His Dark Materials returns for a second season with new worlds, new allies and new adventures for Lyra Silvertongue (Dafne Keen) and Pantalaimon (voice of Kit Connor). “The City of Magpies” gives our hero a first taste of another dimension pits her against one of the best child actors in the prestige TV landscape.
When we last saw Lyra, she was walking into the bridge between worlds her father (James McAvoy) had opened by killing Roger (Lewin Lloyd). We catch up with her as she and Pan make their way through a jungle toward what appears to be an abandoned city.
For a while, they believe themselves to be completely alone, which gives Lyra space to cry out her guilt about Roger. The place looks to have been occupied recently, but they don’t see a single person for at least a day. When they finally encounter someone, it is Will Parry (Amir Wilson), who followed a cat through a hole in the air and wound up there.
Will and Lyra fall into step rather quickly, agreeing that it’s best to stick together. Will knows how to cook a bit, but he doesn’t know what dæmons are. Lyra knows nothing about cooking, and she’s never had to explain a dæmon before, so she does a poor job of both. Will rolls with Pan being a talking animal who is also part of her as easily as they both adapt to being an another dimension.
After a few days alone, they encounter two girls, Paola (Ella Schrey-Yeats) and Angelica (Bella Ramsey, aka Lady Lyanna Mormont! Leaving Bear Island for whatever this His Dark Materials city is!). Angelica is clearly the alpha, and she explains that specters have taken all of the adults, and that Will looks nearly old enough to be prey to them. Lyra has some experience with the supernatural perils of puberty, so when they later encounter a vacant looking adult, she is gentle with him — he may as well be one of the victims of her mother’s dæmon cutting.
Throughout their stay in the empty city, Will keeps the secret of the parcel of letters from his father that he took from his world and Lyra refuses Pan’s pleas to use the alethiometer. Finally she confesses to Pan that although it has told them the truth in what it’s said, it has lied by omission when it didn’t warn her about Roger’s death. She agrees to ask it about Will, and she’s satisfied when it tells her that he’s a killer — but the good kind, like Iorek Byrnison (voice of Joe Tandberg).
As Lyra and Will talk about some of the ways their worlds are the same and different (dæmons, words for electricity and whatnot, etc.), they realize they both come from Oxford and that both of their Oxfords have scholars. Lyra begs Will to take her to his Oxford so she can see if his world’s scholars will be more willing to discuss dust with her than the scholars in her own world. Despite the danger he faces there, he agrees. However, they sense they have something to accomplish in this world before they leave it, and that it involves the temple at the top of the hill that comprises the city’s foundation. It likely also has something to do with the gaggle of wild children Angelica leads, who inspire the episode’s title, “The City of Magpies.”
Good thing Will has his smartphone with him and snaps a pic of the temple. This will definitely be useful later, but how?
Back in Lyra’s world, Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) turns to the witches for help finding and protecting Lyra while Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) shakes things up in the Magisterium and tortures a witch for information about her daughter. Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas) and her followers support Lee, while Ruta Skadi (Jade Anouka) goes on the offensive and kills her witch sister to save her from giving Mrs. Coulter too much information — too late to stop Mrs. Coulter from knowing there’s a prophecy into which Lyra figures, but ostensibly before she gives up the other name Lyra is known by.