‘His Dark Materials’ 1×04 recap: “Armour”

His Dark Materials 1×04 “Armour,” Aired Nov. 25, 2019

Lyra Silvertongue is finally here! This episode of His Dark Materials finally lets Lyra take center stage and showcase why Lyra deserves all this attention. The Gyptians and Lyra arrive in Trollesund hoping to secure the help of the witches in the upcoming battle to save their children. By the end of the episode, Lyra has also secured the help of fan-favorites Iorek Byrnison, an armored bear, and Lee Scoresby, an aeronaut.

A witches’ help

Farder Coram is seeking the help of the witches, or more accurately, one specific with, Serafina Pekkela. Lyra who spends the entire episode not beating around the bush and just asking people what she wants to know, learns that Farder Coram and Serafina have history. They were once in love and had a son. When they lost their son, their grief separated them. Still, Farder Coram believes that Serafina will aid them. Sadly, we don’t get to see Serafina this episode, as it is her daemon Kaisa who shows up in her place and agrees to help. 

Alethiometer 101

Photo courtesy of HBO

Lyra is on fire this episode, finally taking some control over her journey and making a good case as to why she will earn the name Lyra Silvertongue. This is the episode where Dafne Keen finally won me over as Lyra. It’s not that she was ever bad, she had some great scenes in the early episodes, but something about the essence of Lyra as seen in the pages of His Dark Materials just wasn’t there. Until this episode, where Lyra just dominated every scene she’s in.

Now that she’s mastered how to use the alethiometer, Lyra is not afraid to use it to her advantage. It’s how she gets the Witch Counsel to agree to send a message to the witches and later on, how she gets Iorek to join her on this quest. Everyone is fascinated with how Lyra is able to instinctively read the alethiometer and while she tries to explain how she’s able to read it, it basically just boils down the, “I just can”. 

The episode very smartly highlights how remarkable Lyra’s ability to read the alethiometer by showing us another alethiometer. This one is in the possession of the Magisterium and both Mrs. Coulter and Boreal bribe their way into asking it a question. Too bad they’ll have to wait weeks for the Magisterium to consult the books and interpret the answers to their questions.

Lyra’s ability with the alethiometer alone is not the only tool she has. Lyra is such a badass in this episode. She has a gift for understanding people and what they want. An ability that I will point out, she shares with her mother. Lyra choses it to use it as a way to gain trust and allies.

 An aeronut and his daemon walk into a bar….

Photo courtesy of HBO

One of these new allies is Lee Scoresby, an aeronaut played by the one and only, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I appreciate that the show, was like, we’ve made you wait long enough and chose to open the episode with Lee and his daemon Lester on their balloon. I will confess that while I am a huge Lin-Manuel Miranda fan I was hesitant about his casting as Lee Scoresby. 

Miranda’s Scoresby, while the stoic character from the page, proves to be a welcome addition to the cast. He brings a more playful, yet chaotic energy that livens up any scene he’s in. Lee is in town looking for Iorek Byrnison, an armored bear to whom he owes a debt.

Lee’s efforts to locate Iorek, are less than successful at first. He’s quick to get into fights and seems to have little patience for the people in town.  He does catch the attention of one Lyra Belacqua, who does not give him the information he seeks, despite knowing where Iorek is.  When Lee does find Iorek, but old friend  doesn’t want his help. He is an armored bear without his armor and would rather just wallow in his shame. 

Armored bear wanted 

Photo courtesy of HBO

Lyra is also interested in Iorek Byrnison, believing him to be key to the success of their mission. Her first attempt to hire him fails. Although she does get to call him a coward and earn my eternal respect. Once she figures out the connection between Lee Scoresby and Iorek, Lyra has a sit down with Lee where she offers him a job, finds out what she needs to do to win Iorek over, and also steals Lee’s delicious bacon.

When visits Iorek a second time, she bargains with the thing he wants most in the world, his armour.  She uses the alethiometer to find where it is, and Iorek storms off to reclaim what is rightfully his. Iorek’s rage is such that he almost kills townspeople in revenge. Lyra and Lee are able to talk some sense into him and stop him. Lee and Iorek are now officially Team Lyra and agree to join their mission (for a price).  This is a total surprise to John Faa who basically told her NOT to seek out Iorek and has no idea who Lee is. Don’t worry, Lyra quickly talks him into letting them join. 

Further Musings:

  • Mrs. Coulter has a meeting at the Magisterium where they inform her she’s no longer the head of the Gobblers. Except they forget who they’re dealing with. Mrs. Coulter gets to keep her job, and travel North. Why? Well, she has captured Lord Asriel and that’s one bargaining chip the Magisterium can’t turn down.
  • Mrs. Coulter’s question to the alethiometer: “Who is Lyra Belacqua?”
  • I have not mentioned how much I love the theme. It’s gorgeous.
  • I miss Lord Asriel and his sweaters.
  • Hester got to shine this week, her commentary during Lee’s bar fight was a highlight.  I would like to request more Pan, okay?
  • Lyra, very much her father’s daughter, catches a glimpse of the city in the lights. 

His Dark Materials airs on HBO Monday nights. 





Gabriela Acevedo

Gaby is a TV-obsessed fangirl and writer. Television is her true love, but movies and books aren't far behind. Currently living in Los Angeles, she's originally from Puerto Rico, which is still her favorite place in the world. Find her on twitter @gabsteramy.

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