‘His Dark Materials’ 1×07 Recap: “The Fight To The Death”

battle of the bears! to the death!

His Dark Materials 1×07 “The Fight To The Death”,” Aired Dec. 16, 2019

A desperate Lyra tricks an armored bear and earns herself a new name…

Let’s break down the top moments from this week’s His Dark Materials! 

Lyra the daemon


After her deathly fall from Lee’s balloon, Lyra just kind of gets up and is fine. Her good luck doesn’t last long because she quickly gets imprisoned by the armored bears. So to summarize, Lyra switched one prison for another. 

While in her prison cell Lyra makes the acquaintance of another prisoner, Jotham Santelia, a scholar who fell out of favor with King Iofur. Based on their conversations Lyra is able to put together some important information about Iorek and King Iofur. Iorek is on his way to rescue Lyra, but Iofur hates him so much that he won’t be able to get through the gates without being killed. More importantly, Iofur is obsessed with being human and having a daemon. 

Lyra manages to get an audience with Iofut. When she meets the King, Lyra asks Pan to stay hidden and enacts her very clever plan. She tells Iofur that she’s actually Iorek’s daemon. Mrs. Coulter used their experiments to figure out a way to make humans be daemon’s for bears. Iorek was the first bear to have a daemon, but it should have been Iorek. Lyra further explains that she’s like a witches’ daemon and can be far away from Iorek. She convinces Iofur that she wants to be his daemon, but he needs to beat Iorek in combat in order to win her as his daemon.  

Iorek vs Iofur

Lyra convinces Iofur that she really is what she claims to be by answering a question only a daemon would know. He asks her who was the first person he killed. Lyra uses the alethiometer to confirm that Iofur killed his own father. Having proved her worth Lyra continues to beautifully manipulate Iofur to get her way. 

Lyra meets Iorek and confesses how she tricked Iofur. Lyra worries that her decision will cost Iorek his life, but Iorek is thankful. Iorek wants to fight Iofur and win his crown back, Lyra’s trickery confirms that he’s no bear. The fight between Iorek and Iofur, one of the highlights of the book, is okay in its adaptation. It’s not a bad fight, but some weird choices are made. Neither bear is wearing their armor, which makes it hard to track who is winning. 

Ultimately, despite Iofur having an early lead, Iorek is able to defeat Iorek and win back his rightful place as King. Iorek stresses that Iofur’s weakness was his desire to be human. Iorek is impressed with Lyra’s role and gives her a new name: Lyra Silvertongue. 

Letters wanted 


Boreal has learned about the letters John Parry wrote to his family and has determined he needs to get his hands on these letters ASAP. He first attempts to get them himself. Boreal visits Will’s mother and lets himself into her place. His visit is unsettling, he tells her he’s part of British Intelligence and that John might still be alive. Will’s mom is frightened, but she manages to hold it together long enough to kick Boreal out and to find Will at his school. 

At school, Will calms his mom down, but the news that his father might be alive catches his attention. When they go back to the apartment, it has been broken into. A further attempt by Boreal’s goonies to get the letters. Will believes his mother, but his first priority is to get her to safety. He takes his mother to the home of his boxing teacher and asks him to keep her safe for the moment. 

Will goes back to the house to retrieve the letters. Except Boreal’s goonies also go back to the house. Will manages to get the letters, but not before defending himself and hurting one of the intruders. He rushes back to his mother, but makes a last minute decision to stay away from her, afraid of what his actions might have cost them. 

Magisterium heads North


Bolvanger has been utterly destroyed and Lyra is nowhere to be found, so yeah, Mrs. Coulter is not having a great time. Her frustration is such that she tries to murder one of the zombie-like nurses from Bolvanger, but lets go before she kills her.

Meanwhile, the Magisterium has heard news of he mess that is happening North and decides to head over. Mrs. Coulter is not their favorite person right now, but she uses her knowledge of Asriel as leverage to secure a place to the trip North.  Look, Mrs. Coulter might be evil but I freaking love her and her ability to manipulate just about any situation in her favor. 

Finding Asriel 

Lyra, Roger and Iorek head to Asriel’s laboratory prison so they can return the alethiometer to him and he can aid them in the battle against Mrs. Coulter. Lyra is making a lot of assumptions about what side Asriel will take in this battle, but it’s understanding. Unlike Mrs. Coulter, Lyra has known Asriel her whole life and his shift from uncle to father doesn’t change the basic facts of who she understand him to be. 

When  they arrive at the prison it’s clear that all is not well with Asriel. The moment he sees Lyra, he starts shouting at her, “I did not send for you” and desperately asks to let her leave. It’s not the reunion Lyra envisioned and she’s struggling to understand what is going on. His unhinged demeanor changes the moment he realizes that Lyra is not alone, that she brought Roger with her. He is delighted to see Roger and I can safely say, I don’t have a good feeling about this. 

Further Musings:

  • Lee Scoresby makes a brief appearance. He’s upset because his balloon is broken and also his utter failure as a babysitter since he lost Lyra. Serafina pops in to let him all his friends , including Lyra, are still alive and that he’s still important to the witches and to Lyra’s journey. 
  • I don’t love some of the adaptation choices made in this episode, a lot of the momentum of the story is being used in weird ways, but I’m not going to lie, I’m super excited about the finale next week! 

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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