His Dark Materials S02E03 is probably one of the strongest episodes thus far in this adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel series. If you have been following my reviews, you would be aware of my complaint that the world-building that this adaptation is attempting is so dense that it can all get very confusing.
Now, a lack of clarity in this respect can be non-fatal if the story is able to construct three-dimensional characters the audience is able to engage with. His Dark Materials S02E03 does precisely that with an antagonist, of all things! Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), in fact. Mrs. Coulter has proven herself not to be the stereotypical baddy but capable of more depth than first realised.
Specifically, with respect to her daughter Lyra, while there is always doubt about Mrs. Coulter’s intentions, much is revealed in her interaction with Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda). There is an unlikely connection between the two which prompts Mrs. Coulter to once more take unpredictable action. This lends a textured nuance to the characterisations, which elevates the story.
The other key event that occurs is when Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) reveals his true identity to our leads Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) and blackmails them to do his bidding. This demands involve an object (a knife) to be found in the crossroad reality that the duo had been hiding out in. Again, Lord Boreal is another intriguing protagonist as he appears to be acting – like Mrs. Coulter – in his own self-interest. Whether this self-interest benefits Lyra and Will remains to the seen.
Certainly, a strong theme emerges regarding the generation gap between parents and children and between adults and children. These is a suggestion that the interests of the adults and the children are opposed and this is perfectly played out in His Dark Materials S02E03 and in how the series will be setting up. Curiouser and curiouser.
… still there’s more …