‘His Dark Materials’ season 2 premiere recap: “The City of Magpies”

When worlds collide

Welcome to season 2 of His Dark Materials! The season premiere sets up the next part of Lyra’s journey as she continues to try to make sense of Dust and travels to new worlds. Most importantly, Lyra and Will meet! Lyra and Will are the highlight of the episode and I’m giddy to follow their story.

Let’s break it down and see what went down during the season 2 premiere! 


Lyra and Pan have crossed over into a new world. They find the city in the sky from Asriel’s photo and go investigate. It’s immediately clear to Pan and Lyra that something isn’t right in the city as it’s abandoned. They wonder if Asriel is to blame, he did just murder Roger so I don’t blame them for being suspicious.

Lyra and Pan  go into a cafe in search of food and instead find their new traveling companion, Will Parry! As far as first impressions go, it’s not great. Lyra attacks him, then he tries to touch Pan. As soon as she realizes he has no daemon, Lyra’s out of there. A decision Pan disagrees with, he thinks Will looks kind. Pan seems real forgiving of a guy who just tried to touch him, but I agree with Pan so I’ll allow it. 

Having already spent days by himself, Will follows them and apologizes. They compare stories and realize they come from different worlds. His doesn’t have daemons. Will pitches teaming up, but it’s really after he makes her breakfast that Lyra is convinced and moves in. Will seems like a great roommate, he even fixes the shower (or as he describes it to a bewildered Lyra “stand up bath”).


Lyra and Will eventually do find and chase two children through town and get some answers. Paola and Angelica tell them the town has been overrun by Spectres. Ghost-like creatures that suck your soul as soon as you hit puberty. They warn Will they could come for him at anytime. 

“Your world is like my world with all the words mixed up”

Lyra and Will’s conversations about their worlds leads to them discovering that they are both from Oxford. Lyra wants to go to Will’s Oxford to ask her questions about Dust. Despite some questions about his own safety if he travels back to Oxford, he agrees to take her. 

Before they do Lyra decides to finally use the alethiometer. She spends the whole episode refusing to use it, blaming it for Roger’s death. Lyra has many questions she wants to ask, but she can’t trust it. Pan disagrees with her and by the end of the episode she relents and asks about Will. The alethiometer tells Lyra he’s a murderer, but don’t fret too much, it assures her Will is the good kind of murderer, like Iorek. 


Mrs. Coulter continues to do what she’s good at, manipulate and destroy! Good for her? The Magisterium is not happy about Lord Asriel messing thing for them and proving the existence of other worlds. They’re trying to figure out how to proceed and who to blame. Their one lead is that they’ve managed to capture a witch.

They’re also suspicious of Mrs. Coulter, but she calls them all failures and bullies them into letting her question the witch. It goes without saying that by question, I mean torture. Mrs. Coulter is after information about Lyra. Katja, that’s our captured witch, tell her she can’t stop the prophecy about Lyra. Katja refuses to say anything else and calls for her death.

Ruta Skadi, one of the witch queen, delivers her death and attacks the Magisterium. She attacks the Cardinal on her way out, but doesn’t kill him. The Cardinal is not long for this world as Mrs. Coulter offers to kill him for Father MacPhail as long as he allows her to do whatever she wants. Looks like there’s about to be a shift of power within the Magisterium. 

Further musings: 

  • Lee Scoresby is also around this episode, but honestly doesn’t do much. He talks to the witches and announces that he’s searching for Stanislaus Grumman who he believes has something that can protect Lyra. 
  • Here’s hoping less daemons means they can invest in making the ones they have really shine. I did quite enjoy the disagreements between Lyra and Pan and the brief glimpse of the the witches daemon’s fighting.
  • Will has an iPhone!

His Dark Materials airs on HBO Monday nights and is available to stream on HBO Max. 


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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