His Dark Materials Season 2 Review: Sifting the Dust

His Dark Materials Season 2 Review: Sifting the Dust

In his heart, Its dark materials – the trilogy of young adult fantasy novels written by Sir Philip Pullman – and the BBC-HBO co-produced series named after him and written by Jack Thorne (Enola Holmes), both have to do with control. In a sense, it is control over knowledge. Shaman John “Jopari” Parry (Andrew Scott) crystallizes the meaning when he first appears midway through season 2 of His Dark Materials. He points out that there are always two groups fighting for power. One, the Magisterium in this case, decides what the truth is, what people should know and what they can say. It is a clear reference that Pullman makes about the Catholic Church in history. The other, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and his loose cohort, wants you to explore and think for yourself.

In another sense, it is adults who try to control children. From the beginning, the series protagonist Lyra Silvertongue (Dafne Keen) has been trying to escape the clutches of not only the Magisterium, but also Marisa Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who was revealed to be her mother in Its dark materials season 1. The show is talking to young adults on the other side of television, saying that sometimes they have to take matters into their own hands. And in another sense, it is control over certain sectors of the population. In season 2 of His Dark Materials, Marisa wonders how different her life would have been in our world. In his world, he was denied access to a Ph.D. and his articles could only be published if he agreed to let a man take the credit.

Speaking of Wilson, the 38-year-old Golden Globe-winning English actress is easily the highlight of season 2 of His Dark Materials. Two scenes stand out particularly because they show a vulnerable side of his character, which is rarely seen in the series, and because it is not about moving the plot forward, which His Dark Materials is about too sadly. The first is found in front of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays balloonist Lee Scoresby, while delving into their similar upbringings. The moments between Wilson and Miranda are deeper by one minute than the show by more than 200 minutes elsewhere.

The second wordless scene is with her on-screen daughter Keen, and puts a reverse spin on the torture scene from His Dark Materials season 1, where Marisa released her golden monkey demon on Lyra’s ever-changing demon, ” Bread “Pantalaimon. Even though it takes place amid the chaos, their shared quiet moments are powerful and revealing, and Lyra realizes in real time how she’s becoming her mother in front of her. But these moments are just too rare, and His Dark Materials season 2 is far less powerful and revealing when young adults are left to run the show.

But the biggest problem for His Dark Materials season 2 is that it never really gets going. The new season opens with a foreboding message: Asriel’s portal opening actions have left the world in chaos, which the witches believe is the “beginning of a powerful prophecy, one that could destroy all existence or renew it.” , but then it is always needed by placing the pieces on the board. A brewing war should add some weight to a TV show, but there’s no momentum, no intrigue, and no feeling of foreboding in His Dark Materials season 2. The icy rhythm doesn’t make sense when you’ve got a seven-episode season on your hands to start. Critics had access to five episodes. It looks impressive, season 2 was partly filmed on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, but it is inert.

His Dark Materials season 2 opens with a distraught Lyra, who blames the truth-telling magic device alethiometer for the death of her friend Roger Parslow (Lewin Lloyd), sacrificed by his father, Lord Asriel, to open a portal to another. world at the end. Season 1. After having followed her father through the portal, Lyra arrives in the haunting and mysterious city of Cittàgazze. It looks a bit like the island of Korčula in Croatia, and it sits next to a larger peninsula, but it’s different in that all the houses are huddled on top of each other in Cittàgazze and the adjacent land is completely devoid of humans. presence. It makes little sense, but His Dark Materials season 2 never bothers to explain why. But more importantly, Cittàgazze appears to be a ghost town unto itself, with no one in sight.

The first human Lyra meets turns out to be Will Parry (Amir Wilson), who has traveled from our world and is very surprised to see that Lyra has a “talking animal” with her. Lyra, on the other hand, wonders why Will doesn’t have one. A human without a demon? You cannot be trusted. The two finally find a middle ground when they discover that they are from the same city of Oxford but from different worlds. Lyra and Will subsequently meet other children who reveal that Cittàgazze is empty because it is full of specters: they are like a floating black liquid, something out of Lost or Fantastic Animals – that suck all humanity out of the people. The warning? They can only attack adults. There is only one adult left in Cittàgazze, who lives in a tower that has no visible entrance.

Amir Wilson as Will Parry, Dafne Keen as Lyra Silvertongue in His Dark Materials season 2
Photo credit: HBO

Meanwhile, back in its original world, the Magisterium is struggling to put a stop to the portal crisis, and word is spreading that it is a gateway to another world. Marisa offers her services and promises to unearth information on a captive witch in Magisterium custody, because witches have always claimed that there are other worlds. And now, it has been revealed to be true, no matter how long the senior Magisterium officials would like to live by denying it. But just as Marisa is about to extract the entire prophecy from the captive witch, her fellow witch, Queen Ruta Skadi (Jade Anouka), draws the first blood in what will be a war against the Magisterium. The ever-scheming Marisa uses that to plan a Machiavellian coup, using Father McPhail (Will Keen) as her pawn.

Thanks to the adventures of Lyra and Will, His Dark Materials season 2 spends much more time in our world than season 1, and much of this involves Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby), who studies dark matter in University. from Oxford. There is much less screen time for Scoresby, who is trying to find a weapon that he is told can help protect Lyra, who has done her mission in life by failing to do so in season 1. Though she doesn’t know it, the The weapon you’re looking for is the name of the second book on which His Dark Materials season 2 is based: “The Subtle Knife.” That brings the series to another chosen fantasy trope, as was the case with Lyra and the alethiometer in season 1, but it’s not that amazing because there’s at least a little bit of guidance involved.

But His Dark Materials has yet to figure out what to do with demons, which is disappointing because an animal speaking connected to a human’s consciousness is the best way to reveal its inner thoughts. His Dark Materials season 2 also fails to get humor out of them, with the only exception of a single shot in which Marisa’s golden jumpsuit sits in a car with a seat belt. That, the lack of humor, is one of the many ways His Dark Materials fails to be the fantasy epic for HBO.

Of course, His Dark Materials season 2 has bigger problems. You don’t know how to develop scenes or plan for the long term. It feels like one of those “X hour movie” TV shows, where the entire season was planned as one long movie. That’s annoying in and of itself, and even more so when it’s not available as a compulsive watch. Since it is a BBC Y HBO series, new episodes of season 2 of His Dark Materials will air weekly. (It was originally going to be eight episodes, but a standalone episode focusing on Asriel had to be cut due to COVID-19 and McAvoy is absent from season 2 entirely as a result.)

Her Dark Materials Season 2 Review Lin Manuel Miranda Her Dark Materials Season 2 Review

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby in His Dark Materials season 2
Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway / HBO

Originally crafted for the Harry Potter was, and now remade for the post-Game of Thrones era, His Dark Materials is caught in an identity crisis. In season 2: the middle ground, if the producers get your wish To turn the third and final book “The Amber Spyglass” into two seasons, he’s still trying to figure out what it’s supposed to be. Its presumption of multiple worlds makes it science fiction on a literal level, but metaphorically, it’s actually about one world: our world. Even today, there are people who refuse to believe in science and governments that propagate unscientific or pseudoscientific claims. COVID-19 has only made it more obvious. By dividing that into two worlds, His Dark Materials season 2 can starkly expose the differences between the two sides.

But while timely and relevant in some places, His Dark Materials season 2 can’t shake the feeling that everything it attempts has been done better elsewhere before. He’s scanning the dust, pun intended, and the answers are largely eluding him.

His Dark Materials season 2 premieres November 16 on HBO and HBO Max in the US and November 17 on Disney + Hotstar Premium in India. It began airing on November 8 on BBC One in the UK.

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