In the fourth episode of HBO & the BBC’s His Dark Materials, “Armour,” Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Pantalaimon (voice of Kit Connor) finally make it to the North, where they pick up some new allies… and new enemies.
The Gyptians have arrived in a Northern port town called Trollesund, a miserable sort of place with no children on the streets at all. Their objective is to connect with the liaison between humans and witches, and to gain the support of the witches in their quest.
At the same time the Gyptians arrive, so does an aëronaut with a reputation for mayhem: Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda). Along with his dæmon, an arctic hare named Hester (voice of Cristela Alonzo), Lee has come to Trollesund seeking an Armored Bear to whom he owes a life debt, Iorek Byrnison (Joe Tandberg).
Both the Gyptians and Lee Scoresby notice that the Magisterium has a more pronounced presence in Trollesund than they might have expected. Magisterium police walk the streets in their uniforms, apparently superior to the local lawman, Sysselman (Harry Melling).
Farder Coram (James Cosmo; Jeor Mormont) takes Lyra to meet the Witch Consul, Dr. Martin Lenselius (Omid Djalili). She pulls out her alethiometer as they walk to his shack, and Farder Coram urges her to hide it when Magisterium police come near. She doesn’t get it out of sight quickly enough to evade all watching eyes, though, and Dr. Lenselius knows of it by the time they’re with him.
Farder Coram wants to send a message to a particular witch, Serafina Pekkala. He believes she will want to aid the Gyptians, and he knows her well because 40 years earlier they were a couple and had (and lost) a son together. Farder Coram makes a point to Lyra that Lenselius will want to know everything and must trust them before he will agree to contact Serafina for them.
Their interview with the Witch Consul is successful. Lyra is completely honest with him about the alethiometer and her ability to read it without having studied the books. He tests this by showing her into a cellar full of sprigs of cloud-pine through which he can summon witches. He asks her to identify Serafina Pekkala’s sprig, and when she does so easily, he agrees to pass their message on and also gives Lyra a little piece of the sprig in case she ever needs to summon the witch herself.
As their conversation comes to an end, Lyra asks him what question they should be asking him that they haven’t, which leads to his recommending that they seek the services of the local Armored Bear because they’ll need muscle when they reach the Gobblers’ well-guarded station.
Lyra and Farder Coram find the bear where Dr. Lenselius says he’ll be, stripped of his armor and hiding in an alley. The story is that Iorek Byrnison became drunk and rampaged through Trollesund, leading to his owing a blood debt to the Magisterium and their taking his armor. He won’t leave without it, or fashion new armor for himself, because the Armored Bears feel as much that their souls are in their armor as humans do their dæmons.
Lyra uses the alethiometer to confirm that Iorek was tricked and manipulated. Someone wanted him indentured to the Magisterium and out of the way in Trollesund. Since she wants his strength on her side, she uses the alethiometer to find his armor and points him in the right direction. As soon as he frees it from its hiding place, he agrees to accompany her and the Gyptians to save the children.
Lee Scoresby, who makes Lyra’s acquaintance while trying to work out how to help his bear friend (and making enemies all over town because he’s an obnoxious pickpocket), also signs on to assist the Gyptians. Lyra arranges for him to bring his balloon to their cause in exchange for a promise of gold from John Faa (Lucian Msamati).
With an Armored Bear, an aëronaut and a message of support delivered by Serafina Pekkala’s dæmon, Lyra and the Gyptians set out on foot towards the Gobblers’ station.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) is pulling strings with the Magisterium. Cardinal Sturrock (Ian Peck) wants to remove her from their “project,” but she convinces him to let her see it through when she reveals that she’s captured Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and has him imprisoned in the North. In exchange for the promise of Asriel, she’s allowed to keep her project and to ask one question of the Magisterium’s official alethiometer reader. The question she asks is, “Who is Lyra Belacqua?”
The alethiometer reader tells her it could take weeks of study before he has an answer. While she waits, she flies away to the North to visit the cave where Asriel is being held prisoner by an Armored Bear called Iofur Raknison (Joi Johannsson). She’s conspired with this bear, getting Iorek out of the way for him in exchange for his capturing Asriel. Now she wants the bear’s further agreement that she can be in charge of the prisoner, promising Iofur that he will be the first Armored Bear ever baptized by the Magisterium.
Back at Magisterium HQ, Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare), knows that Mrs. Coulter has asked a question of the alethiometer and blackmails the reader into giving him an answer as well. He wants to know what the missing explorer, Grumman, discovered– or, better yet, how he can find what Grumman discovered.
Lots of talk in this episode of the prophecy that Lyra may be part of. Adults who know about her and see how she reads the alethiometer tend to look greedy afterwards. No reveal yet on the full prophecy, but it’s likely coming…
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