Interview: Shadow and Bone Director Mairzee Almas Talks Inej and Kaz and the Moment Everything Changed
Kanej is where it's at.
There are many hearts to Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, thanks to directors like Mairzee Almas. You have Alina and Mal, best friends from the very start. You have Nina and Matthias, the enemies to lovers trope that we all love to come to life. And then you have my personal favorite, Inej and Kaz, the two individuals who care deeply for each other but can’t vocalize or express how they feel just yet.
You would think this inability would make it difficult to love or break down what makes this relationship so special. But just because they haven’t declared their love for each other or show affection through touch, doesn’t mean that their actions don’t speak for them. They do, especially during Shadow and Bone’s fifth episode titled “Show Me Who You Are,” directed by Almas herself.
After a betrayal that puts The Crows (Inej, Kaz, and Jesper) in danger, Kaz is caught in a cat and mouse game with an Inferni. Kaz holds his own; he always does. But there is a moment, a split second, where this Inferni had an upper hand on Kaz and would’ve killed him if it wasn’t for Inej stopping him in his tracks.
Almas spoke with The Mary Sue about this pivotal moment that changed the relationship between Inej and Kaz from the perspective of the former. “It’s a very very big step. And what I think was essential for Amita Suman’s character was that she really had to make…there was really no way for her to get around making the choice. She would either kill this guy or allow Kaz to die.”
And this comes at a moment in time where Inej and Kaz are not really sure about what they are to each other. “They have a relationship that hasn’t found its footing yet. They obviously care deeply about each other. But neither one of them is able or equipped yet to vocalize that. But they show it to each other in many many ways. Through their loyalty, through their actions with each other.”
That’s what happens when you have “damaged souls,” as Almas calls it. They’re both people that are not quite ready to say what they’re feeling, but the desire is there. “There’s this great desire that is attached to both of them already. It was there before this incident.” And in making the choice to save Kaz, essentially, “there is no coming back. That’s ringing a bell that you can’t unring.”
Right after killing to save Kaz’s life, Inej is overwhelmed with guilt that she doesn’t have time to process. And it’s Kaz who guides her at that moment and helps her escape. It’s not until later, when Inej is fighting the sister of the Inferni, that she starts to process what she did and the lengths she’s willing to go for the people she loves.
“She initially knifes the woman in the belly and says, “Don’t pull out the knife until you’re near a healer,” Almas explained, guiding us through a moment where Inej makes a deliberate choice to kill for her family. “Then the woman threatens her and her family and everyone that she’s ever loved, anyone who is close to her. Again, threatening Kaz, threatening Jesper, threatening her homemade family. And she won’t have that. She can’t have that. So then she says, “Ok, well. I’ll take my knife back.” And she pulls out the knife and lets the sister die.”
This perfectly ties back to the moment when Inej killed out of instinct to protect Kaz, according to Almas. “When she saves Kaz, literally the first time, that was the beginning of a transition for her that took a while to percolate. And it needed to percolate. Because she couldn’t reconcile the fact of what she’d done in taking another life.”
Killing was something she never thought she’d do, yet she had no choice the first time. The same thing could be said when it comes to the sister of the Inferni. In “Show Me Who You Are” we witness Inej transitioning from not wanting to kill to having to kill as a means of protecting her family. “We see witness to it, we see a galvanizing of that choice when she pulls her knife out of the sister and is like, ‘Fine. Die then. If you’re gonna threaten my family, die.'”
Everything that comes after that, for Inej and Kaz, comes from a place of understanding of the lengths they’re willing to go for each other without speaking the words others might need. Why? Because their bond is deeper than that, and it shows through Marizee Almas work in Shadow and Bone’s “Show Me Who You Are.”
Shadow and Bone is available on Netflix.
(image: Shadow and Bone screenshot)
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