REVIEW: ‘His Dark Materials,’ Episode 6 – The Daemon Cages

Reading Time: 3 minutes

His Dark Materials - The Daemon Cages

His Dark Materials has proven its ability to craft a story from Phillip Pullman’s original novels and is as fantastical and emotional since it started. Last episode, the alethiometer guided Lyra (Dafne Keen) through the North to find Billy Costa. But upon finding him, the grim reality of the Gobblers and the Church’s experiments is felt by the Gyptian community. On its close, Lyra was taken to the same facility, given the same clothes as Billy, and the impending doom was palpable. Now in episode six, “The Daemon Cages” Lyra must do what she can to survive the experiments and her capturers.

“The Daemon Cages” is the most emotional and action-packed episode of His Dark Materials yet. Captured Lyra explores The Church’s facility, learning about their experiments on removing Dust from children and thus, their future of sin. But to do so, we see the side effects of taking away a child’s daemon, what cutting that connection means beyond just Billy Costa’s death.

Turned into shells of their former selves, essentially vessels for The Church’s pious instructions, children showcase not only the importance of daemons in this world, but also Pullman’s larger critique of organized religion and specifically the Catholic church. Paved with good intentions, The Church’s experimental theology uses children to achieve its standards, to remove what they see as sin, to enforce their agenda. Akin to the way religion forces children in molds, making them carry pain and guilt, making them only vessels for another’s view of a world they have yet to experience, The Church’s experiments are science fiction yet extremely real.

The Daemon Cages

But they believe they’re saving the world, saving humanity. Which brings us to Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), desperate for motherly love, she pulls Lyra from being separated from Pan (Kit Connor), but this doesn’t mean that she thinks what she is doing is wrong. In charge of the whole facility, “The Daemon Cages” showcases that Mrs. Coulter’s identity is shaped by a belief of needing to save the world from the “tyranny of sin.” The best villains are the ones who truly believe they’re doing good and this episode expands on her character not just as a villainess, but also as a mother in search of love from her child.

But Lyra is Lyra. She has an unrelenting strength that keeps her fighting even when offered the love of a mother and the ability to save herself. She is moved by her morality as well. While both see themselves as saving the children, Lyra is freeing them, bringing them back home, and bringing down the facility that exploits them in the name of purity.

“The Daemon Cages” also reunites Lyra with Roger (Lewin Lloyd), using the impending danger to hang their friendship over a cliff as you worry for each of them. Before allowing them to be together again, they each go on their own journeys to save the children, they each make Billy Costa proud.

His Dark Materials - The Daemon Cages

But it isn’t just emotion, theological critique and a firey Lyra in this episode. There is also a beautifully shot action sequence as the Gyptians show up to help the children. Fighting in the snow, the fight choreographers wonderfully use both daemon and humans in the scenes. But more importantly, Ma Costa’s (Anne-Marie Duff) ferocity and fight are emotional and powerful.

Additionally, the aftermath of the fight shows us the power that Lyra has in this story and the love that those around have for her, specifically that of Lee Scorseby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Iorek (Joe Tandberg) who will escort Lyra on the next path of her journey, saving her father.

“The Daemon Cages” is a powerful episode that keeps a fast pace without sacrificing moments that make you tear up. With each episode, His Dark Materials has been able to build a world, deliver adventure, and showcase its characters in a way that builds empathy between them and the audience.

His Dark Materials airs every Monday night on HBO in the U.S. at 8PM CT/ 9PM ET.

Rating: 10/10

His Dark Materials, Episode 6 - The Daemon Cages
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

“The Daemon Cages” is a powerful episode that keeps a fast pace without sacrificing moments that make you tear up. With each episode, His Dark Materials has been able to build a world, deliver adventure, and showcase its characters in a way that builds empathy between them and the audience.