It’s fitting that my first review of a TV show would talk about such a famous book series, isn’t it? The truth is, I didn’t think I’d watch it so soon, but I was so tired yesterday that I couldn’t read or play any game, so I thought, why not? I don’t regret spending my time watching it, mostly. Yet – some decisions were certainly choices, and I didn’t like all of them. In the end though, even more than with a book review, it’s only one opinion and what you’ll think will depend on your relationship with the Grishaverse most of all.
So before I start, a few important notes :
- I haven’t read the original trilogy since 2014, and it was never a favorite of mine. I liked it alright at the time, but I was never really convinced by it. My memories are… fuzzy, to say the least. I remember not liking Alina and Mal as characters so much, but I’m curious to know what I’d think, now. Will I reread them someday? Probably, I don’t know.
- On the contrary, I loved the Six of Crows duology : the dregs are in my heart forever.
With that in mind, let’s see what I thought of the TV Show!
What the TV Show did right (or better)
- Alina and Mal : look, I liked them. For some reason I feel that I understand them and their bond better now than I ever did, back when I read the books.
- MATTHIAS AND NINA : they gave me life, okay? Their banter, their chemistry – I loved their scenes very much.
- The Darkling : I’ve always thought that he was a fantastic villain, because he’s multi-layered and fascinating. It won’t come as a surprise that he was my favorite character from the original trilogy, which doesn’t mean that I thought he was a good love-interest (no) (he’s downright abusive, come on). I won’t go back on why I disliked Ruin and Rising because it’s been so long and I don’t have the energy (it’s not the ending, though), but let’s say that I was disappointed by the way it all… fizzled out, somehow. In the end, it was Alina and Mal’s story, and I wasn’t a fan, so. Anyway. Let’s come back to the TV show : I was really satisfied by the way his character was written, and I felt that his character wasn’t wasted or one-dimensional, on the contrary. I really appreciated the little slices of life the flashbacks offered us and Ben Barnes’ acting was on point.
- I really liked how the dregs were included, probably because I’ve always loved them so much more. It added much-needed humor and made the story more interesting in my opinion. Jesper in particular was amazing.
- The ending : I liked it better than in the books, honestly. The addition of characters who weren’t originally there was a good idea as far as I’m concerned.
- The TV show perfectly conveyed the essence of the settings in my opinion, and I loved the atmosphere.
What could have been better
- It’s a little thing, really, but some of Kaz’s scenes felt off, somehow? I understand that the new medium asked for changes, and Freddy Carter was great, but I couldn’t help but feel that his feelings towards Inej were a bit too obvious at times.
- It’s a bit ridiculous how many times Mal somehow avoids dying, isn’t it? Mostly it made me laugh, but that non-magical boy certainly got A+ resistance, lmao.
What was (really, really) bad
- The racism subplot with Alina is gratuitous and offensive. Including racial slurs and racist imagery towards Asian people was lazy storytelling, doesn’t make sense in regards to the original trilogy, and above everything was unnecessarily hurtful. Can’t we have diverse characters thriving? How many times will people of color have to repeat that racist slurs are never a good idea? What’s even more aggravating is the fact that it felt like an afterthought, and that subplot wasn’t given the care it needed. Many SFF stories written by authors of color tackle racism and colonialism in a meaningful way, but here it just wasn’t the case. It’s very obviously written for the white gaze, and left a bad taste in my mouth. If not for that, I would have probably given it a better rating, but no.