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‘His Dark Materials’ Season 2, Episode 2 ‘The Cave’ Recap: Dr. Mary Malone

BY Stephanie Larson

Published 3 years ago

'His Dark Materials' Season 2, Episode 2 'The Cave' Recap: Dr. Mary Malone

Oh, how the plot has definitely thickened. His Dark Materials has served one brilliant follow up to last week’s premiere that once again left us in awe.

Every week now, there’s nothing more I look forward to on Sundays. It’s nice to see one of my favorite books brought to life in such a glorious fashion. And it’s nice to enjoy an epic fantasy that I’ve been wanting to be a part of since I’ve read the books. It’s similar to the Harry Potter experience, I guess.

In this week’s episode of His Dark Materials titled “The Cave,” Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) set out on two different missions in Will’s Oxford. Lyra sets out to find a scholar who knows about Dust and finally meets Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby). On the other hand, Will sets out to check on his mother. Along the way though, he discovers that he has family left aside from his mother which leads him to confront the fact that his father is definitely alive. It’s an emotional time for the kids but this is exactly what draws them closer together and prepares them for the journey ahead.

Another subplot of His Dark Materials season 2, episode 2 involves Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) and the Magisterium. With a power vacuum left in place after the cardinal’s death courtesy of Mrs. Coulter, Father MacPhail (Will Keen) makes his move with her help. And his actions seal the beginning of the witch hunt.

Now, let’s get on to this week’s episode of His Dark Materials, shall we?

Meet Dr. Mary Malone

Lyra’s meeting with Dr. Mary Malone sure didn’t take long and boy, we are glad it didn’t.

“The Cave” takes off with Lyra rushing into Will’s Oxford. Despite realizing that it’s completely different from her Oxford, Will leaves her alone to take care of her own business while he takes care of his. Looking for a more familiar spot, Lyra finds a museum. Inside, she consults the alethiometer on how to find her scholar. It tells her to look for St. Peter college and look for a door with a huge mountain on it. And one little note, it tells her not to lie to the scholar. Sounds simple, right?

Simone Kirby in His Dark Materials Season 2 Episode 2


Right as she was about to exit though, she bumps into Lord Boreal who falsely introduces himself as Charles. Lyra shoots back immediately with another lie introducing herself as Lizzie. Though she escapes his presence with a mere calling card, Boreal didn’t miss the alethiometer in her hands.

Following the alethiometer’s instructions, Lyra finds Dr. Malone. And she’s just as bright and wonderful as she was in the books. That’s another ace in casting right there for His Dark Materials. Anyway, Lyra doesn’t do a good introduction and explanation of why she’s there. Finally though, she just sinks down and everything comes pouring out – her guilt about Roger, her grief, and the pain that’s driving her to find out about Dust. Realizing that she was no ordinary child from her confession, Mary agrees to answer Lyra’s queries.

Shadow Particles

In Dr. Malone’s world, Dust is known as shadow particles. Mary found them in her studies of dark matter. And she has found that these particles respond to certain objects, especially man-made ones as if they were conscious. As she told Lyra, these particles seem to respond to human thought if the person holds their mind in a state of expectation without impatience.

Realizing that’s exactly what she does with the alethiometer, Lyra becomes more certain they’re talking about the same thing. To prove her point, Lyra brings out the alethiometer and tells Mary to ask her something she would never have known the answer to.

His Dark Materials Season 2 Episode 2


Mary asks what she did before she became a physicist. After a few clicks and turns, Lyra reveals she was a nun. That ultimately convinces Mary to take Lyra to The Cave. There, Mary hooks up Lyra to the computer and what ensues is a magnificent display of the shadow particle’s response. At first, it’s just waves but as Lyra puts her mind to it, she manages to communicate with the particles in the alethiometer’s language. No biggie, right? She also mentions they can form words.

Astounded, Mary rushes to take notes but what the shadow particles have to say give her pause. It says that she has an important part to play. However, she has to make the connection herself. It tells her she’ll also be needing her I Ching box where she’s going. After that, the particles remind Lyra she has to meet back up with Will. Rushing off, she promises to meet Mary the next day.

The Other Side of the Parry’s

After making sure his mother was safe, Will attempts to access the trust left by his father. Unfortunately, being a minor, he couldn’t but his mother’s lawyer reveals that there are people who could help him: his grandparents, Graham (Brian Protheroe) and Annabel Parry (Jane How). We’re as shocked as Will on this one since they were never mentioned in the books but it’s not an unwelcome nor beloved addition to His Dark Materials.

Sadly, his grandparents don’t seem to be the loving doting grandparent type. Sure, they’re loaded and they might seem a little bit concerned about Will but they were just as absent from Will’s life as his dad. And as soon as Will mentions the trust, his grandfather goes off upset. It seems like this was the only thing the old man expected from Will and his mom.

Amir Wilson in His Dark Materials Season 2 Episode 2


Once he finds himself alone, the old man whips out his phone and calls somebody we never expected to appear this soon: John Parry (Andrew Scott). More surprisingly, by the car setting, he seems to be in Will’s world. This becomes more apparent when he tells his father that he’s coming soon to get Will.

Back in the living room though, Annabel starts getting more loose-lipped. She starts off by mentioning the condition of Will’s mom. But what really gives her away is when she mentioned the police were desperately searching for the letters. At that, Will pretends to make a mess and dashes out of that house.

The Next Mission

Lyra and Will eventually meet back up but Lyra’s tardiness irks Will. He becomes more agitated when she insists that their next step would be to find his father. All his life, he’d only known that his father left them and he was left to care for his poor mother. So for the second time that day, Lyra reveals the alethiometer.

Dafne Keen in HIs Dark Materials Season 2 Episode 2


It lays out Will’s accident with the burglars out in the open and it also tells them that they need to find Will’s father. More than that though, it brings comfort to Will when it tells them that his mom is in good hands. Understandably, despite it being an object that only tells the truth, no BS, Will finds it hard to trust it. Lyra tells him to trust her then. She knew what it felt like to betray someone and it seems that she swore to herself never to do it again.

Sitting there, finally finding someone to trust, the two of them enjoy the last moment of peace they’ll get in a long while.

The Battle for the Cardinalship

Back in Lyra’s world, Mrs. Coulter and her little toy, Father MacPhail are making their moves to take over the cardinalship. MacPhail has one tough opponent though, Father Graves (Sean Gilder). While MacPhail is more subtle in his ways, Father Graves is your typical father screaming blasphemy at every single thing that doesn’t agree with his precious church teachings.

Ruth Wilson in HIs Dark Materials Season 2 Episode 2


This point is proven when the Magisterium brings in Dr. Lanselius (Omid Djalili) who was supposed to broker peace between the witches and the Magisterium. On his first step into the room though, it’s obvious he wasn’t going home that day. While he maintains that Queen Ruta Skadi (Jane Anouka) acted on her own, the Magisterium has already decided that her stabbing of the Cardinal was a declaration of war.

As Dr. Lanselius attempts to explain the ways of the witches saying that they know things that normal humans don’t, Father Graves suddenly starts screaming “Blasphemy! Only the authority can know things that humans don’t” (I wish he choked, honestly) And instead of negotiating peace, the Magisterium locks up Dr. Lanselius. We’ll take Father Graves’ screaming any day though instead of what Father MacPhail had in mind.

Ultimately, Father MacPhail won the voting and became the next cardinal. Once that was done, Mrs. Coulter dropped all pretenses and basically blackmailed him into turning his cheek the other way to whatever she plans doing. And after finding out where Lyra was from Asriel’s old servant, she left the Magisterium. Honestly, it’s one of the best exits ever.

Ruta Gedmintasa in His Dark Materials Season 2 Episode 2


They would’ve made a great pair though. Before the voting, MacPhail ordered a bunch of airships to load up on naphtha explosives. While the priests were voting on the supposed next honorable man to take on the cardinalship, those very ships were dropping those bombs onto the witch’s homes. Queen Serafina Pekkala and Queen Ruta Skadi could only watch in horror as their motherland burned.

‘His Dark Materials: The Cave’ Overall Verdict

With the way His Dark Materials is going, I don’t think there’s an episode I won’t like. Tonight’s episode didn’t lose the swing of the season 2 premiere and it quite literally added fuel to the fire. What I love most about it though the stark contrast between Dr. Mary Malone and the Magisterium. I know this is sensitive grounds right here but you can’t deny how beautiful His Dark Materials portrayed that stark contrast between someone who has an open mind and is full of wonder to those who are so clouded by their own judgment they’d rather commit genocide. It’s probably one of the more obvious ways the show touches on the core ideas of the book. The ending, more specifically, is like the show’s interpretation of the dark period of witch hunts in Christianity’s history.

Now, I’m more excited to see how His Dark Materials will continue this discussion without it outweighing other aspects of the story. After all, let’s not forget, the main characters are children.

Overall though, “The Cave” was another wonderful adaptation of the book. Dr. Mary’s casting was spot on and even her meeting with Lyra. I don’t even mind the liberties the show has taken. If it offers up the same epicness as these first two episodes from here on, I don’t think there’s anything to be mad about.

We’re going to need a lot more nice and bratty Will and Lyra though.

His Dark Materials continue Sunday, November 23rd, with “Theft” at 8 pm GMT on BBC One.

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