His Dark Materials season 2 episode 5: How did it compare to the books?

Ruth Wilson and Ariyon Bakar in His Dark Materials season 2. Photograph by Adrian Rogers/HBO
Ruth Wilson and Ariyon Bakar in His Dark Materials season 2. Photograph by Adrian Rogers/HBO /

Whether you’re a fan of the books or not, read on to find out how the fourth episode of His Dark Materials season 2 differed from the source material.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for His Dark Materials season 2 episode 5, “The Scholar.”

This week’s episode of His Dark Materials continued the season’s overall expansion of Marisa Coulter’s character outside of the official canon of the books with its most successful adaptation yet in a pivotal reunion between Mrs. Coulter and Lyra.

Though previous episodes this season have focused on expanding Mrs. Coulter’s backstory outside of the books to bring in a larger Magisterium conspiracy to the show, and add in a sort of archetypal villain origin story, “The Scholar” gave us the most incisive and true to the books look at the character’s new skin yet.

In a fresh twist that wasn’t in Philip Pullman’s original series, Marisa met with Mary Malone after reconnecting with Lord Boreal. This moment allowed for two great female characters who otherwise didn’t interact in the books to have a tense and emotional scene together centered on Lyra and Dust.

This further propelled the first successful backstory scene with Mrs. Coulter so far, as Ruth Wilson brilliantly uttered the line, “Do you know who I could’ve been in this world?” Marisa Coulter has always been a character-focused on power and hierarchy.

Exposing these dynamics through a new lens (gender) is a relevant and needed update for an adaptation. This also allowed for one of the best storytelling moments of the season to occur, something else that didn’t happen in the books.

The scene when Lyra and Pan attacked Mrs. Coulter and her golden monkey was not in the books, but it was a direct inverse of the scene in the first season when Marisa did the same thing to Lyra and Pan.

While in the books, Lyra merely sees her mother through the window as she and Will steal the altheiometer back from Lord Boreal, the show’s earlier reunion was a fun dramatic moment that amplified the tension heading into the final two episodes of the season.

Showing Lyra being violent toward her mother, while insisting she is nothing like Mrs. Coulter, is also a great way to create tension amongst the characters. Marisa Coulter has become markedly more dynamic this season while Lyra has been forced to be more hardened.

Where this will lead them–we have only two more episodes to find out.

His Dark Materials season 2 episode 4: How did it compare to the books?. dark. Next

What did you think about Marisa’s crossover to a new world? Tell us in the comments below!