His Dark Materials Episode Eight, Betrayal Review: Worst. Parents. Ever.

4 stars
Before coming into the final episode of the first season of His Dark Materials, “Betrayal”, I read a YouTube comment that went something along the lines of “poor Roger.”
After reading this, it was pretty apparent that my suspicions from the cliffhanger of the previous episode, that Asriel wanted Roger for a very dark reason, would turn out to be true.
And, all I can think after watching the Jamie Childs directed finale, “Betrayal”, is that Lyra has the worst parents ever.
Seriously, I have no idea why I thought Asriel would turn out to be a good person when he is in love with Coulter; you know, the woman willing to sacrifice children to get what she wants.
It only makes sense that Asriel has the same ruthlessness to achieve his goal, which turns out to be the case when he murders Roger in order to open a bridge to the multiverse.
James McAvoy does a fantastic job as Asriel in this scene as he tries to justify his actions to Roger while he is about to murder him.

Betrayal.png
Roger says that Asriel looked at him like a hungry wolf and that was definitely the case.

Both he and Coulter are fascinating in their ruthlessness and hypocrisy, willing to kill many children to achieve their goals while remaining adamant that nothing must happen to Lyra.
It is this hypocrisy that leads Coulter to refuse to follow Asriel into the multiverse because she wants to find their daughter.
This makes it ironic that Lyra follows Asriel into the multiverse immediately afterwards to stop him, separating her again from Coulter.
Honestly, Asriel leaving Lyra at Jordan College was the only good thing he ever did for her.
As well as the fascinating aspects of Asriel and Coulter’s characters, another interesting feature is the explanation of why the Magisterium fears Dust, believing it to be the cause of human sin.
Asriel wants to escape from the grip of the Magisterium, which is why he sacrifices Roger so cruelly.
Before this, we did get more scenes of Roger and Lyra bonding to make his death all the more tragic because we can see how good of a friend he was.
The scene of Roger’s demise is expertly handled with the acting from both Dafne Keen and Llewin Loyd, and the sound design, giving it an extra emotional punch.

tragedy.jpg
The tragedy of Roger’s death is sold by the great shots and editing as well.

As for Will, his role is almost as important with his entry into Lyra’s dimension being built up right up until the two enter the bridges at the end of the episode.
This was a nice case of editing for the end of “Betrayal” and opens up some interesting directions for the second season to go with both characters exploring the other’s universes.
The two are definitely linked.

into the multiverse.jpg
Both Lyra and Will entering the multiverse at the end of the episode sets up their journeys in season two.

Now, for the issues I had with the episode, which is mainly down to a few things that did not make much sense, like when the armoured bears showed up out of nowhere to help Lyra and Iorek.
I’m pretty sure they did not come with them in the previous episode so when did they get there?
Also, Roger definitely distrusts Asriel so it does not make sense for him to follow the man so willingly.
Then there is the lack of Lee and Serafina because it felt like they were set up to return and help Lyra this episode but they were nowhere in sight.
Overall, though, “Betrayal” is a fitting finale for the season that ends a lot of character arcs in a satisfying, yet tragic, way.
I am certainly looking forward to the second season.

 

 

His Dark Materials Episode Seven Review, The Fight to the Death… That We Don’t See The End Of.

3 and a half stars
I was looking forward to the seventh episode of His Dark Materials, “The Fight to the Death” because it would adapt a scene I have fond memories of watching as a kid, the fight between Iorek Byrnison and Iofur Raknison.
This was a moment I really enjoyed when watching in The Golden Compass, the first adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.
However, I felt that this scene left quite a bit to be desired this time around.
Sure, the CGI is fantastic as always but, compared to the weight and magnitude of the fight in the first adaptation I just was not feeling it.
This may be because the final part of the fight is off screen as opposed to the raw end of it from the movie.

iorek-vs-iofur.jpg
The Iorek vs Iofur fight was a disappointment compared to the movie, and even the books where I hear it is much more gruesome.

Unfortunately, this is not the only area where the episode falters.
Directed by Jamie Childs, “The Fight to the Death” has quite a few other issues, starting with the beginning when Lyra awakens after falling out of Lee’s airship at the end of the fantastic “The Daemon Cages” episode.
There is absolutely no explanation for how she, or any of the other characters who are revealed to have also fallen out of the airship, survived the fall.
They should at least have some broken bones but they are walking around like nothing happened.
It makes no sense.
Speaking of things that make no sense, did anyone else find it a bit forced how Mrs Coulter just manipulated Father MacPhail to let her tag along to kill Asriel?
He was the person most against bringing her but then he just suddenly decides to allow her to come after a quick talking to?
On the plus side, though, we did get another good look at the crazy side of Mrs Coulter at the beginning of the episode when she almost strangles the assistant from the previous episode who was revealed to have had her daemon removed.

crazy crazy coulter.jpg
Crazy Mrs Coulter is best Mrs Coulter.

And, even if I did not buy Coulter manipulating Father MacPhail, I did buy Lyra manipulating Iofur.
In fact, I would say this is an improvement on the Golden Compass movie.
In that film, Lyra uses the alethiometer right in front of Iofur to find out that he killed his father.
But, given that Iofur works with the Magisterium, he should know what an alethiometer is so he should have realised this was a trick.
In this episode, however, the scene is changed because Lyra uses the alethiometer out of Iofur’s view, making her manipulation of him much more believable.
This manipulation earns her the name Lyra Silver Tongue when Iorek wins.
Along with Lyra’s growth, we also get plenty from Will this episode as he accidentally kills one of Boreal’s men in self defense when they breaks into his house.
I do feel that the way this scene was shot is a little off but I am still interested to see where this takes Will because he could potentially learn the truth about the alternate universe when he reads his father’s letters, which he retrieved.
Then there is Lee Scoresby, who is as likeable as ever, as he teams up with Serafina Pekkala to go and help Lyra.
And it looks like she and Roger will need all the help they can get because there is a new threat from an unexpected source… Lyra’s own father Asriel.

Asriel evil.jpg
Asriel just got a whole lot creepier after this episode.

As soon as Lyra shows up to rescue him he panics, shouting he did not send for her.
But then, when he sees Roger, his demeanor completely changes, with him being happy to see him.
Whatever Asriel is planning, he clearly needs a child for it to work and this does not look good for Roger.
I guess it makes sense now why Coulter and Asriel got together because they both appear to be willing to sacrifice innocent children to achieve their goals.
This finished off the episode with an intense cliffhanger to lead into the finale.
I just hope it can pick up in quality from this one.
Although far from bad, I found “The Fight to the Death” to be disappointing in terms of how certain scenes were adapted and how some things did not make sense.
Still, it was an enjoyable episode, nonetheless.