Everyone in this world has a dæmon — the external physical manifestation of a person’s ‘inner-self’ that takes the form of an animal. So it’s like a Patronus, but they talk, and they make jokes, and they protect their human at all costs. They’re pretty cool.
2. Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter.
Ruth Wilson is a brilliant, mesmerizing, phenomenal actress. If you loved her in The Affair on Showtime, you must see her in His Dark Materials — it’s an entirely different role, and that’s the magic of it all. Her range as an actress seems to know no bounds, and the layers and complexities she gives to Mrs. Coulter are a masterclass on acting.
3. Lyra Belacqua.
At the heart of His Dark Materials is Lyra (Dafne Keen), a spunky, sassy, adventurous 12-year-old girl who quite literally turns an entire college on its head. She dives headfirst into adventure, mischief seems to be her middle name, and she is yet to be aware of the inner power that she holds. Lyra is the type of kid you wish you were friends with growing up — she makes the most mundane aspects of life more entertaining.
There are magic cities hidden in dust. There are parallel worlds. There are dæmons, secrets and legends, armored bears, and ancient stories. There are witches, and there are airships, and there are hot air balloons that are a standard means of transportation. There are legends, there are secret romances, and there is an actual compass that can tell you the truth no matter what. If you’re a fan of science fiction, magic, and folklore, this is a show for you.
5. The cinematography.
This show is beautiful to watch. It’s art on your television, plain and simple. It’s as if you’re transported to England, Wales, and the North Pole all at once.
6. Lin-Manuel Miranda.
When we first see Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) in episode 3 of the series, he is singing to his dæmon in a hot air balloon. If that’s not a picture of pure joy, I don’t know what is! At first, we’re not quite sure what to make of Lee — is he friend or foe? Swindler? Explorer? Will he be yet another adult to let Lyra down, or will he become an integral part of their mission? The end of the episode doesn’t fully answer these questions, but it’s fair to remain hopeful that Scoresby is the missing part of their tribe that’s needed to rescue the children.
7. The Good Guys Keep Fighting.
There is a sinister plot that involves people in power kidnapping innocent children, and even though it’s dangerous, and even though it’s scary, the Gyptians, Lyra, and Lee Scoresby set out to rescue their friends and these innocent kids. It’s a story of hope, perseverance, and showing up for the ones you love — no matter what.