His Dark Materials S02E05 was built around a highly anticipated confrontation. Things had come to a head in the previous episode as the machinations of Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) to acquire the Subtle Knife reached the point of hopeful fulfilment. Not only does Boreal bring Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) into his confidence, he takes her to our world, where he has set up a trap to lure Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson).

In the meantime, in the last episode, Will gained possession of the Subtle Knife after Boreal blackmailed the duo to do so in order to return to Lyra the alethiometer he had stolen. Thus, the central tension of His Dark Materials S02E05 revolved around the duo’s plan to recover the alethiometer using the Subtle Knife to aid them in their quest.

Of course, the duo is unaware of Mrs. Coulter’s presence in our world and that is the kind of wildcard that upsets even the best laid plans. His Dark Materials S02E05 did a good job in expounding on this conflict, riding the tension out throughout the episode, which was resolved in an intriguing manner.

The key to making His Dark Materials S02E05 work was Mrs Coulter. Her motivations were hard to discern and her demeanour difficult to figure out. It is clear that Mrs. Coulter has been quite affected by her exposure to our world, the relative freedom of women compared to the oppression she encounters in her own world made an impact on her. This factor makes the resolution of the episode somewhat unpredictable.

The other surprise was Lyra’s own response to facing her mother once again. I loved how Lyra’s own darker personality traits were given full reign here. She is definitely not a helpless child and despite her protestations, Lyra is more similar to Mrs. Coulter than she would like. A fascinating character development, for sure.

Two episodes left, His Dark Materials S02E05 sets up more involvement from Boreal and Mrs. Coulter as they pursue Lyra and Will into the crossworld. Hopefully, more surprised ensue!

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