“The Spies”

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. Such.

S2: As they have been trying to keep us where they want us. Watch demons disappear when you die. And. Yet humans making these nasty skeletons behind.

S3: Within our children back. Welcome to the authority Slate’s His Dark Materials podcast. It’s Season 1 Episode 3. The spies where Slate’s resident scholars of experimental theology and Laura Miller and my demon is the sea otter named sucky.

S4: I’m Dan Coates I may be meant as a prairie vole named Gilda. Hi Laura.

S3: Hi Dan. Now in this episode Laura is captured by the gamblers and then almost immediately rescued by the Egyptians who take her into their falls as they travel to a beyond roping. If that’s the correct pronunciation I have no idea which is a big gathering to discuss what the Egyptians plan to do about their kidnapped children. Episode three takes us up to the end of part two of the book The Golden Compass showing us the power of the Magisterium in the form of jackbooted thugs who tear apart Jordan College and add in the Egyptian houseboats. We see Lord boreal discover that the missing explorer stands last Grumman is actually the high priest from fleabag or rather that he is a man named John Perry who originally comes from our worlds Labor learns that Mrs. Coulter is her mother and she figures out how to use the elite the army her for the first time and she finally decides to show it to someone. Father Quorum it’s no coincidence that the first adults she trusts enough to confide in is Egyptian. Today we’re going to take a closer look at Chip Sheens who they are and the role they play in libraries worlds an interest story army authority as always.

S4: We’re going to do our best to talk about the world of the books and the show without spoiling the story of the books in the show so we’ll fill in the blanks for those of you who haven’t read the books in a while or haven’t read them at all. We’ll talk in detail about certain things from the books and this upset Egyptians but we’re not going to give away what’s in store for Lyra or any of the other characters to the extent that we can. However some stuff that we talk about might be considered spoiler adjacent. If you have like a deathly allergy to people talking about stuff and stories.

S3: But first let’s answer some reader mail. If you’ve got questions or you can’t figure out how to work your Lithium emitter. Just email ask the authority at Slate dot com. That’s ask the authority all one word at Slate dot com.

S5: Our first question is from Bill. Bill writes many characters have verbally interacted with their demons on the show. Many more have not. It’s unclear to me if other people can hear a demon’s voice. Can you address that on the podcast.

S3: Well we see in this episode Episode Three pan talking to Father quorum so that pretty much answers the question of whether it’s possible. But according to the books it’s relatively uncommon.

S5: Yeah there’s a scene in in the Golden Compass in which the first time we see a demon talking to other people besides her human. It’s because her human has been mortally wounded and needs to share information with comrades but he’s in such pain and torment and so fearful that he can no longer speak. So he looks to his demon to share the information around it’s a very solemn moment but it does happen and I do like the impression that the scene gives that panic chooses to speak to far quorum as a reflection of laborers a growing trust in Fatah quorum and Egyptians generally. All right. Our next question from Chris who also happens to be my daughter Laura’s English teacher. Chris writes I have a gripe about demons responding to our discussion of demons last episode. They went so far as to explain with titles the demons and humans share a sacred bond. But it rang hollow to me. The Demons themselves speak only a few lines and when they do speak it’s hard to hear what they say their lives are short. They are almost never the focus of the camera for more than one to two seconds. If you really want to portray the bond as sacred and to me this is an essential underpinning of the emotional vastness of the series. Give them camera time show us conversations between human and demon and take your time with those scenes. All right Chris I totally agree with us and not just because my daughter’s grade is in your hands. I do think that this episode did a much better job of showing this bond between Patton Lyra. We got a bunch of great scenes between them scenes of them debating scenes of pans serving as liars conscience and even that great moment where layers working out the lethal arbiter with pans help and we see pan give a cute little yarn right as Lyra is starting to sink into the the state that you need to sink into to read the early phenomena.

S3: Yes we also seeing more of the strained relationship between Mrs Colter and her monkey demon. I find so much more sympathetic in the series than he is in the book and the book is just terrifying. But in this there’s something kind of for Lorne about her demon because she has sort of forced second him and there’s you know she remains for me one of the most interesting characters in the series and I find that particular relationship intriguing but it may be that that’s because I’m so familiar with the concept of demons and their intimacy with their human counterparts that I didn’t actually miss this before Chris mentioned it although once I read his question I was like yeah that’s a great point.

S5: That scene where the poor demon is stuck inside the window while Mrs Colter is like dancing on the ledge that I never thought I would feel sorry for that evil fucking monkey demon.

S6: But I really did at that moment he he just. Yeah yeah.

S5: Like like everyone in England has to deal with crazy Mrs Coulter.

S3: Yeah. And it’s no picnic. Yeah. Okay our third question is from Audi with the HBO series coming so soon after the release of the second part of the book of dust. Was anyone else secretly super eager to see Alison Malcolm in the first episode.

S4: Now of course the answer to this is a spoiler for the later series so I’m not going to go into any detail but I was also disappointed at this Alison Malcolm her character as we learn to grow and love in the book of dust and add their characters who we had a chance to see in earlier episodes of this series we were in locations where they we know they are but they don’t show up. But it’s not surprising to me even though I even though I was bummed out by it. If you’re ever gonna make the book of Dustin do a series of HBO and the BBC are going to do this and take six or seven years or whatever Alice and Malcolm are big important characters so you can’t like cast them now with like some nobody actor you pick up you know after the out of the Royal School of Drama or whatever who is six years from now is going to be unavailable or too famous or dad or something. When you finally get out of filming though so it’s it makes sense that they didn’t do that. But I also thought was a little bit of a bummer.

S3: I have a slightly different feeling about that. I am I will be very excited when we finally get our dramatization of the book of dust to see both Malcolm and Alice. But I also want the series to really catch on with people who haven’t read the books in the same way that the Game of Thrones series that HBO did really ignited all this enthusiasm for George R.R. Martin’s series of books. And I think that it would just be too confusing to someone who’s completely new to the story to have a character presented on the screen named or singled out in some way that would suggest that we were going to see them play a role in the story sometime soon then to have them just disappear. That’s exactly the kind of thing that that people find confusing in a big story and a big world with a lot of elements to keep track of.

S4: You’re not wrong but nevertheless I do love fanservice. All right. Let’s launch into our discussion of this episode and let’s actually launch straight into what we’re going to take a deep dive into this episode of the podcast which is Chip Shin’s virus spends most of the episode and so we spend most of the episode with the Egyptians as Egyptians who rescue her from the gobblers who have snatched her with the Egyptian boats that she then spends the rest of the episode on as they protect her from the Magisterium jackbooted thugs. As you said who search the boats looking for her it’s the Egyptians who we learn have a close connection to Lara’s past to her infancy who owe a great debt to Lord Israel and who tell Lyra in fact that as Azriel as her father misses culture is her mother. So tell me a little bit about what we know about the Egyptians from the from the books. Laura are they an ethnic group. I like a specific ethnic group. They seem to be sort of of all different races. But the name Egyptian seems to hearken to gypsies who who as you know who the Roma are a specific ethnic group. I’m I’m sort of curious and refused about who these people are and the role they play in the Britain of these books. Can you tell me a little bit more about them.

S3: Well in the books they are a specific ethnic group and in particular they’re supposed to have some sort of ancient connection to the Dutch which would make sense because they seem to come from the eastern coast of England where the fans are and the Dutch are known for their canals. But in the series they’re different because the series show runners have cast people of all different races to play gypsy lions. And that gives the sense that there are people who for one reason or another come from all over the country and who didn’t fit in misfits or outcasts who are bound together to create this very tight very loyal society that is that exists sort of within but not of British society. And then that way they represent the travellers in Ireland who are people who are of Irish descent but who lost their land or their place on the land probably due to some reprehensible behaviour by the English to judge by the entire history of Ireland and who became sort of caravan travellers who who roam the countryside and are similarly to git actual Gypsies in this trusted because they are nomadic. They don’t have roots in any particular piece of land. The gypsies themselves are called Gypsies because people thought that they were descended from the Egyptians actually. The Roma are originally from India but their status is very similar to the Egyptians in that they’re sort of they can be sort of a boogey man in Jane Austen’s novel Emma. There’s a gypsy encampment near the town where all the characters live and there’s a lot of concern that they’re going to be the source of violence or crime and that the female characters shouldn’t walk near the encampment alone. You know they’re definitely mistrusted outsiders who are sort of also tolerated because of trade or fortune telling or any number of things that people who are basically nomadic do in order to get by.

S5: We have we definitely get the sense that they are a kind of odd class of their own within the economy of this other worldly Britain that they have a set of sort of tenuous protections against the power of the Magisterium.

S4: It’s alluded at one point to the idea that Lord Admiral himself had some role to play in the protections that they enjoy but also that that those protections always feel under threat in that way they really reminded me and I think the show intends for them to remind us of Jordan College right of the protection that Jordan College has which itself feels is under threat because of Lyra. Once again we have an institution a group of sort of secretive group of people who are protected against the Magisterium the introduction of Lyra into their world threatens their protection. But instead of expelling her to save themselves they gather around her and protect her because they feel that that’s a that’s a an order and a duty that they must fulfill. And in the face of magisterium tyranny they must protect Lyra against the thing that threatens her even though it also threatens them.

S7: As you said they have a connection to the Eastern friends of East Anglia which themselves in this world sort of mingle into the watercourses of Holland. And so the language of the Egyptians we’re told has a lot of Dutch in it. They share with the Egyptians the Egyptians and the show share with Egyptians in the books a disdain for landowners they support themselves by trading and smuggling and they share with the Egyptians and the books as you say a only easy relationship with the land López who have land who are who are not relegated to the rivers and canals of England. There is this amazing line in the Golden Compass that talks about sort of that uneasy relationship and the way that land the Egyptians which is that even in the fans where the Egyptians sort of have free reign the people who do have land there always say to themselves well it’s OK that they’re there it’s OK that we trade with them.

S3: But if Egyptian body floated to shore down the coast or got snagged in a fishnet Well it was only Egyptian once and that’s always sort of puzzled me about the Egyptians is that they are supposed to be one of the occasions that they have for visiting Oxford is that they participate in something called the Horse Fair which is a place where horses are bought and sold. And I could never really make sense of what all these people who live on canal boats are doing with horses. I love the idea of my Costa sailing into Jordan with like 20 horses stuffed onto our boat and are aware they’re raising these horses it’s it’s maybe they get them from some other part of England and bring them down to Oxford but anyway they also have a history with Lord Israel he was instrumental in passing some kind of law that protects them which underlines as rebels affinity with anybody who is sort of outside of the establishment you know he he admires their ways. I think one of them says he respects and admires their ancient ways and so does Philip Pullman. They the four Pullman the Egyptians are a kind of salt of the earth working class people whose fierce loyalty and closely held traditions are both romantic and and sort of cozy. It’s it’s funny. He clearly really loves and admires them the way Azriel does and he has a real connection to a part of Oxford. Jericho which is real even though it also appears then in Laura’s books it’s one of the things that’s real and in in our world and hers where there is a dockyard that was threatened by some luxury real estate developers who wanted to build some glass enclosed semi high rise there and he was very involved in trying to protect that part of Oxford’s history and its local color from those developers. It’s a place where canal boats have landed since time immemorial. A lot of people don’t realize that England especially the flatter parts are is criss crossed with canals that a lot of people live on canal boats including in London s and you can also take a holiday where you go up and down the canals on a boat which generally sounded really fun to me. If you are ever an answer or do visit that area because canal boats park there are usually really beautiful and you know beautifully painted and colorful and decorated. It’s it’s a it’s a magical place.

S5: So Lyra in the series starts out sort of mistrusting the Egyptians and they have to earn her trust an inch in interesting ways in ways I always exactly buy but which I you know I sort of understand why you make that dramatic choice because you don’t you haven’t had time as you do in the books to sort of set up her long relationship with the Egyptians based on their visits to Oxford and the wars that she gets in with them along with her fellow Jordan College brats.

S4: There’s this great scene in the book in which a bunch of Jordan college kids just scream at my cost us both so long that my cost on our whole family step out of the boat. Tell them to stop and that liar in a bunch of other kids steal the boat had unmarried and just like sail off into the river while Lyra searches for the bong that she believes is in the bottom of the boat that she can pull out so that water will enter the boat and the boat will sink and she’s convinced through a lot of the book that the that the gypsies really hold this against her.

S3: Yes and it’s it’s a great way to emphasize that she’s just kind of this wild child who has gotten up to some really serious mischief. I mean she was perfectly willing to sink the home of these people but they just view it as a hilarious story.

S4: Right. Yet another shenanigan that Egyptians have gotten into. The episode spends a lot of time building the relationship between Mark Costa and Lyra which so much has taken for granted in the books by Costa instantly as a motherly figure to her Lyra instantly feels comforted and happy with her despite her fear that Marcos as angry about Lyra almost finding the bung of her boat.

S5: But one moment in the show that struck me very oddly that I want to ask you about is this moment when they’re in the kitchen together and my co-host is teaching Lara this trickery throw flour into the flame and it sort of crackles and she says you’ll be Egyptian woman yet she says you’ll be anything you set your mind to which is a direct contradiction of a scene that has long stayed with me from the books and I want to read it now.

S7: It’s on page 1 12 of the Golden Compass and it’s as they’re sailing to the fans and Lara has been with Egyptians for her a couple of days and she’s really starting to fall in love with their way of life the way she does repeatedly everywhere she ends up in these books. She’s just immediately sort of assumes that identity Lara listened enthralled to tales of the fence dwellers of the great ghost dog Black Shuck of the marsh fires arising from bubbles of witch oil and began to think of herself as Egyptian. Even before they reached the friends she had soon slipped back into her Oxford voice. And now she was acquiring Egyptian one complete with Fen Dutch words but Costa had to remind her of a few things you aren’t Jepson lira you might pass for Egyptian with practice. But there’s more to us than Egyptian language. There is deep set us and strong currents where water people all through and you ain’t hear a fire person. What you’re most like as marsh fire. That’s the place you have in the Egyptian scheme you got which oil in your soul Sabar Costa draws a real line in the books between the Egyptians their race their ancient history and outsiders even an outsider as beloved as Lyra even an outsider who we learn Mark Costa nursed and took care of when she was a baby. Even as close as that relationship is there’s a line drawn in the books between the Egyptian people and even his beloved a land lubbers lira and their race that in the series. And I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

S3: Well it is true that it is a violation of that idea that you really have to be born Egyptian to be a true fiction. But because of the way that the serious has chosen to depict the Egyptians where they seem to be a kind of rag tag band as a people from all over the place I kind of liked it. I have to say I’m I’m more taken with the idea of them as the band of outcasts from all over than with them as a sort of being very much like the actual gypsies where I just can’t imagine it’s very easy for a non Gypsy to become as one with the Roma.

S8: I mean there’s probably never happen and I mean I do really appreciate the way that this choice has given them the chance to cast a bunch of really great actors with really great faces sort of battle weary battle hardened far decorum and John FA all of whom have had just these really interesting faces and voices and even accents here they even don’t all share the same accent the way the Egyptians do. Now I am asking you to put yourselves more at risk while IRA. For the children we have lost.

S9: But mostly for ourselves. I am the Western King and I’m asking you to ready ourselves to travel north. Ready ourselves to fight. And ready ourselves to bring our children home.

S5: They brought to mind to me and I don’t know if this is intentional or if this will pay off in any way in the series a kind of sense of them as refugees at a moment when the refugee crisis is of course on the minds of everyone in Europe. They’re not refugees from other countries exactly but they do seem to be refugees from inside England. People inside this country who couldn’t find a place who maybe were forced off their land who have all banded together to give themselves a kind of agency an authority that that refugees often don’t have in European culture right now. And I do find that heartening and interesting and I’m eager to see where this series goes with that.

S3: Well here’s another question for you. Why in this episode do we get a long sequence of Tony Costa and Benjamin breaking into Mrs. Coulter’s apartment. It doesn’t occur in the books.

S8: I loved it. I love this sequence. So in the books when the decision is made that the Egyptians are going to head up north to try and rescue their kids one thing they do in addition to designating a bunch of people for planning and mustering up stores and figuring out where they’re going to go and getting the boats ready as they send a character Benjamin the writer who in the books is a grown adult not the sort of teenager he Benjamin the writer of of this series they send him and a bunch of other spies into London to try and learn as much as they can about the gobblers. The general relation board and what they’re up to to try and help them develop a plan because they don’t know exactly where to go up north. They just know they’re gonna go to trial us and they’re going to ask around and see what they can learn.

S7: And in the books Benjamin the writer and and his spies are ambushed by the history hysteria by the gobblers many of them are wounded and Benjamin the writer is killed. It doesn’t happen in the books and Mrs. culture’s apartment and I love the change to it happening and Mrs. culture’s apartment because it gives us a chance to have this banana’s scene of Mrs. Coulter with her long ass revolver shooting Benjamin the writer while Tony Costa like clings to the window sill outside and watches it all happen. Head of the monkey demon penning Benjamin’s bird demon to the floor and then Benjamin choosing instead of torture and giving up the secrets of the Egyptians to fall down an elevator shaft to his death. I asked Who sent you by. There.

S10: Is no way out of here. So this is just you. And me.

S11: Phew. Any idea how much pain I can cause you.

S7: And then the the bird evaporates into wisps that then the monkey sort of playfully bats around in a truly chilling moment. I really like that scene. I liked how exciting it was. I liked the notion that if you’re going to try and get information about the gobblers and you know thanks to Lyra that Mrs. Coulter is at the heart of the gobblers. Why wouldn’t you go to her apartment and try and figure that out. Like I loved that they didn’t end up getting a lot of great info but it gave us a great scene and it also gave us the moment that this scene shares and the books which is that it gives us the reason that Lyra ends up going up north and the books there’s a long debate about whether Lyra is going to go up north at all. That’s less prevalent here in the series but in the books later approves her worth to this band of Egyptians who are gonna go up north rescue the kids by using the leafy arbiter to show to tell what’s happening elsewhere in the world. She is toying with you leave the arbiter in front of a quorum in the books determines that Benjamin de has been killed in his spy mission before news comes back that in fact that’s what’s happened and that’s what happens here too and the serious she uses really if you armour the first thing she learns from it the first time it really clicks for her has when she understands that the question she asked about Benjamin the writer and Tony in this case has revealed that one of them has been killed and that is so valuable so potentially valuable to the Egyptians that they decide well Larry’s gotta come with us.

S3: Another interesting thing about this choice that I’ll point out is that it shows that Mrs. Coulter is physically dangerous as well as sort of dangerous by virtue of her powers. Yeah and there there is a moment where she has him pinned down and she starts talking about how it’s just you and me and I can cause you all this pain and that is almost word for word repetition of what Benjamin says to the Gobbler that the Egyptians have captured when he has an inner alone in a room and he’s interrogating him at the beginning of the series. And there’s a sort of weird moment where Father Gorham asks if it’s okay with her that they’re abusing this guy to get the information. I mean clearly the show runners have some moral issues with what’s going on. Yeah and both of those scenes and maybe they wanted to make it seem as if there was a weird form of rough justice there.

S4: All right. So we know that Lara has more time with Egyptians and we’re going to see more of them and their ways we’re going to see more of the relationship between labor and my co-star. More of the relationship between Lara and John far and far decorum. Relationships that I like you. Laura really treasure in this book series. And I feel heartened by the way that they’re developing so far in the series. But now let’s talk about the rest of the episode. It’s time as always for a lord boreal check in. What is he up to in the multiple worlds that you can visit besides getting his car booted and staring at his enormous like three hand sized phone. I believe his car getting booted actually is the only joke in this entire episode by the way. But it’s a good one.

S3: It’s pretty funny because it’s just you know he’s there in his sort of slinking around in his beautifully tailored suit and then he confronts this boot on his car with just complete bafflement because it just doesn’t fit into the world of sort of serpentine elegance that is the essence of Lord boreal.

S4: But it’s true if you are bouncing around between worlds it would be really hard to remember where you parked your car.

S3: True that. So fans of the book will realize that Stanislaw Grumman a.k.a. John Perry is a significant character in the series. But this subplot may seem like a digression to newcomers. If Lord boreal has been visiting our world for so many years what I want to know is why well what advantage has he gained from it. What are the results of those visits. What is the answer and why does he care so much about Grumman has the sort of long speech about only some people are as brave as him to go back and forth and so now he wants to know about this guy. I just don’t understand why if he is this agent of the Magisterium like what his game is on their behalf with all of this conspiratorial skulking around.

S4: And is it really on their behalf. There’s that scene where has whoever this guy is in our world who’s helping him because he understands how to use a computer is like. Is this for the people you work for or is it for you and then he says it’s for you I can tell. And I mean we’re definitely given the impression that what Lord boreal wants is just sort of like the thrill and power of being able to accumulate wealth and influence and knowledge in both of these worlds not just one. And to be the kind of person the kind of man who can travel behind worlds who has that kind of courage and and resolve.

S12: Why did you never try to follow me. You could have you know enough to have crossed behind me. You don’t have the courage that’s needed.

S13: To find a window because you’re scared of it.

S12: I was scared too but I mastered my fear. I never thought that I was the only person to cross.

S5: But until Stanislas never came across anyone who was fearless enough to have done it yet in Lara’s world he seems essentially subordinate to Mrs. Colter like he keeps his checking in with her. He I mean he’s playing his own game but also he’s clearly sort of a part of her plans in a way that isn’t clear. And I I agree that it is not yet clear to me at all what it is that’s actually driving him besides a sort of like vague children’s book. I want to have power type thing.

S3: Like I don’t know why exactly he’s doing the things that he’s doing to the Magisterium know that he can go to other worlds.

S5: Certainly not. Right. Because they they view other worlds as the greatest of heresies.

S3: Well I know but this is like a big powerful religious institution. There’s lots of things that they those such organizations view as a heresy that selected members of the group can indulge in. So it could be that they do now but it seems unlikely.

S14: It’s true. But we also are giving the impression that he is not doing this on their behalf. Right. And so and certainly we don’t know what advantage of the Magisterium is necessarily getting from him doing this although if he tracks down Stanislaus GRIBBIN There’s some sense in which that mystery interest the Magisterium and they want to solve why it is that Lord Israel is conducting these experiments and it’s all tied together in a set of confusing ways that I confess that even after reading all three books 25 times or whatever. I only sort of 100 percent get. And the ways in which it’s been tweaked or alter for the purposes of the series are as yet veiled to me a consultant may leave the arbiter. But no everything was not clear. But most importantly what does it mean that grooming is played by the High Priest from fleabag we see him fleetingly on the computer screen. It is very evidently him. So I mean does it mean that Mrs. Coulter and Stanislavski Rubin are going to hook up.

S3: Okay Dan what I think it means is that we have this subplot which I have mentioned before probably seems remote and kind of confusing to newcomers. But now that they’ve shown us the picture of Andrew Scott the actor who played the heart tree some fleabag a significant portion of the audience will be sticking around just in case he might show up again.

S4: That’s true. It’s a very smart show writers very smart indeed. We’ll see a lot more of Stannis ask room and I expect a.k.a. the high priest a.k.a. John Perry and maybe someone else who’s who we saw in that sequence as well but we’ll learn more about that later. We saw a lot more of this episode of Mrs. Coulter. We saw more sides of her we saw her drunk side. We saw her near suicidal side as her poor mucky demon looked on from the window. We saw her murderous side with Benjamin and we saw her inquisitorial side as she headed into Jordan College and had her thugs ransacked the place turn it upside down a moment that is very briefly alluded to in the books is happening not only in Jordan but at other colleges but then all the colleges band together to file a protest in support of their ancient rights and then the Magisterium has to back off. We don’t see them backing off here. We see the Magisterium like tearing that shit apart. What do you think of Mrs. Coulter and are you still in love with her and the performance that Ruth Wilson is giving.

S3: Well yes of course that she only becomes more fascinating with each episode. There’s a scene where she’s interrogating the master and she doesn’t torture him but she’s tares pages out of a book and then throws them in the fire and he winces you know she really just knows how to put the screws on. I mean she’s really frightening and she’s pretty scary as an as a sort of evil mom figure like a wicked stepmother figure in the second episode when she’s trying to control Lyra. And here she is scary in an adult way. You know she is a kind of head of the SS type character and also you know surprisingly strong for being diminutive. Now she she’s manages to pin down Benjamin and begin to torture him by using her demon. But I think what we find out once because we find out in this episode that she is Lazarus mother a lot of this along with the moment where she’s walking on the edge of the building and almost falls and seems to want to fall and reminds have her urge to jump suggests this level of sort of self-hatred hatred for her own neglect of Lyra. I mean I think that’s what’s going on with the character she she wants Lyra tremendously. Her maternal feelings have been awoken but because she’s sort of a twisted person the form they’re taking is this terrible fury and a certain amount of self-destructive dabbling that indicates how much she hates herself for having given up her child. It’s a it’s a great performance still.

S4: Mark Costa refers and passing and telling the story to layer of her parentage that misses called her after she had the baby and after this sort of scandal was an outcast that she was sort of that she was looked down on by everyone. I don’t remember that at all from the books and we never get the sense in the books necessarily that her standing was necessarily affected at all by the scandal.

S14: She seems so formidable and so well-placed with it within the Magisterium and so clever with the ways that she plays different factions of the Magisterium against each other that we never get that vulnerability off her. And here we really get vulnerability in this series and and it seems not at all crazy to think that she is a character who was laid low by circumstance was laid low by giving birth to her or her lover’s child and who then has pulled herself back up into this position of power inside the Magisterium and will do anything to maintain it even as. As you say she seems torn and upset and tortured by her feelings of maternal loss and guilt over what she has done to Lara.

S3: Yes I think she is an amazing character that has actually been expanded in this telling partly from the writing although the reading continues to remain kind of ham fisted but mostly through through Ruth Wilson’s incredible performance.

S4: I would just like to point out the most ham fisted piece of dialogue in this entire episode which has a mark co-star in telling the story to Lyra of Mrs. called her and Lord Azaria and she literally she’s she is like she describes Lord agile and she says he was high spirited quick to anger an absolutely normal thing for Egyptian women let’s say in describing someone she’s absolutely barely ever met someone does it’s really like a line that was sort of corny Victorian novel I mean it’s a line out of the Golden Compass but far decorum says that and it makes a lot more sense when far decorum says it.

S3: I mean there is this way the Lord as real is the Cornelius character in the whole story structure. Yeah yeah. So let’s talk about our response to the episode. Dan what did you love. What did you hate.

S8: I liked this episode. I thought this episode move the story forward in fun and exciting ways. I thought that big digression from the book The foray into mystic culture’s apartment by Benjamin and Toni was a great and very exciting and yielded the same results as scenes and in the book but with more adventure and and with more stakes for a character we care about this character of Tony who we don’t spend a lot of time with in the books who he’s a he’s an older kid among the Egyptians a young man who Lyra respects and who gets in a lot of scrapes but he doesn’t sort of have this kind of wild streak that Marcos is trying to keep away from.

S4: I really liked it. I you know I felt this was a big step up in part because it put us in a world that I like so much in the world of Egyptians and and animated that world and I thought interesting and delightful ways I feel like ever since in our last discussion you talked about how on the nose the dialogue is.

S3: It’s been bothering me more and more. I love so many things about this episode. I love James Cosmo’s portrayal of Father Gorham I just I just think that character is wonderful and he’s just incredible in conveying the gentle nurse and the wisdom of of of and the sort of sadness of this character. But I felt like if anyone used the expression keep you safe keep me safe and one more time. I was just going to scream. I mean you could make a drinking game around that and it’s just a kind of a hokey line that people use and sort of badly written are just formulaic television a lot. And I I really like the Lyra as you would mentioned last and the Lyra of of his dark materials was never running around asking that people keep her safe.

S8: That’s the last thing she writes Absolutely not.

S3: Yeah yeah. And so so yes. Originally the Egyptians did not plan to take her to the north because why did you take a little girl with you on this dangerous adventure. And then they chose to take her because she could read the Iliad the amateur but never at any point was like round running round asking people to protect her. And she always wants to run right into the heart of the danger because she believes that she can handle it and usually she’s pretty good at it. So so yeah I was kind of annoyed both of those things but I continue to just love all of the performances and to to even look at Borges who is just sort of like just sort of being evil off at the corner for for local color. I love him I enjoy him so much is he is the he’s the Snidely Whiplash kind of character.

S5: I love how he manages every space that he gets himself into in our world. He’s like impeccably designed like he has his beautiful riverside cottage Jeff with glass walls. And then when he. And then he has a scene where he has to meet some military guy or someone some secret guy to just hand over the file.

S14: But he meets him in a perfectly lit balcony where they’re both lit from below with like sort of pinkish blackish white light and they look gorgeous but this is like the unobtrusive place he did this handoff.

S3: This is just he said first I was annoyed by him but now I’m coming to enjoy whatever it is he supposed to be doing. The thing that I liked the most about this episode is that they’re heading north. I love any scene where someone goes up to the bow of the ship and the wind is blowing their hair back and the sea spray is in the air. That’s just that’s a call to adventure and I love to see that.

S4: I would point out one other thing about this episode that is different from the previous two episodes which is that it has a different director. The first few episodes were directed by Tom Hooper. This episode was directed by Don Shad forth his work. I don’t know that well but she is primarily a music video director and she has directed a bunch of really interesting and visually striking music videos the one that many American listeners might know of the best is the Kylie Minogue video for Can’t Get You Out Of My Head which is from the early 2000s which has a like totally crazy futuristic sci fi deal but she’s you know she’s as many music video directors do. She has a very striking visual sense and I was taken with a lot of the visuals in this episode not just Lord burials fans riverside house by battle but the ways that lyre was shot on those boats the lighting inside the boats and though and and the The View we got of like the interior of the elevator shaft inside Mrs. Coulter’s apartment. I saw a real difference in the direction and energy and pacing of this episode which is something that I also liked about it. It did not sort of sometimes slowed to a crawl the way Tom Hooper has a little bit of a tendency to do.

S1: OK well that’s our episode we’ll be back next week to discuss Episode 4 armor the authority as hosted by me Dan Coats and Laura Miller on Twitter I’m at damn case Laura is at Magician’s Book or if you want to reach out to us you can drop us a line email us and ask the authority at Slate dot com. Our producer is Phil circus engineering assistance for Melissa Kaplan Slate’s editorial director for audio is Gabriel Roth. And remember without stories we wouldn’t be human beings at all until next week. Thanks for listening.