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Spectres, Knives and Dark Matter: A Review of ‘His Dark Materials’ Season Two, Episode Four

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

In this week’s episode of His Dark Materials, we are finally seeing the pieces fit together! This has to be one of my favourite episodes so far for many reasons, beginning with the writing. This second season started off with a lot of introductory and filler episodes, but now we seem to finally be at a point where everything is coming together. In particular, different events in this episode brought the characters together, making the season even more intriguing to watch. For example, a key scene in this episode was when we finally learn more of Dust, thanks to Mary. Turns out Dust (aka dark matter), is in fact angels! Honestly, this part did confuse me a bit, but nonetheless, it is a key piece of information that will help shape the narrative throughout the coming episodes.

Andrew Scott in His Dark Materials (2019). Image via YouTube.

Another exciting discovery within this episode was when we finally meet Will’s dad, thanks to Lee Scoresby. His character was not what I was expecting…His obsessive nature towards his work and isolation from his family/world has clearly impacted him negatively. However, he is still motivated to ensure the world is a better place for Will- which definitely contrasts the self-absorbed mentality we see in Lyra’s parents. Due to him becoming a Shaman, he seems to hold many powers that we are not entirely familiar with yet and could serve to benefit or disrupt Lyra and Will’s storyline. Moreover, I loved the transition of colors within his scenes. Most of the episodes in His Dark Materials are coated with dark blues, greys and blacks which match the gloomy atmosphere throughout the series. Within this episode, however, Leanne Welham introduced some bright and fiery colors in the scenes that featured Will’s father. I quite liked this contrast as it made the episode even more aesthetically pleasing. Personally, I think that this contrast in colors could be a way of Welham signaling a sense of hope that John Parry’s character will bring to the narrative.

In this episode, Will and Lyra are focused on finding the Subtle Knife. Fortunately, our two protagonists find the knife quite easily, however, not without complications. In getting the knife back, the knife claims Will as its bearer. Meaning, Will is now in charge of protecting the knife at all costs. As great as this sounds, this causes major complications as both Lyra and Will made a deal with Boreal to find the knife and exchange it for the alethiometer. Now Will is its bearer so he won’t be able to rid of it so easily, perhaps meaning that Lyra won’t be getting her alethiometer back. I am interested to see how this issue will pan out in the following episodes. More specifically, now Mrs. Coulter has traveled to the other worlds, will she be the one to defend Lyra and Will or will she cause more conflict? I do feel quite bad for him and Lyra as both have been forced into a lifestyle that they didn’t ask for and so many other lives depend on the choices they make. However, the similarity between the two characters definitely demonstrates their strong relationship and connection.

His Dark Materials (2019). Image via YouTube.

One thing I quite liked was how there seemed to be a few nods to other sci-fi and fantasy texts. For example, the episode started off with a visual story of how the Subtle Knife was formed and where the Spectres came from, which was accompanied by a voice-over. This technique reflected the opening scene in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings that describes the ring’s origin story. Aside from the nostalgic feel of this opening scene reminding me of Lord of the Rings, I thought it was a great technique used by Welham due to it establishing the main subject of the episode: the subtle knife. Moreover, it also did well to give us viewers information on the importance of this knife, in an educational, but visually pleasing manner which served well in adding to the show’s overall entertaining features.

His Dark Materials (2019). Image via YouTube.

Overall, I think this was one of my favourite episodes so far. We were definitely given a lot of useful information that helped shape the narrative and the character arcs. Unfortunately, this episode gave us little insight into the battle between the Magisterium and the witches commencing. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to hopefully seeing more in the coming episodes. I quite like how Jack Thorne is taking his time to put necessary details within these episodes, as nothing is rushed. Though that being said I still have many questions that are yet to be answered including: Will Lyra achieve in getting the Althiometer? Where is Lord Asriel? Will we see the Gyptians this season? Finally, are we leading to another great battle for the finale episode?

 

Featured Image via YouTube.

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