After the intense cliffhanger of “The Lost Boy,” His Dark Materials delivers the best episode so far with its sixth one, “The Daemon Cages.”
Directed by Euros Lyn, the story picks up with Lyra and Pan trapped in Bolvanger, where the Gobblers are experimenting on children by separating them from their daemons.
And, before I get into how well done this episode is, I would like to address an issue I have heard people voice about the daemons, or rather the lack of them, in the episode.
The budget of His Dark Materials has forced the animators to limit the amount of daemons on screen, which means the close bond between them and their human is not as well captured as in the novel.
I have heard many say that this makes for a much less impactful storyline because the threat of the children losing their daemons is diminished because we do not see much of them.
Now, while I can see why this would be a problem for many, personally, this did not really affect me because I still felt fearful for these kids losing their daemons.
This comes down to two things.
One, the death of Billy Costa in the last episode raises the stakes.
And two, even though there are not many daemons on screen, I still felt the connection because of how the bonds between the daemons and the children are portrayed whether they have been separated or not.
There is the nurse who is revealed to have been separated from her Daemon Nicholas and has been brainwashed into working with the Gobblers in a hard hitting scene.
Then there is Lyra and Pan whose bond is best shown when Pan is grabbed by one of the Gobblers as Lyra tries to escape, causing her to fall to the floor in pain.
Speaking of Lyra, Dafne Keen is fantastic in this episode.
I could feel the fear of her being captured by Mrs Coulter when she came to inspect the children’s room, her desperation to not to be separated from Pan, and her encounter with Mrs Coulter, which is the best part of “The Daemon Cages.”
She does an amazing job acting alongside Ruth Wilson, especially with her vicious comeback to Coulter of “Billy Costa is dead.”
As for Wilson, she is just as great with her performance again being representative of her monkey, both in her posture and manipulative nature.
But Lyra is more like her mother than Coulter realizes because she is successfully able to manipulate her into opening the case with the spy fly, giving her an opportunity to escape.
From here the episode divulges into absolute chaos as the Gyptians finally arrive to save the children with Lee, Iorek and Seraphina in tow.
Honestly, though, Seraphina did most of the work because she is basically a one woman army, killing multiple Gobblers before anyone else can react.
As for the Gobblers, I liked how the episode focused some of its time on their motivations, even though they all died by the end of the episode, with the exception of Mrs Coulter.
They may still be terrible people but I am glad they did not come across as evil for the sake of evil, like some members of the Magisterium have in previous episodes.
With the Gobblers now dead and the children rescued, Lyra, Roger, Iorek, and Lee set out in the airship with the hopes of rescuing Lord Asriel.
Seraphina then shows up briefly to tell Lee he has to protect Lyra… only for him to immediately lose her when they are attacked by monsters known as cliff-ghasts.
In any case, this moment felt like a horror movie with the suspense and tension in the scene leaving me shaking slightly, especially with the cliffhanger of Lyra falling out of the airship.
I have no idea how she will survive the fall but next episode we are getting the fight between Iorek and Iofur, which is the moment I remember most from the movie.
It will definitely be interesting to see how that is adapted.