His Dark Materials season 1, episode 4 recap: Armour

Photo: Lin-Manuel Miranda in His Dark Materials: Season 1.. Image Courtesy of HBO
Photo: Lin-Manuel Miranda in His Dark Materials: Season 1.. Image Courtesy of HBO /

His Dark Materials introduces two major characters in the fourth episode.

“Armour” is an entertaining time for book readers to see some familiar faces however, The Golden Compass casting does overshadow some of the performances in His Dark Materials. Lyra and the Gyptians have come to a new city looking to gather allies for the impending battle. At this point, there’s almost no way for the Gyptians to settle this peacefully if they ever want to get their children yet.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the bigger names to join the series, but his depiction of Lee Scoresby is a mixed bag. He’s an aeronaut with a rabbit daemon, Hester, and a Texan. The movie cast Sam Elliott, and it’s hard not to think of his depiction when seeing Miranda onscreen. Truthfully, Elliott seemed like a perfect casting and, while Miranda is doing a good job playing the version the show is going for, it’s this characterization that seems a little off.

Nevertheless, Scoresby is brought in to help find Iorek Byrnison, a disgraced armored bear. He’s been brought to Trollesund as an indentured servant after being captured by the Magisterium. Unfortunately, he’s grown bitter and cynical throughout his life and has zero interest in helping find the missing children.

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Meanwhile, Lyra and the Gyptians are rallying their forces. Farder Coram plans to reach out to his former lover, Serafina Pekkala, an infamous witch. He brings Lyra to meet with a man who can help them, and seems to be shocked to learn about Lyra’s ability to read an alethiometer. It’s a bit odd she whips out the device in public and happily showcases it to strangers despite the possible ramifications. However, the man does suggest Lyra get some muscle for her fight, hence the decision to bring Iorek in.

“Armour” does bring up more of Farder Coram’s characterization. It’s heartbreaking his reveal regarding his deceased son and James Cosmos is fantastic in that scene. However, it does feel a bit like His Dark Materials does fall into the trap a bit of telling rather than showing.

Despite the fact that the other Gyptians don’t trust Iorek, Lyra makes her mission to get him to join their side. We’ve seen early in His Dark Materials how Lyra is fascinated with the armored bears and their bravery. She believes Iorek is better than just being a common worker who “moves heavy things”. Lyra helps Iorek discover where is armor is in exchange for him to join their side, and he quickly takes care of the Magisterium police. However, when he goes to kill the chief, Lyra convinces him to spare him. It’s a sign of her empathy and morality because the local police have been working alongside the Oblation Board.

Speaking of the Oblation Board, the Magisterium tries to get rid of Mrs. Coulter after her recent string of mistakes. Instead, they want Father MacPhail to head up the operation, and he looks terrified at the prospect. It’s not so easy being the one calling the shots about what happens to kidnapped kids, right? Not that it matters, because Mrs. Coulter has Lord Asriel, and the Magisterium wants him more than punishing her.

While we don’t get the answer, Mrs. Coulter asks the Magisterium’s alethiometer reader to reveal “who is Lyra Belacqua”. After she learns the answer, she travels North to continue her experiments and meet with Iofur Raknison. Apparently, the bears have been holding Asriel captive and she bribes him to her side by promising an induction to the Magisterium.

With Iorek on their side, the Gyptians have also gained an ally with Serafina Pekkala. She sends her daemon, Kaisa (David Suchet), to speak with Farder Coram. She warns there are Dust hunters sympathetic to the Oblation Board but promises that she will support him no matter what. Hopefully, we get her introduction next week!

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Lyra also sees a city inside the Dust cloud, like Lord Asriel, teasing something important from the novels. We get to see a break, reminding us that Lyra is just a child, through her interactions with Tony Costa. The two bond over their memories of Roger and Billy, before Lyra promises they will get them back. Now, it’s time for everyone to travel North to try and save the children.

What did you think of this episode of His Dark Materials? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!