His Dark Materials season 3, episodes 5 & 6 recap – how do the kids escape?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: December 21, 2022 (Last updated: January 26, 2024)
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His Dark Materials season 3, episodes 5 & 6 recap


His Dark Materials ramps up the intensity and stakes ahead of the final two episodes, delivering moments of great imagination and sincerity.

This recap of His Dark Materials season 3, episodes 5 & 6, “No Way Out” and “The Abyss”, contains spoilers.

It’s a pretty commonly accepted sentiment that screen adaptations are never quite as good as the books, and while that stands true more often than not and has largely been true of His Dark Materials, some concepts, such as the Mulefa, are about as well-realized here as you could possibly imagine. It’s a minor detail, I suppose, especially since the wider messaging and metaphors of the story itself translate so well, but it’s nice to have that long-imagined scene or idea in your head brought to such vivid life.

His Dark Materials season 3, episode 5 recap

It’s also nice to see more of Mary Malone since it hasn’t always been clear how relevant her little adventure would become. In “No Way Out” she continues wandering through the woods, learning the language of the Mulefa and realizing that, as the Dust seems to be disappearing, they also seem to be dying.

The Land of the Dead, a potent depiction of grief and trauma and depression, is also impressively rendered. Lyra’s traipse through there is very much tinged by the pain of her separation from Pan, and the torment of the realm’s harpy monsters, and the shared plight of those forcibly wrested from their daemons, their souls, their sense of self. Roger is changed. The Subtle Knife doesn’t work. But, as ever, the will and determination of the kids to save Roger are more powerful than any other force.

We also see Mrs. Coulter in captivity here, with Macphail intending to forcibly separate her from her daemon. With help from the Gallivespian spy she’s able to escape and, she thinks, prevent the launch of the bomb – ironically separating Macphail from his own daemon – until Metatron arrives and powers the machine back on. The episode ends with the ordnance striking the Land of the Dead just as Lyra, Will, and a returning Lee Scoresby were intending to make their escape.

His Dark Materials season 3, episode 6 recap

“The Abyss” finds Metatron deciding to remove all the Dust, the ramifications of which we see from the perspectives of Asriel and Mary. Mrs. Coulter wakes up to an unconscious Macphail and a dead spy, and after discovering that Lyra is in “darkness” thanks to the alethiometer, she takes the Intention Craft to meet back up with Asriel, who is excited by the prospect of his war having officially begun. Mrs. Coulter, naturally, blames him for what she presumes is Lyra’s death, but he seems less than concerned.

The stakes are visibly being raised here, obviously. A giant, titular Dust-sucking Abyss, the death of Queen Ruta, the positioning of Metatron as the ultimate villain – it’s all important dramatic legwork for the final two episodes, and indeed for this one, which finds Lyra and the other kids, along with Lee Scoresby, still alive after the blast, though “alive” perhaps isn’t the right term given their present circumstances.

Lee believes he can summon Will’s father, Jopari, and he does so, helping him to better understand his destiny and complete his arc, and also allowing him to use the Subtle Knife to cut open a window to Paradise through which the dead can all escape, including Roger. The harpies being fed and sustained through stories is a lovely, thematically resonant touch.

Asriel, through Iorek, learns that Lyra is still alive – betraying his own feelings for her in the meantime – and takes this news to Mrs. Coulter, who is moved from her grief to incredulity, understanding Lyra’s importance as the child of prophecy. And Lyra, having earned the ire of Metatron by destroying his purgatory, will need all the help she can get – including that of both parents, for once.

You can catch His Dark Materials season 3, episodes 5 & 6, “No Way Out” and “The Abyss”, on HBO and BBC iPlayer.

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