It’s no secret that what Asriel does subsequent isn’t a lot lined by The Subtle Knife, the second e-book of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which types the idea for season two (therefore the thwarted plan for an extra Asriel-ep, simply to maintain James McAvoy’s hand in). Episode one finds Lyra on her personal, although not for lengthy.
Thanks to Philip Pullman’s canny daemon conceit, Lyra isn’t actually alone. What a boon to screenwriter Jack Thorne that in her world, a personality’s inner dialogue might be made exterior with none want for the awkward under-the-breath muttering or mirror-facing pep talks resorted to by different reveals. The form-flitting animation of daemon Pan stays superbly completed and there’s a heat simplicity to his and Lyra’s solo scenes that disguises an terrible lot of difficult VFX work.
Less of a boon to those scripts is the existence of the all-knowing alethiometer, a mystery-killing system not not like Game of Thrones’ Three Eyed Raven, which may hand Lyra solutions to any of the questions she asks this episode, particularly: what’s happening on this unfamiliar world, and may she belief her unusual new companion? Keeping Lyra from flipping that golden compass open at each alternative, or making its solutions conveniently abstruse when she does, is essential to holding this story on the tracks. Writer Jack Thorne finds an emotional option to maintain a grieving Lyra from taking that shortcut right here, no less than to start with.
The episode is tonally break up two methods, between light and heat, and chilly and darkness. The former come from Lyra’s scenes in a brand new, Italianate land, and the latter from Mrs Coulter and the Magisterium, which is reeling from Lord Asriel’s dogma-shattering tear in actuality. Asriel has very publicly undermined the church’s teachings, and its scramble to carry onto energy leads to an intriguing new dynamic.
What makes it intriguing is, in fact, Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter, who continues to fascinate and appal in equal measure. It’s truthful to say that she hasn’t been thawed by the passionate kiss with Asriel and revelation of her love for Lyra in final yr’s finale. The lady is simply as cleverly manipulative and as reprehensible as ever. In this season opener, she goes full Gestapo, and it’s shudder-inducing.