His Dark Materials gets another chance in visual popular media, and it seems in series format, it’ll get its just due.
|BBC One, HBO|
|Good If You Like||
|Introduced This Episode|
|Lord Asriel||James McAvoy|
|The Master||Clarke Peters|
|Mrs. Coulter||Ruth Wilson|
|Pantalaimon aka Pan (Voice)||Kit Connor|
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Plot Overview/ Review
For a little more than 12 years, Lyra has lived at Jordan College, has learned from its scholars, and has been safe as her uncle, Lord Asriel, traversed the world, but specifically the north. However, after his discovery of a substance or thing called Dust being much more than simple fine particles of dead skin, it grabs many an ear. Specifically, in the very religious world Lyra and Asriel live in, it grabs the attention of the Magisterium and leads the master of the college to fear “Scholastic Sanctuary” will be no match for the accusation of heresy.
This leads to Asriel’s life being in danger and his niece, Lyra’s, perhaps as well. Hence him leaving and assuming she’d be protected as she has been since he brought her south. However, with Mrs. Coulter taking an interest in her, combined with a group known as Gobblers kidnapping children local to Oxford, and of the group known as the Gyptians, it seems her safety isn’t guaranteed. Add in her friend Roger disappearing, and it leaves you to wonder who is friend or foe?
Well, to aide in this, the master of the college, who tried to poison her uncle, gives her an alethiometer. This item is supposed to help her discover the truth, but when many of the adults seem unwilling to provide such a thing, it leaves Lyra and her daemon Pan, forced to try to discover it themselves. A task that will have her person possibly lose her childhood, maybe her life, as she discovers the truth.
Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs
With every child’s nightmare, there is an element of truth.
— Mrs. Coulter
You Get Drawn In Quickly
Between McAvoy bringing us in and then Keen picking up the baton, there is a sudden urgency as the world, unlike our own, begins to reveal itself to us. For whether it is the fears of the master, and what could come from Asriel’s discovery, or the whispers of the magisterium, and the threats of heresy charges causing trouble, it makes you look left and right and wonder which way is up. Especially in regards to what is all the hubbub about Dust, Lyra, and why the magisterium has such a tight fist around knowledge or tries to, there seems to be a policy made to protect colleges from them?
While only Pan has really stuck out thus far, the whole concept of daemons, what they can do, and their place in this world is fascinating. Also, it adds to the sense of danger since we don’t really know the full extent of what they are capable of. Can they be violent towards humans? Heck, considering they die if their human does, would they kill another human for the sake of their own? Never mind kill their human for the sake of mankind?
A Strong Sense Of Culture
Fantasy productions live and die by presenting an expansive culture which leaves you with a multitude of questions and just the right lead to get your answers. But, alongside understanding there is a big world, with one person acting as our medium, what also matters are those we’ll encounter. Thus far the Gyptians seem like a poor but quite interesting people, seemingly with unique, if not looked down upon, ways worth taking note of.
Also, while it isn’t clear the reach and power of the Magisterium, with it appearing they are the acting government, it leads you to wonder about its various members. The same goes for the college system. Whether talking about Jordan College, or the one Mrs. Coulter represents, St. Sophia, there is the need to question what happens at each location, who fills it, and when it comes to the larger adventure, will they aid or be an obstacle?
On The Fence
Keeping Track Of Everyone
While we don’t have elvish or utterly mad names throughout the premiere, as the foundation is laid, we are presented numerous people who don’t have immediate important but will down the line. Leading to the need to wonder how many, week to week, might be forgotten and require a refresher to remember?
First Impression: Positive (Watch This)
If we’re honest, fantasy is a bit of a frightening genre, especially when the show is an adaptation, since there is always the need to question how much are you pushed to know the source material to get things? For with shows often dropping characters or storylines to streamline the process, there are moments you are left wondering if the plotline is truly weak or something complicated was left out? If not the writers deciding to do their own thing, and it may be not clicking.
But, based on the series premiere, His Dark Materials has an excellent start and does seem, in a post Game of Thrones market, to be a possible successor. Just with less focus on men, violence, and sex, and perhaps a bit more story and female empowerment which isn’t as murky.