The third episode of His Dark Materials, aptly titled ‘The Spies’, brings in a surge of information for all parties involved. Lyra finds herself under new guardianship and making new allies. Lyra is still confused about the adults in her life and she is still struggling to trust. In this episode, it looks like Lyra has finally found some adults on whom she can rely. The Gyptians heighten their mobilization efforts in their quest to find the missing children. Lyra learns how to work a forbidden gift.
This episode finds the pacing slowed down from the last two and that is a welcome change. The first two episodes were inundations of lore and insights into the series. This episode seems to have hit its stride in the storytelling department. Written by Jack Thorne and directed by Dawn Shadforth, ‘The Spies’ is heavily character driven and takes its time moving the pieces of the puzzle. The significance of the daemons is further revealed through interesting conversations.
The first bit is revealed by Lord Boreal, played by Ariyon Bakare. Lord Boreal, of the Magisterium, is doing his own recognizance in a very sinister fashion. Lord Boreal first appeared in episode two and so far, Bakare’s performances are on target as this mysterious man of influence. The second is revealed in an earnest conversation between Lyra and Farder Coram, played by James Cosmo. Lyra, completely recalcitrant in disposition has a great exchange with Farder Coram. Cosmo’s delivery and portrayal of a wise and kindly man are welcoming in a world where most of the adults seem nefarious in nature.
Ruth Wilson continues to surprise in her performance as Mrs. Coulter. Mrs. Coulter’s character is fueled by grief, power, and a hysterical melancholy that reveals itself in a strange and primal manner. Wilson continues doing wonders with this character as she adds a touch of empathy to a very diabolical being.
Tony Costa and Benjamin meet the darker side of Mrs. Coulter as they engage in their own espionage. This scene in particular exhibits the extreme bravery of the Gyptian clan. This act of independence by Tony and Benjamin follows a rousing speech by John Faa, the King of the West, and leader of the clan. John Faa is played by Lucian Msamati. Msamati has been wonderful in his leadership role and plays the king with excellence as he inspires the Gyptian community to strike out against their enemies.
‘The Spies’ is the best episode of the season. There are still many pieces of the story coming together, but so far the experience is entertaining. While the pacing has slowed down in this episode, the hints as to what is to come are enticing for the viewer. Even though the last two episodes may have moved too fast, it seems like the show has hit its comfort zone.