In the fifth episode of HBO & the BBC’s His Dark Materials, “The Lost Boy,” one big mystery is solved and (of course) several new ones take its place.
The episode opens with Lyra (Dafne Keen), Pantalaimon (voice of Kit Connor) and the Gyptian crew walking North towards the Gobblers’ Station, watched over by Serafina Pekkala’s (Ruta Gedmintas) dæmon, Kaisa (voice of David Suchet).
In a voiceover, as the band of would-be saviors trudges through gorgeous country, Kaisa explains a bit about The Prophecy, saying:
Witches hear the immortal whispers of those who pass between the worlds. They speak of a child who is destined to bring the end of destiny. If told what she must do, she will fail. But she won’t walk alone. There is a boy whose fate is bound with hers. Together, they will change everything.
The boy is Will Parry (Amir Wilson), teenage son of John Parry, A.K.A. missing explorer Doctor Stanislaus Grumman. One thing the two minors have in common, aside from being bound by prophecy, is that adults allow them to shoulder unreasonable burdens without intervention.
Lyra gets a message from the alethiometer that she needs to detour to a fishing village in a valley near the path of the Gyptian caravan. When she tells Farder Coram (James Cosmo; Jeor Mormont), he dismisses the source in favor of staying on purpose. He attempts to guilt her with the idea of telling Ma Costa (Anne-Marie Duff) that she wants to do anything that might delay getting to Billy.
Since Lyra is immune to normal social cues, she goes straight to Ma Costa to pitch her expedition. Kaisa is in favor of Lyra’s mission, but Ma Costa needs to think it over, ultimately telling Lyra to ask John Faa (Lucian Msamati). They sleep on it.
In the night, Serafina Pekkala flies in to visit Farder Coram, under the mistaken impression that he wanted to see her. They have an awkward/sweet reunion on a bluff-top, with her basically accusing him of fighting harder for these children than he did for their son and him kind of agreeing, but from the perspective that he has been correct both times. She tells him that there really are other worlds in the Dust, that Witches have known that for ages and that Asriel is continuing his research on it while in captivity. She also says he’s bringing war.
In the morning, Lyra asks John Faa to let her go, and he agrees, giving her Iorek Byrnison (Joe Tandberg) as a ride-slash-companion-slash-guard. They gallop away to the fishing village to find the alethiometer’s ghost, and when they get there the place is deserted but well-lit. Lyra follows their mutual instincts towards a shack and inside is Billy Costa (Tyler Howitt), nearly frozen, unresponsive and sans dæmon.
Somehow Lyra gets Billy to ride Iorek behind her, and they race back to the Gyptian camp. Once there, Lyra is excluded from the community’s grief over Billy’s state and Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) encourages her not to take it personally.
Watching him lie vacantly, Ma Costa tells Billy he can go be with his dæmon and he dies. The Gyptians build him a funeral pyre, which Ma Costa lights, and they sing him to his eternal rest with this song:
Your soul never leaves you
God does never leave you
You are God’s son
Your soul never leaves you
You are God’s son…
It’s prettier sung than written.
John Faa and Ma Costa agree that now the Gobblers have shown their capacity for cruelty, and Ma is ready to KILL them.
But the Gyptian camp doesn’t start out immediately on their renewed quest for vengeance and blood. Instead they all go to sleep, and in the night a bunch of Gobblers come in and kill all the guards and steal Lyra, apparently unaware of who she is and only out for prepubescent youths.
They bundle Lyra back to the Station, where she lies about her identity and reason for being North to Sister Clara (Morfydd Clark) and Sister Betty (Kate Rutter). They require her to undress completely while they watch, and then they give her a uni-suit the same as the one Billy Costa was wearing when she found him. Now she knows for sure that she’s at the heart of the horror.
Meanwhile, in our world, Carlo Boreal’s (Ariyon Bakare) flunky has been watching Will Parry and his mom, Elaine (Nina Sosanya). Will is kind of an outcast at school because his mom’s mental illness restricts his movements and makes him a target for bullies. He is also a boxer, but that doesn’t seem to help.
Elaine appears to have OCD and agoraphobia, although nobody names what ails her. She does some compulsive counting and rarely leaves her house. Boreal’s thug has observed that Will comes home at lunch every day to care for her, he cooks for her and he tries to monitor her medication intake.
She does venture out occasionally to go to the shop, and on one such outing she is approached by Carlo, who pretends to be an old acquaintance of her husband’s. She’s so rattled by the encounter that instead of going to the shop she visits Will at boxing practice, embarrassing him in front of his bully and attracting attention (but not intervention) from his coach.
When Elaine tries to tell Will about the man who visited her, he dismisses it as a delusion. Later, when she perceives that the things in her home have been moved almost imperceptibly, he dismisses that as well. Her (valid) paranoia leads to her revealing to Will where she hides a cache of letters from his father under a sewing machine.
At the end of this long day, Will resists the temptation to read the letters and Elaine sees the flunky watching their house and freaks all the way out.