Kaz and Inej make for arguably the best romantic couple in the sophomore installment of Shadow and Bone, coming out as the fan-favorite with their restrained and yet so desperate love for each other.
Kaz and Inej are two individuals who navigate the absolute worst that the underbelly of Ketterdam has to offer with their wits and bravery, two of the several strengths they’ve accumulated through years of hardships and struggles.
Making their way through the perils together has not only informed their dynamic with a strong sense of friendship but also a romance — one that simmers and simmers but never quite reaches the boiling point.
Denial & reluctance
Shadow and Bone season 2 begins with the two lovers still playing their parts as integral members of the Crows, still holding out on their love for each other while contending with violence.
In a romantic gesture and one that also breaks Inej’s heart, Kaz gets her the quit deed claim that entails her freedom from indentured servitude. She’s free, but it also curtails her participation in the team.
This denial and distance that Kaz seems to have a penchant for are borne out of his feelings for Inej which he so constantly represses. There are many moments in this season, though, where this repressed business almost claws its way out of both of their hearts.
Tension & desperation
When Inej gets roughed up by the butcher that Pekka Rollins hires to kill her, Kaz comes to check up on her, and while doing an absolutely horrendous job at first aid, he gets close to Inej, and both of them entertain the intimacy that this private moment inspires.
The tension between them can be cut through a knife and yet the two are not yet courageous enough to admit their feelings and express them. Inej has a life-long mission of importance but more than that, Kaz has a childhood trauma that he just can’t get over.
There are more moments between them later on and throughout the entirety of Shadow and Bone season 2, but all of those moments end with remorse on both sides. Desire as they might, the two can’t overcome the trauma of their pasts and the struggles that they contend with to give them enough freedom for love.
The armor that shields from love
Whereas Kaz finds it a bit too difficult to break out of his mental prison and embrace love with no walls, Inej shows much more readiness to open her arms and accept her feelings. However, Kaz’s inability and refusal to accept the unsaid and unexpressed holds her back as well.
When the crows get poisoned by Sankta Neyar, they all have hallucinations that speak to their most personal feelings and experiences. Inej has a hallucination where she sees herself being embraced lovingly by Kaz, as he removes his gloves and pulls her close.
Aware that this unadulterated expression of love can’t be real, Inej breaks free of this hallucination, signifying just how tragic the state of their love is. Meanwhile, Kaz hallucinates about his brother drowning him, asking him what’s the purpose of keeping on living if there’s no one left for him to live for.
Inej pulls him out of the water in the hallucination, but after waking up, Kaz can’t reveal what he saw in his vision, acting physically reluctant to do that. His refusal to accept that only lowers Inej’s confidence in moving forward with her feelings. And that about sums up their love in Shadow and Bone so far.
At the end of season 2, Kaz does finally come through and asks her to stay, in a moment of vulnerability that’s an incredible rarity for him.
However, he’s still not able to overcome his trauma and break the walls he’s erected all around him. Inej can’t accept this version of him and wants him without his “armor”, i.e., his reluctance, hesitation, and reservations.
While Kaz continues leading the Crows and overlooking the operations at Ketterdam, Inej embarks on a mission to look for her brother.
However, the future of Shadow and Bone is bound to have the two lovers meet each other again and hopefully allow themselves to be in love without walls or armor.