“There’s a boy whose fate is bound with hers. Together, they will change everything.”
Throughout the first four weeks, His Dark Materials has carried a uniform tone of adventure and deceit that promised to lead towards a grand… something. That consistency was shaken up a bit this week with the introduction of Will Parry (Amir Wilson, The Secret Garden, The Kid Who Would Be King), John Parry’s son and who, according to Kaisa’s foreshadowing voice over, will shoulder the load of things to come with Lyra.
In Lyra’s world, the Gyptian caravan—plus two additions in Iorek and Lee Scoresby—continue their trek North towards Bolvangar when Lyra receives a premonition of sorts from the alethiometer. Already mystical with its ability to craft definitive truth from a single question, its behavior here adds an even greater sense of other-worldliness to the story. It marries well with the introduction of Serafina (Ruta Gedmintas, The Strain, Do No Harm), whose own ethereal presence, along with more nuggets of conversation about these parallel worlds everyone is so keen to discover (or, in the Magisterium’s case, keep hidden), gives “The Lost Boy” a feel more in line with the fantasy genre.
Unfortunately, it also suffers from the feel of not enough.
Serafina’s emotional scene with Coram lasts but a few minutes and her arrival (and angelic-like departure) along with the passing talk of her fellow witches and the strife between them begs for a deeper exploration of their ability and culture, not to mention the emotional bond she and Farder Coram still share. The same can be said for Iorek’s story; he’s curt in his explanation to Lyra on his banishment from his people, the Svalbard bears, though he admits to killing a fellow bear. Considering the road ahead, it’s a fair bet we’ll get more of his story; as for the witches, it’s difficult to imagine there’s enough time in the remaining weeks to truly explore their part in this fantastical world to any sort of satisfaction.
It would be easy to take the subject of “The Lost Boy” and pass it on as a reference to young Billy Costa, who Lyra finds after instinct told her to adhere to the alethiometer’s direction to explore the abandoned fishing village. She finds Billy, almost ghostly in mind, with no sign of his daemon. After returning to the caravan, Ma Costa shares a precious few moments with her son before he dies, whether as a result of exposure or losing his daemon yet to be determined. But as much as Billy’s abduction was a driving factor in mobilizing the Gyptians, his story is over. Will Parry’s, however, is just beginning.
For the first time this season, an episode spends nearly as much time in ‘our’ world as it does in Lyra’s. With only three episodes remaining, it seems a bit late to introduce a character who appears to be as important as Will, but “The Lost Boy” gives a vital glimpse into Will’s life with his mum, Elaine. It’s obvious that Elaine is a fractured soul and Will as her caretaker was forced to grow up much faster than a kid should be. There is a gentle and caring nature about Will but underneath that is a toughness, perhaps born of the need to take care of his mom but also an underlying resentment from his father’s disappearance.
On one occasion, Elaine carries on about how much John is like his father and how the world needs people like him; extraordinary people that will protect the vulnerable and fix the brokenness of the world. Will obviously doesn’t know much about his father’s exploits but the letters in Elaine’s closet may provide a key to Will’s inheritance and, on a more sinister note, the information Boreal needs to determine where and how John Parry accessed the world of daemons.
Adding a major variable into the narrative by way of Will Parry, “The Lost Boy” doesn’t forget about our main protagonist. Lyra continues to become more comfortable in her boldness, refusing to shrink from those who tell her no and overcoming her fears. But walking through the phantasmal nature of Billy Costa’s fate is one thing; now she must face the evil men and women behind the kidnapped children as she’s taken from the camp and delivered to Bolvangar. It’s the right cliffhanger end for an episode that kicks off the second half of His Dark Materials’ freshman campaign. And now that everyone has arrived in the North, the story will have more room to grow beyond the necessity of moving from place-to-place. That’s a small but essential comfort that should aid in answering all those lingering questions the series has cunningly fostered over the first half of the season.
- Boreal’s tenacity in discovering John Parry’s ingress into his daemon-filled world must be driven by his need to figure out how someone from another world acquired a daemon. Considering everything that needs to be addressed in the coming weeks, I’m not sure if there will be enough time to adequately explore this plotline without it feeling somewhat rushed. It’s deserving of its own subplot, perhaps in the already-filmed season two.