In the seventh episode of HBO & the BBC’s His Dark Materials, “The Fight to the Death,” Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Pantalaimon (voice of Kit Connor) do a little Bear baiting and finally make it to the true North.
When we last saw Lyra, she was falling from Lee Scoresby’s (Lin-Manuel Miranda) balloon into the mist. Happy news: she is fine. When they awaken on the ground, she and Pan find themselves very near their destination and are discovered by an Armored Bear before they have a chance to seek out her father’s captors.
The Armored Bears put Pan and her in a jail cell, where they soon realize they aren’t alone. Shackled to the wall is Jotham Santelia (Asheq Akhtar), who informs Lyra that her father has already gained the freedom to return to his mountaintop laboratory by manipulating the king of the Bears, Iofur Raknison (voice of Peter Serafinowicz). Jotham has kind of gone mad since Iofur imprisoned him for failing to help the Bear king get a dæmon, and when he expresses this to Lyra, she finds an angle.
She demands to be taken to the king, and when she is, she tells him that she is Iorek Byrnison’s (voice of Joe Tandberg) dæmon, the result of a further part of Mrs. Coulter’s (Ruth Wilson) work that the duplicitous lady hid from Iofur. She convinces the king that if humans have animals as their dæmons, it makes sense that bears would have humans. Furthermore, she convinces him that if he fights Iorek in one-on-one combat and wins, all of his strength and his connection to her will transfer to Iofur.
Thanks to the alethiometer, she knows that Iorek is close. (She also knows that Iofur killed his own father, making him as shameful a Bear as Iorek ever could be.)
When Iorek arrives, Lyra fills him in briefly on the trick she’s played on the king. Her actions mean that Iorek has reached her safely, unimpeded by Bear guards, but she fears that he won’t survive the fight with his usurper. Because Iorek is the true king of the Bears.
Lyra has convinced Iofur to tell all of the other Bears that he invited Iorek and that the winner of the fight to the death will be the ruler of the Bears. The fight takes place in the throne room, and Iofur requires Lyra to stay and watch.
It doesn’t look good for Iorek at first, but he rallies and kills Iofur, reclaiming his throne. He tells Lyra afterwards that by tricking Iofur she had proved that he was no Bear, making it possible for Iorek to win. He also tells her she now has his Bears behind her and that he’ll free Jotham.
Once Iorek is king, he is able to freely leave with Lyra and Pan, taking them to where Roger (Lewin Lloyd) is waiting for them. It turns out that they fell together from the balloon after she did. The alethiometer tells them that Lee has crashed and that he and Hester (voice of Cristela Alonzo) are safe. Without them to worry over, Iorek carries the children to Lord Asriel’s (James McAvoy) laboratory.
When they arrive, Iorek takes charge of the Bear guards Iofur had stationed there to imprison Asriel, and Lyra and Roger knock at the door. They’re welcomed in by Asriel’s assistant, Thorold (Gary Lewis), who takes Roger off to get settled while Lyra finds her father.
The reunion is not a happy one. When Asriel sees Lyra, he goes full “Hamlet when he’s crazy,” yelling that he did not summon her and ordering her to leave. She is reasonably freaked out. When Asriel sees that Roger is also there, though, he calms waaaay down. One can assume that the appearance of Lyra seemed to coincide with some prophecy element, but that Roger’s presence changed things.
Elsewhere, Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas) appears at Lee’s crash site to help him. She returns his lost pistol, gives him the news of the children’s safety and Iorek regaining his throne and tells him that Lyra is someone else’s responsibility now but Lee will have to fight for her. Because FATE.
Still elsewhere, the Magisterium is mustering en masse to depose Mrs. Coulter in the wake of her massive failure and to find and kill the heretical Asriel. Mrs. Coulter talks her way into a ride-along, claiming that her insider knowledge of Asriel will be invaluable to their cause.
And here on our world, Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) makes another pass at getting what he wants from Elaine (Nina Sosanya) by coercion. He pushes his way into her house and pretends to be a government agent. He has intuited from watching the same YouTube interview with Colonel John Parry (Andrew Scott) that Will (Amir Wilson) was watching last week that there must be letters. She is evasive, even after seeing his snake dæmon, which uses the end of his patience.
After their encounter, Elaine runs to Will’s school to tell him what’s happened, and Carlo tells his flunkies to find the letters no matter what they have to do.
In response to her impassioned plea, and acknowledgement of her own unreliable mind, Will promises Elaine that he believes her about the man with the snake, the letters and everything. He escorts her home. The place has clearly been searched– and someone is still there.
Will takes Elaine to his boxing coach, Mr. Hanway (Ray Fearon), and asks him to keep her overnight. He goes back to the house, ostensibly to clean up so that nobody will take him into foster care, and succeeds in retrieving the letters. Before he gets to read them, the flunkies come in to finish their job. Will escapes by punching one over the second floor railing and running out.
Once he’s free, he walks to Coach Hanway’s house and hesitates outside. Then he turns and walks away in the other direction.