Now Reading: Who Can Lyra Truly Trust? A Review of ‘His Dark Materials’ Season 1, Episode 2


Who Can Lyra Truly Trust? A Review of ‘His Dark Materials’ Season 1, Episode 2

November 15, 20197 min read

This week’s episode (“The Idea of North”) we see Lyra start her new life in London brings up back to the alternate Oxford. Through Lyra’s determination to find Roger’s whereabouts, she soon finds answers to questions she never asked, leading to her not knowing who to trust. Furthermore, we also see the gypsies continue on there quest to the north in order to find Billy.

We enter the world of Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ with a birds-eye view of London city. The key factor that helps us distinguish this world as being a parallel universe is through the use of balloons (a mode of transport, similar to the appearance of a zeppelin) scattered across the sky. This is in opposition of having planes. Furthermore, later in the episode, we are met with our own universe after Carlo Boreal walks through a loophole. Most clearly, there are the well-known red London buses dotted around. Moreover, Tom Hooper makes a clever choice in distinguishing between the two London’s through the use of color tones. For example, Pullman’s universe is marked with bright colors and brighter filtering, whereas our London has a set of darker filtering and toning , thus making it gloomier.

Moreover, another way in cinematographic aspect that stood out, took place in the first presence of Carlo Boreal as he discusses Asriel’s whereabouts with The Master. In doing so, the camera angles upwards towards Carlo Boreal, therefore portraying him as being high on the power hierarchy. Moreover, within this scene, Hooper chooses to have The Master’s daemon fly above his head. In doing so, creating a eerie vibe around Carlo Boreal character due to the haunting connotations of crows with death. As a result, suggesting that a result of his character’s power dynamic, makes his presence dangerous.

Regarding the plot, the episode follows Lyra’s events as she moves into the hotel with Mrs Coulter. The hotel, in particular, is coated with whites and golds that suit Mrs Coulter’s rich and formal manner. Arguably, this makes Lyra out of place through her rebellious manner that goes against Mrs Coulter’s necessity to follow rules. Furthermore, Hooper constantly shows scenes of Lyra exploring the hotel and trying to find answers. This results into her finding out that Mrs Coulter has managed to detach herself from her daemon, alongside secret documents in Mrs Coutler’s drawers revealing aspects of how daemons are separated from them. Thorne’s use of dotting Lyra’s curiosity throughout the episode, emphasizes that it is a common personality trait of Lyra. Moreover, it emphasizes that this trait is perhaps what will reveal too much to Lyra resulting into her downfall. For example, through Lyra’s questioning, it results into her finding out that Asriel is her father. This piece of information is revealed to her by Mrs Coulter. Ruth Wilson portrayal of this character, specifically at this scene shows her character as being loving, and genuinely hurt, which conflicts with her malicious side we see behind the eyes of Lyra’s character.

Moreover, through the scenes we can see a pattern of disloyalty directed at Lyra. Firstly through finding out Asriel lied about being her uncle, then through the fact that the journalist at the charity event tells Lyra that Mrs Coulter is a gobbler, making her distrust Mrs Coulter. Lastly, Mrs Coutler also tries to make it seem that Roger has forgotten about Lyra. This displays Lyra’s character having a sense of naivety due to quickly believing in what anyone tells her and trusting them, despite a lack of relation with them of a little kid. One example in particular of Lyra’s child-like mentality is shown through “rogers too when she finds him”. This shows how she believes Roger will be helped equally by Mrs Coulter- little does she know that it is Mrs Coulter is the one causing his . Furthermore, this child-like mentality portrayed by Dafne Keen opposes to the movie adaptation due to Dakota Blue Richard‘s Lyra having a more mature, but equally spoiled personality. Moreover, another way in which this episode differs from the movie is through the fact that through the TV adaptations ability unlike the movie, we see into the events of those missing children – bolt is reunited with roger

Overall, this episode successfully laid out further issues regarding the series that needs to be dealt with in later episodes. Moreover, the episode reached an 8.5/10 IMDb, marking it as being more successful than the first episode. This episode was arguably more entertaining to watch than the first, as the first was simply an introduction, and lacked action that would have made it entertaining. Furthermore, I personally felt that there was a lack of scenes showing the happenings of the gypsies. However, from next week’s promo, it seems like we will see a lot more from them due to Lyra finally meeting them. Furthermore, the episode revealed that there will be confrontation between Asriel and Mrs Coulter due to her losing Lyra, when he wants her to be protected. Finally, from the ending of the episode and from the promo, we see that Lyra has been captured. However, it is unclear whether it is by the gobblers or by Mrs Coulter.


His Dark Materials will air next Sunday at 8 pm BBC One.


Featured image credit via IMDb.

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