“The City of Magpies”

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S1: The world’s changing. They’ve all sensed in. The prophecy is clear. Duty is to protect the girl. And boy, wherever they are. Something happened as well. People going to be left to cross.

S2: And I’m looking for a girl named Lyra. Welcome to the authority Slate’s His Dark Materials podcast, it’s season two, Episode one, the season premiere, The City of Magpie’s, where Slate’s resident scholars of experimental biology. I’m Dan Coates. I’m a writer at Slate. And my deman is a Prairieville named Gilda.

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S3: I’m Laura Miller and I’m a columnist at Slate. And my deman is a sea otter named Sakey. Welcome back, Laura. Welcome back to you, too. Dan, thanks.

S4: So this season two premieres the chance for the show to catch our attention again after a year way that honestly feels like it was more like a hundred years.

S5: Feels like we’re living seven worlds away from the world of season one here on our allies. And pretty early on in this episode, we get a moment that is really crucial for fans of the books. It’s the meeting of Lyra and Will our two main characters for this series. Let’s listen to what it sounds like. Our Silvertone.

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S3: Is this your house? No, I’m finally someone else to talk to.

S4: So this season premiere covers much of the first three chapters of The Subtle Knife, which is the second book in Philip Pulman Sister Materials trilogy. My favorite of them all. We see Lyra and Will learning more about Cheeta Ghazi, the city of Children and another world that they’ve both come to. And we get to see a council of witches and watch one which Rucha Scotty wreak havoc on culture and the Magisterium. So today we’re going to take a closer look at witches, who they are and the his dark materials universe, how they’re portrayed in the series, why they all have such exciting names on the authority.

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S6: We’re going to do our best to talk about the worlds of Philip Pullman’s books without spoiling the story of the books. So we’ll fill in the blanks. For those of you who haven’t read the books in a while or who haven’t read them at all. And we’ll discuss things like demons and witches and dust. And Panzner born in great detail, but we won’t give away anything in the plot that’s in store for Lyra or Astral or anyone else. Nevertheless, some stuff we talk about might be considered spoiler adjacent by people with a serious allergy to knowing anything ahead of time. So proceed with caution.

S4: Listener, beware. And we’re here to answer your questions. If you’ve got a burning question about his dark materials, you’re having trouble figuring out how to work your Aletha ometer. Email us, ask the authority at Slate Dotcom and we’ll address it on a future show. So let’s talk about this episode one it but it begins with, you know, some side stories about witches and whatnot. But it really began for me with Lyra encountering well in Cheetah Gaza City and this new world that she’s come to after the events of last season’s finale when she walked through the portal that Lord Azriel opened up to Gaza. Looks like it’s been recently abandoned for reasons that we don’t know at first. And Laura, the design of the city is super striking. What does this city remind you of?

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S6: Well, it’s a Mediterranean style hill town, but it’s built on this little peninsula out in the sea. So it’s both like a port town and a hill town. And it’s very much the kind of place that you would visit on a trip to Italy. I really love the production design on this, beginning with the weird stairway that cuts back and forth, going up from the docks into the actual streets of the city, which is an echo of some stairs, some sort of stairs that we see in the credit sequence. And it just suggests a kind of mind bending quality sheet. This is a is a strange place in in these narratives because it’s like a meeting place where not too much of the actual big action of the story happens. But still, it’s a very crucial because things that happened in the past and future are driving everything that’s happening in the story. Now, the name means City of the Magpie’s in Italian, and we will later learn how fitting that that name is. But the main thing to know about it now is that it’s been a city of merchants and scholars. It’s sort of like the embodiment of a renaissance city. And we see a recurring decorative motif on the buildings which are angels, and they’re especially prominent on the tower at the center of the city, which is called the story, the angley, which is Italian for the Tower of the Angels. Setagaya, Gaza is weirdly deserted except for these gangs of feral kids. And one of the kids explains to Lyra and Will that the city has suffered from a plague of Spectre’s, which are these invisible entities, or at least they’re invisible children that only attack adults and just sort of suck their soul out of them, basically, and leave them like zombies.

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S5: The one other thing I’d add about the. City is that it’s it is like a renaissance city and it’s a center of of merchants and commerce and innovation, it seems like innovation, you know, of the kind of unique ways that innovation presents itself in the different worlds of these books. But it’s also. It resembles closely a city of the present in our own world and that there are there are bottled sodas and there are ovens that work and cafes and produce made. It seems like a town in Italy, like right around the time of call me by your name, maybe like a 1980s Italian hill town. And there are obvious sort of differences between our world and this one. This close seem a little bit more old timey. The Stow’s might be wood fired, but there’s still electricity. But it shares in its design a lot of qualities of the Renaissance while still having some aspects of the modern day. And it’s also infested, as we get told, by this gang of children, that lion whelmed by these specters. And we actually get a glimpse of one adult in the city in the course of this episode, an adult who clearly has been attacked by these specters and has had the life sucked out of him. And it’s a very striking image. He’s pale and sort of dust covered and he’s got this vacant stare and he truly looks as though everything that is human about him has been sucked away. And he’s now just sort of shuffling shell, moving through the city. Almost a kind of ghost. Yeah. When Lyra meets well, early in this episode, she distrusts him early on. But Pann is the one who reaches out to well and encourages Lyra to make a connection with him. He immediately sparks Towill. He talks to him. I think that, you know, we we know from last season demons don’t always do to other people. And it helps Lyra understand that will of someone who she should team up with. It also serves as a helpful reminder to us of of the ways that demons influence their humans. And in fact, this whole episode is filled with a ton of demon stuff. I don’t think I didn’t notice. Oh, hey, Yelda, nice of you to pipe up.

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S7: I liked all the attention on demons in this episode. We see the witches demons talking to each other and Scoresby and Hester.

S8: It’s still creepy to see people without demons. And there are a bunch in this episode, including the kids from the Gods.

S6: I see what you mean, Soki. By now, however, Lyra has encountered a few people who either don’t have demons or are able to separate from them at some distance like the witches. So she doesn’t react with the same instinctive revulsion that she might have earlier and that we learn more from the books than from the series because the series just really has a burden to explain something that’s very natural and so natural and libraries world that nobody ever really talks about it but is completely different from our own. So we know that people without demons are repellent and like like a mutilated person to people in Lyras world. But she has a little bit more experience of this, although when we first met her, she lived in a world where people always take the demon for granted. With this first encounter with Will, the series has this handy way of rebooting the concept for audiences who are coming back after this seemingly really long break, even though it’s only been a year and reminding us of some of the basics, like people aren’t supposed to touch each other’s demons. And Lyra can actually articulate for Will what a demon is, which is it’s a part of a person’s self.

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S7: It’s not a pet, definitely not a pet.

S5: We complained about the show’s underuse of demons all throughout season one. I mean, maybe complained about it ad nauseum. But this is a really nice shift. I thought in this episode it’s almost like Jack Thorn was listening.

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S7: Dan, get over yourself.

S6: OK, OK. We also talked about how the humans and their demons were not touching as much as they do in the book. That sense of like physical connection was not as present in the series as it is in the books. And it seemed to me like there was a little bit more actual physical contact between Lyra and Pann, which probably made easier by the fact that there’s now only one demon instead of a demon for every single character. But that also I noticed and appreciated.

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S5: All right. So it’s crucial that they get the Lyra will friendship, right? I think for for many people, including me, that’s the heart of these stories, like cosmology is great, the great epic narrative, the resonances with Milton and Blake. But what I’m in this for is for the friendship, the growing relationship between Lyra and Will. That’s what is that’s what I connect to emotionally. That’s what I remember the most from the books. So they got to nail it. Laura, how do you think they did?

S6: I think they did it pretty well. Laura is very Lyra. She tests well, according to her sort of urchin code of, you know, like, can I push them around? Is it resourceful? You know? You know what what good is basically and with will we see that he is almost like a kind of a proto adult? He’s more. Competent than she is in many ways, because he’s been caring for his mother so he can cook and he is a little bit less capricious or. Well, he’s a lot less capricious. He’s more responsible, but he’s also had fewer actual adventures because he had to be so cautious in covering up his mother’s mental illness. So we see that the two of them are complementary in a way, and they actually do figure that out pretty quickly. Yeah, I mean, but the important thing about this phase of the story, though, is that there are no adults. Now, previously, Lyra and Roger had their own little adventures and scrapes around the edges of the adult world, which is sort of driving all the action. And then when Lyra was off on her own, you know, off exploring, she had fought or khorram and drawn fire and at least Scoresby in the witches and even Yorick as these sort of grown up figures who were helping her and protecting her and guiding her, or she was being moved around like a commodity or whatever by Australian culture. But now, at the beginning of this, what we know is that she’s really disillusioned with, I think, all adults as a result of Lord Azriel killing Roger. And she’s past the sort of hero worship phase and into the full adolescent disillusionment phase. And she’s prepared to strike out on her own. But in this case, the minute she’s getting ready to do that, the sort of story provides her with yet another child as her her ally.

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S5: I mean, what a smart move on the part of Philip Pullman at the exact moment where she has become disillusioned with adults to give her a world in which which there’s an enforced lack of adults, which if an adult shows up, they’ll immediately be consumed by a spectre. Lyra gets some real quirks in this episode, a lot related to that sort of urchin code that you mentioned, and I really like that a lot. You know, I felt in season one that at times Lyra felt a little bit like she was always super watchful and serious. But I didn’t always get the sense of the big personality that I always think of Lyra having the big personality that led me to name a kid after her, for God’s sake. But, you know, in this episode, we have her like her inability to make an omelet, but her willingness to try her total lack of interest in a shower and just all her basic spelling is the way she takes over the house as soon as well offers her place and just claims her own room. I love those moments. And they’re fun in ways that Lara hasn’t always had a chance to be fun. And that, I thought, was a real nice addition.

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S6: Yeah. Will, by contrast, is if anything just has an overdeveloped conscience. You know, unlike Lyra, who lies and steals and does all kinds of things without much of a of a qualm the scene where he wants to leave money. And I think that’s that. I’ve always wondered what is the currency that he wants to leave or would it be any use together? But but, you know, when he wants to leave money for the food that they take, that to me was very charmingly reminiscent of Philip Hammond. Hated to hear this, but it’s some of the scenes in The Chronicles of Narnia where the child characters debate the morality of what they’re doing, especially in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where they take the fur coats from the wardrobe when they’re going out in the snow and they have this whole kind of debate about it. And I finally decided it’s OK because they’re not actually taking them out of the wardrobe. So they’re not stealing them. They’re they’re remaining inside the wardrobe. So to me, he’s more of a traditional child hero of a British literature.

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S5: You know, he he he was a feral child, but he has he carries a lot more real world weight than those child characters of the past and more than Lyra really to write for Lyra, the adventures have been so otherworldly and even her losses have been so otherworldly, whereas his, at least to a reader of you are like us coming at it from our world. It seems those are weighty, real world problems that give a kid a kind of gravity in a story like this, as opposed to the, you know, the the epic adventures that lie ahead. Speaking of his, you know, the the the real the earthy nature of his of his character, we get this funny reminder as they approach the Tower of Angels that one thing will has that the will of the book does not have is that he has an iPhone. He takes it out and takes a picture of the Tower of the Angels. And I like I wonder I’m so curious what role this will play in the story, because in a way, it’s sort of it’s almost his aletha ometer, right? It’s it’s a truth telling device if you use it right. And if you can ever get service. And I’m curious whether they’ll find a way to use that, because that’s a that’s a fun parallel to play with. So let’s do a deep dive on our subject today, which is which is, which is which is so the the other story going on in this episode, while Will and Lyra are getting acquainted together, is that is mostly happening aboard a Magisterium submarine, the cardinal, the Magisterium Cardinal, and from are there and they’ve taken a witch prisoner.

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S9: She was captured during the hostilities that followed Lord Kasrils opening of the window.

S5: Mrs. Coulter convinces them to let her interrogate the witch and tortures her and is quite unique fashion by squeezing out twigs of cloud pine from under her skin, which is of always seemed a little bit otherworldly. But it seems worth asking and explaining to our listeners like what our witches. Are they human? Are they something more? What do we know about them?

S6: Well, the witches in his dark materials are more than human. They have these magical powers, and most of them of these powers come from a kind of connection to the natural world, which is really embodied in the clown pine twigs. They can fly, they can control the weather to a certain degree. They are healers and they have this interesting power of going unnoticed when they don’t want to be noticed. They don’t feel cold or heat as intensely as humans do, and they seem to be able to travel between worlds at times without suffering serious consequences. Another interesting thing about the witches is that they have no possessions. So while we never learn all that much about where they live, they have houses or farms or, you know, of their hunter gatherers. Who knows? It is very exciting to actually see the meeting hall depicted. Meeting Hall is where the different clans of the witches, which seem to be located in specific, are tied to specific places like lakes or mountains. They assemble to meet now. So so the different clans don’t always agree and sometimes they go to war with each other. I’m personally would be very interested to know what sorts of disputes historically have led to the witches going to war against each other, since owning stuff, including land, is just such a major cause of human conflict. But we still don’t know that much about them.

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S4: You describe it as a meeting hall and it’s interesting. I look at it and I get the sense of it. I mean, they’re so tied to the natural world that seems like sort of a natural, like a sort of mountaintop outcropping on which they’re surrounded by. They’re sort of in a gulch inside a natural amphitheater.

S6: So it’s sort of a mix of a meeting hall and sort of a big open air theater, like a crater or something at which makes sense because they get everywhere by flying. So they’re not going to want to stay in places that have roofs. Yeah, we don’t know. Did they just find this place? Is it like some kind of caldera or something or did they make it like we don’t know what you know, they do, you know, if they build anything at all.

S4: At that meeting, Leigh Scoresby is present. He’s invited to join this meeting of all the different clans. And at the meeting of Scotty, one of the witch queens makes this case for the witches joining the fight against the Magisterium. And, you know, this meeting is pretty important because the books make it clear in the series implies this as well. The human men don’t get invited to these witch councils. This is not a common thing and it’s a big deal for Li to be there. Let’s listen to what Rouda has to say about why the witches she believes witches should join the fight.

S10: Queen Scudding, Queen Seraphina Pecola. That man does not belong here, he is here at my reckoning as you Fruita Scotney is angry. Everyone should be angry. Sisters, your Cerca has been taken prisoner by the Magisterium. I have word they are rounding up anyone who questions their authority the way those animals in the Magisterium have cracked down upon the world since the opening. Towne’s tightly controlled by armies out of our depth here short of history. So the time has come to act to show the magisterium that their actions have consequences, and I am here to beg you, Seraphina Pecola and all the sisters, to join me in rescuing Catcha.

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S6: I believe we have no choice, so in line with world, all of the witches are female, they have children with human men, and if those children are female, they become witches. And if they are male, they may rejoin human society. They may do some work for the witches like Martin once Alias does, in control of some 3000, according to Pulman law. There are other worlds where there are male witches, but not in this one. Now the witches will also live hundreds of years more than humans, which makes their relationships with men inherently painful. And it’s the sort of tragedy behind Forder Quorums relationship with Sarafina Pecola. She still looks the way she did when they were together, and he’s an old man, so they fly with cloud pine.

S4: And I was I’m totally fascinated by the series treatment of Cloud Pine. I always assumed that it was a kind of it was like Philip Pullman’s way of getting around the idea that witches need to fly around on broomsticks. So it’s kind of a stick. It’s like a sort of it’s like a spray of cloud. Pine is how he always describes it in the book. And there’s a scene in in the Golden Compass where Lyra goes out to Martland. Sally says Yard and picks out a particular spray of cloud pine that Sarafina Pecola has left behind. And it suggests that, you know, it suggests that out in his yard was like a little cloud pine parking lot where lots of witches left. They’re there. They’re not broomsticks, definitely not broomsticks. But here in the TV series, they made a kind of an interesting choice, which is that cloud Pine Springs are tiny. They’re very small. You know, in that scene with Martland Celiacs back in season one, what we saw was like choosing between cloud and different little jars instead of going out to the yard, out to the parking lot. And we see in this episode that it’s actually implanted in the witch’s skin. It like lives inside them in some way and and aids them presumably in their power of flight. And so when Mrs. Coulters torturing this witch that the Magisterium is captured, she does it by cultlike, agonisingly pulling this out of her. And I found that just like a super fascinating idea, the idea that you requires not just holding on to this magical device, but becoming one with it so that it affects your system like Norplant.

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S6: But for magic, yeah, I gather that each which has her own particular tree. And so we also see Seraphina give Lee a sprig of cloud pine to call her with. And that is presumably why lengthily has all of those Sprague’s so that he can control.

S4: Oh oh that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. So that because he’s the console he just needs to be able to get a witch on the phone, whatever.

S6: Yeah. It’s like you know, you can’t communicate through it but you can definitely like you know say I need to talk to you. Bye bye. Using these things.

S4: It’s a super which rolodex. Yeah. What is the deal with their names. They all seem like Finnish or Latvian.

S6: Yeah they are actually so you know, derived from the Finnish. And then there is this story going around which I can’t say how truthful it is. It might be a joke that that Philip Pullman made, that he got some of these names from just looking at a Finnish phone book. They’re great name Seraphina. Pecola is just an amazing name. And and so was Brutus Gotti. But there’s a kind of an interesting undercurrent to this, because a fascination with Finnish ness and the kind of way that it seems like the most sort of remote on adulterated version of Nordic ness is something that you see a lot in English fantasy fiction. Tolkien was obsessed with the Finnish language. He loved it and thought it was beautiful. And he based his invented Elvish languages in part on Finnish. It’s associated in the minds of sort of English people who feel like they sort of have this, you know, there’s sort of this weird mixture of different kinds of races with wildness and cold, the, you know, Arctic paganism and this kind of noble savagery. You know, it’s remote and it’s and it’s wild.

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S4: You really see it in the elves. Yeah, tolkin. Like, they’re not only are they all tall and beautiful, they’re all sort of like otherworldly in the way the witches. Yeah.

S6: So like some of the other cultural characterizations in his dark materials, this sort of thing can feel a little dated and reductive. You know, like things are all like this is like a stereotype of the finished, although it doesn’t. I think the biggest stereotype of the Finnish is that they are all alcoholics and the witches don’t seem to be big drinkers. But but anyway, Finnish people please don’t say yeah. They’re there, they would never do that. What I like that the series has done is its cast, people of color and sort of other non Nordic types as the witches. So you get it’s a little less of this sort of racial essentialism, which is sort of implied by all the the finished names. Like I’m sure they’re not want to believe that only Finnish or Nordic types could be witches in his imagined world. But I think that he saw a great romance in the in the far north and and that’s reflected in the the Finnish names.

S4: So Mrs. is trying to find out more about this prophecy that the witches have about Lyra. The prophecy that we heard recited a little bit of in the very beginning of the very first episode of season one of this series. She tortures this witch enough to hear that the that in the prophecy there, the witches have another name for Lyra before she can hear more, before she can hear what that name is, though, the imprisoned, which calls the yamaka her god of death, and Rouda Scotty goes right into the sub and stabs her in slow motion. You know, I’ve I think I talked last season about how much I enjoyed the way the witches fight in this series. But one thing I really do miss is something you mentioned already, the books version of how witches can make themselves go unnoticed at crucial moments. You know, it’s like it’s great that they can fight like superheroes or like Harry Potter wizards or whatever, but they also have this kind of magical modesty that allows them to go unnoticed when they want to.

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S11: And it mirrors, for me, wills a way of of avoiding the attention of teachers or social workers when he’s in his world. It’s this sort of rigorous, enforced, not invisibility, but unnoticed ability. I’m going to read a little section from the subtle knife from page thirty three where where Sarafina Pecola does this in the book at Seraphina Pecola, who sneaks into the place where the switch is being held and kills her before she can give away too much information. But here’s what the book says. There is one thing Sarafina could do. She was reluctant because it was desperately risky and it would leave her exhausted. But it seemed there was no choice. It was a kind of magic she could work to make herself unsign. True invisibility was a possible of course, this was mental magic, kind of fiercely held. Modeste that could make the spell work are not invisible, but simply unnoticed, holding it with the right degree of intensity. She could pass through a crowded room or walk beside a solitary traveler without being seen. So now she composed her mind and brought all her concentration to bear on the matter of altering the way she held herself so as to deflect attention completely. It took some minutes before she was confident. She tested it by stepping out of her hiding place and into the path of a sailor coming along with the bag of tools. He stepped aside to avoid her without looking at her once.

S4: I love that. I love that. I just love that. It’s one of my favorite examples of the sort of sideways creativity of the moment to think of this way, that which has become invisible as opposed to just like they snap their fingers and poof, they’re gone. Or like a fucking cloak.

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S6: Yeah, it’s a it’s a it’s a kind of magic worked on the minds of people who perceive them. And later I believe that will and which I can’t remember which one discuss his ability, you know, his sort of invisibility skills and agree that which agrees that it’s sort of a related thing, which makes me think that it might be something that Pullman observed in children as a teacher, you know, that there were certain children who had an expertise that going unnoticed by adults as never having been one of those kids always have been desperate to be noticed.

S4: I’m a real Lyra. I was I’m not familiar with that.

S6: So one one other thing about which is that’s really important to know is that they’re demons, which are always birds, can travel far from them. And this is really unusual in Laura’s world. And in a recently published story set in Laura’s world called Serpentine, Pullman gets into a little bit more detail about how they acquire this ability. And it involves a particular ritual that requires them to go to a desolated area, I believe, somewhere in Central Asia and perform this ritual. And it’s it’s very it’s very traumatic. I mean, Lyra finds out about it and she learns that it’s an experience that completely transforms the person who has it.

S8: I know, which is are supposed to be good, but they’re demons flying so far from them gives me the creeps.

S7: I don’t even know that they’re supposed to be good. Exactly. They’re sort of beyond good and evil. They make their choices based on factors humans and demons can barely understand.

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S4: And that makes, which is sort of tough, sells as major characters in the TV series. And so, you know, a lot of times the series leaves us with a lot of sort of majestic pronouncements from the witches and from their demons. Here’s some that we get from routine SARAFINA as demons as they are, humans are speaking to each other.

S10: During the Big Council of Witches, the prophecy was clear. We must find that child. The prophecy is not all there is. You risk to the Magisterium has thrived and your indifference, Brutus God, he will show that we are indifferent no more with or without to cancel.

S4: The show really leans into those kinds of nomic pronouncements when it’s not leading into just how totally hot all the witches are with their diaphanous robes and their tattoos, their sexy Cloud9 tattoos. I hope that as time goes on a little bit more of the spookiness of witches and as you say, the politics of which is what it is that these different clans really are concerned with, comes through in the series as well, because I find that really fascinating about them. All right. Let’s talk our way through the rest of this episode. Near the end, we have our two parallel stories in one, Mrs Coulter, who had just finished telling the cardinal and everyone on the submarine that she has done Feigley. Thank you very much. Absolutely. Completely fails to get useful information out of the witch. But luckily in that attack were discarded not only kills, but which had been captured, but also stabs the cardinal.

S9: And then Mrs Coulter makes a deal with Frolich, fail to, shall we say, dispose of the cardinal so that the Magisterium can take full advantage of these new worlds which have now opened up, presumably led by Frank McPhail.

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S6: Yeah, and it’s worth pointing out here that one of the reasons why Mrs Coulter wants to interrogate the witch herself is that she wants to learn what it is the witches know or believe about Lyra. But she does not want the Magisterium to know that she wants to protect Lyra at the same time that she’s trying to figure out how Lyra fits into the power struggles that are going on in her world. So it’s not just that she wants to show what a boss is by succeeding it at something that everyone else fails, that she also wants to make sure that she can selectively pass on the information she gets from the witch. I said, this is we see Miss Coulter and, you know, don’t know. Smashing outfit as the Machiavellian master of this story, she she recognizes even before the cardinal got stabbed that MacPhail is ambitious, he’s a potential threat to her, and also that the cardinal is a weak leader. He is denying the reality that they were all forced to confront when Israel blows up in a hole between the worlds and he just he can’t deal with the reality and he just he the framework of heresy and doctrine that the cardinal lives by just cannot. Encompass what’s actually going on, so this really makes him problematic as a leader, and so as soon as she finds out that the cardinal is stabbed, we have to remember this is as big a surprise to her, anyone else else? She just pivots and she positions herself as a McPhail ally. She flatters him. She knows that he’s motivated by ambition and that he’s less susceptible to her beauty than the cardinal was. Strongly suggest that the cardinal is sort of hypnotized by her sort of seductive manner and she instantly becomes this sort of counselor whispering in his ear and just telling him how great he is and how much she’s going to help him. And it shows how expert she is at working within this patriarchal institution. The other thing is that’s important in this story is the idea that she’s going to allow the cardinal to die, but she is going to take on the sin for him. And the idea of sin as something that functions almost like a commodity is a really interesting one that comes up much, much later on in the story. And so it’s worth noticing that they they make a kind of trade when her being responsible for the Cardinals death is a trade that she’s making with MacPhail, which indicates that even though these people are all big power mongers, they still actually believe that sin is the real thing.

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S9: Yeah, definitely Father McPhail does. And he’s well into sort of hand over that poker chip, that poker chip of sin.

S4: And she’s willing to make that exchange in order to get the thing that he wants that makes him able, it seems, to accept the power move that it’s necessary for him to make. I do agree with you that she looks fantastic. I would like to shout out her torture boots, just fantastic torture boots. And this episode really good for Chartrand. They seem comfortable and they’re knee high. So you can be like up to your ankles and blood and you’re still fine.

S6: It’s very reminiscent of Rene Russo in the Thomas, the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair, where just one scene after another, I think, wow, she looks great except evil.

S4: Evil or is she all right so I can shoot Agassi. The Lethe ometer tells Lyra that Will is a murderer. And that’s one of my favorite moments in the book. I just want to read it because I love it so much. It’s a page twenty of the set of life. She asked, what is he, a friend or an enemy, and the elite amateur answered, he is a murderer. When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once. You could find food and show her how to reach Oxford. And those were powers that were useful. But he might still have been untrustworthy or cowardly. A murderer was a worthy companion. She felt safe with him and she felt with your business and the armor bear God I love so much. They fudge it a little bit in the series. Let’s listen to how they treat it here. He’s a murderer.

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S10: Just like Kurek. There’s something else about him, too.

S4: He’s connected to this place. He’s got something to do, but I still love this determination from wire that, you know what, once he knows he’s a murderer, everything is cool. That is the kind of guy who she is willing to be associated with.

S6: And she knows she’s very utilitarian. You know, he’s it’s going to be useful to have some particular skill.

S4: Right. He’s no armored bear, but at least she’s got something that our last shot in this episode as well, looking up at the tower and she took away with a specter wooshing around behind him, the sort of big black smoke creature. Laura, what do you think of the design of the Spectre’s?

S6: Well, I was very curious to see how it with these creatures would be rendered, and I did like it. It owes something to the ghosts in Garima, editor of IMPAC, which is the movie that I love. And it also has a kind of a baroque quality to it, like a lot of swirling wisps of of shadow. I my my verdict is a thumbs up on this because I give it a thumbs down.

S4: Oh I’m not into it. I just because let me read how they’re described in the book which is quite vivid. This is again from the subtle knife. This is the root of Scottie actually seeing some Spectre’s in the country where the guys, as it might have been, a good land to live in, but for the spectral forms that drifted like mist over the grasslands and congregated near streams and low lying water and some lights, they were hardly there at all, just visible as a drifting quality in the light arrhythmic evanescence like Vail’s of transparency turning before a mirror. Now, I’ll grant you that that seems basically impossible to animate. That seems like the memo you write to your effects department when you want them to come back and say, yes, I will do that for you for seventy five million dollars. And so I understand that, like, it’s easier to do this like sort of smoky thing that. Yes. Garmo del Toro used in Crimson Peak. It reminded me a lot of the way that so many monsters now have end up looking like the mentors in the Harry Potter series, which which in its time when you know, when Alfonso Cuarón designed them for the third Harry Potter movie, that was a really unique design in the sense of these creatures who were underwater. Yet in real life, with the sort of smoke trailing quality to them and the fluidity with which they move through the air, this series sometimes seems overly dependent to me on these kind of Harry Potter quirks of design, the way the witches move, just like the, you know, just like fuckin Bellatrix, the strange as in and all the Harry Potter movies. And that drives me a little crazy. And I. I recognize that that it’s a lot more menacing this way, but I what I liked about the description of the Spectre’s is how nearly invisible they were and how. Seemingly. In substantial, they were they were literally insubstantial, but yet they had this kind of dramatic hollowing out effect on their victims. And when you see this thing hovering behind Will, you’re never you’re never like, oh, what could that possibly do? It looks like it’s going to fucking eat him, like right now. But I sort of like that, that I like the gulf between the way they looked and the horrific effect that they had. But let’s see when when we finally get to see a spectator in action, which presumably will happen at some point, let’s see how they treat that because they still could look as well.

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S6: And I would just counter that with the fact that I do not see how against the setting of Gaza it would be at all effective to have them just be a kind of a ripple or or a film. I think maybe in a less colorful, less object filled setting, maybe some place dark or spooky, you could maybe do that. But I think that they would get lost visually.

S4: And in cheetah Gaza carrying water for the production design team. I see. Again, Laura Miller. No problem. I get it. While whatever they look like, whether however you feel about it, they’re definitely scary as shit. There’s one right behind. Well, so good cliffhanger.

S2: We’ll find out what happens next week when we come back to discuss episode two, The Key. So please join us then. In the meantime, send us a line on Twitter. I’m at Danco or is that magician’s book?

S3: And you can email us a question or a comment at ask the authority of one word at Slate dot com.

S2: So thanks for listening. Our producers Phil Cercas, Slate’s editorial director for Audio, is Gabriel Roth. I’m Dan. I’m Gilda. I’m Laura Miller. And I’m stuck. And remember, without stories, we wouldn’t be human beings at all.