‘His Dark Materials’ 1×07 Review: The Beginning of The End

For a moment there, His Dark Materials lulled me into a false sense of security. For a moment, I let myself bask in the fact that, although things weren’t perfect, they were looking up. Iorek was now king, Lee was alive, Lyra and Roger were together. Everything was good. No, everything was perfect.

And then “The Fight to the Death” ended with an ominous tone, and I remembered I’d read the books and I already knew what was coming.

Now, I’m not going to spoil the season finale for you, of course not, but you already figured something was wrong by the fear in Asriel’s face as he caught a glimpse of Lyra, by his happiness at seeing Roger. You’ve already figured out things aren’t what they seem.

But then again, when are they on this show?

Parallel to Lyra’s journey, as this show has taken great care to juxtapose their journeys in a way book readers not only appreciate, but understand, Will is now on the run. He accidentally caused the death of one of the guys trying to break into his house, and feels like going back to his mother will put her in more danger. Now his only play is to try to figure out what’s in the letters from his father, and maybe, even, figure out if the man is alive.

This all sets the way for what is sure to an explosive and emotional finale, especially considering the title for next week’s hour: “The Betrayal.” But before we get there, let’s discuss Asriel and Mrs. Coulter once again, as well as the family Lyra has made for herself, as we talk “The Fight to the Death.”

BLOOD TIES

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Lyra’s parents have been prevalent in her story, and not in a good way. You could argue Asriel hasn’t done anything bad other than be more focused on his work. You could argue that he was always shown a regard for Lyra, and that his aloofness doesn’t make him nearly as bad as Mrs. Coulter, who has actively chosen to manipulate and try to control Lyra. And you’d be right. But make no mistake, neither Asriel nor Mrs. Coulter is actually anywhere near decent as a parental figure.

For whatever reason, justified or not, they have both chosen, time and time again, to put Lyra second. Mrs. Coulter didn’t even seen interested in learning anything about Lyra until she saw in her a way to Asriel, and even after, when you could see (thanks to Ruth Wilson’s superb acting) the conflict in her, the desire to be more to Lyra, she chose the way of the Magisterium, and she chose to let her anger at Asriel overrule any good feelings she might have harbored.

As for him, yes, he rescued her as a baby and brought her to Jordan College. Yes, he presumably supported her and, considering her regard for him, was probably somewhat present in her life, but he never made her a priority. He never cared for Lyra as anything more than a being made of his genetic material, never saw her for what she was, like the other people in her life did.

And he’s the one missing out. They are the ones missing out.

THE FAMILY YOU CREATE

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Often family is the people you find along the way, the people who come into your lives and stay there. The ones who have your back, no matter what, even if they’re not required to. The people who make the choice to stand by your side and fight your demons.

Lyra has found such people in Roger, Iorek, Lee, the gyptians, etc. She’s found the family she’s always yearned. She’s chosen them, and more importantly, they have chosen her. And she will continue on this journey towards finding more people that aren’t her parents but that will love her without question. I know this for a fact.

Now, that doesn’t mean her parents might not have loved her in her own way, but there’s so much more to life than taking the scraps of love and attention people give us. There is feeling cared for and protected, there’s knowing your place is safe. There’s a sense of belonging. Let us remember that Lyra is a kid, and she deserved all of that and more.

Much more.

Things I think I think:

  • Ruth Wilson’s scream tells a story by itself. A story of a desperate woman, unable to accept defeat. This is when she’s most dangerous.
  • I hate to bring common sense into this, but how did Lyra survive?
  • “Just like your father”
  • Lyra is such a Gryffindor.
  • No one who shows up like that and says he’s on your side is actually on your side, Elaine.
  • I just love Lyra’s relationship with Iorek.
  • Lyra Silvertongue.
  • Will and his mom GIVE ME FEELS.
  • Lin Manuel is so precious. I just want to protect him from the world. I never cared this much for Lee, I swear.
  • “This for me or for you”?/”Bit of both”
  • Asriel’s fear when Lyra shows up is palpable. Hell of a job by James McAvoy.

Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “The Fight to the Death”? Share with us in the comments below!

His Dark Materials airs Mondays at 9/8c on HBO.

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