Last night saw His Dark Materials Season 2: Theft air in the U.K. whereas Episode 1 has only just aired in the U.S. It therefore goes without saying that I will be getting into SPOILERS for the third episode of His Dark Materials Season 2.
If you want to know what I thought ‘without SPOILERS’, check it out.
Theft was another stellar episode from His Dark Materials and special praise has to go to the acting talent. Without getting into story details there are just some great performances on show here. Dafne Keen as Lyra, Ariyon Bakare as Boreal, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee, Simone Kirby as Mary, and the great Ruth Wilson as Coulter all shine. Scenes between various players here were so well portrayed it’s crazy. Watch it and see for yourself, when you can.
His Dark Materials Season 2: Theft SPOILERS lie below!
From Will and Lyra’s perspective the plot this week is very simple. Lyra, ignoring the advice of the Alethiometer, goes back to see Mary Malone and doesn’t tell Will. The problem is, Will and Lyra have been seen together and thus the police are waiting for Lyra to show up. A helpless Mary is is forced to observe Lyra’s interrogation, all with the aim of finding Will. However, Lyra is able to escape thanks to some help from Mary, and is forced to take a ride from Sir Charles Latrom. Lyra understands this is a risky move, but unlike the audience does not know Latrom is really Lord Boreal from her own World.
A scared Lyra asks to get out and in her haste leaves her bag behind. Latrom gives her the bag back but when Lyra checks, he has taken the Alethiometer. Without the Alethimoeter to guide them, Lyra and Will are lost. After telling Will what happened, Lyra and Will go to Latrom’s house. Latrom is willing to give Lyra back the Alethiometer he says, but only if they retrieve an item for him. A knife, which is located in the Torre degli Angeli back in Cittigazze.
This plot is lifted straight from the novel upon which Season 2 is based. It’s only a chapter or two in the books and it all works well. The extra running time is given to subplots which I will get to later. Ariyon Bakare as Boreal and Keen as Lyra both give great performances here, especially in their final scene together. Will takes more of a backseat this week, however Simone Kirby as Mary was once again excellent after her debut last week.
I have to make a comparison here to the books, because it highlights one of the ways in which mediums are so different. In the book, by this point, and even afterward, I had no idea Charles Latrom was Lord Boreal. You were seeing the scene through Lyra’s eyes on the books and though she had met Boreal before briefly, she didn’t recall.
This means the reveal which comes later to Lyra, is already out there for viewers of the show. The only way to hide this would have been to change the identity of Latrom, which would not work. Or remove all those Boreal scenes we had in Season 1, which equally would not have worked as well. In the books, I genuinely thought Latrom was some creepy rich collector as he claims to be. It’s not a complaint or a critique here, just an observation of how books do need to be adapted, and rarely can just be filmed as is.
Wilson and Miranda Masterclass
Another HDM review and another bit of praise for Ruth Wilson. Are you surprised anymore? I doubt it if you have been watching so far. The basic plot taken from the books is what I detailed above. However, this week I found the additional material far more compelling. The story threads of Marissa Coulter and Lee Scoresby come together this week in a scene which did not happen in the books. Yet, the show, and the whole story that’s being presented was I think richer for it.
Coulter is searching for Lyra, Scoresby for Stanislaus Grumman. After a scene in an observatory ripped from the books Lee is captured and promptly interrogated by Coulter who just happens to be in the same place at the same time. The scene which was written just for the show was one of the best scenes in the whole of His Dark Materials so far. What’s utterly brilliant, is the fact that some of the materials used for this scene is canonical information Pullman revealed in his most recent book in this Universe, The Secret Commonwealth.
Coulter first attempts to threaten and beat Lee into revealing all he knows. However, Lee makes it apparent that he is no stranger to pain. Miranda does a great job of portraying Scoresby letting out some of his abusive memories at the hands of his parents. What makes this work so well is the fact that Marissa went through a very similar upbringing. That information about Marissa’s backstory only came to light in Pullman’s most recent book and it was phenomenal. Not only does this scene explain Marissa’s state of mind much better than the books could at this point, but the performances of Wilson and Miranda were just mesmerizing. All this happens ‘off-screen’ for the most part in the books and that’s fine. The books spend very little time with Lee and Marissa until much later in the book.
However, this is how you adapt a book. Character motivations are even clearer, and they also using the authors own words to flesh out the story. Brilliant stuff. I have rarely given an episode of HDM anything lower than an A and I’m not starting this week. Expertly crafted TV from start to finish.
What did you think of His Dark Materials Season 2: Theft?