Series Review: His Dark Materials


Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter. Graphic by: Rowan Munoz

Rowan Munoz

Need something new to binge? Take a look at this staffer’s recommendation.

Season 2 of His Dark Materials on BBC and HBO is out, continuing the adventures of Lyra Silvertongue, a strong willed teenager from an authoritarian world where a central government called the Magisterium rules, human souls living beside their counterparts as animals and witches who speak of a prophecy.

Here’s my spoiler review of the show, so WARNING!

The first season starts out with 14 year old Lyra Belacqua (played by Dafne Keen), who lives as an orphan at Jordan College in Oxford with her friend Roger Parslow. Then after Roger gets kidnapped by an organization, Lyra goes on a journey to save Rodger. She develops relationships with adults, witches and a freaking POLAR WARRIOR BEAR.

I really liked the relationship of Lyra and her uncle Asriel, who is really her father, as the season first starts. You get a sense of Asriel’s comforting, yet distant personality towards Lyra. I also loved the relationship between Roger and Lyra, THEY ARE SO ADORABLE! Props to Dafne Keen and Lewin Lloyd! 

I am definitely obsessed with Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter, the mother of Lyra. Ruth plays Marisa so well, and her relationship with her golden monkey is really well acted. During the first season, we get to see the depths of their sad and turbulent relationship,  built on abuse. I really like how Mrs. Coulter acts like her daemon, feral and rabid. Her facial expressions too are just impeccable!

Lin Manuel Miranda is also in this show, guys! When I first saw Lin Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby, the flashy Texan cowboy who lives in an air balloon, I just knew he would absolutely nail the role and HE DID! 

When asked about what his daemon would be and what his favorite character is, senior Connor Loughman said, “My daemon would probably be some sort of bigger dog or wolf, and my favorite character is Lee Scoresby.”

Episode 6 is my favorite episode of the first season. The cinematography of episode 6, The Daemon-Cages, was immaculate. The set of Bolvangar really immerses you in that mystery and horror aspect of this episode. Honestly, this episode would be a really good standalone narrative. 

The only thing that bugs me is: I really don’t get why adults are fine after they sever their own daemons away, but kids…they straight up act like something demonic is possessing them. The kids count numbers and say random things so hauntingly.

Cittagazze (shown above) is the main setting of His Dark Materials, campsite of Lyra and Will, our main characters. Graphic by: Rowan Munoz

The second season finds Lyra in another world. She meets Will, a boy from our world who plays a central role in her ongoing prophecy. As the season progresses, she matures and develops new relationships.

One of the relationships we get to see Lyra form is with Dr. Mary Malone. Mary is my all time favorite character! I love the way Simone Kirby perfectly portrays Mary as this awkward, lovable and relatable character! The HDM Fandom says Mary is a lesbian, and YOU BET MY BISEXUAL BUTT AGREES. If her backstory in season three DOESN’T include a female love interest, I will cry. 

Ok, do I need to mention that I  LOVE the costume design of this whole show?! Like seriously: Mrs Coulter’s chic outfits, the wholesome lesbian casual outfits of Mary AND THE FREAKING ETHEREAL SILK LADEN COSTUMES OF THE WITCHES! I mean come on, they need to get an Emmy!

In episode 3, we see our wholesome cowboy father Lee Scoresby get himself thrown in jail and meet evil mommy Coulter. All the while causing a pretty well done scene of two adults with abusive trauma having a conversation about how much they want to find the person they love, who is literally in another world and NONE OF THEM KNOW IT. 

When asked about his thoughts on His Dark Materials, junior Aiden Pacheco answered, “I’ve read the trilogy, and I really enjoyed it. I have yet to watch HBO’s rendition. My favorite book of the trilogy would have to be The Subtle Knife. The story introduces new challenges and friends to Lyra Silvertongue.” 

If you don’t know the object, the subtle knife; it is essentially a small dagger that is so sharp that it splits atoms and can cut through worlds, pretty awesome if you ask me!

In episode 6, I loved Mary Malone adopting two feral Cittàgazze children. I giggled so much at Mary’s dialogue in this scene. One of the children, Paola, asks for a hug; and Mary is just like yeah, with a kind of surprised look on her face. 

I also loved the scene with Mrs. Coulter and Lord Carlo Boreal. Carlo is her colleague who previously led her into Our World. So, Coulter has a drink with Carlo, but she poisoned his glass of wine which ultimately kills him. To top it off, she drinks three whole bottles of wine sitting across from his corpse. I got to say that’s some psycho stuff.

In the season finale, the show went on to show Mrs. Coulter finding Lyra, then stuffing her in a suitcase. I was like: Did Mrs. Coulter just put her child, a very important child, in a freaking suitcase! AND WHY DOES SHE LOOK LIKE A BABUSHKA! 

Overall, I fairly enjoyed the whole show. It really tested me with my feelings, not going to lie. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy, drama and angst. Again, this is on HBO Max and I HIGHLY recommend this series. If you’re interested, please go ahead and give it a watch. The third season is in production and slated to start filming in 2021!

This article is dedicated to the talented Helen McCrory, who voiced Asriel’s daemon in the series adaptation. She died on April 16, 2021. I give my condolences to her family and friends.