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His Dark Materials - Theft - Review: "The Hunt for Lyra"

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Lyra is in trouble. She’s on her own, and she’s keen to disobey the alethiometer in order to get answers to her own personal problems with Mary Malone. On paper it sounds like a good call for her, but in practice – it’s not, a “Police Officer” who knows her real name makes immediate contact with her once he finds out she’s been snooping around the university unsupervised. Mary does her best to warn Lyra of the danger, and she’s smart enough to make a run for it. However, she’s not smart enough to escape Lord Boreal – not knowing who he is, and gets in the car with him, riding in the back of a vehicle like this for the first time. And stupidly, Lyra forgets the alethiometer, leaving it in the car – pinched by Lord Boreal (presumably, his daemon). Now – she comes face to face with Will who is mad at her for going off on her own and putting them both in jeopardy. Will however has problems of his own: Another chance encounter with the residents of CittĂ gazze lead him to spot a man in the tower overlooking the city, a man surviving in a city where there is no other.

If anything, Lyra should have been more careful in this regard, especially when she’s been as careful as she has been. Trusting Lord Boreal in the first place was a bad enough call for someone who she barely knew, and the consequences come back to haunt her again almost immediately. Both Lyra and Will decide that it would be smart to wait until evening to go and get the Alethiometer back when they learn of Lord Boreal’s Oxford address, and they bide time – in one of my favourite scenes from the book – watching a movie at the local cinema. Of course, Lyra hates popcorn, but can’t resist eating it anyway. It was the perfect capture of the magic of cinema and I love that even Pan was entranced, appropriately, by Paddington – they made a good call by going into watch that movie. If anything, I would have liked that scene to stretch on a bit longer, but bad Will for using his phone in the cinema! It was also good to know that Paddington – although a Framestore animation product, was not their own selection and its inclusion feels very family-friendly and appropriate as the whole show has been so far. And wholesome. And just simply, at the end of the day: good cinema.

Back on Lyra’s world, both Mrs. Coulter and Lee Scoresby are hunting for Lyra. Lee’s captured not long after he gets a lead on an enemy of the Magisterium, but is able to resist Mrs. Coulter by his dedication to Lyra – he knows that she cares as much about Lyra as he does, and he knows that anything Mrs. Coulter puts him through, he will be able to take it. Lin Manuel-Miranda and Ruth Wilson shared an excellent scene together here where the pacing in this structured episode really shone: I loved the pair’s dynamic. Now they’re in an Indiana Jones-style mission to find Lyra before the other, but Mrs. Coulter, from her own perspective at least, trusts Lee enough to know that Lyra won’t be in danger with her. Mrs. Coulter is one of the most complex characters in fantasy fiction, and we completely buy into every scene with Ruth Wilson that she’s able ot deliver to the audience. Her desire to find Lyra is borderline obsessive, and it’s interesting to learn some information about both her and Lee’s past and the unlikely common ground that they shared between each other. Interestingly, this was a moment that we never got in the books: it's a first for the show which sells it completely as the clear highlight from the episode, and the series thus so far.

It's not the only thing to be taken into account on Lyra's world as movement against the Magistarium are taking place, now Iorek is back and has teamed up with the Witches out of a desire to protect Lyra. All of the allies that she made in the first season are starting to come together again, and geared towards one goal: finding her and making sure that she is kept in the dark about a propechy that could bring about the end of destiny itself. But all parties, at least so far - are unaware that she is in another world entirely.

The confrontation towards the end of the episode back on Will’s Oxford was a fascinating moment that really showcased Lyra and Will’s naivety as characters and how young they are. Lord Boreal needs the Knife for his own means, his own desire, as cold and calculated as all the best villains are. Now they can get the alethiometer back but at a cost: and Will looks set to have his confrontation with the man in the tower that the show has been building towards. Things on this season are already progressing forward at a better rate than the last, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

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