Shadow and Bone has been a smash hit for Netflix, and is currently the number one trending show on the streaming service. The fantasy show, based on the YA novels by Leigh Bardugo, follows Alina Starkov, a young woman who discovers that she has incredible powers, setting her in the sights of General Kirigan.
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The pair have a complicated relationship where Alina is initially drawn to him, before discovering that he wants to use her for her powers. In the books, there is a moment where Kirigan kisses Alina, leaving her surprised and unsure of his true intentions. However, the show made a major change by having Alina make the first move.
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Chatting about the change to The Hollywood Reporter, actor Ben Barnes explained: "There was definitely discussion about that – that if she kisses him, it gives Alina more agency. And I said, 'But does it?'Because we've been paying attention the last couple of years and it gives her the semblance of agency, but she's still an orphan who doesn't really understand the rules with this man who is willing to burn things to the ground and is manipulating his power."
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Chatting to Polygon, showrunner Eric Heisserer added: "Both Ben and Jesse had some thoughts and some feelings about that relationship. Ben is very cognisant of consent and active participation. We got to a point where we felt it was healthier for the portrayal of Alina for her to make the first move. And that moment seemed to be a little bit more electric [than the equivalent scene in the books]."
Alina Starko kisses General Kirigan
Jessie Mei Li, who plays Alina, said: "It feels like more of a betrayal. She’s drawn into this [attraction], and it’s her decision. She has agency, she’s not some blushing virgin who got taken advantage of. She makes this decision. And she has been hoodwinked.”
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