His Dark Materials—Season 2

his dark materials season 2 poster review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good fantasy with a good cast

The wait to get to the next season

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Can Lyra see where His Dark Materials leads?

The walls between dimensions are falling.  As Lyra Silvertongue (Dafne Keen) encounters a boy named Will Parry (Amir Wilson), they both learn that they come from Oxford…but different Oxfords.  Stuck in a world between worlds in a city crawling with creatures called spectres, Lyra and Will realize they can both help solve each other’s problems…and the key might rest in the tower in the center of the city.  Meanwhile, Marisa Coulter (Ruth Wilson) is in pursuit of her daughter as is Texan Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and a plethora of Witches.  A war is brewing and the mystery of Dust is growing…could Lyra be the savior or the destroyer and how does Will figure into everything?

His Dark Material–Season 2 is a fantasy-adventure series.  The season aired on BBC One in the UK from November 8, 2020 to November to December 20, 2020 with a release on HBO from November 16, 2020 to December 28, 2020 for a seven episode season adapting Philip Pullman’s 1997 novel His Dark Material:  The Subtle Knife.  It received positive reviews.

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It cuts like a knife…literally

I read His Dark Material before I saw The Golden Compass in 2007.  The book ended on a cliffhanger…the movie just ended.  With this neutered version of the story and cancelled sequels, I didn’t expect to see His Dark Materials fleshed out…but the BBC/HBO series provided the potential of the story being completed.  The second season picks up the second book.

The first book feels a lot like set-up with some story, and that was true of the first season of the series.  This season really starts to flesh out the story.  You have Will becoming a major character (which helps balance out Lyra), and you get deeper and deeper into the origin of the Dust.  The similarities and differences between the worlds (and the world between the worlds) are explored and the idea of “angels” is introduced.  There is a lot going on in this season, but it doesn’t feel rushed or extended.

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Political intrigue…blah, blah, blah…get back to the characters we care about…

There is a political undertone to the series that sometimes is unclear.  There is the obvious patriarchal nature of Lyra’s world, but there is also the Magisterium and their combative nature with the Witches.  It isn’t always clear the entire set-up of these warring factions (and where Asriel fits into the war), but it also isn’t necessarily required to understand it to understand this season.  It feels like next season will be more about the battle and the ties.

The cast is good and the first season proved that no one is really safe.  This season continues this “anyone can die”.  Dafne Keen is a good lead as Lyra and carries her own while Amir Wilson is also a good addition.  Ruth Wilson continues to develop her questionable behavior as Coulter and seems to relish playing the evil role.  James McAvoy just has a small cameo in the season, and Terence Stamp is introduced in an important role.  Lin-Manuel Miranda teams with Andrew Scott (as John Parry) in a pursuit of Lyra, and Miranda gives a rather touching performance in his loyalty to Lyra.

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Waith…is this a Battlestar Galactica thing?

The series doesn’t look like it is made for TV.  It is big and bold with a number of sets and locations.  The Lord of the Rings really set the state for fantasy visuals, and His Dark Materials follows in the tracks of it and Game of Thrones.  It doesn’t skimp on visuals.

His Dark Materials–Season 2 is a solid sophomore outing which feels like a good continuation, but also a change in tone in general.  With a set storyline through the books, His Dark Materials has an easier time planning for the future.  Every season of a show like His Dark Materials (especially when they star kids), I worry about delays and cancellation.  Fortunately, His Dark Materials has a guaranteed for a third season which adapts His Dark Material:  The Amber Spyglass.

His Dark Materials—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:

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“The City of Magpies”

2.1       The City of Magpies Airdate:  11/08/20

Following Roger’s death, Lyra (Dafne Keen) is unsure of her next step.  Entering the portal, she finds herself in a strange city called Cittàgazze where she meets Will Parry (Amir Wilson)…a boy from another world.  Will and Lyra discover that their worlds are both similar despite Will’s lack of a daemon, and Lyra realizes Will’s world could hold the key to the mystery of the Dust.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) needs to find out the prophecy surrounding Lyra and is taking any means necessary.  Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) discovers the witches are preparing for war and that they have their own assignment for him. Something is wrong in the city of Cittàgazze and spectres roam the streets that only adults can see…and Will is at a turning point.

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“The Cave”

2.2       The Cave Airdate:  11/16/20

Lyra and Will head to Will’s world in search of answers.  As Will checks in on his mother, his past could put him in danger while Lyra seeks out Professor Mary Malone (Simone Kirby) for clues about Dust.  With the death of Cardinal Sturrock (Ian Peck), a new leader of the Magisterium must be decided as tensions between the Witches and Magisterium heats up.  Lord Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) travels to Will’s Earth and keeps tabs on Will and Lyra.

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2.3       Theft Airdate:  11/22/20

The attack on the Witches by the Magisterium has sparked plans for retribution.  Lyra’s attempt to meet with Mary Malone leads to a showdown with the police searching for Will and a great loss to Lord Boreal.  Missing Lyra’s note, Will searches Cittàgazze for her, and Will decides to investigate the impenetrable town tower owned by the Guild.  Mary Malone tries to connect with the Dark Matter and find information about Lyra.  Lee’s search for Lyra has him on the trail of Dr. Stanislaus Grumman…and a confrontation with Dr. Haley (Angus Wright) in the city of Yenisel.

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“Tower of the Angels”

2.4       Tower of the Angels Airdate:  11/29/20

To get the alethiometer from Lord Boreal, Lyra and Will must get into the Tower of Angels.  Lee has escaped with Coulter’s help and is on the search for Grumman …and Grumman (Andrew Scott) has a story for Lee that could prove important to Lyra.  Mary Malone makes a big breakthrough with her Dark Matter machine.  Will and Lyra discover a man named Giacomo Paradisi (Terence Stamp) and learn the truth of the Subtle Knife…and the sacrifice to wield it.

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“The Scholar”

2.5       The Scholar Airdate:  12/06/20

Will now wields the Subtle Knife and is trying to learn how to control it.  Lord Boreal recruits Coulter to help him set a trap for Lyra and Will, but Coulter discovers advantages in the other Oxford.  Will and Lyra hatch a plot to reclaim the alethiometer as Mary makes her way into the world between worlds.

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2.6       Malice Airdate: 12/13/20

The Witches search for Lyra in the rift, but Paola (Ella Schrey-Yeats), Angelica (Bella Ramsey), and the other children of Cittàgazze might find Will and Lyra first.  Mary explores Cittàgazze as Will deals with infection from his knife wound.  Lyra uses the alethiometer to search for Will’s father as Lee and Grumman made their way toward Cittàgazze.  Cardinal Hugh MacPhail (Will Keen) learns that Lyra is predicted to be the downfall of their world.  Coulter and Boreal enter Cittàgazze, and Coulter learns the danger the spectres pose.

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2.7       Æsahættr Airdate:  12/20/20

Lyra and Will are under the protection of Serafina (Ruta Gedmintas) and the Witches, but Will’s desire to find her father could override his safety.  Having killed Boreal, Coulter will stop at nothing to find Lyra…especially when she learns Lyra’s name from the prophecy.  Mary returns Paola and Angelica to their people and sets out to explore the land.  Lee and Grumman have been shot down and try to avoid the soldiers of the Magisterium.  Ruta Skadi (Jade Anouka) returns to the Witches with plans of war by Lord Asriel (James McAvoy).  The war is coming, and there will be losses on all sides.

Related Links:

His Dark Material—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

The Golden Compass (2007)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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