After crossing into Will's world, Lyra searches for the meaning of Dust while he finds trouble in an unlikely place.

By Lauren Morgan
November 23, 2020 at 09:51 PM EST
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Credit: Simon Ridgway/HBO

At the end of the last episode, it looked like the Specters were about to attack Will but as we start the next episode, that cliffhanger gets dropped completely as a perfectly fine Will advises Lyra on how to blend in when they get to his world. Though they argue about what she should wear, it’s more important that she hides Pan who protests this idea when he gets shoved in a smelly backpack. 

As Will shows Lyra the window he climbed through, she rushes through it and promptly gets hit by a car. Thankfully, it’s just a minor knee scrape and she shakes it off. Not so fortunate though is the fact that Lord Boreal (the fascinating Ariyon Bakare) spies them right after they enter Will’s world and recognizes them both. 

As they hurry through Oxford, Lyra is a bit stunned by how different it is from her own world. Grateful to see some familiar buildings, she runs off to find this world’s Jordan College but is crushed to find a construction site in its place. Will consoles her as he cleans up her knee and as she inquires about the cell phone that he carries, she tries to tell him about the alethiometer. Unfortunately, she mentions first that it told her he’s a murderer and the conversation abruptly ends before it can go any further. 

Will takes off to check on his mom and Lyra is left on her own to explore Oxford. He tells her to stay out of trouble but she winds up walking right into it while visiting a museum and consulting the alethiometer when she thinks it's safe. The device tells her where to look for the scholar who can tell her about Dust but it also tells her that she needs to help Will find his father. But before she can get very far, she comes upon Lord Boreal, who introduces himself as Charles Latrom. Now in the book, it was a surprise when Latrom turned out to be Boreal but since they are obviously played by the same actor, we lose that shock but trade it for an increase in tension since we know outright it’s him.

Credit: Simon Ridgway/HBO

Lyra, for her part, senses he’s up to no good and quickly takes her leave of him after receiving his business card. She finds her way to the office of Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby), a scientist who is part of the financially struggling Dark Matter Research Unit. Unfortunately, Malone has no idea what Dust is and is a little alarmed when Lyra mentions being from another world. But when Lyra rambles on saying if she doesn’t find out about it, Roger’s death will be for nothing, the doctor takes pity and tells the distraught girl about the particles she studies. 

Malone explains that she studies dark matter, which is the matter in between all the known bits of the universe. More specifically, she’s focused on shadow particles and built a machine to detect this material by testing various objects. Her computer, called the Cave, filters and amplifies the information she receives and Malone discovered that the particles responded differently when the objects she tested were man-made. The shadow particles were conscious and as the doctor explains that you can’t see them unless you put your mind in a certain state, a lightbulb goes off above Lyra’s head. The shadow particles are Dust!

In a moment of great trust, Lyra shows Malone the alethiometer and demonstrates how it is used by finding out that Malone was once a nun. The doctor is stunned and scoffs when Lyra tells her Dust is original sin and that the Magisterium in her world wants to destroy it. But she agrees to show Lyra the Cave. 

Credit: Simon Ridgway/HBO

When Malone attaches Lyra to the machine, she’s stunned by the reaction: Lyra gets the biggest display she’s ever seen. Lyra communicates with it as she does the alethiometer and it starts talking in the alethiometer’s language, showing symbols on the computer screen. It’s telling Lyra that Malone has something important to do but she has to make the connection herself using the I-Ching box she has and that she’ll need it where she is going. Before Malone can ask her much else, Lyra has to rush off to meet Will but promises to return the next day.  

During this time, Will has visited his father’s solicitor to inquire about getting the money from the trust and finds out that not only are his paternal grandparents the other trustees, but they actually live in Oxford. Will never knew them since there was a falling out between his mother and his grandparents after his father disappeared. His grandmother (Jane How) seems overjoyed to see him but as soon as he asks about the trust, his grandfather (Brian Protheroe) thinks his mother put him up to it and calls the Pale Faced Man (Jamie Wilkes), the police officer Boreal had in his employ last season, to let him know Will is there as he predicted. Will soon realizes he’s in danger and takes off before he can be caught.

Feeling betrayed by those that should have protected him, he’s in no mood to hear about Lyra’s discovery with Dr. Malone. As he heads back toward Cittágazze, she chases after him and gets him to stop when she says she’s supposed to help him find his father. He doesn’t believe her until she shows him the alethiometer and proves that it tells her the truth. Will confesses the circumstances behind the murder of the man in his house and asks Lyra to check on his mother. She tells him that while his mother is worried about him, she’s safe and confirms that his dad is alive. Both have been burned before but they realize they can trust each other. Will is heartbroken by the thought of having to leave his mother, but Lyra tells him he has something to do in Cittágazze and maybe his father does too. 

Credit: Simon Ridgway/HBO

Back in Lyra’s world, Ruta Skadi and Serafina Pekkala are fighting over Ruta’s attack on the head of the Magisterium. Serafina had to send Dr. Lanselius as a peace envoy to clean up the mess (he gets thrown in jail for heresy instead) and urges Ruta to focus on Lyra and the prophecy. Ruta argues that what she did protected Lyra but that they must unite the witch clans and continue to fight the Magisterium. The scenes with the witches remain a weak point for the show since their self-seriousness makes it hard to focus on any information about Lyra and the prophecy that they might reveal. 

Also not lacking in self-seriousness is the Magisterium, where Ruta’s attack has caused an uproar after Cardinal Sturrock succumbs to his injuries (with some help by Mrs. Coulter). Father MacPhail is acting cardinal but he’s being challenged for power and Coulter urges him to declare war on the witches to secure his grip. MacPhail signs the order to attack. Showing just how screwed up the man is, he physically punishes himself for this sin by holding his hand too close to a candle’s flame as his daemon urges him on. 

After being told by Boreal that Lord Asreal’s manservant, Thorold (Gary Lewis), is in captivity, Mrs. Coulter visits him looking for information on Lyra. She’s shocked to find out that Lyra was at Asriel’s lab and that he intended to sever her from Pan to make the portal until he discovered Roger was with her. Thorold tells her that Lyra tried to save Roger by following her father up the mountain and Coulter finally realizes that Lyra went into the other world. 

As Magisterium bombs drop on the lake country of the witches, Father MacPhail is elected the new cardinal in a unanimous vote. He thanks Coulter but she informs him that she’s leaving since she’s tired of all the Magisterium games now that she knows there are so many other worlds out there. He asks her if she’s going to find Asriel and she laughs. She’s after something far more valuable than that.   

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