” The Daemon-Cages” Review

“The Daemon-Cages” marks a win for the good guys. Lyra has finished the first stage of her journey as the savior of multiple worlds. This episode mostly takes place in The Station.

As the episode begins, Sister Clara leads Lyra into a grey cafeteria room where all the children are having dinner. Lyra spots Billy right away, but she sits down at another table. Pan scurries over to Salcilla (Roger’s daemon) to speak about what they should do. The two daemons agree that their humans should pretend not to know each other–especially since everybody thinks Lyra’s name is “Lizzie.”

Pan returns to Lyra. The daemon tells her that Billy says, “hello.”  He and Salcilla have changed a lot. Whatever happened to them in The Station has changed Billy and Salcilla. Dr. Copper and her nurses Sister Betty and Sister Clara (In the U.K., nurses are called Sisters), enter the cafeteria and take away a girl named Bridget.

Bridget is hesitant to go with Dr. Cooper, but she has little choice. The girl follows her captors into a room with a large metal door. Sister Clara waits outside.  We hear Dr. Cooper issuing commands, then a mechanical noise. Sister Clara stands entirely still and stares at the door.

Dr. Cooper swiftly marches out, locking the door behind her. The doctor snaps her fingers in front of Sister Clara, waking her from her daze. The nurse follows Doctor Cooper.

Later, Sister Clara helps Dr. Rendal take a couple of measurements of “Lizzie” in an X-Ray machine. Lyra peppers the doctor with questions while he operates the X-Ray. The girl asks Dr. Rendal about Dust, but when he starts to get suspicious, she pretends she is talking about the type of dust that makes you dirty. Lyra also asks the doctor about severing children from their daemons. Dr. Rendal awkwardly laughs, saying that they are philosophical scientists, not people who want to hurt children.

An alarm goes off. Sister Clara ushers Lyra to the fire exit. They merge with a group of children who all change into their snowsuits. Lyra and the rest of the children line up as the older nurse Siser Betty calls out their names. They all respond to her. Lyra finds her way next to Roger. She tells Roger that the Gyptians are coming to save them. Lyra explains that the Gobblers are severing the children from their daemons. The prisoners need to find a way to escape.

Lyra, with the help of Roger, starts a snow fight so the two of them can sneak back inside. They find two rooms that reveal more about the fate of the children. The place that looks like a mortuary full of daemons who have been separated from their humans. The drawers are marked with the names of the children who the daemons belonged to. The daemons are quiet and acting bizarrely. Lyra and Roger find an empty drawer marked with Billy Costa’s name.

Lyra breaks Billy’s death to Roger. He is heartbroken. On the way back, the two friends find the room full of the children who survived the severing process. Bridget lives there now. The children all have shaven heads like Billy. They count the alarms that are going off. The children are all lying down or staring at the door with blank expressions.

The alarms cease making it possible for Roger and Lyra to meet up with the group. Somehow the nurses don’t notice that the children are missing.  Dr. Cooper and Dr. Rendal talk in their offices. The doctor discusses that Mrs. Coulter is returning to The Station to see their progress after hearing about Billy Costa’s escape.

Dr. Rendal is worried about how the explorer will respond when she sees all the mistakes they made. Dr. Cooper calms her associate down, explaining that they will need to emphasize all the progress they have made. Dr. Rendal agrees to show Mrs. Coulter the new severing equipment that they built.

Meanwhile, back in our universe, at night, Will Parry watches a Youtube video of an interview that his father John Parry did before he “died.” He puts away his laptop, then sneaks into his mother’s room. Will tucks in his mother, Elaine, into bed.

Outside, the pale man and one other guard watch the apartment. Elaine knows that the place is being guarded, so they don’t need to do anything else right now.

Back in the girl’s dormitory in The Station, their leader, a girl named Annie, announces that she spots Mrs. Coulter landing in the yard. Annie starts ordering all the other girls around.  She tells them how to act in front of Mrs. Coulter, so they don’t get selected. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter marches down the hall.

Lyra begs Annie to hide her from Mrs. Coulter, who, she explains, is her mother.  Lyra doesn’t know how her mother would respond if she recognized her. Annie agrees to help. She directs Lyra to hide underneath the bed, then holds onto it as hard as she can Lyra holds on at the bed floats off the ground.

Mrs. Coulter and her monkey daemon march into the girl’s dormitory. She notices one of the beds is empty. Annie explains that one of the nurses removed Lizzie, and she has not yet returned. Mrs. Coulter accepts Annie’s explanation. She compliments all the girls on their appearances, then leaves.

Lyra lets go of the bed. Mrs. Coulter pokes her head back in, so Lyra scuttles back up. The explorer praises all the girls then finally leaves for good. Lyra drops down to the ground. On the ledge of the snow-covered mountains, the Gyptians, Lee and Iorek, slowly make their way to The Station.

The children are all now back in the cafeteria. Lyra speaks to Annie, the children’s leader, about their escape plan. Annie is hesitant risk leaving but is convinced  to attempt it when Lyra explains that the Gobblers severe children from their daemons. Lyra offers to pull the fire alarm to signal their escape.

The doctors who report on their progress to Mrs. Coulter. Dr. Cooper tells her that fewer children are dying after the procedure. Mrs. Coulter is pleased.  Dr. Rendal explains to her that the children are now more receptive after the process. Mrs. Coulter wants to see a demonstration. The doctors agree.

Dr. Cooper marches into the cafeteria with the other doctor and nurses. Lyra and Annie hold hands. The doctor calls “Lizzie” to come with her. Lyra pulls her fingers away from Annie’s grip then follows the grownups. When the group enters the hallway, Lyra tries to run for safety.

Dr. Rendal picks up Pan, then squeezes his head. Lyra collapses in pain. Dr. Cooper thanks the other doctor who says he did what needed to be done. An orderly picks up Lyra. They carry the daemon and child into the room with a large metal door and a massive machine in the middle of the room. Two circular devices with a sizeable saw-like device hang in between them. Another invention encompasses the machines with a door that lets people in. The door is wide open — the doctor and orderly throw Pan and Lyra into separate devices.

Lyra wakes up just as the door is locked. She yells for the doctors to let her and Pan out.  Dr. Rendal asks Dr. Copper if he should shut the outer door, but Dr. Cooper is now up in the observational room. Lyra says Mrs. Coulter wouldn’t want the surgery done on her. The girls yell for Mrs. Coulter over and over again. Dr. Cooper tells the younger doctor to lock the door so that the device won’t fail.

When Mrs. Coulter enters the observational room, Lyra yells for her. When the explorer realizes her daughter is locked into the machine, she presses the button to stop the device. Dr. Rendal lets Lyra and Pan out of their separate pods. Lyra spots Mrs. Coulter in the observational room.

Minutes later, Lyra is leaning on the wall of the observational room, and Mrs. Coulter gently lifts a glass of chamomile to her lips. Lyra refuses to drink until her mother points out she could drug her other ways.

Mrs. Coulter is surprised that Lyra knew who she was. She explains that she did not raise Lyra because she did not think it would be suitable for either one of them. Also, Lord Asriel had definite ideas on how their daughter should be raised.

Lyra questions her mother about the experiments. Her mother promises she would never hurt her. She explains that they need to do these experiments because of Dust. She explains that daemons are great companions when you are a child, but when you become a teenager, they place dangerous thoughts in your head. They cause you to become sinful, which draws Dust to the human. Dust represents sin in the Magisterium’s minds.

Lyra asks why do all these children need to die or be damaged forever. Mrs. Coulter explains that the few need to be sacrificed for the many. Lyra questions the fate of her friends Roger and Billy. Mrs. Coulter promises they will not be harmed. Lyra reveals that it’s already too late for Billy.

Mrs. Coulter asks about the alethiometer that the Master gave Lyra before she left Jordan College. She claims that the problem is that the Master gave her the golden compass so Lord Asriel could get hold of the device. Mrs. Coulter tells Lyra its time for her to pick a side, either the Magisterium or Lord Asriel and the Gyptians. Lyra calmly says that her mother saved her, not Lord Asriel. She hands Mrs. Coulter; a metal box melded together Which Lyra explains is for keeping the alethiometer safe. Mrs. Coulter turns away to pry apart the box with a knife Lyra escapes from the room. She locks the door, then destroys the passcode panel trapping Mrs. Coulter inside.

Lyra tracks down Roger and instructs him to convince the daemon-less children to leave The Station. While he’s helping the children, she will be creating havoc as a distraction.

Lyra pulls the fire alarm then runs to the room where the Gobblers are keeping her clothes stored. She quickly changes into her regular clothing. Sister Clara enters the changing room and instructs Lyra to go back to the dorms. Lyra realizes that the nurse and her daemon were separated. She asks Sister Clara what her daemon’s name was. The nurse answers Nicholas. She shares how much she loved Nicholas. Sympathetic to Lyra’s plight, she lets her go.

Roger sneaks into the room with the “soulless” children and eventually convinces them to come with him.

Lyra remembers that the doctors spoke about how if the outer door to the surgery room is open, the device will go haywire.  She opens the door and makes her way back to the observation room. She pushes all the buttons until the machine starts to work. The room begins to crumble. Pan yells that they need to get out. Lyra and Pan run out of the room right before a massive explosion.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter and her daemon find a way out of the room through the ceiling ducts. Dr. Cooper instructs Dr. Rendal to track down all the children before she exits the building. Dr. Rendal and some guards track Annie and the other children to a locked door. He orders the children to stay still.

At that moment, Ma Costa and the Gyptians sneak inside. She grabs Dr. Rendal by the throat, then asks him if he remembers Billy.  The doctor says he was only doing what was needed. Ma Costa snaps Dr.Rendal’s neck. She then gathers the children to help them escape.

Some Gobbler guards try to grab Lyra as she runs out of the building. Iorek throws them to the side knocking the guards out. Lyra cries that they need to get the other children out. She runs off with Iorek following her. Mrs. Coulter discovers an opening in the ducts. She jumps into the doctors’ office.

Meanwhile, Lyra navigates past the Gobblers and Gyptians fighting outside. Dr. Cooper orders the guards to keep the children alive and to kill everybody else. Then Serafina flies through the fight killing all the Gobblers with a flick of her wrist. Mrs. Coulter watches from a corner.

When Serafina flies off, Roger comes out with all the daemon-less children. Ma Costa and Lyra hug the children. Mrs. Coulter sneaks away. A bit later, Ma Costa and Lyra speak. Ma Costa tells Lyra that she should go with Lee, but Lyra explains that Gyptians still need her help. Ma Costa says that she has more to do. Lyra nods, remembering that she needs to save her father. The two hug.

Lyra walks up to the hot air balloon where Lee, Iorek, and Roger are waiting for her. The four of them take off in the aircraft. Lyra waves goodbye to all the Gyptians.

Later, when the two children are asleep, Serafina lands onto the hot air balloon. She tells Lee that Lyra is going to save the world and that Lee is in charge of keeping her safe. Lee is disheartened because he was hoping for more money, but instead, Serafina has given him somebody to care for. Still, Lee loves Lyra like a father. Serafina flies off.

Meanwhile, the Gyptians lead all the children home. John Faa tells Ma Costa that he hoped they would bring Billy back. Ma Costa replies that at least they made it harder for the Gobblers to hurt more children. Faa asks her what will they do with the daemon-less children. Ma Costa says bring them back home, of course. John Faa questions if the parents will want them again. Ma Costa thinks they will take any children who are abounded.

Back in the hot air balloon, everybody is sleeping when Hester and Lee wake up. Lyra’s eyes open when Lee takes out his gun. He motions that he is leaving the cabin with the weapon. Lyra nods.

A monkey-like creature hangs off the cabin. Lee doesn’t notice the beast and re-enters the cabin. Roger wakes up. Some creature moves about the cabin causing Iorek growls outside. The bear warns that cliff-ghasts are attacking them. Lee shoots his gun, but in the commotion, one of the cliff-ghasts pulls Lyra out of the hot air balloon.

I loved ” The Daemon-Cages,” but I had some issues with the episode. I was thrilled that Lyra and the Gyptians were able to stop the Gobblers, but I am curious about Will Parry. I was hoping that we would learn more about the Parry family during this episode. The “The Flight of Death” promo implies there will be scenes with Will and Elaine.

The implication from “The Lost Boy” was that a lot of children died from the separation, but in this episode, we only see proof that one child died. Was Nurse Clara the only person to survive the daemon separation procedure back when she was a child? Are there more “soulless people”? 

One of my favorite scenes of this episode of His Dark Materials is when Lyra and Mrs. Coulter scream on either side of the door after Lyra has trapped her mother. I thought that brilliantly demonstrated that Lyra and Mrs. Coulter are “two sides of the same coin.” The scene of Mrs. Coulter climbing through the ceiling ducts is another stand out sequence that reminds me of Lyra climbing through the air ducts of her mother’s apartment. Like the mother, like daughter, I guess.

Anyways, I cannot wait for the last two episodes! Thank you for reading.

Published by Paloma Bennett

I have a Master of Arts in Cinema Critical Studies from San Fransisco State University. I am a Lesbian Feminist Pop-Culture Geek from California who loves film, television, book, comic books and podcasts. I work a the Paley Center at the moment, but I am interested in becoming a professional television and film reviewer.

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