In last week’s episode, writer Jack Thorne left us with numerous questions including: Is Lyra alive? What’s next on Ms Coulter’s agenda now that the Gobbler’s research station has been destroyed? What is Lee’s plan now he has lost Lyra? And finally, is Boreal going to take Will away? Thankfully, in this week’s episode, many of these questions were answered.
Firstly, this week’s director, Jamie Childs (previously known for Doctor Who), begins the episode with a white landscape showing the hidden research station in Bolvanger. I have noticed that it is a recurring theme in the series to show the landscape of where the episode will begin. For example, in previous episodes, the episode has begun with landscapes of Pullman’s London, the sky and the gyptian’s boats moving across the river. Moreover, this episode continues with flashing lights and a silhouette of Ms Coulter standing at the end of the hall. The use of flashing lights, not only emphasizes the destruction Bolvanger has faced, but it also provides an uneasy atmosphere at the anger Ms Coulter is facing due to the destruction. Furthermore, Lorne’s use of eerie and dramatic drugs accompanied by strings shapes this haunting effect. The tempo and volume begins to increase as the camera moves closer to the destruction, and then we see Ms Coulter screaming, though the music overtakes the sound, creating a muffled effect. Ongoing, in this scene we see a side to Ms Coulter that she tries to hide from Lyra. For example, as she begins to exit, she attacks the handmaid’s tale styled nurse. Her shock and realization begins when she lets go, almost killing the girl, and then instantly feeling sorry for the girl who doesn’t “know where to go”. This is a truly sad aspect to the narrative, as it shows insight into the life of someone who has had their daemon taken away. The girl has become lifeless, and her life was surrounded in that building, and now it is gone, she has nothing.
Moving on, the next scene reveals that Lyra is, in fact, not dead. However, from the use of a dark blue color tone, and an uncomfortable silence it is instantly clear that Lyra is in the wrong place. Turns out that Lyra is in the kingdom of the armored bears. Lorne intensifies the music and volume as we gain a thorough into the lives of the armored bears. More specifically, we see Lyra using her manipulative personality to trick Iofur into believing that she is Iorek’s daemon. This instantly makes Iofur jealous and agree to challenge Iorek into a duel, instead of killing him on first sight. Following on, Childs then shows a birds-eye view of Iorek entering the kingdom of bears. Fortunately, Lyra manages to give Iorek a quick brief before the fight began. During the fight, Childs uses a collection of fast, jaggered short camera shots which adds to the intensity of the scene- In a way this method, makes me feel that if I look away for a second I may miss out on a key detail. Furthermore, Lorne uses past paced music which emphasizes the intensity of the scene. Even more, Childs chooses to use restricted narrative on Lyra’s behalf, meaning that as she looks away, we are unable to see who won the battle and how. Fortunately, it is revealed as the bear walks up to her, that Iorek won and gained his royalty back. A key aspect on this scene, aside from the positive fate of Iorek, is that he then re-names Lyra as Lyra Silvertongue, adding to her echoing importance throughout the series. Both Lyra and Iorek return to Roger, only for Lyra to find out that Lee is missing and that his air-balloon had crashed.
Meanwhile, it is revealed that the Magisterium are heading north, but why? Turns out that they are trying to find Asriel as “Lord Asriel needs to die”. Moreover, we see that Ms Coulter is in trouble with the her higher leaders who have instructed her to go home after her failed plans. However, she remains tactical as she convinces her ** that she is a useful source when it comes to Asriel. The scenes of the Magisterium heading to the north continue throughout the episode with the use of a powerful bass-like drum music, imitating the march towards battle. Therefore, hinting towards the battle that is likely to take place in the finale.
As revealed in the previous episode, the letters from Will’s father have become a motif in the story-line. Through both Boreal wanting them and Will’s mother refusing, it puts them in an unsafe position. The result of this, is a destroyed house, Will’s mother having to move in with Will’s coach and Will running away with the letters. in order to keep her safe, and keep Boreal away. But what is in these letter’s that makes them so important? Personally, I am struggling with the information we are given about the alternate world and Will’s life. I feel like the screen-time of his life in comparison to Lyra’s is by far less. As a result, I feel a disconnection between him and the happening. Moreover, the information doesn’t feel completely relevant to the general happenings of each episode. Despite that, in one of the first episodes it was revealed that Will and Lyra serve as important characters to the fate and the destiny of all. As a result, I am hoping that Jack Thorne will provide more information and emphasis on his narrative.
We then visit Lee and his crashed balloon. Serafina appears at the site, and comforts him whilst he believes he has failed and let everyone down. However, she reassures him that he is still needed due to the fact that the “Battles are just beginning”. Moreover, Serafina also emphasizes Lee’s importance in Lyra’s life, and she needs him. Continuing on, the episode ends with us finally revisiting Asriel- after not seeing much of him throughout the series, and yet hearing so much. Turns out, he was not so happy to see Lyra, despite her happiness. Arguably, this is a result of it causing Lyra’s lack of safety which worries him. The promo of the season’s finale reveals that we will be seeing more of Lyra’s adventures with Asriel, as little was shown in this episode.
Overall, this episode reached an 8.4/10 on IMDb. Personally, I wasn’t keen on some of the dialogue within this episode. For example, in the final scene where Lyra, Iorek and Roger travel to Asriel, the acting seems a bit cringe as Childs emphasizes their happiness through camera shots. This is also evident in some of the dialogue, where Lyra’s acting seems too forced, in comparison to usual. Despite this, the majority of the episode was well-made and did a good job of laying out the events before the final battle. Moreover, the promo for the season’s finale also revealed that we can expect a battle as the Magisterium intend to go to war with Asriel. Big questions arise including who will win, and what will be the fate of Lyra? Even more, what will be the fate of Will, now he is on the run?
His Dark Materials will air this Sunday at 8 pm BBC One.
Featured Image via IMDb.