Big things for Will (Amir Wilson) in the latest episode of His Dark Materials, “Tower of the Angels.” He accepts a huge responsibility, quickly makes peace with a corresponding loss and is (unbeknownst to him) well on the way to reuniting with his father.
Will and Lyra (Dafne Keen) visit the Tower of the Angels in the Cittàgazze world to retrieve the knife Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) sent them after. It takes a while to get inside, as the door is deliberately difficult to find. When they do, they climb the tower and find an older gentleman, Giacomo Paradisi (Terence Stamp), bound and gagged in a corner. They free him, and he warns that a boy has snuck in and has been keeping him captive. Giacomo is the bearer (protector) of the subtle knife.
As they’re tending to Giacomo, the boy springs on them with the knife in his hand. He and Will fight for it, with Giacomo urging Will to win. During the battle, Will loses two fingers to the insanely sharp blade, but he ultimately prevails.
Once the boy has been defeated, he leaves the Tower. Giacomo then explains that Will has been selected by the knife as its new bearer. He knows this, because he lost the exact same fingers in the fight that won him the role in his youth.
Over an indeterminate amount of time (but not very long), Giacomo schools Will in the ways of the knife. It cuts in two fashions: one side is so sharp that it can cut through any material; the other can cut through the very fabric of the universe and open holes between worlds. Lyra recognizes the material on that side as being very similar to the blade her mother used to sever children from their dæmons. Bonus in this world: it can kill specters. (Which is why that boy broke in – the specters get him as soon as he leaves.)
Apparently, the knife is 300 years old and was created by the Guild in this world. It was intended to do good, but the Guild became greedy and began using it for their own gains. The knife’s arrival brought the specters, and Asriel opening his door in Lyra’s world is what made them multiply and attack all of the adults in the Cittàgazze world.
Giacomo teaches Will how to open a window to another world with the knife, and how to close it by pinching it with his fingers like a Ziploc. He elicits a promise from the boy that he will protect the knife at all costs, which Will gives sincerely. Then he sends the children away so he can accept his fate (of no longer being protected from the specters by the knife) alone.
When Lyra and Will leave Giacomo, Will confirms that his promise was true and that rather than turning this precious artifact over to Boreal, they’ll simply return to his Oxford and steal the alethiometer from him.
As soon as he’s alone, Giacomo swallows poison so that the gathering specters won’t be able to take him alive.
Back in Will’s Oxford, Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby) keeps trying to make contact with dark matter using the things she read in the I Ching book and her Cave computer. She wakes up in her office one day to a colleague bringing her a potential investor who might be able to save their soon-to-be-shuttered project. It’s Lord Boreal, and as soon as he mentions the potential military applications of her research, Mary shows him the door.
When she returns to the Cave next, the dark matter responds to her quickly, this time speaking in a human voice. It confirms for her that it is sentient, shadows, dark matter and dust… and that it is angels. They tell Mary that there are countless billions of them, and that: “From what we are: spirit. From what we do: matter. Matter and spirit are one.” Then they tell her that they’ve intervened in human evolution for vengeance. Chilling!
Messing with Mary’s work isn’t the only shenanigans Boreal gets up to in this episode. He also invites Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) out for a nice dinner so he can tell her that he’s found Lyra in another world… and then he takes her there!
Also leaving Lyra’s world: Witches! Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas) and Ruta Skadi (Jade Anouka) unite to seek revenge on the magisterium for the massacre of their people. They fly to the window Asriel opened and attack the airships guarding it, then fly through to find Asriel and Lyra.
After a lengthy, mosquito-plagued boat ride up the Yenisei River, Lee finally finds Stanislaus Grumman, a.k.a. Colonel John Parry, currently going by “Jopari” (Andrew Scott). Jopari invites the aeronaut and his dæmon into his hut for a bacon sandwich and a story.
It turns out that Colonel John Parry left his wife and child on an adventure and accidentally wound up in this world. Since then, he’s studied a number of things in an effort to get home. He’s become a shaman and acquired an osprey dæmon, he can control the wind and he has a charm of Lee’s mother’s that he used to summon Lee. Jopari explains that they need to find the bearer of the subtle knife, completely unaware that his son now wears that mantle, and Lee agrees to take him wherever he needs to go as long as their mission helps keep Lyra safe, equally unaware that she is with the knife bearer.
Lee takes Jopari to a balloon he apparently has hidden in some trees? And Jopari supplies the wind to move them along.
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