Monday, November 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'His Dark Materials' - Lyra and the Gyptians Arrive in the North and Immediately Recruit New Allies in 'Armour'

HBO's His Dark Materials - Episode 1.04 "Armour"

Arriving North, Lyra seeks allies in the witches, an aeronaut and an armored bear.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's His Dark Materials.

"Armour" was written by Jack Thorne and directed by Otto Bathurst

The narrative once again lands in a new location with everyone heading to the North. That's where the Gobblers have been conducting their experiments on the children. It's a vast conspiracy everyone in the region understands. And yet, it would be foolish for any of them to go against the Magisterium. It's simply too daunting that would inevitably get them killed despite the personal loss of their children. Everyone essentially warns Lyra and Farder Coram that when they appear seeking allies and support in this coming fight. They arrive in the region basically stating that they are ready to launch a war against the Magisterium. That's what they are willing to do to rescue their children. Their sense of identity is so strong that they are willing to take this action when most communities of this world simply don't have that organizational strength. Sure, the Gyptians have people who doubt the importance of taking on the Gobblers and wandering further north they ever have before. But it's for the vastly important purpose of rescuing the children who remain innocent to the dangers of the world. No one knows exactly what is happening to them. It just involves the mysterious Dust somehow. That's the only real confirmation given. The Gyptians need to amass an army though. Their numbers are impressive. However, they are in an area under the control of the armored bears. That society may be fractured when it comes to their loyalties. Mrs. Coulter helped place the current king in his position by ousting the bear who stood in the way of her goals. As such, it's up to Lyra to provide Iorek with the guidance he needs to find his armor once more. Again, it can be fascinating to see how the show provides a physical representation of the soul. Humans have their daemons who may be just as vulnerable as they are in any given situation. Meanwhile, these bears have their armor. That is a symbol that they wear with pride and strength. Without it, they are exiled and forever seen as a lost cause to their communal sense of purpose. Iorek is defeated because he no longer has his armor. He can still be fairly intimidating and threatening. All it takes is Lyra pointing him in the right direction. That may still be dangerous because of the destruction he leaves in his wake. That showcases just how powerful an ally he can be in this coming conflict. His strength may be necessary in order to fight against the Magisterium and their allies in the region. Of course, Iorek is also positioned as a packaged deal with aeronaut Lee Scoresby. He just happens to arrive in this community at the same time as the Gyptians. He too wants to strike a deal with Iorek. His path crosses with Lyra and Coram's. That allows Lyra to operate with a sense of wisdom over what exactly happened here and how she can improve the situations of those who are defeated. She can effectively manipulate people without having to rely on the readings from the alethiometer. That is still necessary for her from time to time. She has grown more skilled at reading what the truth is to her numerous questions. That's a skill that still requires books for the Magisterium to decipher. An answer takes weeks to arrive for Mrs. Coulter and Carlo who need that clarity as soon as possible. They may have other methods of getting the answers they seek. Meanwhile, the alethiometer showcases Lyra's importance in this journey. She is the one who has a grand sense of wisdom and navigation because she can frankly see what everyone is hoping to achieve. That's an endearing quality for the protagonist. Sure, it feels like the show is still just collecting its disparate pieces in order to create an engaging conflict later on. Apparently, Asriel has been taken prisoner by the armored bears who are under Mrs. Coulter's influence. That's an action that happens completely offscreen. That means it doesn't amount to much in terms of narrative stakes. It's simply a reshuffling of the board to keep Mrs. Coulter in a position of power even though she has questions of great importance just like anyone else in this world. The Magisterium may be in charge. However, their rule doesn't always provide the most meaningful guidance. Their influence just happens to be so profound and widespread.