In Review: His Dark Materials – Tower of the Angels (Episode 4)

 Will and Lyra set out for the knife, but are unaware of the dangers or the cost. Mary makes a breakthrough. Lee Scoresby finds who he's looking for.
Dark Materials

Synopsis: In this week’s His Dark Materials. Will and Lyra set out for the knife, but are unaware of the dangers or the cost. Mary makes a breakthrough. Lee Scoresby finds who he’s looking for.

Why not check out our reviews of episodes one, two and three ?

 

Story

This week’s episode of His Dark Materials begins with a montage detailing the Subtle Knife’s creation. We see how its misuse brought destruction upon Cittagazze, whereupon the action cuts to Will and Lyra. Our young heroes find a way into the tower only for Tullio (Lewis MacDougallto threaten Will with the stolen knife. Will and Tullio fight only for Tullio to slice Will’s fingers off. After some encouragement from Giacomo Paradisi (Terence StampWill uses his boxing skills to disarm Tullio, who flees. Meanwhile, Lord Boreal offers to fund Mary Malone’s research but Mary puts her foot down at the idea of her work being used for military purposes. As this is taking place Lee Scoresby finds Will’s father John Parry (Andrew Scottor “Jopari” as he has become known. Scoresby appeals to Jopari’s fatherly instincts to help him find and protect Lyra, and the pair form an alliance. Furthermore, we see that Jopari is able to command the elements as he summons an easterly wind to propel Scoresby’s balloon. Back in Cittagazze, Paradisi teaches Will the art of making doorways with the subtle knife. He then accepts that his time has come and says goodbye to Will and Lyra. Furthermore, Lord Boreal propositions Mrs. Coulter, showing her the doorway into Cittagazze. Serafina Pekkala and the other witches launch an all out assault on the Magisterium to close the episode.

 

Acting

There are several good performances this week. One of these is from Ariyon BakareHe does a great job of making Lord Boreal an affably evil villain. There was some nice humour when Boreal praised Mary Malone’s work ethic and Simone Kirby side-eyed Robin Pearce‘s Oliver. I also thought Kirby and Pearce had a great believer/skeptic dynamic during their scene together. Additionally, Andrew Scott shows Jopari’s mystery and restrained menace to good effect. Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a good everyman character in contrast to this. Furthermore, I enjoyed Terence Stamp’s controlled anger that put me in mind of a grittier Obi-Wan Kenobi or Qui-Gon Jinn. Lewis MacDougall by contrast showed Tullio’s derangement and terror well. I thought Ruta Gedmintas and Jade Anouka‘s scene together could have been better but it served its purpose. Going back to Simone Kirby, I thought her interaction with the “angels” was incredible. Kirby really captured the childlike wonder and awe of an ordinary person faced with a universal force.

 

Incidental Music

His Dark Materials’ incidental music is still amazing. The montage’s theme at the start of the episode put me in mind of Lord of the Rings which can only be good. There is a great wistful and mysterious theme when Will and Lyra talk at the beginning of the episode. Also great is the use of silence when our heroes explore the tower. I really enjoyed how the theme used here caught the rising terror and discovery that Will and Lyra were making together. In addition there was a great victorious theme when Will punches Tullio, and the theme that accompanied their fight helped make that scene. I adored the emotional and bittersweet theme that played when Paradisi said his goodbyes to Will and Lyra. What really built the tension and terror of Tullio dashing through the Cittagazze streets was the subtle frenetic theme that built to an ominous climax when the spectres finally got him. Furthermore, the adventurous theme that played when Lee Scoresby found his balloon was excellent. The chiming theme that played when Mary Malone speaks to the “angels” which conveyed the newness and majesty of Malone’s discovery brilliantly. The theme used when the witches destroy the Magisterium’s soldiers brought the episode to a thrilling climax also.

 

CGI

The CGI in this series is going from strength to strength. The montage of Cittagazze’s destruction was brilliant. I absolutely believed that Pan was nuzzling Will’s hand.  The CGI of Will opening the doorway to the other world was stupendous. I honestly believed there was another world in front of them which shows how good this series’ CGI is. Additionally, the spectres are very impressive. The special effects put across their complete lack of humanity well. I was genuinely afraid when Tullio was taken. Furthermore, I enjoyed the FX of the “angels” which spoke to Mary Malone. I really felt like I was seeing a human speak to an elemental force of the universe.

 

Overall

Another great episode of His Dark Materials. It built the tension and progressed the story well. There were also some good action sequences.

9.4
His Dark Materials - Tower of the Angels
  • Story
    8.5
  • Acting
    8.9
  • Incidental Music
    10
  • CGI
    10

I'm a writer on the autistic spectrum who loves sci-fi, cosplay and poetry. I'm also an actor with Theatre of the Senses.
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