Everyone is looking for Lyra (Dafne Keen) in the third episode of His Dark Materials‘ second season, “Theft.” But only one adult in any of the worlds she now knows has found her, and somehow his interest in her seems to differ from everyone else’s.
Defying Pantalaimon (voice of Kit Connor) and common sense, Lyra leaves the crossroads world where she and Will (Amir Wilson) continue to hide out so she can return to his Oxford to see the scholar as promised. Unfortunately, when she arrives at Dr. Mary Malone’s (Simone Kirby) office, she’s greeted by Lord Boreal’s (Ariyon Bakare) police officer thug, who triggers her flight response when he asks about Will.
Lyra, with an assist from Mary, bolts. She asks Pan to help her, and he turns into a magpie and flies above her to lead her away from the police officer. When she emerges onto a road, thinking she may have given him the slip, Lord Boreal pulls up in his car and offers her a lift. The police officer catches her up just then, so she agrees with trepidation.
After a few blocks, and as soon as she’s sure she’s evaded her pursuer, she begs to be let out. When Boreal complies, she leaps out of the vehicle and begins hurrying away — without her bag. Boreal leans out the car window to call her attention to the oversight, and she rushes back to grab it.
As soon as the phony helper has driven off, she notices something important is missing from her bag — the alethiometer.
Lyra retreats to the little park next to the window between worlds to cry about her stupidity and the loss of her most valuable possession, and that’s where Will finds her.
He’s spent the day looking for her in the Cittàgazze world, the crossroads world. He initially missed her note explaining where she’d gone, so he wandered the streets looking for her. As he searched, he encountered Angelica (Bella Ramsey), who was looking at the Torre degli Angeli (Tower of the Angels), where a person seemed to be moving about inside. She talked to Will about his being on the cusp of manhood again, worrying him about the threat of the Spectres.
After this encounter with the mistress of Bear Island, Will found Lyra’s note and followed her to Oxford.
Once he hears what’s happened to the alethiometer, Will asks if Lyra knows how they can find the culprit of the theft. Pan reminds her that he gave her his card when she first met him at the university, and it has his home address on it. Will decides they should wait until dark to go there, since the police are now looking for both of them.
As soon as it’s dark, the children make their way to Boreal’s home in Will’s world. He lets them in, and Will carefully asks about the thing Lyra left in his car. Boreal produces the alethiometer, but he claims ownership of it. Lyra lunges at him over the theft, but Will holds her back. Boreal calls them by their correct names and accuses Lyra of not being as astute as her mother, which reminds her that she’s met him before at the party her mother threw in her London.
Boreal tells the children that he’ll trade the alethiometer, which Lyra rightly points out that he can’t even use, for a knife someone has hidden in the Cittàgazze world. Will pieces together that the person he saw in the Torre degli Angeli must have this knife, and the children agree to the trade.
Meanwhile, Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Hester (voice of Cristela Alonzo) make a disastrous stop in search of Doctor Stanislaus Grumman. They arrive in a town they didn’t aim to visit, and Lee asks about Grumman at the hotel bar. He’s advised to look at the observatory, but he meets a devotee of the Magisterium there, who opens fire on Lee. Lee returns fire and kills the man, which (combined with his outsider status) lands him in jail.
Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), pursuing Lyra, is forced to land in this same town due to inclement weather. She’s annoyed at first, but when she learns that an aeronaut outsider has just been arrested, she visits Lee and tries to get Lyra’s whereabouts out of him with force.
Lee, who has already been beaten to a pulp, explains that his abusive childhood has made him incredibly tolerant of pain. He invites Mrs. Coulter to do her worst, assuring her that nothing she can inflict on him will break him. He believes Lyra’s life to be 10 times more valuable than his own.
During their encounter, Lee intuits that Mrs. Coulter’s childhood was like his. This insight into her character rattles her, but it also convinces her that she won’t be able to crack Lee, because force wouldn’t work on her either.
Mrs. Coulter departs in distress. It’s likely that nobody has ever seen her so clearly before. Lee knows that she’s Lyra’s mother, and that she loves Lyra, and that that love isn’t enough to guarantee Lyra’s safety with her. She decides to free Lee so he can find her daughter, trusting him now to be a staunch ally for the girl. When she surprises him with the keys to his shackles, she tells him that there’s a prophecy concerning Lyra and that he needs to protect her at all costs and trust no-one.
Lee and Hester sneak out of town by boat, determined to find Grumman, following the best lead they have. It came from the man Lee shot- that Grumman was last seen traveling up the Yenisei River.
Elsewhere, Kaisa (voice of David Suchet) asks Iorek Byrnison (voice of Joe Tandberg) where Lyra is on behalf of Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas). He tells the Bear King about the Magisterium’s assault on the Witches, for which they’ll seek their own justice, and warns of the danger posed to the girl by the prophecy. Iorek tells the bird, and thereby the Witches, that Lyra followed her father through the door he opened between the worlds.
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