“The Fight to the Death” Review

I enjoyed His Dark Materials Season One Episode Seven ” The Fight to the Death,” especially since it was a nice break from last week’s action-packed episode. I will miss the Gyptians since their part in Lyra’s journey seems to be over at least for this season. We only have one more episode & the promo doesn’t contain Ma Costa, John Faa, or Fader Coram. But I’m sure we will see more of them in the second season. My favorite part of this episode was Lyra’s conversation with King Iofur, which I will discuss later. Let me first start with a recap.

Mrs. Coulter almost strangles Sister Clara because of her anger over the Gyptians and Lyra destroying The Station.

Meanwhile, Lyra Belacqua gets captured by King Iofur Rankinson’s armored bears. She is locked in a prison with a scholar named Jotham Santelia. Santelia tells Lyra that her father, Lord Asriel, was locked in the jail with him, but was able to convince Iofur Ranknison to let him have his lab. Lord Asriel is now in a different location, continuing to figure out the mysteries of Dust. Lyra says that her friend Iorek Brynison is coming to rescue her. The scholar laughs. Santelia says that King Iofur will kill Iorek before he can enter the palace. He gives her one good piece of information that King Iofur wants to be a human being more than anything else.

Lord Boreal watches a video about John Parry in his car back in our universe.

Back in the armored bear palace, Lyra tricks King Iofur into thinking she is Iorek’s human daemon. She hides Pan from sight. Lyra uses the alethiometer to prove that she is a daemon by figuring out Iofur killed his father. Only daemons would usually be able to figure out that information. She tells him that Mrs. Coulter and the Gobblers created human daemons for bears. The Gobblers chose Iorek to be the first bear to have a daemon. Lyra promises that if the King kills Iorek, she will become his daemon. Iofur now plans to allow his foe into the palace. Iorek won’t be executed at the gates.

In our world, Lord Boreal pretends to be MI5 or MI6 to get Elaine Parry to give him John’s letters. He thinks the notes may contain information about how John Parry crossed universes. Elain Parry refuses to give Lord Boreal any info.  The lord threatens to take Will into care, but she won’t cave. Elaine freaks out when she spots Lord Boreal’s snake daemon, but he pretends she imagined the snake. Lord Boreal leaves but promises to return with some paperwork that will allow him to search the apartment legally.

Lord Boreal goes back to the car. Pale-faced man and Thomas are waiting for him. Lord Boreal orders the men to do whatever they need to do to get those letters.

Lyra meets Iorek at the entrance to the palace. She reveals that she was only able to get Iorek safely inside by tricking Iorek. Lyra apologizes to Iorek since he needs to fight Iofur to death. The armored bear laughs, saying Lyra did the right thing.

The two royal armored bears fight in front of their troops. Iofur lets Iorek think he won but then swiftly kills the King. Now Iorek Brynison has become the new King. After the fight, Lyra tends to Iorek’s wounds. The bear promises to help her in any way he can. Iorek tells Lyra he knew he could win because Iofur wasn’t a real bear. If the King was an armored bear, then she couldn’t have tricked him.

Elaine Parry runs up to her son Will after school lets out. She tells him about Lord Boreal trying to get to the letters. Elaine warns Will that she thinks his father was up to something dangerous. She thinks John Parry may still be alive. Will says they can’t talk yet. Elaine and Will head home.

Iorek takes Lyra back to her friend Roger who was waiting for them near a mountain. Iorek and the young boy had fallen out of the hot air balloon together. Roger doesn’t know where Lee ended up, but he was still in the hot air balloon last time the pair saw him. He had been waiting for them while Iorek went off to save Lyra from King Iofur. Iorek asks Lyra to use her aleithometer to figure out what the Mageristrim is doing next. Lyra reads that the Mageristrim is coming North, and they have Mrs. Coulter with them.

Mrs. Coulter and her golden monkey daemon are now in a hanger deck for hot air balloons. Father MacPhail has just come in from the Magisterium headquarters. He orders Mrs. Coulter to return to the base to speak to leadership. Father MacPhail has been sent to fetch Lord Asriel since now that King Iorek is in charge, he is free. Also, the lord had been doing experiments the whole time he was in captivity. Mrs. Coulter convinces MacPhail that she is loyal to the Magisterium and wants to help them kill Lord Asriel.

Elaine and Will Parry come home to a messy apartment that has been broken in to. Will leads his mother out. He now believes in Elaine’s ramblings about Lord Boreal. Will takes her to his coach Mr. Hanway’s home. He asks Mr. Hanway to watch his mother while he cleans up their apartment after the robbery. Will won’t get the police involved because he is worried they would take him away from home. Elaine is unhinged because of all the stress. The coach agrees to hide her. Will hugs his mother and promises to find the letters.

Back in the Arctic, Lee, and Hester try to fix the hot air balloon. The balloon is beyond their capabilities to fix. Queen Serafina Pekkla lands in front of Lee in the field. She lets the aeronaut know that Lyra, Iorek, and Roger are all safe. Serafina tells Lee that he will still need to fight to help Lyra. There is a war coming. Lee promises to do the best he can do.

Meanwhile, Will searches through his home in the dark. He finds something, but the audience doesn’t see anything. Thomas and the pale plan return to search the apartment, so Will hides.

Roger and Lyra ride Iorek to Lord Asriel’s labs. Iorek runs back to his palace after asking the children to say safe. Lyra and Roger enter the lab. At first, Lord Asriel is furious to see Lyra, but then why he sees Roger the explorer perks up. He tells his servant Thorlord to prepare a hot bath and food for the children. Lord Asriel warmly greets Roger. The children are suspicious.

I am forever fascinated with the character of Queen Serafina Pekkla, who reminds me of some sort of Roman Goddess. Her green dress wraps around her like a toga. Serafina is covered with tattoos of tree branches covered with flowers. There is also some sort of materials that seems merged with her legs. The Witch Serafina seems both part and distant from Lyra and her allies. The Witch mostly tells characters their missions and prophecies.  She is like a Greek chorus who stays in the periphery of the action. In this episode of His Dark Materials, Serafina tells Lee about what’s happening with Lyra and his mission. But in other episodes like last weeks, Serafina saves the day by killing all the Gobblers. Also, her daemon Kaisa can assist in person when the Witch cannot. Kaisa is like a stand-in or a double.

Lyra’s knowledge of Witch’s daemons saved the day with King Iofur. She would never have been able to trick the King if she had not to meet Serafina and Kaisa. I loved seeing Lyra a girl manipulating a grown bear into doing her bidding. The dark lighting of the cave, a.k.a. throne room added to the tension of the scene.  The physicality of the discussion between Lyra and Iofur was compelling. We first see Lyra enter with a close up of her boots walking on the wet stone floor. The soft sound of the girl’s feet is contrasted by the brute strength of the bear guard’s steps. The sheer force of the armored bear verse this small child shows how Lyra’s trickery is solely based on her intellect.

Even with the apparent diminutive nature of Lyra in this palace, Lyra bows down, making herself even smaller in front of King Iofur whose in full armor sitting on top of a stone platform. Lyra knows that Iofur wants to be human more than anything else, so she, as a human, treats him as her King. As I mentioned earlier, she makes Iofur want to fight Iorek by pretending to be a human daemon. Iorek’s human daemon, which adds to the tension since Iofur hates the other bear since he was supposed to be King. If Iofur could win Lyra, he would be more of a human since he would have a daemon like them. Plus, the bear’s soul would be a daemon, essentially making him one. I thought Dafne Keene (Lyra) and Peter Serafinowicz (King Iofur) performed brilliantly off each other.

This episode of His Dark Materials left me with a couple of questions. Who will Lyra betray?  Iorek gave Lyra the honorary last-name Silvertounge. Does that mean Lyra has been separated from her family’s legacy?  How will Lyra use her “silvertounge” in the future? Will she see the Gyptians again? How will Lyra end up in our world? Thank you for reading! See you next week.

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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