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Daemons, New Worlds and Witches: A Review of ‘His Dark Materials’: Season Two, Episode One

Warning: This article contains spoilers of His Dark Materials: Season Two, Episode One.

What is next for Lyra Silvertongue and Will?

The season one finale of His Dark Materials left us with a whirlwind of emotions from witnessing reunions, betrayals, deaths and battles. More importantly, it shows many of the character’s parting ways and starting their own journey’s, leaving us with the question of ‘what is next to come for all of them?’

Dafne Keene in His Dark Materials (2019). Image via YouTube.

Nonetheless, season two’s premiere doesn’t hold back from answering these questions and goes straight into the action! Generally, I think a lot of series take their time going back into the world’s created and set up a slow introductory first episode. However, that is not the case for His Dark Materials. Instead, we are given action and suspense almost instantly, starting with Lyra exploring this new and unfamiliar world. Turns out, there is yet another world to explore- a ghost town that contains mysterious creatures called spectres that suck the life out of men. We haven’t yet been privileged enough to truly encounter these spectres, though, from the last scene of Will being in the street, it is feasible that the dark shadow behind him was in fact a spectre. His Dark Materials constantly uses the cliffhanger technique, however, through Jack Thorne‘s writing, it is hard to tire from it due to the intrigue it sets up: What will happen to Will- Will the spectres get him or will Lyra save him?

Furthermore, I love how in this episode the two protagonists (Will and Lyra) finally unite. However, in doing so, we learn the two to be quite the comedic duo. I think the use of humour benefits the series greatly due to its mainly dark and serious tones. Therefore, by putting two young and stubborn teenagers from a different world into a ghost town, Thorne allows for us to relax after other tense scenes. In particular, Thorne subtly demonstrates their differences through cooking, and through the two talking casually and then comparing the drastic similarities and differences between the two worlds.

Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (2019). Image in YouTube.

Furthermore, another area I think stands out in this episode is Ruth Wilson‘s acting. She easily transforms back into her cruel and menacing Mrs. Coulter. Season one left us thinking that Mrs. Coulter had changed for the better with the goal to get her daughter back. However, Thorne demonstrates that this isn’t quite the case. Yes, she is determined to get Lyra back, but this doesn’t mean that she is no longer wicked and manipulative. Instead, she directs this manner at the witches and at the magisterium. Wilson’s acting is definitely a highlight in the show, as we never know what Mrs Coulter is going to do next because of her calm, yet violent nature. I particularly like the use of eerie bass music within her scenes which add to her unpredictable, but wicked nature. Speaking of witches, I like how this season offers a better insight into the witches, which season one lacks. More specifically, Thorne was sure to clarify how they fly through Mrs Coulter torturing one. I definitely like how Thorne incorporates so many insights into the different worlds subtly, which allows for story progression without so many introductory and filler episodes to help the viewers catch on.

Overall, I think the season two premiere is done very well, especially through acting and writing. Nonetheless, there is a lot more that needs to be uncovered including: the whereabouts of Iorek and Asriel; the truth about Will’s father; and the fate of Will after this episode’s cliffhanger. Moreover, although the action is great within this episode, there is a lot going on for just fifty minutes. Therefore, I am hoping that the next episode eases the action ever so slightly in order to allow for time to appreciate each scene, rather than it feeling rushed.

 

New episodes air every Sunday on BBC (UK) and will start airing on HBO on 16 November (US).

 

Featured Image via YouTube.

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