It seems as though there are lots of things going on in His Dark Materials Season 2, but as “Theft” proves, everything is essentially branching off of one main storyline: the prophecy and Lyra’s place in it.
Now that the two separate plots – Will’s and Lyra’s – have coalesced into one, the story itself has been streamlined, which makes the episodes not quite as action-heavy as we are used to seeing from this show. “Theft” was a much slower episode than last week’s, which had a lot of big introductions and reveals, but it was no less important in the grand scheme of things.
Also, now that we seem to know more about the prophecy – like how Lyra can’t know about it or it won’t work out the way it’s supposed to – can we stop bringing it up all the time?
“Theft” is a really good episode for Mrs. Coulter. Ruth Wilson consistently does an amazing job giving depth to a character who had a lot of mystery about her in the books. Scenes like the one where she interrogates Lee only for Lee to turn around and analyze her right back go a long way towards reminding us that, villain or not, she is a person who had a past that affected the person she came to be. I didn’t expect to enjoy that scene so much, but I really did.
That scene has such a profound impact, for all that it was not subtle. Human relationships are complicated; you don’t need a television show to tell you that. But Lee and Mrs. Coulter having a discussion about how love isn’t enough sometimes, and you can still hurt someone even though you love them, probably rings true for a lot of people who, like these two did, grew up in abusive households.
I remember not being entirely sold on Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby when I first heard the casting announcement. I think he’s fantastic and extremely talented but something about his energy seems not at all like how I pictured Scoresby. He’s more devil-may-care than “aw shucks”. However, that scene between him and Wilson proves he has the heft necessary to play this role.
What an opportune moment to comment on how Daemons are being much better utilized this season. Last season they were few and far between, seen only when it was vital to be seeing them or when they were part of the scene itself – like Pan or Mrs. Coulter’s monkey. Now we see them everywhere, and they seem to be bigger characters, the way they are in the books. Hester and the golden monkey consoling their human counterparts after that scene were wonderful moments in “Theft” – particularly in the case of Mrs. Coulter, who as we have seen does not interact with her Daemon the way most everyone else in this world does.
Meanwhile, in the other world, Lyra has decided to ignore the advice of the alethiometer and visit Mary again; however, there is a shady policeman waiting there for her, which leads her into a situation where she once again meets Boreal, who decides to be creepy either by accident or on purpose. Long story short, Boreal steals the alethiometer from her.
Lyra and Will’s plot in “Theft” was mainly about setting up other things. Angelica finding Will to remind him of the specters, Mary’s repeated attempts to get her machine to “speak” to her the way it spoke to Lyra and using the I-Ching, and Boreal’s request that Will and Lyra trade the knife in the tower for the alethiometer. And while I don’t think I can exactly call these foreshadowing, all of these moments clearly imply that these aspects of the story are important and will be returned to later.
I waffle back and forth about Dafne Keen’s portrayal of Lyra; at some points, it feels spot-on, but sometimes I just don’t think she’s doing justice to the character. She’s very petulant and sullen, and I don’t remember her being that way in the books. I love her interactions with Will, and I think she and Amir Wilson have a great rapport, but sometimes she comes across as very callous and I don’t know if that’s an intentional interpretation or something about Keen’s acting.
I was expecting a little more awe and wonder from Lyra about things in Will’s world. I do love that they showed not only her but also Pan being enamored with the movie. (And Paddington is such a wonderful choice for them to watch!)
If I had one complaint about this season, it would be how short the episodes are! It feels like we just start going and then the episode is over. So far they have all seemed to be several minutes shorter than they were last season, and we’re already going to be missing an entire episode because of the pandemic, so I want as much show as possible.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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