His Dark Materials season 1, episode 3 recap: The Spies

Photo: Anne-Marie Duff in His Dark Materials: Season 1.. Image Courtesy of HBO
Photo: Anne-Marie Duff in His Dark Materials: Season 1.. Image Courtesy of HBO /

His Dark Materials spends time with the Gypstians and Ma Costa.

“The Spies” picks up directly where the previous episode left off as the gobblers attempt to cart Lyra off. However, no one has told the kidnappers that the operation has been completed because they arrive to the previous building to find it vacated. Luckily, this mistake allows Tony Costa and the Gypstians to free her before things can get worse on His Dark Materials.

While Lyra doesn’t trust the Gyptians at all, she does begin to warm up to them upon learning the truth. Understandably, her time with Mrs. Coulter has left her distrustful of anyone who won’t tell her the truth and Ma Costa understands this. When Lyra attempts to run away after being stuck hidden inside a cabinet for a while to escape the Magisterium police, Ma Costa comes clean. It turns out, Mrs. Coulter is so desperate to find Lyra because she’s her daughter! Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter had an affair and baby Lyra was placed in the care of the Gypsies, specifically Ma Costa. However, Mr. Coulter attempted to kill the baby which is how she wound up at Jordan College.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter is becoming more unhinged by the episode. She destroys Lyra’s old room in a fit of grief/rage while her monkey looks on sadly. She orders a raid on Jordan College, completely ignoring the scholastic sanctuary just because she suspects The Master knows where Lyra is hiding. He truly doesn’t but even if he did, he no longer trusts Mrs. Coulter to keep her safe. Despite this, Mrs. Coulter proceeds to have the College ransacked just to be petty. Desperate to get Lyra back, she releases two illegal spy flies and hopes that they’ll bring her daughter back.

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There’s a divide within the Gyptians, as certain members of the group don’t want to start a war with the Magisterium. They think more people will die if they continue the pursuit of the kids and that sadly they’re already gone. Ma Costa is rightfully upset, considering his means Billy is as good as dead. Lyra decides it’s time to take a stand, imploring the Gyptians to stop Mrs. Coulter despite the fact that everyone is scared.

Tony Costa and Benjamin head off to Mrs. Coulter’s penthouse after Lyra tells them where to look in her office. Unfortunately, the golden monkey interrupts them and forces them to leave. Tony manages to get out the window the way Lyra did but Benjamin is sadly caught. Rather than betray his family, Benjamin chooses to fall down the elevator shaft and die. Mrs. Coulter is furious, and can’t seem to understand what selfless act is.

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His Dark Materials does have the moment that everyone has been waiting for: Lyra learns how to use the alethiometer! She doesn’t need the books, which shocks everyone, but she does learn that Benjamin died before everyone else found out. Tony returns to confirm the news and deliver the documents which show how many kids have been taken.

While it isn’t the sole focus, the show does set up Lord Boreal’s storyline does seem to set up season 2. He crosses over again to discover that Grumman is a decorated military man who disappeared. Boreal wants his informant to follow Grumman’s family and calls him out for being a coward. Book readers can be excited for this development but for new viewers, this story might not be as exciting.

What did you think of “The Spies”? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!