His Dark Materials is another fantasy treat that, despite a few bumps, enraptures you week by week – cutting into different worlds to evade a dangerous multiverse. Although series two can’t match the journey and darkness of the first, its immersive dimensions, enchanted objects, theocratic antagonists, and magical examinations of the self grab and squeeze you into a compulsive viewing schedule. Letting go leaves an emptiness, an obligation to return to reality in a daemonless existence.
Amir Wilson as Will Parry. Photo: BBC
Series two has excelled in building Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will’s (Amir Wilson) relationship, despite their distance from each other. They can’t say what they really want to say, at least not directly. Writer Jack Thorne can slip into artificial, irritating exposition at times, but his beautiful bridging between those communication difficulties is endlessly watchable. Not only do they struggle quietly through adolescent awkwardness, but they’re learning to trust again after a lot of betrayal and paranoia.
The finale doesn’t provide many desired answers, if any. The Magisterium made a big deal of Lyra’s actual name in last week’s episode, and even its unsurprising reveal here doesn’t tell you anything. It’s wrapped in a deep, mythical, and Biblical lore that hasn’t been fully explained yet. Much of series two consists of prophetic build-up for whatever the last volume holds. It’s been occasionally frustrating to watch these predictive and predictable dialogues, as they mostly serve as adverts for series three.
Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter. Photo: BBC
Ruth Wilson continues to be a seething, stabbing presence as Mrs Coulter – overshadowing her performance as the psychopath Alice in BBC’s Luther. Coulter, at least, has some kind of conscience, faintly represented by her uneasy monkey daemon. But that makes her even more disturbing when she actively chooses the heinous over the moral. Given she only appears a few times in the book, this revised character arc is wise, fascinating, and intense.
We can’t reveal much else, and wouldn’t want to, but this episode tugs hard at your emotions – especially with Will. Having read the book, these moments proceed with a heart-rending inevitability. It’s a confusing, upsetting, and beautiful finish. But considering Covid will likely halt production on series three (yet to be confirmed), we’ll have to cope without it for a while. Happily, The Amber Spyglass is still available…
His Dark Materials series 2 concludes on Sunday 20 December at 7:10pm on BBC One
|What||His Dark Materials series 2 episode 7, BBC One review|
20 Dec 20 – 20 Dec 21, ON BBC ONE
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