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Recap / His Dark Materials S 1 E 4 Armour

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Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby and his daemon Hester travel to Trollesund in the Far North seeking Iorek Byrnison, a disgraced armoured bear. Trollesund's Magisterium citizens stole his armour several years earlier, forcing him to work as an indentured worker. Lyra and the Gyptians also sail to Trollesund to search for the kidnapped children. Farder Coram contacts his former lover, a witch named Serafina Pekkala. Her daemon, Kaisa, promises that Serafina will help the Gyptians. Though the Gyptian elders believe Iorek is untrustworthy, Lyra and Pan join forces with Scoresby and Hester to enlist Iorek's help in finding the kidnapped children. With Lyra's assistance, Iorek recovers his armour locked inside a Magisterium church. Iorek, Scoresby and Hester join forces with Lyra and the Gyptians as they continue travelling north. Meanwhile, a Magisterium priest attempts to replace Mrs Coulter as head of the Gobblers with Father Macphail. However, she blackmails him by revealing that Lord Asriel is being held prisoner by Iofur Raknison, the king of the armoured bears. She offers to give Asriel to the Magisterium in exchange for continuing her experiments and asking a question of the alethiometer ("Who is Lyra Belacqua?"). Travelling north, she meets with Iofur, offering him a baptism and induction into the Magisterium in exchange for working with her.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Wealth: Inverted. Dr. Lanselius in the books was fairly well to do, with a nice house Trollesund, as well as at least one house servant, as would befit the Witch's consul. Here his house is comfortable if shabby, and he serves his guests tea himself.
  • Age Lift: Inverted. Lee in the book series is nearing late middle age. Here, he's played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was 39 during filming.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Iorek's armour was confiscated after he got drunk and destroyed part of the town. He's also drunk when Lee comes to try and help him.
  • As You Know: Lee and Hestor reiterate to eachother their intentions to rescue Iorek in their first conversation.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Lyra confesses to Pan that Trollesund is much more unpleasant than she anticipated.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Lyra wants to hire Iorek because the consul suggested it, and because an armoured bear would be very useful in the coming fight. John Faa counters that this is a bad idea, as Iorek has the reputation of an unreliable and violent drunk, and as such would be more of a liability to the Gyptians than an asset. Lyra ends up going behind his back and hiring Iorek anyway.
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  • Breather Episode: After the stressful past three episodes, the is a good deal more lighthearted, with a number of jokes and characters taking the time to snark.
  • Childless Dystopia: Downplayed, but there are no children walking the streets of Trollesund. The witch's consul explains that they too have been victimized by the Gobblers, and implies that any remaining children are not allowed outside.
  • Choosing Neutrality: Dr. Lanselius pays lip service to the idea of this, as first and foremost his job is protecting the witch nation from the Magisterium. However, when pressed he willingly gives the Gyptians the first real lead on where to find the missing children, and arranges for them to get help from both the Witches and an armoured bear, which considerably increases their chances of success.
  • The Chosen One: Farder Coram begins to suspect Lyra may be the subject of a prophecy Serafina once mentioned. Mrs. Coulter starts suspecting something similar, and uses her one question of Fra Pavel to ask "Who is Lyra Belacqua?"
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  • Creepy Good: Dr. Lanselius gives off an unsettling vibe, what with his snake daemon and his knowledge of the Gobblers. However, he willingly assists the Gyptians in their endeavours, and makes it clear the Oblation Board disgusts him.
    Farder Coram: (To John Faa) You should have seen Dr. Lanselius. The look on his face when (Lyra) answered his questions. He looked...Greedy.
  • Combat Commentator: Hester briefly becomes one during Lee's bar fight.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lee and Hester take turns playing this.
    Hester: Yeah. No it's not.
  • Death of a Child: Part of Farder Coram's backstory. He had a son with Serafina Pekkala, who died in an epidemic, and their different methods of dealing with their grief led to their estrangement.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Hester and Lee have an entire conversation in the bar that would seem to be internal, as they openly admit to robbing some of the patrons and trying to rescue Iorek. Then Lyra enters and overhears them, meaning everyone in the bar probably heard them too.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Lord Boreal calls Fra Pavel "Ratty" when threatening him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lee opens the episode discussing with Hester his intentions to rescue liberate Iorek, while skilfully flying his balloon. So far we have heroic aeronaut. Then he compulsively pickpockets the guard who threatens him, while maintaining a rakish grin. He's a lovable rogue, through and through.
  • Gay Conservative: Lord Boreal implies that Fraa Pavel is one, and blackmails him with the threat of revealing his "filthy predilections" unless he asks the Aleithiometer a question.
  • Genre Shift: Lee's portion of the episode becomes a Western, complete with a cowboy and a bar brawl, despite the fact that they are somewhere near Norway.
  • Given Name Reveal: Kaisa addresses Farder Coram as "Coram van Texel".
  • Guile Hero: Lyra spent the journey to Trollesund developing into one. Farder Coram seems quite astounded by the change, but quickly decides to just roll with it.
  • God Test: The Consul is polite about it, but requests Lyra demonstrate that she can read the Aleithiometer, without the use of the books, by choosing a specific sprig of Cloud Pine from a large collection of them that are not labelled. He's clearly trying to hide his shock when she pulls it off in less than a minute.
  • Ironic Echo: Unlike the Golden Monkey, who is treated as disturbing for being separated from Mrs. Coulter, Kaisa (Serafina's daemon) is treated with respect by the Gyptians. It helps that Farder Coram provides him with an introduction, and he's more personable than the monkey.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: Subverted for laughs.
    Farder Coram: It's been 40 years since I saw Serafina last. She might not like what she sees.
    John Faa: I remember you as a younger man, Coram. You weren't much to look at even then.
  • Kerb-Stomp Battle: Narrowly averted. It's made crystal clear that Iorek's Unstoppable Rage won't be stopped by the Trollesund guards' rifles. Lyra is able to talk him down from killing them all.
  • Like Mother Like Daughter: Both Lyra and Mrs. Coulter gain the allegiance of an armoured bear this episode. Lyra does it through honestly helping Iorek get out of his predicament. Mrs. Coulter cons Iofur through flattery and bribery.
  • Made a Slave: A combination of this and Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job. Iorek Byrneson, a mighty armoured bear and fierce warrior, has been reduced to grunt work in Trollesund. While he can physically leave at anytime, the local government has taken and hidden his armour, and refuses to give it back unless he works for them.
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Witch Consul Dr. Lanselius acts as this for the entire witch nation, including all the separate tribes. He oversees the diplomatic meetings to ensure their autonomy from the outside world, and especially from the Magisterium, as well as being their public face.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lyra has a brief moment when Iorek takes off after his armour, and she sees the damage he leaves in his wake just by running.
  • Mythology Gag: Farder Coram mentions to Lyra that, after their son died, Serafina wanted to fight "Yambe-Akka" to get him back. This mention goes unexplained, but context of the conversation implies the meaning. In the books, Yambe-Akka is Witches version of The Grim Reaper, who appears in the form of a loving mother-figure.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The place where the kidnapped children are being kept is officially called "The Station", but the witches call it "Bolvangar", which translates as "The Fields of Evil".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Iorek is kept out of sight for the first half of his introduction. The characters react this way to him, as they don't know how big he is or if he is friendly, only that he is incredibly dangerous if threatened.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Lyra appeals to John Faa to let Iorek join them by comparing the way Iorek has been mistreated and tricked to the abuse the Gyptian people have suffered.
  • Out-Gambitted: Cardinal Sturrock at the urging of Father Macphail, decides to strip Mrs. Coulter of her authority within the Magisterium, as punishment for breaking the Scholastic Sanctuary they afforded to Jordan College. She fires back that she secretly has Lord Asriel imprisoned in the north, and will bring him into their custody in return for maintaining control of the Oblation Board and permission to ask Fra Pavel a question from his Aleithiometer.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lyra recruits Lee by claiming to represent the Gyptians and brazenly eating his bacon in front of him. He's not even mad.
  • Rogue Agent: Mrs. Coulter is no longer working towards the same goals as the Magisterium, and fully begins playing her own game.
  • Rugged Scar: Iorek is introduced with several prominent scars across the bridge of his nose.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Mrs. Coulter does this when Cardinal Sturrock announces he's passing leadership of the Oblation Board for Father Macphail.
  • Scenery Porn: The episode opens with a view of Lee and Hester flying their balloon over the clouds at dawn. It's absolutely breathtaking. It transitions to Scenery Gorn when we get to Trollesund, which is washed out and industrial.
  • The Spy Master: A local variant. The consul has eyes everywhere in Trollesund. He learns Lyra has an Aleithiometer mere hours after she arrives.
  • Steampunk: Lee is a Steampunk Cowboy in a Diesel Punk world, complete with Badass Long Coat.
  • Sticky Fingers: Lee has a habit of pickpocketing the people who threaten him. It gets to the point where he starts a bar fight just to steal from his attackers. Hester does not approve.