The trailers and sneak peeks just keep coming from the virtual San Diego Comic Con@Home, running all this weekend. HBO dropped the first trailer for the second season of His Dark Materials, an adaptation of the best-selling fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman. While there were supposed to be eight episodes in this second season, just like S1, production was shut down due to the pandemic. So there will only be seven episodes.
(Some spoilers for S1 below.)
First published in 1995, the three books in the series are The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights in the UK), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. They follow the adventures of a 12-year-old girl named Lyra, who lives in a fictional version of Oxford, England, circa the Victorian era. Everyone has a companion daemon in the form of an animal—part of their spirit that resides outside the body; Lyra’s is named Pantalaimon. Lyra uncovers a sinister plot that sends her on a journey to find her father in hopes of foiling said plot. That journey takes her to different dimensions (the fictional world is a multiverse) and ultimately to her own coming-of-age.
The HBO/BBC One adaptation mostly covered the events of The Golden Compass, although S1 also included characters and events from The Subtle Knife—most notably, introducing the character of Will Parry (Amir Wilson), who befriends an on-the-run Lyra and has possession of the titular knife, which can cut the curtain between universes. Per HBO’s official S1 synopsis:
[T]he first season follows Lyra (Dafne Keen, Logan), a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will (Amir Wilson), a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands.
The first season met with mixed reviews, but it warranted an honorable mention in our 2019 year-end TV roundup. I called it “a visually gorgeous, deftly paced and plotted series that brings Pullman’s fictional multiverse to vivid life. Dafne Keen is perfectly cast as the feisty and adventurous main protagonist, Lyra, while Ruth Wilson’s taut performance brings out Mrs. Coulter’s almost feral ruthlessness, along with her cunning sophistication and a hint of vulnerability. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely an improvement over the uneven 2007 film adaptation, The Golden Compass.”
In the S1 finale, Lyra finally finds her father, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), but she learns that he has nefarious designs on her best friend Roger, whom Lyra had rescued from the Bolvangar experimental facility. Lord Asriel needs a source of energy to open a bridge between the worlds of the multiverse, thereby furthering his research. And severing a child from their daemon is the best source of that energy—except Roger is killed in the process. Lyra decides to follow Lord Asriel across the multiverse bridge. Meanwhile, Will Parry discovers his own entrance into the multiverse. That’s where we left off.
Per the official S2 description:
Lord Asriel has opened a bridge to a new world, and, distraught over the death of her best friend, Lyra (Dafne Keen) follows Asriel into the unknown. In a strange and mysterious abandoned city, she meets Will, a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.
The trailer for S2 opens with Lyra exploring the new world in which she finds herself before meeting up with Will. They both realize neither is from this world. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter has tasked Lord Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) of the Magisterium (who has found his own gateway between worlds) with finding Lyra and bringing her home. “There are multiple worlds out there, and people will be looking for her—not all of them good,” she says.
As for the Magisterium, the trailer promises that it is determined to “take control.” That will put it in direct conflict with a coven of witches, among other factions. And is that a glimpse of physicist Mary Malone from The Amber Spyglass?
The second season of His Dark Materials will air this fall on HBO. In the meantime you can catch up on S1 on HBO and HBO Max.
Listing image by YouTube/HBO