His Dark Materials 2×05 Review: “The Scholar”

The Scholar His Dark Materials

Lyra and Will stage a daring heist in order to steal the alethiometer back from Boreal in “The Scholar”, but they run into an unforeseen hurdle when it turns out Mrs. Coulter is there. Meanwhile, Mary begins her journey.

“The Scholar” is probably the biggest deviation from the books so far, in the sense that stealing back the alethiometer went very differently in the show, but I think it was a good narrative decision. It added so much drama and depth to the entire situation, and for the first time, I wasn’t sure how something would turn out.

Not to mention that it showed us a new side of both Lyra and Marisa, with Lyra paying her mother back for hurting Pan and herself in season one. For her to say that she was nothing like her mother, only to sic her Daemon on them, and then watch as her mother was able to separate from her Daemon’s pain and stand up… I shudder to think what would have happened if Will hadn’t managed to save her.

That scene also highlights Marisa’s control over her soul, so to speak. We see earlier in the episode that she is able to separate from her Daemon; it’s something that’s a big part of the relationship even if it’s not really been addressed a lot in the show. It’s an extremely unique relationship and something that, in her world, only witches really have the ability to do. Could this somehow be related to the abuse that’s been hinted that Marisa suffered in her childhood?

I really hate that this show is making me sympathize with the golden monkey when I’ve spent more than a decade hating that thing. But the way he seems to crave affection from Marisa only to be rebuffed at every turn, followed by being viciously attacked by Pan (even though he, you know, kind of deserved it) was actually kind of heartbreaking.

Marisa coming face to face with Mary in “The Scholar” was brilliant. She is introduced to a woman just as intelligent and dedicated as she is, showing her the kind of person she could have been if she had been born in a different world – a world not dominated by the whims of men and religion. The way her face drops when Mary asks for her credentials; Ruth Wilson is phenomenal in this role and proves it with every episode. And then her conversation with Boreal after illuminates so much about her as a character.

“My dear Carlo, if you actually got me, you wouldn’t begin to know what to do with me.” 

I love that this show spent so long building up Mrs. Coulter as this all-powerful force to be reckoned with and then proceeds to knock her down one peg at a time. But I also love the contrast between her and Boreal. He thinks he’s so impressive, showing off his trinkets and collectibles while playing out of touch music and lecturing about this world’s overreliance on consumerism.

The special effects with the cutting between worlds are amazingly well done. I am extremely impressed with how seamless they’ve managed to make that. It totally looks like opening a window into another world.

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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