five episodes straight — and they kept book fans watching through their tears the entire time because if you’ve read Six of Crows, you knew what was going to happen. Spoiler warning: Spoilers for Shadow and Bone Season 2 follow.
The trailer scene that gave it away: the river. The water is burned into readers’ minds. It’s the reason Kaz never takes off his gloves. It’s the reason he wants Pekka Rollins dead. It’s the reason he won’t touch Inej. It represents the death of Kaz Rietveld and the birth of Kaz Brekker, “Dirtyhands.”
For anyone who needs a refresher, let’s go back in time to the original Six of Crows novel.
Kaz’s older brother, Jordie, is scammed by Jakob Hertzoon. Hertzoon is actually Pekka Rollins, the big bad in The Crows universe. Jordie bought into Hertzoon’s get-rich-quick scheme and is shortly thereafter abandoned and penniless after Rollins vanishes with the brothers’ money. Homeless and with nowhere to turn, Jordie and Kaz live on the streets during the firepox outbreak. Jordie falls ill first, Kaz right behind him.
Their bodies are found together and the boys, presumed dead, are ferried onto the sickboat where the town is piling its dead and floating them out to sea since the graveyards are overrun. But… Kaz isn’t dead.
He wakes up on the sickboat surrounded by dead bodies and laying on his brother’s chest. He’s barely alive, but needs to get back to shore. He can’t swim. So he uses his brother’s dead body to float back to Ketterdam.
Suffering from extreme PTSD and unable to touch any skin without becoming physically ill, Kaz turns to his leather gloves and vows to avenge his brother.
In Season 2 of Shadow and Bone, we get to see Kaz’s vengeance. Looks like all of those fan theories were right. And people were freaking out (I’m people). The producers paid respect to the books, and made it easier for fans to figure out the flashback timeline, with their episode names.
Fans can rest easy knowing Netflix took Kaz’s PTSD seriously and abided by Leigh Bardugo’s writing: There is no Kanej kiss. I repeat, no Kanej kiss. Not even more than a touch of hands. Put the pitchforks down, folks.
Book lovers got the same horrific, beautifully told backstory they expected and show watchers finally got to see (through their tears) what everyone was making a fuss about. Book Twitter debated whether a backstory in one episode could actually do Kaz Brekker justice. Can you blame them? We’ve got almost all of the Crows’ backstories now, but wait until show fans hear what they’re in for with Wylan’s past…