TV Review: His Dark Materials, Series 2

No spoilers, but the second series of His Dark Materials is a continued absolute triumph

“Your duty is to protect the girl…and the boy”

We may have lost an episode of the second series of His Dark Materials to the pandemic but you really couldn’t tell, its atmospheric and elegiac storytelling feeling like some of the most mature work on screen right now. Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel(s) manages a brilliant balance between faithfulness and invention, an added scene between Mrs Coulter and Lee Scoresby is a sensational addition. And the direction from Leanne Welham and Jamie Childs keeps the show looking amazing.

From Lyra’s enduring guilt over Roger’s demise in the Series 1 finale, to climactic struggles that lead to some truly traumatising conclusions, the odyssey that Lyra and Will take from their Oxfords to Cittàgazze and beyond is nothing short of stunning. Dafne Keen’s Lyra remains as intellectually curious as ever but Amir Wilson’s Will takes the spotlight as he’s forced to reckon with the weight of responsibility forced onto his shoulders. And he is achingly good, a new maturity coming forth episode by episode.

Around them, there’s amazing work from pretty much every angle with nigh-on perfect casting in every role. The righteous anger of Jade Anouka and Ruta Gedmintas’ ethereal witches, Andrew Scott’s enigmatic Jopari pairing well with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Lee on their parallel paths to save a kid, Simone Kirby’s curious Mary Malone always intriguing even in her isolation. And Ruth Wilson continues to delight in the role of a lifetime as Marisa Coulter, dancing around the discovery of who her daughter really is and what that might mean she has to do. Thrilling from start to finish, let’s hope the wait for Series 3 isn’t too prolonged. 

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