His Dark Materials 2×06 “Malice” sets up the final episode perfectly, with an hour that keeps us on the edge of our seat as we anticipate what’s certain to be an intense conclusion. But just because the episode is clearly leading up to something else, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch in and of itself, no. This show always knows how to deliver in that regard.
In particular, when it comes to Will and Lyra.
There are some perfect quiet moments in this episode between the two of them, set up perfectly by Serafina telling Will about Lyra: “She thinks you’re her responsibility. Don’t lose sight of the fact that she’s yours too.” This, and the danger they face, the uncertainty and of course, the fear of what’s coming, leads to a very tender moment between the two of them as they sit dangling from a precipice, like people in TV and movies do.
Will opens up to Lyra during that moment, for what is truly the first time. Lyra has opened up before, a bit, but Will has been stuck in the caretaker role, and even when he’s had to abdicate that role because he’s been the one in pain, it’s hard to get away from that mindset and to trust someone else.
“Until you met me,” Lyra tells him with a sweet smile, like Will’s life changed when she came into it, and in a way, she is right. She changed Will, and he changed her – Lyra proves this by setting her line in the sand with the witches: if you want to protect me, that includes Will now.
Ironically, part of the reason she feels responsible for Will, part of the promise she made to him, is heading towards them right now, looking for, yes, I know, the world is once again ironically, the knife bearer, aka Will. And if the His Dark Materials season finale doesn’t give us that reunion, then what are we even here for?
But there’s so much more that this episode set up, from Mary just waltzing around Cittagazze as if nothing – including Specters – can touch her, to Marissa Coulter just casually being like, I am so detached from my feelings Specters cannot even TOUCH ME, to Boreal’s death and what that means going forward.
In truth, Boreal is of no consequence. Marissa Coulter was always the most important part of that twosome, and the fact that she and Mary Malone remain so close and yet so far in their intentions towards Lyra sets up not just a great season finale, but a great season to come.
Especially because, with the Magisterium setting their sights on Lyra, it’s become clear that, whatever Mrs. Coulter feels or thinks, there’s going to come a time when she’s going to have to choose, and if we doubted before, I’m not sure we have a reason to doubt now: she’ll choose her daughter.
Like Asriel, there’s a part of her that loves Lyra. It might not be the biggest part, she might not have known that part existed, but now that she’s discovered it, she just can’t seem to shake it. And, like Asriel, if this story is going somewhere, if Lyra really is set up to be the new beginning – the new Eve – then Mrs. Coulter is going to have a role to play in getting her to where she needs to go.
“Strength is salvation,” she promised her daemon at one point in this episode. But is it? Is there any salvation in being stronger than everyone else? Isn’t that what she’s always been, after all? The one who didn’t need anything – anyone. That’s how we ended up where we are, with her now making emotional decisions for the sake of a kid she didn’t even care about.
A kid even Asriel – who I’m still heartbroken to know we won’t see this season, because coronavirus caused them to scrap the episode where they explained what he was doing all this time – cared about more.
But their love, as I’ve said before, has never done Lyra any good. No one’s love has. Except Will’s. And we might hesitate to call it love, because the show has very clearly stayed away from romantic undertones, especially considering we’re dealing with children, but as we well know, they won’t be children forever.
Sure, Will has some daddy issues to deal with first. And hopefully, we’ll get an explanation of what, exactly, he’s supposed to do with the knife, and how his mission and Lyra’s go together, but in the end, that moment in the cliff, with Will and Lyra looking out into the horizon, together, says it all.
Whatever comes they will face – together. That might not be their destiny, but it is their choice, and choice has always been the most important thing.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of His Dark Materials 2×06 “Malice”? Share with us in the comments below!
His Dark Materials airs Mondays on HBO.