I have waited three weeks to see Lyra read that damn alethiometer and it’s every bit as satisfying to hear those needles click into place as I’d hoped. When can I book in for a fortune-reading? Tonight’s episode started off a little shaky but soon ramped up, and I’ve been left feeling more confident in the rest of the season than I was after watching episode two.
The original scenes in this episode that didn’t happen in the first book were actually my favourite parts of this episode, which was a welcome surprise. Here I was thinking I’d hate it if they kept deviating from Northern Lights, but this week I loved seeing new material that expanded on the world. The scenes in our dimension are keeping my interest piqued as a book reader, though as mentioned last week I hope it’s not a turn-off for brand new viewers.
While we’re on the subject of our world – can we take a second and talk about how I’m pretty sure they showed a photograph of Will?! I don’t think Will is going to make a physical appearance until season two, but at this point it’s hard to rule out the possibility of him showing up this year. It’s funny to realise that for book-readers this is a pretty huge deal, whereas for new viewers this literally couldn’t be less of a talking point.
Speaking of new characters… Did we really get a glimpse of Andrew Scott being the actor who will play John Parry? I’ll take any excuse to see more of the hot priest from Fleabag on my screen. I can’t wait to see him in action – though who knows when we’ll get to that point. At this rate, it could be next week, it could be the end of the season!
The first half of this episode felt very exposition-heavy, and something just wasn’t right with the editing. Scenes felt like they were jumping around a lot, and I would catch my attention fading faster than when I tried to watch Game of Thrones. Sometimes it’s like someone has pressed the fast forward button on the series, and we suddenly have to pay a lot of attention as facts are just thrown at us. This is probably hard to avoid when you’re adapting a book series, particularly in this first handful of episodes, but it’s still a shame to notice it happening.
Thankfully things really picked up in the second half of this episode. That scene of Mrs. Coulter attacking Benjamin De Ruyter was incredible. Ruth Wilson still doesn’t disappoint, and it was downright terrifying when she essentially became her daemon for a second as she was attacking Ben. Seeing her hold on to the Gyptian and scratch his head as if she was grooming him was tense as hell.
The moment the golden monkey watched in disbelief as a daemon faded away before his eyes was my favourite shot in the series so far. It lingered just long enough for it to really make a lasting impression, and is really proof of how much effort is going into making the visuals of this show top-notch. I need to go back and watch that moment again!
Likewise, I loved the look of the mechanical beetles and they were just what I imagined. Though the scene of them actually finding Lyra was slightly underwhelming, as I expected them to be savage, powerful little creatures. Instead, they kind of just nudged her a few times before running away like an annoying sibling.
I’m finally warming up to the Gyptians now, and even if Ma Costa is never going to be the same kind of character who I pictured while reading the books, I think Anne-Marie Duff is developing her own original character in place of her and I’m looking forward to see how she grows. The worst part of the Gyptians this week was seeing Tony Costa do some awful fake-crying when he returned to the boats.
I am really looking forward to meeting Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison next week. How they handle the armoured bear himself is really going to play a huge part in the tone of the rest of the season. Iorek is a major force in the story, particularly the bond he develops with Lyra, and the better he looks the better their relationship will work. Based on these first three episodes, I’m confident they can pull these visuals off, but next week will give us a clearer picture. Bring on the bears and the witches.