Warning! Spoilers for His Dark Materials ahead!
The story so far: Lord Asriel arrives to Jordan College seeking funding for a controversial research project. Someone is taking children from Oxford. Could it be the legendary Gobblers? Gyptian boy Billy Costa has just been taken and so has Lyra’s best friend Roger. Desperate for answers and adult guidance, Lyra leaves Jordan College with Mrs. Coulter.However, just before her departure, The Master gives Lyra a valuable gift that must remain a secret from everyone especially Mrs. Coulter. The Gyptians begin a search for the missing children.
Episode two of His Dark Materials continues its fast pace and features some very strong performances, mainly led by Ruth Wilson and Dafne Keen. Wilson exercises her character’s wide range of mysterious and beguiling behavior. Most recently featured on Showtime’s The Affair, Wilson adds a startling and suspenseful drama to the character of Mrs. Coulter, reminiscent of old Hollywood femme fatales.
Keen (of Logan fame) is taking full command of Lyra. Clever and sincere, Keen’s portrayal of Lyra is adding dimensions to a spectacular character as a girl trying to make sense of adult matters and worldly concerns. Lyra is pulled into a world of extravagance, but she remains true to her nature and keeps her priorities straight.
This episode also exhibits the closeness of the Gyptian community as they amp up their search for the missing children. Anne-Marie Duff gives a small but heartbreaking performance as Ma Costa, who is extremely frustrated by her son’s disappearance.
While the story is still unfolding at a brisk pace, the writing is excellent. The characters are rich and multi-dimensional. Mrs. Coulter’s subtly exposes moments of her emotions while maintaining her powerful disposition. Lyra, still a child, demonstrates her immature tendencies while grappling with oncoming adolescence. Once again, a lot of information is introduced and there is a lot to unpack. This is deftly done as an entire mythos with high fantasy elements unravels on the television.
While the details may be confusing at times, enough context is provided to gain a foothold of the more magical elements. One scene in particular shows the interaction between two daemons and this divulges a greater understanding of some of the main components of the His Dark Materials universe.
So far the first two episodes are off to a running start, filled with a lot of information and brilliant performances. Philip Pullman’s vastly detailed realm continues unfolding its secrets as we learn the extreme significance of the bond between human and daemon. The season is scheduled for eight episodes so it will be exciting to see where the next six episodes take us. After two episodes, the season has not been disappointing and is off to an enthralling start.
His Dark Materials airs on Monday nights on HBO