Monday, December 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'His Dark Materials' - Lyra Faces Dire Circumstances to Save the Missing Children in 'The Daemon-Cages'

HBO's His Dark Materials - Episode 1.06 "The Daemon-Cages"

Lyra finds what she was looking for in the far North, but can she survive?

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.

"The Daemon-Cages" was written by Jack Thorne and directed by Euros Lyn

The Gyptians traveling North in order to rescue the missing children has created the driving purpose of the season so far. That was the core mission. It's what brought the various aspects of the narrative together in service of some larger story. Of course, there are still random interludes that don't make a whole lot of sense. This episode cuts away to Will Parry at an odd and unnecessary time just to show him watching an old interview of his father and tucking his mother into bed. It doesn't exactly convey any new information. It just points out that these characters remain important. They are in a completely different world though. So, it's difficult to see how all of that will eventually connect back to Lyra and her ongoing struggle. The narrative is always at its strongest when it features Lyra being clever in her ability to survive. She found a place to belong with the Gyptians. That provided her a sense of family she has long been missing. Asriel and Mrs. Coulter may be her parents but she views them as other entities who may be going against what she strives to do in this world. Right now, she is personally motivated to rescue the missing children. That's why she has aligned herself with the Gyptians. They all have the passion to head into this battle knowing just how improbable victory may be. They emerge victorious though. That's such a rousing and reassuring moment that occurs here. At first, it presents as Lyra being all alone once more in Bolvangar. She joins the rest of the children in these experiments. She is doing whatever it takes to protect herself. She is inherently curious though. She wants to better understand Dust and why her mother is doing all of this. Dr. Cooper states over and over again that this is for the improvement of the entire human race. She can justify all of these experiments with that belief. It doesn't matter that the majority of the children are unresponsive after the procedure that separates them from their daemons. They view that as inherently good because the relationships between humans and daemons may not be as magical as it has always appeared. Mrs. Coulter abuses her daemon. Her monkey is essentially her servant willing to do whatever she orders. Yes, he may help her escape after Lyra traps her in a room by using the spy fly against her. But that may just be an instinct for self-preservation. Every daemon may have that skill first and foremost. They may be the most vulnerable part of a human life. That connection is so important. A person would be fundamentally altered if something happened to that bond. That's what Mrs. Coulter wants though. Lyra is put in direct danger once more here. She escapes solely by embracing that loving connection with her mother. There is a sense of genuine compassion as they reach out to each other in the lab. However, Mrs. Coulter may always be seen as trying to get something from Lyra that would advance her goals. Lyra may not understand her importance in the world. Everyone else seemingly does. Serafina informs Lee that Lyra is vital in protecting every universe. That's a lot of pressure to put on a child. Lyra may be able to handle that though because she is so brave in running into battle for something she believes in. She is grateful to be reunited with Roger. But now, she feels the duty to save all of the children. None of them can be left behind to keep these experiments viable. More importantly, the machine has to be destroyed to ensure that Mrs. Coulter can't harm any more children. After all of this, the Gyptians may be able to return home and reunite families. They can forge their sense of community anew without having to fight another battle. But the war isn't over. Everyone seems aware of that. The Magisterium still presents as a looming and daunting threat. Meanwhile, Lyra is quick to head out on her next mission. She needs to rescue her father. She views him as important in this world as well because of what he has discovered. Mrs. Coulter even suggests he needs the alethiometer in order to advance his theory of the science. That may be a false suggestion because so much of the priority is placed on Lyra. She is the one who knows how to read the alethiometer and trusts what it tells her. She is the main character who has gone on this journey. Asriel is just a foreign and vague figure in the distance that Lyra still holds a fondness for. It may lead to nothing but despair and disaster. She is once again put in harm's way during this journey. She may take to the sky with Lee, Iorek and Roger. They are still vulnerable to attack and being lost to one another though. That is devastating and certainly sets the stage for more adventures where Lyra has to overcome the threats of this world by herself without being aware of just how important she is to protecting all of reality.