Picking the story up from last week. Will talks to Pantalaimon, who tells him that Lyra thinks Will is braver than Iorek Byrnison. Meanwhile, Jopari and Lee Scoresby continue on foot to help Lyra from where Scoresby’s balloon crashed. Unbeknownst to them, the Magisterium’s troops are closing in. While this is happening, Mary Malone leads Paola and Angelica into the foothills away from Cittagazze, and they say a touching goodbye. Furthermore, Lyra confesses to Will that she let her best friend down and fears letting him down. Back in Cittagazze, Reina Miti happens upon Mrs. Coulter. Coulter uses her daemon to torture Miti’s daemon until she confesses to her that Lyra is Eve – the mother of all. Despite being shaken by this, Marisa Coulter allows the spectres to take Reina Miti. As this is happening, Magisterium soldiers chase Jopari and Lee Scoresby through the forest. Moreover, we see Mrs Coulter browbeat and threaten her recalcitrant daemon before commanding the spectres at the top of the tower.
By contrast we see a crowning moment of heartwarming when Lee Scoresby tells Jopari he loves Lyra like a daughter. Scoresby then persuades Will’s father to let him stay to hold off the Magisterium. However, there is then a brief interlude where Mary Malone reads her philosophy book aloud before the action cuts back to Scoresby. Significantly we witness our favourite aeronaut die a hero’s death. In addition, Will and Jopari finally meet. Notably a tense conversation unfolds during which Jopari tells Will that Will is the only person who can defeat the Authority, to which Will expresses doubt.
In fact a Magisterium soldier shoots Jopari dead but not before Jopari’s daemon kills the soldier’s daemon. In comparison we see Serafina Pekkala tend to Lee Scoresby’s body. Nevertheless, Lord Asriel delivers a stirring monologue that accompanies a montage of the various characters’ fates at the episode’s end. To conclude this season of His Dark Materials, Mrs. Coulter locks Lyra in a treasure chest.
Amir Wilson gets a nice moment at the start with Kit Connor‘s Pantalaimon which was well acted by both of them. Wilson shows good intensity when he regards the Subtle Knife, as well as when he journeys on alone at the end of the episode. Additionally, Wilson and Andrew Scott have a brilliant scene together at the episode’s climax. Scott shows a humanity and tenderness that makes the scene come alive, and Wilson shows Will’s uncertainty and vulnerability well. I really felt for Will when he whispered “Dad” and his voice broke. Also great was Will’s reaction to Jopari’s death which was well delivered by both performers. Jade Anouka and Ruta Gedmintas both showed really good controlled intensity in their scenes together also. Similarly, Ruth Wilson gave another acting masterclass as Mrs Coulter, showing us the character’s villainy and rage and tenderness in her scenes. It must be said that Lin-Manuel Miranda really pulled out all the stops this week, delivering a tear jerking portrayal of Lee Scoresby’s heroism and humanness. Cristela Alonzo as Hester delivered a poignant performance of Scoresby’s daemon blaming herself for getting Lee into trouble. James McAvoy delivered Asriel’s closing monologue with wonderful intensity and manliness.
Aesahaettr’s incidental music was well realised. Ruta Skadi’s scene with the cliff ghasts had a nice creepy and understated theme. Additionally there was great use of silence in Mrs Coulter’s first scene, which brought home the intimacy of that moment. I liked the hopeful score that played when Angelica and Paola said goodbye to Mary Malone too. In the same way, the music that accompanied Will and Lyra’s conversation really helped to sell the idea of a deepening feeling of care between them. Further, the incidental music in the witches’ scenes was very subdued and really suggested the idea of great power being held back just barely.
There was also a great action theme when the Magisterium troops were chasing Lee Scoresby and Jopari, and the theme that accompanied Lee’s death put me in mind of a World War One epic. In the same way the theme that played when Mrs. Coulter commanded the spectres was beautifully apocalyptic, and the theme when Will meets Jopari really put across how powerful that moment was. Will’s scene with Jopari had a score that made it come alive. You felt everything that Will and his father were feeling, from the infinite war against the Authority to the intimacy of Will wanting Jopari to come home. Notably there was a lovely mournful theme when Serafina Pekkala found Lee Scoresby’s body.
The CGI was great. The effects of the golden monkey daemon being menaced by the spectres were notable, as well as Mrs. Coulter commanding them. The CGI of the volcano that Ruta Skadi travels to was great as well. The cliff ghasts were excellent. In particular, the effects of Hester dissolving into Dust really made you feel for her and Lee Scoresby.
An understated, yet still epic finale. Strong performances from the actors and a real sense that the story is moving into uncharted territory.
- Incidental Music10