His Dark Materials: Why are they taking the children to the North?
BBC and HBO series His Dark Materials plunged audiences further down the rabbit hole this evening (Sunday, November 17) as viewers discovered more about Lyra Belacqua’s (played by Dafne Keen) backstory after she was taken in by the Gyptians. There was also further insight into the nomadic canal-dwellers as they continued desperately to find their abducted children.
Why are the Gobblers taking the children to the North?
WARNING: This article contains major spoilers from His Dark Materials and Philip Pullman’s novels
At the end of episode three called The Spies, Lyra planned to go to the North and find the children kidnapped by the Gobblers.
Fans learnt the children’s final destination was the North but no specific reason was given for this location – or indeed what would happen to them once there.
However, Philip Pullman’s novels reveal the sinister reason why the children have been kidnapped and what the Magisterium plans to do with them.
In the books, the children are being taken to the North where the Magisterium are conducting secret and dangerous experiments.
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Their experiments involves the process of intercision which separates a child from their daemon forever, essentially breaking the bond between a human and their soul.
Intercision has been likened to circumcision, castration and female genital mutilation but in the books the effect is like a lobotomy, removing the creative and free-thinking part of a person.
The kidnapped children are taken to a place in the North called Bolvangar where the Magisterium has a secret laboratory called the Station in which these heinous experiments are performed.
The Station was set up 10 years before the events of His Dark Materials when the Magisterium paid the witches for their land and set up multiple stations.
Bolvangar in Pullman’s world translates to “fields of evil” and is a place no animals go to and actively avoid such is the aura which surrounds this location.
There’s no specific reason why the Station was established in the North but it could be due to its remote location. Being out in the wilderness means there will be lack of accountability.
A character called Kaisa says in the novels: “They have put up buildings of metal and concrete, and some underground chambers. They burn coal-spirit, which they bring in at great expense.
“We don’t know what they do, but there is an air of hatred and fear over the place and for miles around. Witches can see these things where other humans can’t.
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“Animals keep away too. No birds fly there; lemmings and foxes have fled.
“Hence the name Bolvangar: the fields of evil. The don’t call it that.
“They call it The Station. But to everyone else it is Bolvangar.”
The Magisterium are kidnapping children and trying to keep it under wraps, so moving the children to the North would also keep them away from most people and civilisation generally.
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The children would be harder to find in the North, which is something of an unknown territory to people within this world.
On top of this, the Magisterium appears to be carrying out its intercision experiments in secret because if the truth came out, it could spark a revolution given its effect on the children.
The very notion of carrying out this procedure on children against their will is terrifying but the fact the regime is willing to sacrifice the youngest and most vulnerable members of its society in pursuit of its doctrine is skin-crawling.
Like any totalitarian regime whether real or fictional, the Magisterium are trying to keep their crimes hidden from the population because the truth would be too much to stomach.
Just which direction HBO and the BBC plans to take with the series remains to be seen but if Bolvangar does appear, fans can expect some harrowing scenes.
His Dark Materials airs on BBC One on Sundays at 8pm and on HBO on Mondays in the US
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