Two children from opposite ends of reality are about to collide, and all the worlds will change with them. The first trailer has arrived for season two of BBC and HBO’s His Dark Materials thanks to San Diego Comic-Con 2020, which sees Lyra Silvertongue (Dafne Keen) and Will Parry (Amir Wilson) joining forces while stranded in a strange new world. But it looks like their story is going to be one episode shorter than expected.
The His Dark Materials panel opened with the debut of the season two trailer on Thursday, as part of this year’s SDCC (at home). It brought us to Cittàgazze, a massive, beautiful city that hides a terrifying secret that destroyed their world and threatens every other one in existence. After entering an inter-dimensional gateway created by Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) at the end of last season, Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon meet up with Will, a young man from our world with a strange power of his own. Together they decide to search for Will’s father, who was a prime focus of the Magisterium in the first season.
The panel brought together showrunner Jack Thorne with Keen, Amir Wilson, Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Coulter), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scorsesby), Ariyon Bakare (Lord Boreal), producer Jane Tranter, and newcomer Andrew Scott as Will’s father, John Parry. Scott announced that Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be reuniting with her Fleabag co-star, playing John’s daemon Sayan Kötör. This season also sees the arrival of some new castmembers, who weren’t present at the panel; Simone Kirby as the “dark matter” scholar Dr. Mary Malone, Jade Anouka as the witch queen Ruta Skadi, and General Zod himself, Terence Stamp as Giacomo Paradisi, the bearer of the fame “Subtle Knife.”
One face that wasn’t seen was McAvoy’s. Tranter explained that Lord Asriel will not be a part of the main storyline next season because he’s not a character in The Subtle Knife, the book on which the second season is based. However, they did try to include him anyway. Thorne had written an episode that focused on Lord Asriel’s journey, an original story that would’ve led Asriel to where we find him in the third book, The Amber Spyglass. Unfortunately, as that episode was being filmed, the novel coronavirus pandemic happened.
“We had one standalone episode that we were filming in March, and it was separate from the other seven episodes. It was a standalone episode, which Jack had written with the blessing of and input from Philip Pullman, which looked at what Asriel had been doing between going through the anomaly at the end of season one, and when we see Lord Asriel at the beginning of book three,” Tranter said. “Lord Asriel isn’t actually in The Subtle Knife. He’s very much talked about, his presence is very much felt, but he’s not actually there. We played kind of detective with The Subtle Knife, and figured out what Asriel might have been doing.”
Tranter said filming wasn’t completed before everything shut down, so Tranter said the episode has been temporarily “put to the side.” That means season two of His Dark Materials will only be seven episodes instead of eight, although it still tells the full events of The Subtle Knife. The producer added that they hope to revisit the Asriel standalone episode sometime in the future, though she didn’t specify how.
His Dark Materials season two debuts on BBC and HBO sometime this fall.
This post has been updated with additional context from the Comic-Con panel.
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