His Dark Materials: Season 1, Episode 4 “Armour” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Lee (Lin-Manuel Miranda) scratching his chin.
Lee (Lin-Manuel Miranda)

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Lin-Manuel Miranda arrives, as does an armored bear and word of what Lord Asriel has been up to.

Directed ByOtto Bathurst
Written ByJack Thorne
Air Date (BBC One)11/24/2019
Introduced This Episode
LeeLin-Manuel Miranda
IorekJoe Tandberg
HesterCristela Alonzo
Dr. Martin LanseliusOmid Djalili
Fra PavelFrank Bourke
IofurPeter Serafinowicz
KaisaDavid Suchet


The Creative Dealings of Mrs. Marisa Coulter: Mrs. Coulter, Cardinal Sturrock, Father MacPhail, Boreal, Fra Pavel, Iofur

With often being the only woman in the room, at least with any resemblance of real power, Mrs. Coulter has long learned to never walk into the lion’s den without a gun or a piece of meat. Prime example, after her actions at Jordan College, it was assumed she would be canned, and the Gobblers would be reassigned to Father MacPhail. However, with Mrs. Coulter making a deal with a bear, King Iofur, as he likes to be called, she has Lord Asriel, and that trumps whatever she has thus far done.

However, while she has Lord Asriel, what she doesn’t have is Lyra. So of the Magisterium’s Alethiometer reader, Fra Pravel, she asks who is Lyra – despite you assuming she would know. Though, it isn’t just Mrs. Coulter asking questions of Fra Pavel. Boreal asks to know more about Grumman to which Fra Pavel tries to give him attitude, but then he is blackmailed since Fra Pavel seemingly has secrets.

Though, as always, Mrs. Coulter refuses to be outdone. For her secret is that she does work with a bear, Iofur, who has Lord Asriel, but she won’t release him to her. In fact, she is forced to promise baptism, a means of Iofur becoming the first bear to enter the Magisterium. Which, as you can imagine, may not really be something she can offer, but knowing how much Iofur seeks respect, it is the only way to regain control of the situation.

Finding An Armored Bear: Lyra, Farder Coram, Lee, Iorek, Hester, Dr. Lanselius, Kaisa

While the Gyptians have heart, what they don’t have is much in the way of strength. Especially since they will be going against the Magisterium, who have guns, fear, and so much more. So, to counter this, Farder Coram calls upon Dr. Lanselius to call upon Serafina. She is one of the queens of witches who Farder Coram used to be in a relationship with over 40 years ago.

However, between a dead child and differences of opinion on how to mourn, they have become estranged. But, thanks to Lyra, and her ability to read an Alethiometer, the middleman between humans and witches, Dr. Lanselius, finds Lyra intriguing enough to assist Farder Coram and the Gyptians. At least in communicating with Serafina.

Which, ultimately, proves fruitful since she pledges her clan, and others, will help. However, it is also made clear many have alliances with the Magisterium and join them at The Station to complete their project. So, to even the odds, an armored bear is required.

Now, generally speaking, armored bears, those who thrive on war, aren’t easy to come across, buy, or befriend. Yet, Lyra is not one to be underestimated. She encounters this bear, and while Iorek is vague on why he can’t leave, Lyra knows how to push his buttons in ways to stir him up.

But, it isn’t until meeting Lee and his daemon Hester that Lyra learns what is truly needed to win Iorek over – his armor. You see, Iorek was tricked and made drunk, which led to him losing his armor, and while Lee tried to get it back, to pay off a debt, he failed. Lyra, on the other hand, using the Alethiometer, she found the location of the armor, and with getting it for Iorek, he not only pledges his loyalty but seems cooperative.

As for Lee? Well, with him being an aeronaut and a bit of a fighter, Lyra finds use for him and convinces the Gyptians to take him and Iorek on their journey.

A Rather Powerful Child: Lyra, Lord Faa, Farder Coram

Lyra, as of this point, isn’t beyond her 13th year, so you can imagine how Lord Faa feels about her disobeying him and refusing to be in a child’s place. Yet, with speaking to Farder Coram, who relays stories Serafina once spoke of, Lord Faa realizes it is better to keep Lyra close than push her away. Though how much a man of his age can take of a child who is a bit too sure of herself, and growing in power, is hard to say.




One of the main, and borderline only, reasons to watch is how Keen commands her scenes. For as amusing as it is to watch Mrs. Coulter play the men who underestimate her, unless this show diverges from the path of its peers, there is that feeling she will eventually meet her match and meet her doom. Making Lyra’s ascension the only thing that can maintain your attention as Keen proves herself to be one of the top young actors in Hollywood.

Low Point

So, After All That, They Suddenly Decided To Stop Shooting At Iorek?

Here is the thing, you have a good amount of Magisterium people facing off against this armored bear, and the members in the north seem like they barely have a sense of strength. So the face they not only were defeated but let Iorek go, after he killed one of the more senior members around, that took the Magisterium down a notch as the villains of the show.

Though, let’s be real here, the Magisterium aren’t designed to be feared. They are made to seem completely human, fearful of losing what power they have, so rather than seem menacing, they come off desperate. Which in itself should inspire fear, but outside of Mrs. Coulter, maybe Boreal to a point, the desperation makes them seem like they are on an inevitable decline. One that none of them can stop or really slow down. The only question is, who will surrender or be stubborn and choose death instead?

On The Fence

Lacking A Sense Of Urgency

Learning of Lord Asriel’s capture, and the Gyptian kids who are possibly going to be cut up and killed, you’d think that would create a larger sense of urgency. However, be it because this is a show, or there are multiple books, things still seem slow-paced. Which, increasingly, is making Keen and her youthful energy a crutch for this show that you must wonder, could said crutch break?

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Lacking A Sense Of Urgency - 70%
So, After All That, They Suddenly Decided To Stop Shooting At Iorek? - 65%
Lyra - 85%


Trajectory – Plateau: With new characters, new threats, but the same pacing, His Dark Materials holds steady. However, how much longer is can rely on so few characters to support an entire world is questionable.

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