His Dark Materials: The Lost Boy   Books Included 
December 1, 2019 1:06 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

The alethiometer sends Lyra and Iorek on a new path, leading to a shocking but vital clue in her search to find her friend Roger and the other missing children.
posted by adrianhon (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it really episode 5 already? There's only three left in this season, and it feels like there's still a lot of ground to cover. BBC shows have always confounded me with their pacing, and while it's nice to take the time to breathe and see Will, it seemed like a set-up episode.

- Daemonwatch: I'm not as fussed about the whole missing daemon situation as others, but it stuck out even to me here. No visible daemons for most of the gyptians during the funeral, or for the people at Bolvangar. Ho hum. Not much Pan, either.

- Didn't get why we needed so much time on whether they'd let Lyra go to see her ghost.

- This really is the worst raiding party in history. At least they're aware of it.
posted by adrianhon at 1:10 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I thought the scenery (iceland?) with a smattering of Gyptian daemons (more than we’ve yet seen in one place I think) was really excellent.

So hyped for Will’s storyline. His mom was great. The narrated prophecy was a little Captain Exposition but it worked to intro him.
posted by supercres at 4:45 PM on December 1, 2019

In sum, though, it felt like the best episode by a long shot, but I can’t tell if it was on its own merits or through what my memory was filling in.

3 episodes also seems like long enough for sure. The end of the book always goes quicker than I remember. Bolvangar, Svalbard, and the end all seem like the right amount of material for an episode each (with smatterings of Will’s storyline).
posted by supercres at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2019

Via the Reddit discussion, I was reminded of two things:

- The whole Lost Boy storyline was much more horrific and creepier in the books; the villagers wanting to get rid of the boy, him holding the dead fish as a replacement for his daemon, Lyra being a bit disgusted at first. It was such a powerful beat in the book, a shame to miss it.

- Will's family are in what might be the nicest council housing in the UK. There is, in fact, some really nicely designed council housing out there, but his flat would have to be right at the top and it's definitely not representative of what a family like that would be able to afford given that his mum doesn't work and is receiving only a very modest sum from the missing dad.
posted by adrianhon at 3:05 AM on December 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

the scenery (iceland?)

It was the Brecon Beacons - much of the series was shot in Wales (apart from the Oxford bits, obvs).
posted by rory at 5:53 AM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was mad about the loss of the dead fish and Lyra’s anger at it being taken from him and her carving the coin for his Daemon, but it needs all the setup of the coins and the skulls at Jordan college, and also getting a child actor who can convincingly act with utter despair and inconsolable madness and grief, which is....kind of a tall order even for an adult actor, so I’m okay with it.
posted by corb at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Evil doctor woman's Finnish is pretty bad. But also, yeah, the visceral horror that a daemonectomy is supposed to elicit isn't quite there with how little we see them.
posted by Pyry at 3:00 AM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Right. It's clearly very sad and in this case, fatal – but we don't get the crucial point that Billy has been rendered soulless by the procedure. I guess maybe someone will just tell us this fact later, or we're supposed to infer it, but it would've been nice to be shown.
posted by adrianhon at 3:30 AM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

we don't get the crucial point that Billy has been rendered soulless by the procedure

Yes, this was definitely one of the things I was subconsciously filling in from the books and getting emotional over. Dafne Keen did a decent job showing horror, but man, even the scene with Iorek and no Pan was more than enough to puncture the tension there.

They could have done Ratter-fish though, c'mon.
posted by supercres at 7:55 AM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm watching this, and I shall watch all of it, but by Ogun's hammer it sets my teeth on edge. In the face of fantastic performances (Anne Marie Duff, Ruth Wilson) and beautiful design, something about the series is just ... plodding. I think partly what it comes down to is the characterisation of Lyra. I don't remember the books very well but I do remember her, and her energy, that of a boisterous, disobedient, rebellious child. And I think there's a sense in the books that this disobedience is the vital energy that drives all change and progress in the world. No disrespect to the young actress, who is performing as directed. But she's performing one of the Famous Five, instead of Beryl the Peril. Or indeed, Dennis the Menace.

As to the look of it, everything is so lovely and posh, except where it's picturesquely, artisanally (but not realistically) distressed. I'm finding it kind of overdesigned.

I would love to know where that beautiful house is that Bill lives in. Surely it's some kind of famous listed architect-designed prototype, like Trellic Tower? I had no idea they were supposed to be in social housing, I just thought the dad had been a respected explorer and that's why they had such a nice house.

Sorry for grumbling. Every time Lyra's voice sounds timid, or apologetic, or placating, which it does often, I find it really jarring.
posted by glasseyes at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

Calling it overdesigned is a bit churlish, considering how beautiful some of the scenes are. The mountains, the ruined greenhouse. I did appreciate the changeover to our world, which had such a dislocating effect before it registered that we're now in a world of streetlights and buses and wifi and parking tickets. That was nicely done.
posted by glasseyes at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2019

Right. It's clearly very sad and in this case, fatal – but we don't get the crucial point that Billy has been rendered soulless by the procedure. I guess maybe someone will just tell us this fact later, or we're supposed to infer it, but it would've been nice to be shown.

Yet we are expressly told over and over again that he has no daemon. I think these scenes were a really poor bit of storytelling. But this is what happens when most of the scenes are daemon-less; the audience has to have it made absolutely clear that in the case of Billy the lack of a visible daemon is a problem.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: you can take the boy out of the Heights, but you can't take the Heights out of the boy. I like him generally but it seems he's given up being Texan at this point. I wish I could stop being distracted by his New Yorker-ness.

At any rate, I am trying to like this show but they have really failed with the lack of visible daemons. That choice has really diminished the entire plot.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:59 PM on December 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, what happened to Billy made me cry, but I agree with glasseyes that the whole thing just seems plodding. You just don't really get the sense of wonder that the books, or even the movie, had.
It feels very disjointed and confusing, not in an exciting mysterious way but in a "this screenplay needs fixing" way.
And I also was surprised at how absolutely gorgeous Will's house is! There's no way that is public housing.
posted by exceptinsects at 3:46 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

The lack of visible daemons is really a problem here, to the point that I want them to go back, CGI them in, and rerelease this so I can try watching it again. I don't mind most of the plot changes, especially the witches, but the lack of visible daemons makes the whole fuss over Roger seem weird.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 PM on December 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

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