The BBC’s His Dark Materials, based on Phillip Pullman’s iconic fantasy series. Episode five, “The Lost Boy,” is fast approaching the end of season one by hitting a stride filled with emotion, lore, and adventure. Last episode, we saw Lyra (Dafne Keen) travel to the North with the Gyptians, focused on saving their children and stopping the Gobbers. When they reached their destination they sought the help of the Witches and brought Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Iorek (Joe Tandberg) the armored polar bear into the fold.
Now, after bringing together some of the most important elements of the story in one episode, “The Lost Boy” brings in one more: Will Parry (Amir Wilson), the other main character of the series. Located in the world that Lord Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) keeps visiting, after last episode showed the possibility of daemons existing there, Will seems to be the key. Having lost his father, Will is left to care for his mother who seemingly has mental health issues. As the episode unfolds we realize that she isn’t “crazy” as the kids at school call her, but fearful, worried for her son because she knows that someone is hiding in the shadows.
As Will, newcomer Wilson is amazing. In the little that we of this episode, he carries himself with an empathy, a fear, and a calm assertion that shows how he holds his family together. But beneath it, he’s still a child. Losing his temper as one does. There is a balance to be struck that gets to the heart of Will Parry and in this first episode, Wilson nails it.
While we learn about Will, his mother, and Lord Carlo’s fascination with him in one world, the alethiometer sends Lyra and Iorek on a new path in the other. “The Lost Boy” is such a large episode in the series. Not only do we get to see Will for the first time but we get to understand Lyra more. While the great cold landscape is at the front and the adults attempt to tame her spirit, urging her to stick close to them, she trusts the alethiometer and pushes forward without their approval, with only Iorek for help and support. Lyra wants to save Roger, she wants to save Billy, she wants to save all of the children and knowing that she can be pointed in their direction with the alethiometer she can’t wait for adults to decide to listen to her.
“The Lost Boy” is an episode that puts Keen to the test as Lyra. One of the largest critiques of 2007’s The Golden Compass was that Lyra was unlikeable, more brat than adventurer. With children acting for adults to view, it’s easy for their determination to be taken as “bratty.” But in His Dark Materials, Keen has been able to create a Lyra that is sympathetic, childlike, confident, and yet still fearful under the surface. In the book series, Lyra’s tenacity is a hallmark of her character and in “The Lost Boy,” Keen showcases Lyra’s determination in a beautiful way.
Having learned how to read the alethiometer, Lyra knows where Billy Costa is, the latest of the Gyptain children who was taken. Once her friend, she hopes Roger is with him too, but as the adults ready for battle with the Gobbers, they don’t have time to go on a search for him, they have to be ready. Instead of listening to the adult, Lyra sets out with Iorek, listening to her heart, and the truth that the alethiometer is setting in front of her. In a beautiful scene between Iorek and Lyra, the two open up about themselves.
Iorek explains that he is not a bear anymore while Lyra asserts that she must be part bear somewhere. The exchange is heartbreaking and moving, and inspirational. As she moves to him for warmth, it’s the last good thing in the episode. As Lyra follows the truth, she finds one of the lost children and finds a vital clue to the Gobbers’ plan. Her discovery is heartbreaking and in one episode, we see an adventurous and fearless Lyra and a devastated one as well.
There is a lot to love about His Dark Materials and more specifically “The Lost Boy.” It’s a game-changing episode that broke my heart. Additionally, the ending shows that it isn’t slowing down anytime soon as we’ll have to watch Lyra fight for her life and those around her next episode. Overall, the fantasy and humanity shown in “The Lost Boy” is the reason you need to be tuning in Monday nights.
His Dark Materials airs Monday Night at 8 pm CT/9 pm ET on HBO.
His Dark Materials, Episode 5 - The Lost Boy
There is a lot to love about His Dark Materials and more specifically “The Lost Boy.” It’s a game-changing episode that broke my heart. Additionally, the ending shows that it isn’t slowing down anytime soon as we’ll have to watch Lyra fight for her life and those around her next episode.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.