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His Dark Materials - The Intention Craft + Lyra and Her Death - Reviews




Episode 3, The Intention Craft

His Dark Materials continues with its double episode header of The Intention Craft and Lyra and Her Death, which kind of act as a neat pairing for each other – with the title for episode four being very much an indicator of where this series is pushing Lyra, right the way through to the end – her journey towards the Land of the Dead.

Much of Will’s arc has been torn between deciding whether or not to help Lord Asriel first or Lyra and he’s a good natured character to the point where it’s even been mentioned by now; Mrs. Coulter – his good nature and careful planning is a match for Lyra and it’s great to see both characters on screen together again, united – working out what their next plan of action should be and there’s no convincing Lyra once she sets off on one of her mad errands – it’s just a question of whether or not Will wants to come along.

The main quest for the pair of them in this episode involved rebuilding the knife with the help of Iorek and it was fascinating to see them do that effectively; pairing Will up with other characters from Lyra’s world this season for the first time has been a highlight – getting him into that universe has been stellar and the experience that Amir Wilson has gained inbetween seasons really helped; as has Dafne Keen – both two really bright young stars really have the power and the in-built chemistry to convey the more mature scenes between the two; and I can’t wait to see their next projects, not least because Keen is in The Last of Us.

It's trouble in paradise as the Council is meeting to decide whether Mrs. Coulter can be invited into their camp – and it seems that Mrs. Coulter revels in calling out Asriel for being as hypocritical as she is –as great a pairing of Wilson and Keen, so too is Ruth Wilson and McAvoy, both completely selling every intention of their character in a battle of wits. The council eventually are convinced; but during yet another interrogation sequence of Alarbus, Mrs. Coulter seizes her chance to escape with the help of her daemon and steal the world-travelling ship that Asriel used. She’s smart enough to outwit the guards and escape – but why stop her; when really – you know that there’s only one place that she’s going – to Lyra! How Lyra will take that will be another matter; but Mrs. Coulter’s love for her child is the character’s main driving narrative of the season. Ruth Wilson is superb, Just really, really good – better than good, as Mrs. Coulter reckons with the knowledge of the belief that her entire world is a lie. And McAvoy matches it – cutting Alarbus into pieces and sending him to Metatron as a warning – if nothing before has mattered to the Authority – surely the killing of their own will? This is what ups the ante as we go; already it feels like – into the latter stages of the season. I really admire Jack Thorne for daring to take a project like this, and one of Britain’s best working showrunners, really delivers. Stellar – stellar writing all around, and part of that comes from Phillip Pullman’s source material, but even attempting a task like this feels daunting given how dense the book was. So far – so good.

Episode 4, Lyra and Her Death

And then this episode comes along, and just blows my mind. Episode 4. Holy crap. You guys are not ready for episode 4. There’s a lot of jaw-dropping moments in this series, but Lyra and Her Death, is the biggest yet. It’s the lead-up to the Land of the Dead that the show has been building towards – perfect moment – a really, well-done emotionally tender episode full of heart.

Mrs. Coulter is back in the Magisterium with the confidence of someone who knows she was manipulative and eager to pull some strings; not quite back to Lyra just yet – Father Gomez ordered around like a man out of his depth. Father Macphail is now Father President; and he’s convinced, for now – by Mrs. Coulter’s schemes: all that she had to do was to keep Lyra from being tempted by the Serpent, the same way that Eve was – and in her view, it’s Will – the Serpent. On top of that; she knows about the death of Alarbus – Macphail, instantly jealous that an Angel showed itself to Asriel, grants her leniency – that’s two factions she’s been able to weave her way back in from now – the manipulator, as good as ever. Have I mentioned about just how good Ruth Wilson is, really? I don’t think I have.

Coulter’s double-double-double however many I’ve lost count now crossing doesn’t last long. She’s teaming up with Commander Roke, a Gallivespia, stranded – to stop a bomb using parts of the Daemon killer that Mrs. Coulter worked on in the past; so she’s got very real blood on her hands. Roke kills Dr. Cooper and aids the escape – until Father Gomez and Macphail arrive to capture her. I really like how easy Roke is able to slip away from the Magisterium – excellent as ever and really embraces the alien worlds – the Magisterium aren’t looking for Roke because they don’t know he exists. Why would they? No fairies can be daemons; and no daemons can be fairies.

Unfortunately for Mrs. Coulter the lock of Lyra’s hair that she and Roke burnt is not completely disposed of – Macphail still has a bit – and a bit is all he needs. The plan is to sever Mrs. Coulter from her daemon, and create a bomb that assassinates Lyra – taking her out of the picture and ending the threat of Eve – all Mrs. Coulter’s efforts for naught.

And then we get to the big one: Lyra and her death. Quite literally – her death. Like every daemon; everyone has a death – they just don’t see theirs until they’re ready to die. The boat master at the land of the dead has one more price to pay: the daemon Panteleimon can’t accompany Lyra to the land of the dead, and they have to separate – it’s just heart-breaking to watch Dafne Keen break down as the boat pulls away. The price has been paid. The toll is taken. Death comes for them all – the confrontation was lovely; a risk-taking, heart-breaking moment – will Lyra ever find Pan again? Was this the end for them? Only book readers will know the answer – but every farewell lands – it feels real, genuine and heart-breaking.

And this is only episode four. Such a marvellous job Charles Martin and Jack Thorne have done; and sorry to Black Adam, but Lorne Balfe is just next-level good here. All killer, zero filler – and the emotional problems of the first two plot-heavy episodes have all fallen apart into something truly special. The Amber Spyglass has arrived, and not a moment too soon.

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