Episode 3 of His Dark Materials Season 2 begins with the witches walking through the ravaged wasteland of their home, struggling to hold back their grief-stricken anger. They’re desperate to get revenge on the Magisterium but first they need to help Lyra on her mission.
Lyra decides to ignore the alethiometer and follow her own path. That path sees her head back to Will’s world to learn more about dust (aka. dark matter.) As she steps through the portal, Lyra awaits what’s to come.
Will awakens and starts reading through notes. Believing his dad is alive, he rushes upstairs but finds Lyra gone and the place abandoned. When he scrambles outside to find her, he completely misses the message from Lyra waiting on the table for him.
Will continues his search for Lyra but instead finds evidence that someone is alive and up in the tower. As he soon learns from the girls hanging around last episode, this belonged to the guild but when the spectres arrived, all the adults bolted.
While Lyra heads across to visit Mary, DI Walters happens to be there waiting for her. Both she and Mary are pulled into the latter’s office where Lyra does her best to answer his questions as cheerfully as possible. Only, when he mentions Will she blurts out that he’s with her and instantly regrets it.
Realizing this guy is not an officer, Lyra bolts away…and straight into Boreal’s car. Thankfully he lets her go, smiling unnervingly and saying “until next time.” Breathing heavily, she’s grateful to come out unscathed. To her horror, she suddenly realizes that the alethiometer has been stolen.
While she sits on a bench crying, Will eventually reads her note and jumps through the portal. He sits with her and together they decide to visit Boreal and find the alethiometer. All of this appears to be one big trap that they’re walking straight into.
Mary senses something is up and tries her best to communicate with the dust. It’s no good though and she heads home defeated. As she does, the computer whirs into life and materializes an image of a snake.
High in the air of Lyra’s world, Lee Scoresby awakens in his hot air balloon to find himself above a quaint town, hugging the Yenisei River. Touching down, Lee speaks to various people around town, asking about Grumman.
The barmaid gives him some solid leads, claiming he was seen working at the observatory up the mountain. Gulping down his drink, Lee hurries out to continue his search.
This brings him to a man named Dr Haley who claims Grumman head up the river and is actually a heretic. Gunshots suddenly break the uneasy tension as Lee scrambles outside and evades being shot. Lee fires back and kills Haley.
Just before he dies, Haley utters “Grumman is an enemy of the magisterium… and so are you.” Unfortunately Lee walks into a whole group of officers who arrest him.
Of all the people to come and help, Mrs Coulter shows up in town. She learns about Lee and visits him in his cell, asking outright about Lyra. Mrs Coulter drops her façade after some empty niceties and threatens him.
Lee refuses to give up any information though but clearly senses that Mrs Coulter loves Lyra in her own twisted way. Lee shares common ground with her too, discussing his own abusive upbringing. Lee’s courage sees him withstand this torturous ordeal and rattle Coulter long enough for her to leave.
Asriel opening the portal has caused more problems beyond that of the two fractured worlds. The mountains are disappearing as the hole in the sky threatens the polar bears and their very existence. Iorek is visited by Serafina’s bird who learns as much. In exchange, it informs him that Lyra’s path must remain unknown to her in order to fulfill the prophecy.
Coulter receives a message from Boreal revealing that he knows where Lyra is. Boreal sends his regards but just before she goes, Coulter uncharacteristically helps Lee and gives him keys to escape. It seems his emotionally charged past has got through to her and now Lee’s search can continue again, up the Yenisei River to find Grumman.
Coulter meanwhile gives him some sound advice before he goes, advising him not to trust anyone.
Lyra and Will arrive at Boreal’s house and descend down to the basement. He shows them the stolen alethiometer and reveals that he knows who Will and Lyra are. He also gives them a task – find the man with a carved knife inside the tower within the “Crossroads world” and she’ll get the alethiometer back. With little choice in the matter, Lyra agrees to help.
The Episode Review
With a solid episode of fantastical drama, His Dark Materials continues to weave its story while juggling multiple moving parts. Mrs Coulter’s surprising moments with Lee were arguably the best moments of the whole episode too.
Through naturally delivered dialogue we learn that both Lee and Mrs Coulter share common ground in the way they dealt with abuse in the past. This almost unwritten bond of survival sees her hand over the keys and in the process rounds out her complicated character with some fascinating depth.
The issues with the witches are kept at arm’s length for this episode but the real intrigue instead stems from Mary. What part will she play in the conflict to come? It seems like she’s starting to understand how to use Dust and this could swing the balance of power in her favour.
For now though, His Dark Materials bows out with another strong episode, one that sets the scene nicely for the second half of this drama.