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TV Episode Review: “His Dark Materials”: “The Botanic Garden”

Lyra and Will find themselves in a new world where they know their daemons are, and they are close, but the daemons still keep their distance from their humans. Lyra reflects on her relationship with her parents (she knows they’re dead). She has mixed feelings due to the sort of individuals both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter were in general. They weren’t “perfect” people (or parents), but she knows they cared for her in their own (strange) way. 

            Lyra and Will see the Mulefa and they follow Atal to Dr. Mary Malone. After reuniting, Dr. Malone tells Lyra and Will about the world they’re in and how it works, especially regarding to Sraf/Dust/Dark Matter. She tells them the world is dying because the Sraf is leaving the world, and she and the Mulefa don’t know what to do about it.

            After learning more about Sraf, Dr. Malone tells the children about her past and why she left her life as a nun. She realized suppressing her feelings and her desires (i.e. love, life, experience, etc.,) are not aligned with Sin. Not taking chances and suppressing one’s emotions are what lead to negative life experiences. Lyra and Will take her story to heart.  

            Father Gomez continues his trek to locate “the Serpent.” While the spy fly is able to assist him with tracking down Dr. Malone, he comes across “Eve” first. Before Father Gomez can assassinate “Eve,” there is a “divine intervention.” 

            Lyra and Will are able to reflect about their long adventure, and their feelings for each other. Their love begins the process of “healing” the multiverse; at the same time, Dust settles on to Lyra and Will. Serafina Pekkala and Xaphania sense the change across the worlds. They know the final prophecy has been fulfilled by Lyra and by Will. Now, the witch and the angel go in search of “Eve” and “Adam.”

            Serafina arrives in the world of the Mulefa and finds Pantaliamon and Will’s daemon—who gets a name. She tells the daemons that they must reunite with their humans because one final thing needs to be done and they will be needed. Pantaliamon reunites with Lyra, and Will meets his daemon for the first time. During their moment of reconciliation, Lyra and Will touch each other’s daemons.  

            Xaphania appears before Dr. Malone and reveals she was the one who spoke with her in the laboratory. Xaphania explains what Dr. Malone’s task was in relation to the prophecy. Dr. Malone is baffled by how “something so simple can be so significant.”

            Xaphania talks to Lyra and Will about the long-term consequences and affects the Æsahættr had across the multiverse. While Will was responsible with the Knife, most of the other Bearers before him were not. The adolescents realize what “fixing” the multiverse will mean for them; and, neither one of them can survive in the other one’s world. Will will no longer be able to use the Æsahættr; ironically, Lyra’s “growth” equates to her not being able to read the Alethiometer any longer. 

Xaphania explains to Lyra and to Will that their actions started the “healing” of the worlds, but it won’t be enough for the long-term. However, there is enough Dust in the worlds for 1 Window to be left open; unfortunately, everyone knows which Window must remain open. Lyra and Will make their final sacrifice knowing they will never see each other again as long as they’re alive. The two lovebirds make a lifelong commitment to each other, so they will never forget each other. Will and Dr. Malone return to their world (our world), and Lyra returns to her world. They are all changed individuals and they are not the same people they were when they left for their journeys. 

In terms of this being an adaptation of the last few chapters in The Amber Spyglass, this episode was an excellent one. It matched the moods of accomplishment and of relief, while blending in the tones of dread and bittersweetness. Regardless of the changes and the omissions from the books, the ending of the TV series matched the ending of the book series. And yes, there remain mixed feelings within the fandom regarding how the author ended the series, but the adaptation is genuine. My Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

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