His Dark Materials S02E01 marks the return of HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s popular scifi fantasy series. The first season was a mixed affair distinguished by the performances of Dafne Keen (as protagonist Lyra) and Ruth Wilson (as antagonist Mrs. Coulter), but bogged down by the convoluted storyline. Definitely did not have the impact of a Game of Thrones that perhaps HBO was hoping for.
Perhaps the fact that it is difficult to describe the premise of His Dark Materials in two sentences is the main problem. Basically, it involves parallel worlds – including our world – with prime focus on an alternate earth governed by a theocracy, the Magisterium. Magic is a key factor in this world with witches, spirit animals (“daemons”), giant talking bears and the prophecy of a chosen one fundamental to its mythos.
His Dark Materials S2E01 picks up from where the season one finale left off, with Lyra travelling to an alternative reality where she meets Will Parry (Amir Wilson) (who is from our world) and other children. Back in her home world, Mrs. Coulter is worming her way into positions of power as she tries to figure out where Lyra has disappeared to. The episode also treats us to a demonstration of power from the witches, although once again not much is revealed about them either.
Which is ultimately the main issue I have with His Dark Materials S02E01, nothing really happens to advance the overall plot too much. New characters are introduced and with new scenarios but everything is shrouded in mystery. Of course, it’s only the beginning so perhaps we will find out in subsequent episodes.
Unfortunately, the characters are neither interesting enough or relatable in any meaningful way. This is absolutely essential if viewers are expected to invest time and emotion into this series. So far there is not too much to recommend His Dark Materials S2E01 over the narrative mess that was season one. Running out of patience.
… still there’s more …