‘His Dark Materials’ 1×06 Recap: “The Daemon-Cages”

Lyra leads a prison break

His Dark Materials 1×06 “The Daemon-Cages”,” Aired Dec. 9, 2019

In His Dark Materials 1×06 the action is mostly confined to the walls of Bolvangar. Lyra gets a lot to do as she reunites with Roger, starts a rebellion and finally gets to confront her mother with the truth.

Let’s break down the top moments! 

Team Chaos

At Bolvangar Lyra is quickly reunited with her best friend Roger, but they have the sense to pretend they don’t know each other. Their daemons are super excited to see each, which was a little detail I appreciated and wish we could see more of. 

When Lyra and Roger finally get a chance to catch up reunite Roger advises Lyra against sticking out. Lyra immediately disregards this advice and starts a snow fight among the children as a distraction. As Lyra explores Bolvangar looking for a way out, it doesn’t take Roger very long to follow after her. 

Together they confirm what we learned last week when Lyra found Billy Costa. Children are being severed from their daemons. Lyra and Roger spread the news to the other children at Bolvangar, hoping to rally them into escaping from their icy prison. 

While the Roger and Lyra reunion was great and I was glad to see these two reunite and work together, the other parts of this story were less successful. As horrible as it was to see the severed daemons in their cages, I felt like the show hadn’t done all the work to sell these emotional moments. I can’t help but continue to feel that the importance of the daemon and human relationship has not been translated as well as it should be. 


A high point of the episode was the return of everyone’s favorite evil mother, Mrs. Coulter! Mrs. Coulter arrives at Bolvangar and while her being there means bad news for the children and their daemons, I am so happy to see her! Ruth Wilson continues to make Mrs. Coulter one of the most fascinating characters to watch on His Dark Materials

Mother and daughter are reunited in a very dramatic manner.  Lyra is the child chosen for demonstration on how the intercision machine works. Lyra screams and pleads, but it’s her shouting the word, “mother!” that finally alerts Mrs Coulter to what is happening and she saves Lyra. 

It’s the first time Lyra has seen Mrs. Coulter since finding out she is her mother. Mrs. Coulter tries to offer Lyra tea and comforting words, but Lyra will not be deceived by her anymore. Lyra plays along, confronting her mother with all that she’s learned.

Mrs. Coulter is the most open and perhaps even vulnerable we’ve ever seen her. It’s her first chance to have an honest conversation with Lyra, and she’s as honest as someone as messed up as Mrs. Coulter can be. We learn more about the experiments and Dust. It’s clear that Mrs. Coulter’s past affair with Asriel and its consequences is something she is still reeling with, and these experiments are related to that. It’s Dust that’s to blame for her actions, never her own actions. Lyra basically calls her mother a hypocrite for saving her earlier when she’s let others, including Lyra’s friends die without remorse. 

A daring rescue 

In the end, Lyra tricks her mother and destroys the machine. Just in time for the gyptians, Lee and Iorek to arrives and storm the prison. The action scenes had some very cool moments, although I could always use more Iorek. Serafina got to swoop in and kill some people really fast or something? 

All the children, including those who were severed from the daemons are freed by the gyptians. And yet, this isn’t the end of Lyra’s journey. Lyra, Roger, Iorek and Lee head off in Lee’s balloon to rescue Lord Asriel. Lee seems to quickly accept his new role as surrogate father, but then he manages to drop Lyra from his balloon, so maybe he should have thought this through a bit more….

Further Musings:

  • WHERE ARE ALL MY DAEMONS AT? His Dark Materials has a direwolf problem. For presumably budget reasons, the daemons we see are very few and far between. While I am sympathetic to budget constraints, it is honestly detrimental to the story they are trying to tell! The daemon/human connection is essential to the world we’re watching and it’s  distracting how little of the daemons we see.  Cafeteria scene…where are the daemons? Battle scene…where are the daemons? Do they talk to each other? Mrs. Coulter saying terrible things about daemons….WHERE WAS PAN? 
  • WILL PARRY SIGHTING: Will was briefly in the episode, he watched old video clips of his father, John Parry. Safe to say, Will’s curiosity about his missing father is growing. As always, looking forward to more Will Parry. 

Tune in next week when I am sure, Lyra will somehow survive falling off a balloon! 

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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