“The Daemon Cages” begins with flash scenes of Lyra being taken into the ‘daemon cages’. The scene is followed by eerie music, emphasizing the negative atmosphere of where Lyra is entering to. As Lyra continues to be taken into the Bolvanger, she enters a room full of children, where she instantly spots Roger. The scene then cuts to an overview of the building, which is a snow covered landscape. As a result, proving the location as being isolated and hard to find. One scene in particular that stood out to me, involved when a girls name was called out at the dining hall. During this process, she is taken to a room, where a creepy looking lady remains expressionless as the lights flash and flicker around her. It is only up to the point of a weird abrupt sound, that the audience can make out a sense of fear on her behalf. Later, it is identifiable that this robotic-like character had her daemon taken away, therefore the noise of the severing is something she fears.
I liked how the episode consisted of faded colors, which mirrored the lifelessness of the children that had been separated from their daemons, therefore bringing a soulless and dead atmosphere to the building. Funnily enough, I only noticed now that the “His Dark Materials” sign in the introduction sequence is split in half. This could mirror the severing between children and their daemons being one of the main themes of the series. Therefore, without us realizing, even the title formatting foreshadows what is to come. Furthermore, throughout the episode we see Lyra continue with her stubborn and rebellious side. For example, we see her utilizing the fire alarm on two occasions in order to firstly gain information, and secondly using it as an escape plan.
“Lizzie Brooke”- the name we all dreaded to be called out in the dining hall. This is perhaps one of the most tense scenes within the episode, as it means it is Lyra’s turn to have her daemon severed. Fortunately, the only thing that stops this from happening is the fact that she calls out for her “mother”. This results in Ms. Coulter (being surprised that she was aware of this information) stopping the severing instantly, seeming panicked at thought of her daughter being harmed. Many of us have been conflicted about the persona of Ms. Coulter, and unfortunately, this conflicted manner towards her continues. Throughout the episode, Ruth Wilson portrays both a villain (who is harming many with the experiments) and a caring mother, who is trying to right her wrongs- see the conflicting side yet? Despite playing a character with a lack of empathy, Wilson’s use of crying when on the topic of Lyra presents a conflicting attitude towards her. Her justification to Lyra almost makes you believe that it is she in the right to an extent. She persuades Lyra that she has simply made a few wrongdoings by sacrificing “the few for the many”, but that she is doing it for the greater good. I think both Pullman and Thorne did well to establish that she is just that human, after all, through her use of crying showing genuine care and perhaps regret.
Moreover, through the information Ms. Coulter reveals to Lyra, it allows us to understand why she has a strong detachment from her daemon due to her believing daemons are troublesome and infect grownups with sin and guilt through the dust they retain. Furthermore, the mood of this scene switches from emotional to tense as Lyra gives Ms. Coulter what it is thought to be the alithiometer. As the music intensifies, it is unclear as to whether the tension is a result of Ms. Coulter taking the alithiometer, or the fact that we later find out it is a spy fly that attacks Ms. Coulter rather than being the device she hoped for.
As everyone teams together to fight and save the children, we see Ms. Coulter hiding, showing a cowardice persona to herself, but also revealing that she is being tactical as she is aware that her side has been defeated and if she gets involved she will be killed. Moreover, a sad scene involved Roger bringing out all the children that have had the daemon severed. This scene was complimented by sad strings, and the camera laid high emphasis on Ma Costa, thus referring back to Billy – who she has lost. Moreover, when we think the battle has ended, and a happy ever after will be received, we realize that there is more to do, including Lyra freeing her father from the armoured bears. To do so, Lyra goes on the air-balloon with Lee, Iorek and Roger. Whilst most remain asleep, Serafina makes an appearance and reveals key information to Lee. This includes the fact that “The child is destined to be important”, more specifically, that “The fate than more than this world depends on her”. In addition, we find out that Lyra has “Blindsided [Lee] with love” and that he “responsible for her”. Ongoing, the episode ends with Lyra falling out of the air-balloon at a fault of evil creatures named Cliffgasts that attack the airship, therefore leaving the episode on a brief cliffhanger as to what will happen next.
Overall, I felt that this has been one of the most successful episodes yet, reaching a currently reaching 9.0/10 on IMDb. This episode has been the most intensely driven episode due to all the action and tension caused by Lyra’s capture, and the Gyptian’s rescue. Moreover, the episode left us with many questions, including what happened to Lyra, what will Ms. Coulter do next and how will they save Asriel now? Furthermore, one thing I liked about this episode in comparison to the film adaptation, is that it paid closer attention and insight to the children in Bolvanger allowing for us to feel more empathetic towards them. Despite this, I did feel that the episode was lacking regarding the battle scene, as it seemed to be over too quickly.
Next on “His Dark Materials”, we can see Ms. Coulter being attacked by the Magisterium for failing her project that they were relying so deeply on her. Moreover, the Magisterium announces that everyone will be sent north, but why, and what will this mean? Moreover, Boreal is finally planning to activate his plan in taking Will. Lastly, a big question that has been asked from this week’s episode is ‘is Lyra dead?’. Thanks to this promo, we are comforted by Serafina with the fact that she is not dead, but in fact the hands of others – potentially the armoured bears.
His Dark Materials will air next Sunday at 8 pm BBC One.
Featured Image via IMDb.