After watching that first season of the Sandman, I was stuck because there were so many different shows that I wanted to watch. However, when it was announced that Season 3 of this show was coming out and it was going to be the last one, I remembered how much I had enjoyed that first season and decided that it was time to return to the story of Lyra Belaqua in ‘His Dark Materials’.
Season 2 of ‘His Dark Materials’ starts just as the first season finishes. Lord Asriel has created a split in the world. Lyra and Pan are able to go through this rift. In this new world, they meet Will, a young boy who is from Oxford in a different world. Initially, the two stick together because neither wishes to return to their own worlds. However, this new in-between world, the ‘City in the Sky’, holds a danger of its own. It contains spectres, creatures that are able to devour adults but leave children. Whilst they are here, in Lyra’s world, all chaos has broken out and the Magisterium who once had control have broken into conflict with the witches. After Mrs Coulter tortures one of the witches on board one of the Magisterium ships, one of the Witch queens attacks the ship and mortally wounds the Cardinal. This creates a chance for Father MacPhail to take charge and as soon as he wins the bid, Mrs Coulter leaves to find Lyra. Meanwhile, Lyra and Will travel to Will’s world where Lyra meets Mary Malone, a scientist who has been investigating Dark Matter. Lyra explains that this Dark Matter is Dust on her world and she is keen to understand it. Mary doesn’t completely get what Lyra is saying but is completely taken by her. However, Lyra runs into Charles Latrom, and not knowing who is, finds herself in a situation where he steals her Alethiometer and blackmails her and Will into getting him a special knife that resides in the ‘City In The Sky’. Will and Lyra return to the deserted city and they find the keeper of the knife. He’s been attacked by a boy and in the ensuing struggle, Will gets the knife and becomes the new keeper. This knife has the ability to cut through the strings of the different worlds. Although Will and Lyra don’t understand the significance of this, it appears that a war is on the horizon and both of them are caught in the crosshairs. Can these two discover their true purpose in the battle? And who exactly are the other players in the game?
As with the first season of ‘His Dark Materials’, I was pleasantly surprised. The first season of this show was good, but this season ups the ante. Although it does seem that the plot for this season is largely a bridge between Season 1 and what I presume will be the plot for Season 3, it doesn’t negate the excitement that each episode brings. You guys know that I love the idea of alternate dimensions and so the story was excellent from that perspective. Unfortunately, this is one of those rare occasions when I haven’t read the book series and so I couldn’t comment on how accurate it is with the original story. That being said I think that the show has the potential to bring in lots of viewers who may then go and read the books too. I know that it’s on my to-read list for sure. One of the things that I think this season did well was to introduce new characters who were just as interesting such as Mary Malone and John Parry, who is Will’s father. I wonder how the next season will begin to tie up all these storylines together!
Returning to the role of Lyra Belaqua was Dafne Keen. I thought she was fantastic in the first season and she only elevates her performance in this one. It’s evident that as Lyra is growing up, so is Keen and her acting skills are becoming more nuanced and refined. Opposite her was Amir Wilson as Will Parry. Will’s story in the first series seemed to elude relevance to me, however, in this season it all made sense. Again, he’s a very good actor and both he and Keen lead this series to brilliance. Returning cast included Ruth Wilson as Marissa Coulter whose sinister nature only grew. Where once she was cold and calculating, by the end of this season you see her having this truly nefarious nature, and having somehow managed to rid herself of parts of her humanity. There were very good scenes, albeit few, with Lee Scoresby, played by the ever-talented Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Colonel Parry played by Andrew Scott. I did hope to see more of James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, but it was evident that the story is gearing up for him to be a main character in the final season. Lots of other familiar faces and voices were scattered throughout the season, including Bella Ramsay, of Game of Thrones and The Last of Us fame, Terrence Stamp, who plays the previous owner of the Subtle Knife, David Suchet who voices Kaisa, Serafina’s daemon. I also found out that Father MacPhail is played by Will Keen who is Dafne’s father. Fun fact. Overall, it was a great cast and good performances all around.
When this show was announced and it was on BBC but with HBO funding, I realised that it was going to be epic. HBO always have an excellent budget and rarely produces shows which aren’t captivating. ‘His Dark Materials’ is no different and the graphics and cinematography were great. I mean all these characters who have to interact with daemons, witches and spectres, all of which are produced with special effects. I know in recent years we’ve felt that a lot of media has not utilized CGI to the best of its ability but this show doesn’t lack. The theme song is iconic. I recently got to hear more of Lorne Balfe’s work in Black Adam. I’m telling you, he’s gonna get bigger!
Overall, this season does step up the ante, even if it steps down the tension in the story. The relationship between Lyra and Will is at the heart of this season and I feel that it will be integral to how that third and final season plays out. I know that shows can’t last forever, but I’m glad that I have one more season to watch, for the conclusion of this story!
Story Arc: 15/20
Integral vs filler episode: 15.5/20