Thirst Trap: His Dark Materials, Ep. 2

Because we are adults now and it's our Authority-given right to thirst

As you all know by now, I’m recapping His Dark Materials over at Vulture. But why stop there, I ask you? In the wake of last week’s premiere, I tweeted that there are certain…aspects of the series that I cannot in good conscience get into in a recap. Say, for example, oh I don’t know…how beautiful every actor onscreen is?

(Please note, I’m calling this thing “Thirst Trap” because I’m entirely sure that it will eventually extend to other properties, too—starting at the end of this very newsletter.)

The HDM premiere was quite rife with thirst material, first and foremost in the form of sweaters and prominent gray streaks:

Then including some utterly devastating lady suits:

But you can get caught up on last week’s beauties on your Tumblr dashboard. Let’s move onto this week’s episode, “The Idea of North,” and ogle every grown-up with more than one line. I give you, in descending order of whomst can get it:

Thirst Power Ranking, His Dark Materials Episode 2

  1. Father Garret: The lurker priest who comes with Father MacPhail to Mrs. Coulter’s flat to threaten her about the gobblers getting sloppy. Being creepy and weird to a child you don’t know, having a hellish bug dæmon, also being named “Garret”? Why? Get thee behind me, Beetle Face. I’d rather die.

  1. Cardinal Sturrock: Gross, old Igor also has a bug dæmon, but adds a stoop so forced, it’s borderline ableist. (*Mugatu voice*) Doesn’t anyone in this universe notice how ghoulish the Magisterium’s leadership is? What is the incentive for being a Catholic here, exactly? Anyway, the actor, Ian Peck, is clearly having the time of his life, chewing up the scenery like he’s the evil sorcerer in a high school drama production; for this reason alone he ranks infinitesimally higher than Garret. In the words of a master: wow, no thank you.

  1. Father MacPhail: The primary errand boy for the Magisterium reaps the hot-by-association benefits of working off Mrs. Coulter. She uses her chaotic sexuality as a defense weapon when he comes to her home to threaten her, conspicuously stuffing something (the key?) in her shirt and stepping into his personal space, once they’re alone in her study, to offer him a beverage she knows he won’t take. Dude is miles from being Hot Priest, but it was at least fun to see him squirm.

  1. Farder Coram: I mean, somebody out there has to have a thing for kindly Santa Dads. I will also offer the Gyptian patriarch a handicap, in the form of “he once was hot enough to seduce a witch queen” (if this means nothing to you now, it will soon enough).

  1. Ma Costa: Oof, Ma is breaking my heart, especially in the moment with John Faa. She’s not the Ma Costa we truly deserve, if I’m being honest—Ma is supposed to be a “solid” (fat) woman who could win a physical fight with a man, if necessary—but if she screamed at me to go find our son, I would probably walk into the sea (or river) before I came home empty handed.

  1. The Master: A tired scholar telling a powerful bully to go fuck himself? Yes, good. Also: his dæmon, some sort of raven or giant corvid, is terrifyingly beautiful.

  1. The journalist: A dead ringer for Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the woman crashes a party held by the most dangerous woman alive, at her own apartment. That alone would be enough, but she then attempts to free a little girl from an abusive home with the truth. While she may have died in the process, her efforts were not in vain. Also, she does it all in a perfect petal-pink outfit that would make the Harry Potter costume designers sigh with envy. Only the good die etc. etc.!

  1. Marisa Coulter: She lost points for being an abusive monster, naturally, but Ruth Wilson’s Coulter remains devastatingly good in her big episode, moving from charmingly mesmerizing through deeply haunted into animal rage so seemingly effortlessly it makes me want to check that Wilson has a good therapist. She’s got that “step on me” energy of Rachel Weisz, with a touch more chaos in the mix. We fear and thirst in equal measure.

  1. Benjamin: I almost forgot to include this guy, but then I remembered this Gyptian—a new character, I’ve gathered he’s a sort of supplement for Tony Costa, who is five or six years older in the books—directing practically all of the on-the-ground logistics and intelligence in the hunt for the kidnapped children. Love a smart dude who contributes more than his fair share to the group project.

  1. John Faa: The way Faa moves Tony out of the way to quietly but earnestly comfort Ma Costa, the mother of their tiny, bespectacled, sweater-vested kidnapped boy? Damn. This dude will rehabilitate the fedora’s brand by season’s end, mark my words.

  1. Lord Boreal: Obviously. Obviously! As I mention in the recap, he’s got this “James Bond and James Bond villain rolled into one” thing going on that feels impossible not to award the top spot, even as he murdered a journalist in broad daylight by crushing her butterfly dæmon in his hand while staring her dead in the eye. Dude is cold and sneaky and totally banging Coulter and hell fuckin’ yeah.

    He also benefits from sheer contrast. In the books, Lord Boreal is gray-haired, aging, very tanned, and physically “smooth,” a description I now find absolutely hilarious, given it’s the only part of his appearance the show kept, and they made it figurative as well as literal. It also makes me wonder: what made the original Boreal like this?! Was he getting Botox and self-tanning on his trips to our side??

Anyway, I’ll keep doing this until I get a hand-written cease-and-desist letter from HBO’s legal department, which is unlikely given they have plenty of bigger fish to fry at the moment. Besides, I feel like Philip Pullman would be fine with this spin on a book series he wrote about how much he wants to fist-fight God? Don’t ask me how I know.

But, wait there’s more

I saw Terminator: Dark Fate over the weekend, and while it’s not quite Mad Max: Fury Road (the plot is pretty standard, not a lot of retooling the Terminator formula), it’s fun, made me involuntarily scream with delight when Linda Hamilton shows up, and everyone in it is super hot. I recommend it!