His Dark Materials: Should the daemons be used more often?

Photo: His Dark Materials: Season 1.. Image Courtesy of HBO
Photo: His Dark Materials: Season 1.. Image Courtesy of HBO /

Should His Dark Materials use daemons more often on the show?

A common complaint about HBO’s adaptation of the His Dark Materials series is the lack of daemons in each shot. Every person in Lyra’s world is supposed to have a daemon to accompany them as the living manifestation of their soul. Yet, a majority of the time the animals aren’t seen onscreen unless absolutely necessary.

Viewers will recognize the “daemons” as the adorable animals occasionally popping up throughout scenes. As mentioned above, everyone has one and they exemplify their soul. Children’s daemons are able to change form, like Pantalaimon, who adapts based on what Lyra needs. However, at a certain age, they settle into one animal for the rest of their lives. Lyra and Roger wonder throughout the pilot what their daemons will settle as and seem to have conversations with them regarding what their forms could be.

BBC Studios and HBO did take strides to bring the daemons to life onscreen. Puppeteers were brought in to help bring the characters to life and an impressive voice cast for the most notable characters. When daemons are seen, they look incredibly realistic and we do get glimpses of the fascinating work done. Mrs. Coulter’s monkey has actually become an empathetic character thanks to the work between the puppeteer and Rose Wilson, creating a daemon who fans typically saw as an antagonistic character in the books.

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As a fan, it’s a little disappointing not to see more of the daemons. Lyra’s and Pan’s relationship isn’t explored as much as it is in the books. Even after a pretty traumatic scene involving Mrs. Coulter, we don’t see Lyra even touch Pan for comfort. It diminishes their importance just a bit, and the worry is the major reveal about the gobblers won’t be as emotional because we haven’t gotten to explore the bond between daemon and human as much as it should be.

However, from a logical standpoint, His Dark Materials does seem to be making the best use of the daemons as it can with its budget. the show saves them for whenever it’s absolutely necessary and does do a decent job of introducing the most recognizable daemons. The rest of the show looks impressive, and there are plenty of other major elements of the series which need to dip into the special effects budget. Namely, the armored bears and a lot of the set design.

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Overall, yes it would be nice to see the daemons more often. Unless His Dark Materials gets a budget boost for season 2, the series is doing its best to handle all of the pricy effects without diminishing the story.

What do you think? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!