Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) explore a strange new world
BBC / Bad Wolf
The second season of His Dark Materials starts right where we left off in the first series. Lyra and her demon Pan have washed up in a strange new world. Here, in a seemingly deserted city, she will soon meet another young hero, Will. So far he has followed his own story in a different version of reality than Lyras. From now on, it seems, together they will fight the good fight against the forces of darkness.
Everything about the BBC rendering of Philip Pullman’s novel series is well done and super high quality. The title sequence – the music, the art – is incredibly good, and the images and effects throughout the show are cinematic.
Not only is the writing tight, the cast is exceptional too. Young leads, Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) do a fantastic job of keeping the center of the story. Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), Lyra’s father, is out for this season, but instead we get Will’s father, played by Andrew Scott, aka the Priest of Fleabag. Phoebe Waller-Bridge speaks his demon in a pretty little Easter egg for Fleabag fans.
I watched the first series of His Dark Materials with kids, and when I watched season 2 alone, I wondered if I would enjoy it as well without it falling under the welcome umbrella of glorious family viewing. There is never enough for us.
In any case, there was nothing to worry about. The main characters are kids, but there’s enough going on for every adult – and of course there’s Ms. Coulter (Ruth Wilson). Ms. Coulter dominated at least the first five episodes of this season. Disguised as some sort of 1940s femme fatale, she is terrifying, yet heartbreakingly human.
Every time she walks into a room, it’s drama. For reasons beyond our fathom I have never read the books the show is based on. So I’m intrigued to learn more about Ms. Coulter, especially her relationship with her monkey demon. It fights and frightens for her and can still be separated from her, which goes against the tradition of the demons. Is it just by their terrible will or are they not a pairing between human and demon at all?
Another delight this past season is the new character Mary Malone, played by Simone Kirby. Malone lives in Oxford in Will’s World, which is basically our version of it, and she studies dark matter – or, as Lyra knows, dust.
She seems to have spent her career plowing a rather lonely furrow to pursue the secrets of our cosmos. Suddenly she is someone at the heart of an adventure story that spans worlds. Through them we get a glimpse of the “science” behind the strange happenings in this multiverse epic.
In these dog days of a long year, I thank Mr. Pullman – and of course the gods of the golden age of television – for this delicious, rather festive treat.
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