His Dark Materials 2×04 “Tower of the Angels” focuses on Will Parry, and his journey, not just as a partner or as a companion to Lyra, but as someone with his very own mission, and by doing so, the show delivers its most compelling hour in an already strong season to date.
Amir Wilson, in particular, shines in this episode, just as he should. This is Will’s time, his time, and though we’ve grown to love Will before, Will the caretaker, Will the kind, Will the thoughtful, this is our very first glimpse of Will …well, the fighter. And it is amazing to see the shift as Wilson somehow manages to seamlessly integrate this new facet into what Will is, what we expect of him.
Similarly, it’s good to finally see Lyra as caring for someone else, deferring to their needs. Yes, she was Roger’s friend, but that friendship was always a bit one-sided. Roger was there for her more than Lyra was there for him, not maliciously, but in that thoughtless way kids have. She needed more, so she took more, and though yes, she risked life and limb to save him, we never got to see them have these quiet moments together.
I have read the books, so I have a pretty good idea of where this is going – so I’ve been careful to stress, over and over, that this is now both Lyra and Will’s journey. This was, of course, one of the reasons why, but it is not the only one. Don’t think this ends at learning Will’s “importance” or his “mission.” Will and Lyra’s journey is about more than what they’re meant to do, it’s about what they’re meant to learn, and the people they will become as they come out on the other side.
So let’s talk about His Dark Materials 2×04 “The Tower of the Angels” and go into The Subtle Knife, the bond between Will and Lyra and, oh yes, the long-awaited meeting between Lee Scoresby and Stanislaus Grumman, aka John Parry:
BORN OF HOPE, BUT USED WITH GREED
We’re all meant for some things, and we’re all special in our own way. Will cannot read the alethiometer, but that doesn’t make him any less special than Lyra, who can, just as Will being able to use the knife, unlike her, doesn’t take away from how amazing she is. This is an important lesson that the books – and the show – reinforce over and over. There is not just one way to be special, not one way to affect change.
It is clear, however, that Will was meant to wield the Subtle Knife. Just as it is clear that the knife is important – nay, crucial – for what is to come.
This episode starts with a very Lord of the Rings vibe, and with a voice over that ends with the ominous words, referring to the knife: “In the right hands, it could still save us all.”
And two seasons in, do we believe there are better hands than Will’s to wild this power? I’m going to go with no.
TWO SIDES TO THE SAME COIN
Will and Lyra’s relationship has been pretty uneven so far, with Will being more the caretaker and Lyra making bad decisions without consulting him – as is her way. This episode, however, allows Lyra a chance to be the friend Will needs, and perhaps, the one she was always capable of being.
I’ve discussed before how her relationship with Roger was pretty one-sided, not because Lyra didn’t care, but because the circumstances didn’t require her to break down her walls to be there for him until she literally needed to save his life, which yes, she risked everything to do. But this is a different kind of caring that Will requires. Yes, Lyra would probably risk her life for him …but can she be there for him, can she care for his needs, can she offer support and encouragement?
My first instinct would be to say: we shall see, but if there’s anything that makes clear that the answer, whether Lyra knows it or not, is yes, it’s Pan. Because it is the daemon who breaks every unwritten rule and approaches Will, something that takes even Lyra off-guard. But remember, Pan is a part of Lyra …and that part of Lyra has never, ever wanted to reach out to someone before. Ever.
Let’s also remember that this isn’t the first time someone other than Lyra has touched Pan, and how that has gone in the past – typically rendering Lyra immobile, like in “The Daemon-Cages” from season one. Touching someone’s deamon is, after all, akin to touching their soul.
A FORTUITOUS MEETING
After a pretty emotional episode for Lee, we get the promise of more after he finally meets Stanislaus Grumman or John Parry, as he’d be known in our world. There’s a lot to their conversation that talks of caring for someone else and wanting to make a better place for the people you love, the people you might leave behind, including the cryptic notion that, truly, no one likes Asriel.
“Don’t confuse the man with the mission,” says Grumman, and yet the issue is – for Lyra, and likely, for Will too, when he finally reunites with his father, there’s no separating the two. The man makes decisions based on the mission, after all, and Asriel has already proven he’ll choose the mission over his daughter.
Lee, on the other hand, even though he is not Lyra’s blood, has proven he will choose her over any mission. The question, of course, remains …will John Parry get to make his own choice in this respect, and what would he choose if he had the chance?
I don’t think it’d be a stretch to say we will probably find out.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think about His Dark Materials 2×04 “The Tower of the Angels”? Share with us in the comments below!