In the final months of a dreadful 2020, I got the chance to finish up the year watching the second season of one of the most enjoyable book adaptations in recent memory.
His Dark Materials is based on a series of books by Phillip Pullman, who also serves as showrunner for the series. Season 1 was mostly based on book 1 of the trilogy, The Golden Compass.
This second season is based on book 2, The Subtle Knife, and season 3 will be based on book 3, The Amber Spyglass.
In season 2, we continue to follow the adventures of Lyra (Dafne Keen) and her Daemon Patalaimon (voiced by Kitt Connor) as they explored the alternate world that Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) opened up after killing Roger (Lewin Lloyd) at the end of season 1.
Season 1 was excellent — there was a lot of exposition, lots of world-building, and many moving parts coming at you pretty fast. But it all worked well, and things came together nicely by the end of the season.
We catch up with Will (Amir Wilson), who is also exploring this new alternate world. Will and Lyra’s eventual encounter will put our two heroes on the path to fulfill the Witches Prophecy. They both need to rely each other, as they find themselves on a journey full of obstacles,
The Magisterium senses a dire threat to their control and power and dares to cross into this parallel reality to stop Lord Asriel and Lyra. The idea of witches and non-believers challenging the dogmatic and authoritarian ways of the Magisterium is dangerous for their hold on things and the power of The Authority. Here, at the intersection of politics, philosophy, witches, religion, and multiple worlds is where the series becomes more exciting and compelling.
Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) is brilliant yet again — she is pure magic whenever she is onscreen, and she is way more manipulative and deceptive in this second season. Mrs. Coulter is by far one of the most outstanding villains on TV.
In a sense, Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) becomes a more sympathetic and less villainous character in this season. The onscreen chemistry between Lord Boreal and Mrs. Coulter is exceptional.
Lee Scoresby (Lin Manuel Miranda) is terrific again. I enjoyed how they have continued to develop this character from the first season. I was glad to see Lee’s Daemon, Hester (voice by Cristela Alonzo), getting a bit more involved in the plot than in the first season.
Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby), a physicist who studies dark matter, is crucial to the plot. Dr. Malone allows the audience to understand better what dust might be, and we get to go on this journey of discovery along with her.
But the young characters are the heart and soul of the story here. The loss of Roger haunts Lyra, and Will is obsessed with finding his father. The bond between Lyra and Will is a critical factor as both characters move forward.
According to the prophecy, Lyra is supposed to be the girl “destined to bring about the end of destiny.” This is why everybody is supposed to protect Lyra — Will, Lee, and the Witches are supposed to protect Lyra at all costs.
The set up to the eventual war between the multiple worlds is set in motion in this season’s final episode. We see Lord Asriel appealing to the Angels as he tries to raise enough support to wage war against The Authority. The post-credit scene with Roger in this season’s final episode is shocking and sets up season 3.
I really cannot recommend binging this series enough.
Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿
HIS DARK MATERIALS (Season 2). Streaming on HBO MAX