His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials TV Title Card.png
Genre
Based onHis Dark Materials
by Philip Pullman
Written byJack Thorne
Starring
ComposerLorne Balfe
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes23 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
ProducerLaurie Borg
CinematographyJustin Brown
Editors
  • Niven Howie
  • Nick Arthurs
  • Dan Roberts
  • Chris Gill
  • David Fisher
Production companies
Distributor
Release
Original network
  • BBC One (United Kingdom)
  • HBO (United States)
Picture formatUHDTV
Audio formatStereo
Original release3 November 2019 (2019-11-03) –
18 December 2022 (2022-12-18)[a]

His Dark Materials is a fantasy drama television series based on the trilogy of novels of the same name by Philip Pullman. It is produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Productions, for BBC One and HBO, with the latter handling international distribution.[1] The show follows the orphan Lyra, played by Dafne Keen, as she searches for a missing friend and discovers a kidnapping plot related to an invisible cosmic substance called Dust.

The eight-episode first series premiered on 3 November 2019 on BBC One in the United Kingdom, and on 4 November on HBO in the United States and other markets. The seven-episode second series premiered on 8 November 2020 in the UK, and on 16 November 2020 in the US. The eight-episode third and final series premiered first on HBO on 5 December 2022, and on 18 December 2022 in the UK. All three series received generally positive reviews.

Premise

His Dark Materials is set in a multi-world reality, with the action moving from one world to another. The series is based on Philip Pullman's trilogy of the same name. It begins in an alternative world where all humans' souls manifest as animal companions called daemons. The series follows the life of a young girl named Lyra who is an orphan living with the scholars at Jordan College, Oxford, in a world governed by the Magisterium, a religious and political body. Lyra discovers a dangerous secret that involves Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter, and is the subject of a witches' prophecy that she will change the world. In her search for a missing friend, Lyra also uncovers a series of kidnappings and a link to a mysterious substance called Dust, which leads her on a journey of epic proportions and ultimately to other worlds. The witches' prophecy also links Lyra's destiny to Will Parry, a teenager from the conventional world, who is himself being pursued by figures connected to his long-lost father.

Cast

See also: List of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust characters

Main

Featured

The following actors are credited in the opening titles of up to two episodes in a series.

Voice cast

Additionally, lead puppeteer Brian Fisher provides the uncredited vocalisations for Mrs Coulter's golden lion tamarin daemon.[11]

Recurring

Episodes

SeriesEpisodesOriginally airedAve. UK viewers
(millions)
Ave. US viewers
(millions)
First airedLast aired
183 November 2019 (2019-11-03)22 December 2019 (2019-12-22)7.0630.423
278 November 2020 (2020-11-08)20 December 2020 (2020-12-20)4.9230.246
3[a]85 December 2022 (2022-12-05)26 December 2022 (2022-12-26)TBA0.149

Series 1 (2019)

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date Viewers
(millions)
11"Lyra's Jordan"Tom HooperJack Thorne3 November 2019 (2019-11-03) (UK)9.723 (UK)[20]
4 November 2019 (2019-11-04) (US)0.424 (US)[21]
Young Lyra Belacqua is raised as a ward of Jordan College in Oxford. Her closest friends are her daemon Pantalaimon ("Pan") and a servant boy named Roger Parslow. Lyra admires her uncle, Lord Asriel, who has a snow leopard daemon named Stelmaria, is a polar explorer whose research into Dust and parallel worlds is regarded as heretical by the ruling Magisterium. Lyra saves Asriel from being poisoned by the Master of Jordan College, who foresees Lyra's future importance through an alethiometer, an instrument belonging to Lord Asriel and one of only six ever made. After Asriel leaves on another polar expedition, Marisa Coulter, also an explorer, arrives. She offers to mentor Lyra and promises to search for Roger, who has been kidnapped by the mysterious "Gobblers": the second recent such disappearance, after the Gyptian boy Billy Costa. The Master gives Lyra the alethiometer, saying that it tells the truth and is for her protection. She must figure out how to use it and tell no one she has it, including Mrs Coulter. Lyra accompanies Mrs Coulter to London hoping to search for Roger. Meanwhile, the Gyptians pursue the Gobblers to London.
22"The Idea of North"Tom Hooper[b]Jack Thorne10 November 2019 (2019-11-10) (UK)7.708 (UK)[20]
11 November 2019 (2019-11-11) (US)0.369 (US)[22]
Lyra settles into Mrs Coulter's luxurious London apartment, assured that her benefactress is actively searching for Roger. The Gyptians' attempt to rescue the missing children fails. At Oxford, the Master of Jordan College denies Lord Boreal, a Consistorial Court priest, access to what is believed to be Stanislaus Grumman's decapitated head that Asriel recently found in the north. Boreal travels through a portal to an alternate Oxford. He hires Thomas, a mercenary, to find Grumman. Lyra grows wary of Mrs Coulter's nameless monkey daemon, which never speaks, and her close Magisterium ties. When Lyra is caught eavesdropping on Mrs Coulter and Father MacPhail, Mrs Coulter's daemon attacks Pan. Mrs Coulter inadvertently reveals that Lord Asriel is Lyra's father. Mrs Coulter secretly visits Roger, Billy, and the other kidnapped children, saying they are going on an adventure to "the North". Lyra discovers that Mrs Coulter heads the General Oblation Board of London (GOB). During a party at Mrs Coulter's apartment, journalist Adele Starminster confirms to Lyra that the Oblation Board is known as "Gobblers", prompting Lyra and Pan to flee with the alethiometer. Boreal later crushes Adele's daemon, killing her. Lyra and Pan are captured by a Gobbler.
33"The Spies"Dawn Shadforth[b]Jack Thorne17 November 2019 (2019-11-17) (UK)7.216 (UK)[20]
18 November 2019 (2019-11-18) (US)0.348 (US)[23]
Tony Costa and Benjamin rescue Lyra from the Gobblers and bring her to the Gyptians' camp. Lyra accepts their protection, and agrees to help find Roger and the other missing children. Mrs Coulter learns that Lyra has an alethiometer and sends two robotic "spy-flies" to track her. Boreal crosses back to the alternate world, where Thomas informs him that Grumman is an explorer named John Parry who has a wife and son. Boreal hires another man to find them. Ma Costa reveals that Mrs Coulter is Lyra's mother. Asriel killed Mrs Coulter's husband when he tried to take revenge for their affair. Lyra was kept hidden at Jordan College. Lyra helps the Gyptian king, John Faa, to persuade the others to travel North and find the captive children. Tony and Benjamin raid Mrs Coulter's apartment, finding a list of missing children, including Billy Costa. The boys are discovered; Tony narrowly escapes but Benjamin is killed. Lyra can intuitively read the alethiometer, which says Benjamin is dead. She is attacked by the spy-flies. Farder Coram captures one spy-fly, but the other returns to Mrs Coulter, divulging Lyra's location.
44"Armour"Otto BathurstJack Thorne24 November 2019 (2019-11-24) (UK)6.876 (UK)[20]
25 November 2019 (2019-11-25) (US)0.396 (US)[24]
Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby and his daemon Hester travel to Trollesund in the Far North seeking Iorek Byrnison, a disgraced armoured bear. Trollesund's Magisterium citizens stole his armour several years earlier, forcing him to work as an indentured labourer. Lyra and the Gyptians sail to Trollesund to search for the kidnapped children. Farder Coram contacts his former lover, a witch queen named Serafina Pekkala; her daemon, Kaisa, promises that Serafina will help the Gyptians. Though the Gyptian elders believe Iorek is untrustworthy, Lyra and Scoresby enlist Iorek's help in finding the children. With Lyra's assistance, Iorek recovers his armour locked inside a church. Iorek and Scoresby join Lyra and the Gyptians as they travel north. Meanwhile, a Magisterium priest attempts to replace Mrs Coulter as head of the Gobblers with Father MacPhail. She offers to give Lord Asriel to the Magisterium. He is being held prisoner by Iofur Raknison, the king of the armoured bears. In exchange, she will continue her experiments and wants the alethiometer to reveal "Who is Lyra Belacqua?". Travelling north, she meets with Iofur, offering him a baptism and induction into the Magisterium in exchange for working with her.
55"The Lost Boy"Otto Bathurst[b]Jack Thorne1 December 2019 (2019-12-01) (UK)6.688 (UK)[20]
2 December 2019 (2019-12-02) (US)0.467 (US)[25]
Lyra and the Gyptians travel farther north with Scoresby and Iorek. The alethiometer signals Lyra to go to a nearby fishing village; Faa reluctantly allows her to go after Iorek agrees to take her. In an alternate world, Will Parry looks after his mentally ill mother, Elaine, while attending secondary school. They are stalked by Thomas and Boreal, who are seeking information about Will's father, John Parry. Elaine gives Will his father's letters, explaining his disappearance. Boreal determines that Parry has been travelling between worlds ever since his disappearance thirteen years earlier; evidence could be found in Will's home. Farder Coram meets with Serafina Pekkala to discuss the other worlds and a coming war. Lyra and Iorek arrive at the fishing village and find Billy Costa, who has been surgically separated from his daemon. They return Billy to his family, but he dies soon after. A Samoyed raiding party capture Lyra and bring her to Bolvangar, the Gobblers' base.
66"The Daemon-Cages"Euros Lyn[b]Jack Thorne8 December 2019 (2019-12-08) (UK)6.357 (UK)[20]
9 December 2019 (2019-12-09) (US)0.393 (US)[26]
Lyra, posing as "Lizzie", finds Roger among the captive children at Bolvangar. She learns that the Gobblers are using an experimental procedure called intercision to surgically sever the children from their daemons. Mrs Coulter visits Bolvangar and discovers Lyra, saving her from undergoing an intercision. Mrs Coulter attempts to persuade Lyra to join her, claiming Dust is the source of sin that affects all adults. She attempts to get Lyra's alethiometer, but Lyra attacks her with the captured spy-fly. Lyra escapes and destroys the intercision machine and the base's generator. The children are rescued by the Gyptians, Iorek, Scoresby, and Serafina Pekkala, who kill the scientists and mercenaries, although Mrs Coulter escapes. The Gyptians return south with the rescued children, while Lyra and Roger travel north with Scoresby and Iorek in the hot-air balloon to reach Lord Asriel on Svalbard. However, flying bat-like monsters called cliff-ghasts attack them, and Lyra falls from the airship. Meanwhile, Will Parry reads his father's letters as Thomas and another mercenary spy on him.
77"The Fight to the Death"Jamie Childs[b]Jack Thorne15 December 2019 (2019-12-15) (UK)6.073 (UK)[20]
16 December 2019 (2019-12-16) (US)0.485 (US)[27]
Lyra survives the fall, but is captured by an armoured bear and taken to Iofur Raknison's palace on Svalbard. She convinces Iofur that she is Iorek's artificial daemon, created by scientists at Bolvangar, and manipulates Iofur into fighting Iorek, with her as the prize. Iorek defeats and kills Iofur, reclaiming his rightful place as bear king. He reunites Lyra with Roger, and they travel to Asriel's laboratory. Meanwhile, Mrs Coulter, Father MacPhail, and the Magisterium's soldiers head for Svalbard to find and kill Asriel. Elsewhere, Scoresby and Hester have crash-landed. Serafina arrives and tells them Lyra needs help. Lyra, Roger and Iorek reach Asriel's laboratory in the Svalbard mountains. Lyra and Asriel are reunited, though her arrival initially distresses Asriel. Meanwhile, Boreal crosses back to the alternate world and visits Elaine Parry, who resists sharing information about her husband. Will and Elaine return home after Boreal's mercenary has broken into the house. Will takes his mother to a neighbour's house and returns to retrieve his father's letters. When Thomas and the Pale-Face Man return, Will kills Thomas in self-defence, then flees.
88"Betrayal"Jamie Childs[b]Jack Thorne22 December 2019 (2019-12-22) (UK)5.865 (UK)[20]
23 December 2019 (2019-12-23) (US)0.502 (US)[28]
At Svalbard, Lord Asriel informs Lyra about his Dust research and parallel worlds, explaining that the Magisterium fears Dust as the source of human sin. In the other world, Boreal has the Pale-Faced Man continue searching for Will, and reports him as missing to the police. Later, Asriel takes Roger to a point near the Aurora Borealis, intending to sever his daemon to create a bridge into another world. Learning Roger is in danger, Lyra, with King Iorek and the armoured bears, pursues him. Mrs Coulter and the Magisterium military arrive in airships and attack Iorek and his bears. Lyra is unable to save Roger, who is severed from his daemon and killed. His death causes an explosion and creates a bridge to another world. Mrs Coulter arrives and Asriel fails to persuade her to accompany him and challenge the Authority. Pan tells Lyra he does not believe that Dust is bad as was claimed. Lyra crosses the bridge. Meanwhile, a fugitive Will discovers a portal into another world.

Series 2 (2020)

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date Viewers
(millions)
91"The City of Magpies"Jamie ChildsJack Thorne8 November 2020 (2020-11-08) (UK)5.660 (UK)[20]
16 November 2020 (2020-11-16) (US)0.227 (US)[29]
After stepping through the portal, Lyra enters Cittàgazze, the "City in the Sky". She meets Will Parry, who arrived several days earlier. Will, having never seen a daemon, is startled by the talking Pan. He and Lyra learn both their worlds have an Oxford and other similarities. Adults have deserted the city, while some children who were left behind warn of ghostly spectres that absorb people's souls upon them reaching adulthood. The witches prepare for war and task Lee Scoresby with finding Stanislaus Grumman, an explorer who reportedly died in the North. Aboard a submarine, Mrs Coulter interrogates and tortures a captured witch who partially reveals a prophecy surrounding a child. Mrs Coulter claims to know that witches can travel between different worlds. Before the witch reveals the name tied to the prophecy, witch queen Ruta Skadi arrives and kills her and some submarine crew, then injures Cardinal Sturrock before escaping. Meanwhile, Lyra asks the alethiometer about Will. Later, Will has a vision of a knife and heads to the Tower of Angels at the city centre.
102"The Cave"Jamie ChildsJack Thorne and Francesca Gardiner15 November 2020 (2020-11-15) (UK)5.027 (UK)[20]
23 November 2020 (2020-11-23) (US)0.229 (US)[30]
In Will's world, he visits his mother while Lyra heads to Oxford where she encounters Charles Latrom (Lord Boreal). The alethiometer guides Lyra to Mary Malone, an Oxford physicist researching Dark Matter (Dust). Lyra shows Mary the alethiometer, and Mary demonstrates her research that similarly allows computer communication with Dust. Cardinal Sturrock dies, leaving Father MacPhail a possible successor. Dr Lanselius, the witches' peace envoy, testifies that Ruta Skadi's attack was a lone act. He is then falsely convicted of spying, heresy, and treason. Will meets his paternal grandparents who want his father's letters. Will leaves as they are calling to report him to police. Mary connects Lyra to her computer. The particles form screen images that Lyra interprets. Lyra tells Will the alethiometer told her to help him. Mrs Coulter urges McPhail to take a bold action to increase his chances of being elected Cardinal. MacPhail then bombs the witches' territories, killing many. Thorold, Asriel's jailed assistant, tells Mrs Coulter that Asriel had intended to sacrifice Lyra to open up the other world, but instead used Roger. When MacPhail is chosen Cardinal, Mrs Coulter threatens blackmail to ensure his continued cooperation.
113"Theft"Leanne WelhamJack Thorne and Sarah Quintrell22 November 2020 (2020-11-22) (UK)4.721 (UK)[20]
30 November 2020 (2020-11-30) (US)0.234 (US)[31]
The witches vow retribution for their destroyed lands. A mysterious figure whispers for Lee Scoresby to "return". Boreal's henchman confronts Lyra in Mary Malone's office but she flees with Mary's help. Outside, Charles Latrom (Boreal) offers Lyra a lift. After exiting his car, she discovers the alethiometer missing from her backpack. Scoresby finds his balloon has inexplicably flown to Yenisei. Dr Haley, an astronomy scholar there, confirms Grumman is alive and declares him a heretic. Haley, a Magisterium agent, attempts to shoot Scoresby, who is arrested after killing Haley in self-defence. In Cittàgazze, Will sees someone inside the tower. Mrs Coulter arrives in Yenisei and discovers Scoresby jailed there. He conceals Lyra's whereabouts, but Mrs Coulter later frees him, knowing he will protect Lyra. Mary attempts to communicate with Dust. Serefina Pekkala's daemon, Kaisa, and Iorek discuss Lyra and the prophecy. Lord Boreal will return the alethiometer if Will and Lyra bring him a knife kept in the Tower of the Angels in Cittàgazze.
124"Tower of the Angels"Leanne WelhamJack Thorne and Namsi Khan29 November 2020 (2020-11-29) (UK)4.757 (UK)[20]
7 December 2020 (2020-12-07) (US)0.264 (US)[32]
Mary Malone narrates the Subtle Knife's origins and why spectres were unleashed. Scoresby finds Will's father, John Parry, now a shaman known as Jopari, who confirms he is Stanislaus Grumman. Jopari claims he "summoned" Scoresby and needs his help to find the Subtle Knife, named Æsahættr, and bring it to Lord Asriel. Mary rejects Boreal's offer to fund her and Oliver's research. Lyra and Will ascend the Tower of the Angels in Cittàgazze and encounter Giacomo Paradisi, the elderly knife bearer. A youth named Tullio has just attacked him and stolen the Subtle Knife. Will recovers the Knife, but his right-hand little finger and ring finger are partially severed during the struggle; Paradisi proclaims Will is now the knife bearer and shows how to cut portals between worlds. After Lyra and Will depart with the knife, Paradisi, no longer protected, fatally poisons himself to thwart the spectres. Spectres consume Tullio's soul. Scoresby agrees to help Jopari if Lyra is put under the Subtle Knife's protection. Mary communicates with Dust computer, which are angels, through her computer. Lord Boreal leads Mrs Coulter through Cittàgazze to the alternate Oxford to find Lyra. Serafina Pekkala and Ruta Skadi attack the Magisterium airships guarding the portal, then travel through to search for Lyra.
135"The Scholar"Leanne WelhamFrancesca Gardiner6 December 2020 (2020-12-06) (UK)4.817 (UK)[20]
14 December 2020 (2020-12-14) (US)0.216 (US)[33]
Cardinal MacPhail claims the witches' deadly airship attack is a sign that the Authority is punishing the Magisterium for lacking devotion. McPhail then falsely accuses Father Graves, his rival for the cardinalate, of losing faith, and has him arrested. He instructs his alethiometrist, Fra Pavel, to learn Mrs Coulter's location and what she seeks. Mrs Coulter and Boreal arrive at Boreal's other Oxford house to await Lyra and Will's arrival. Mrs Coulter visits Mary Malone, introducing herself as Lyra's mother. Later, the Cave (Mary's research computer) instructs Mary to play the serpent, journey to another world, and save the girl and boy, before shutting itself down. Paola and Angelica blame Lyra and Will for the spectres consuming their brother, Tullio's, soul. Lyra arrives at Boreal's residence, distracting him, while Will cuts a window into his house to retrieve the alethiometer. Lyra encounters Mrs Coulter there, and Pan viciously attacks Coulter's daemon. Will, struggling with Boreal, grabs the alethiometer, then cuts a window back to Cittàgazze, escaping with Lyra. Boreal warns Mrs Coulter about the spectres when she wants to pursue Lyra. Mary steps through the window to Cittàgazze.
146"Malice"Jamie ChildsJack Thorne and Lydia Adetunji13 December 2020 (2020-12-13) (UK)4.782 (UK)[20]
21 December 2020 (2020-12-21) (US)0.202 (US)[34]
The witches see Angels flying overhead. Ruta Skadi believes they are joining Lord Asriel in a coming war. She follows, wanting to find Asriel to help him destroy the Magisterium. Fra Pavel informs Cardinal MacPhail that the alethiometer shows Mrs Coulter is searching for Lyra, who features in a prophecy. Paola, Angelica, and other children, wanting to avenge Tullio, attack Will and Lyra. Serafina arrives and saves them. The witches cast a healing spell on Will's wounded hand, but need more powerful medicinal plants growing in their lands. Spectres nearly devour one witch, but Will repels them with the Subtle Knife. Mary arrives in Cittàgazze, unknowingly protected by Angels. She encounters Paola and Angelica and promises to help find their adult counterparts. Boreal and Mrs Coulter also enter Cittàgazze, searching for Lyra, Will, and the Subtle Knife. They encounter spectres that Mrs Coulter can control by suppressing her humanity. She fatally poisons Boreal, as he hinders her ambitions. Lee and Parry, flying to Cittàgazze in Lee's balloon, are pursued by Magisterium airships. Parry uses his shaman powers to summon storms and a flock of birds that take down two airships. A third ship shoots Lee's balloon, forcing him to land.
157"Æsahættr"Jamie ChildsJack Thorne20 December 2020 (2020-12-20) (UK)4.696 (UK)[35]
28 December 2020 (2020-12-28) (US)0.347 (US)[36]
As Lyra, Will, and the witches continue travelling, Serafina sends two witches ahead as scouts. Elsewhere, Ruta Skadi overhears creatures called cliff-ghasts discussing a coming war that Lord Asriel cannot win without Æsahættr (the Subtle Knife). In Cittàgazze, Mrs Coulter captures and then tortures the witch, Lena Feldt, to reveal Lyra's location and the prophecy that states Lyra will be the second Eve who brings a second Fall of Man. After finding the adults' campsite, Angelica and Paola leave Mary, who continues searching. Pursued by Magisterium soldiers, Lee urges Parry to flee while he fights them off. Lee is mortally wounded and summons Serafina with a cloud pine branch, but dies before she arrives. Parry summons his son, Will, through a vision. Reunited, Parry urges Will to fulfill his destiny as the knife bearer before they can return home. Parry is fatally shot, and, before dying, tells Will the angels will guide him to Asriel. In a desolate world, the Angels pledge Lord Asriel their support in the coming war against the Authority. Will returns to find Lyra missing after Mrs Coulter abducted her. On a ship, Coulter vows to protect Lyra, who appears drugged and is confined inside a trunk. In a post-credits scene, Roger and Lyra call to one another in an unknown location.

Series 3 (2022)

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date [19][a] Viewers
(millions)
161"The Enchanted Sleeper"Amit GuptaJack Thorne and Amelia Spencer5 December 2022 (2022-12-05) (US)0.154 (US)[37]
18 December 2022 (2022-12-18) (UK)4.599 (UK)[38]
After retreating to a remote island fortress, Mrs Coulter keeps Lyra in a drugged state. Ama, a deaf girl, provides them with supplies and medicines. While unconscious, Lyra is haunted by visions of her late friend, Roger. Meanwhile, Will encounters Balthamos and Baruch, two rebel Angels who assumed human form. They want Will to take the knife to Asriel. Will refuses to accompany them until he finds Lyra, so Balthamos reluctantly agrees to accompany him. In another world, Lord Asriel rescues Ogunwe, a rebel leader fighting against the "Temple", one of many arms of the Authority. Asriel recruits Ogunwe and his rebel army into his Republic of Heaven. Meanwhile, Lyra awakens, and she and Pan attempt to escape, but Coulter quickly recaptures her, due to Lyra's semi-drugged state. Balthamos and Will encounter Iorek Byrnison. They enlist his support after helping him free a fellow bear from human villagers.
172"The Break"Amit GuptaJack Thorne and Amelia Spencer5 December 2022 (2022-12-05) (US)0.154 (US)[37]
24 December 2022 (2022-12-24) (UK)N/A (<3.046)[c] (UK)[38]
In Geneva, Cardinal MacPhail oversees a crackdown on dissidents. Fra Pavel Rasek consults his alethiometer and determines Mrs Coulter is hiding Lyra on an island in the "German Sea." MacPhail orders Father Gomez to find and kill Lyra. MacPhail regards Lyra as the new "Eve" that will bring sin to all worlds. Meanwhile, Alarbus, an Angel loyal to the Authority, murders Baruch. After both Angels crash into Lord Asriel's camp, Asriel imprisons and interrogates Alarbus, who reveals the Authority plans to destroy Dust to subjugate all worlds. Asriel tasks the Gallivespian spy, Commander Roke, and his agent, Salmakia, with spying on the Magisterium. In Ogunwe's world, Dr Malone encounters two young girls who stayed behind because their father remained with the Temple. Using the Subtle Knife, Will and Commander Roke reach Coulter's island and, with Ama, rescue Lyra, though the Knife breaks because Mrs Coulter reminds Will of his mother. Will, Lyra, Balthamos, and Agent Salmakia escape Father Gomez's strike team and flee into another world. Soon after, Asriel arrives on Mrs Coulter's island in his Intention Craft.
183"The Intention Craft"Charles MartinJack Thorne12 December 2022 (2022-12-12) (US)0.132 (US)[39]
1 January 2023 (2023-01-01) (UK)3.338 (UK)[38]
Lyra's dream about Roger concludes, and she determines to travel to the Land of the Dead to rescue him. Will wishes to obey his father's final request to take the Subtle Knife to Lord Asriel, leading them to argue. Will and Lyra ask Iorek to mend the Knife. Iorek is reluctant but agrees, with the process requiring Will to dispel doubt over his actions. Will succeeds by picturing Lyra, and, with the Knife repaired, agrees to travel with Lyra to the Land of the Dead before seeking Asriel. Will cuts into the world from Lyra's dream, and they follow the figures they find there, ignoring Pan's wariness. Meanwhile, Asriel's forces agree to work with the captured Mrs Coulter. She is given freedom of the camp, though she falsely claims knowing nothing about Will's Knife. Asriel discovers her deception and shows her the captured angel Alarbus as proof of the Authority's corruption. Combining the severing technology with his device to travel between worlds, Asriel slices Alarbus into pieces and sends him to the Authority's regent, Metatron, as a warning. Mrs Coulter slips away and escapes in Asriel's flying Intention Craft. Elsewhere, Dr Malone continues her journey, while MacPhail employs Dr Cooper.
194"Lyra and Her Death"Charles MartinJack Thorne12 December 2022 (2022-12-12) (US)0.132 (US)[39]
8 January 2023 (2023-01-08) (UK)3.308 (UK)[38]
In the Land of the Dead, Lyra and Will are sent to a holding area where humans await death. There they learn that every person has a "Death", a figure that accompanies them unseen throughout life until it is time to die. Although Will and Pan suggest turning back, Lyra summons her Death, who agrees to take them to the waterway where dead beings crossover. The boatman denies Pan passage, saying daemons cannot enter the Land of the Dead. Lyra and Will cross while Pan and Will's as yet unseen daemon stay behind. Mrs Coulter returns to the Magisterium. Claiming to still be loyal, Coulter tries convincing MacPhail that she can protect Lyra from temptation. Commander Roke, who stowed away on the Intention Craft, helps Coulter find Dr Cooper's laboratory where she is manufacturing a directional bomb. Roke attacks Dr Cooper and takes the lock of Lyra's hair that will guide the bomb to her. Mrs Coulter burns the hair, then attempts to escape but is recaptured. MacPhail, who retained some of Lyra's hair, says he will sever Mrs Coulter from her daemon and use the released energy to trigger the bomb and assassinate Lyra. In a new world, Mary encounters a large quadruped mammal that brings her food and appears to communicate.
205"No Way Out"Weronika Tofilska[d]Amelia Spencer19 December 2022 (2022-12-19) (US)0.162 (US)[40]
15 January 2023 (2023-01-15) (UK)3.028 (UK)[38]
Angels guide Mary to an uncharted world where she befriends the Mulefa, sentient quadruped mammals. She begins learning their language and experiences visions from the rebel Angels that she will act as the biblical Serpent. Meanwhile, the boatman ferries Lyra and Will across the waterway to the Land of the Dead. They find Roger and Lee Scoresby among the deceased denizens. The Magisterium misled many into believing they would enter Heaven, but they are instead eternally trapped in Purgatory. Harpies harass the dead, but Lyra tells everyone to remember the living world, as it will protect them. Will attempts to slice a hole out of Purgatory, but the Subtle Knife does not work in the lower region; they set off for higher ground. Meanwhile, Mary improvises a spyglass by coating amber pieces with seed pod oil. Through it, she sees Dust escaping the Mulefa's world, slowly killing it. Also, MacPhail and Dr Cooper prepare Mrs Coulter for the incision procedure that will unleash the bomb. However, Dr Cooper experiences guilt and halts the operation. MacPhail kills Dr Cooper and Commander Roke while Mrs Coulter's daemon frees her from the device. MacPhail, willing to sacrifice himself, takes Mrs Coulter's place, but she disables the mechanism before the bomb detonates. When Alarbus tells the Regent Metatron that Will is the new Knife Bearer, Metatron intervenes and triggers the mechanism, killing MacPhail. The bomb detonates in the Land of the Dead.
216"The Abyss"Amit Gupta[e]Francesca Gardiner19 December 2022 (2022-12-19) (US)0.162 (US)[40]
22 January 2023 (2023-01-22) (UK)2.932 (UK)[38]
Will and Lyra survive the bomb, but the explosion creates chasms across multiple worlds. Mrs Coulter escapes the Magisterium headquarters in the Intention Craft and returns to Lord Asriel. Coulter, distraught, believes Lyra perished in the explosion. Witch queen Ruta Skadi, who is working with Asriel, dies when her daemon Sergi is pulled into a chasm and perishes into dust. Asriel realizes Angels can also be killed this way. Iorek Byrnison confronts Asriel about the consequences of his rebellion against the Authority. He also tells Asriel that Lyra is alive in the Land of the Dead. Meanwhile, Lyra and Will persuade the Harpies to permit everyone to leave Purgatory and enter Heaven in exchange for everyone sharing their life stories. Will is reunited with his father, John Parry, who says Will and Lyra are destined to serve as the new Adam and Eve who will usher in a new Republic of Heaven. Lyra and Will lead the others to Purgatory's highest point where Will opens a window, allowing the dead to leave. Lyra and Will bid farewell to Roger, Lee Scoresby, and John Parry, who along with the dead step through the window and joyfully dissolve, their atoms becoming one with the universe. Lyra and Will's actions incur Metatron's wrath, prompting Asriel and Coulter to prepare for their showdown with the Regent.
227"The Clouded Mountain"Amit Gupta[f]Francesca Gardiner26 December 2022 (2022-12-26) (US)N/A (US)
29 January 2023 (2023-01-29) (UK)3.002 (UK)[38]
Metatron and his Angel army converge above Lord Asriel's rebel camp in a floating city known as the "Cloud." Asriel leads the Republic of Heaven's forces, including witches, rebel Angels, and Ogunwe's soldiers against Metatron's legion of Angels and spectres. Spectres swarm the rebel camp, sucking out many combatants' souls. Mrs Coulter uses her mental ability to repel them. When Will and Lyra return to Lyra's world, Serafina Pekkala senses their arrival, and she and other witches search for the two teens' daemons to reunite them. Ogunwe's soldiers rendezvous with Lyra and Will and escort them back to the camp after fending off cliff-ghasts. Metatron summons Mrs Coulter and Asriel to the Cloud, where he reveals himself as a former mortal named Enoch who became divine. Mrs. Coulter feigns loyalty to Metatron while Metatron defeats Asriel in physical combat. As Coulter's monkey daemon activates the bomb beneath the Cloud, Stelmaria, Asriel's daemon, helps him and Coulter to pull Metatron into the abyss, killing them all. Coulter's daemon reaches out to Lyra before dissolving. While Asriel's forces celebrate their victory, Lyra and Will discover the Authority's crystal prison that fell from the Cloud. Will cuts it open and the ancient Angel immediately dies. Having sent their daemons to the Mulefa's world for safekeeping, Will and Lyra follow them there.
238"The Botanic Garden"Harry WootliffFrancesca Gardiner26 December 2022 (2022-12-26) (US)N/A (US)
5 February 2023 (2023-02-05) (UK)TBD
Balthamos confronts Father Gomez as he stalks Lyra in the Mulefa world. He fatally crushes Gomez's insect daemon, but its venom kills him. The Mulefa lead Will and Lyra to Mary, who explains about the escaping Dust which has a shared consciousness. Mary reveals giving up being a nun to experience life and love beyond religion. When Will and Lyra realize they are in love, Dust rains downward, restoring all worlds. Serafina Pekkala arrives and urges Pan and Kirjava (Will's daemon) to find their humans. Xaphania, the Angel who communicated with Mary in her lab, says Mary's role as the Serpent is completed. Xaphania says all windows between worlds except for Mulefa and the Land of the Dead must be closed to prevent Dust escaping and spectres forming. Knowing neither can survive long-term in an alternate world, Lyra and Will sadly agree to separate, promising to reunite in the afterlife. Seeking guidance, Lyra discovers the alethiometer no longer works because she has matured. The group return to Lyra's world. Before Mary departs for her Oxford, Serafina helps her to see her own daemon. Lyra and Will say goodbye before Will permanently closes the window between them. As promised, he breaks the Subtle Knife so Angels can seal openings that previous Knife Bearers never closed. Lyra returns to Jordan College while Will reunites with his mother. Each midsummer's day in their respective worlds, Lyra and Will sit on a bench in the Oxford Botanic Garden to remember each other. A postscript reveals Will becomes a doctor and Lyra learns to read the alethiometer. Lyra and Pan have future adventures.

Production

Development

The three His Dark Materials novels, written by Philip Pullman from 1995 to 2000, achieved critical and commercial success and were adapted into a 2007 feature film, The Golden Compass. The film was criticised by both religious organisations, who objected to the story's anti-religious elements, as well as by fans of the trilogy who disliked the dilution of these elements. Despite earning $372 million worldwide, the film underperformed at the box office in North America, making any sequels unlikely.[41]

After several years, the rights reverted to Pullman. In November 2015, BBC One announced that it had commissioned a television adaptation of the trilogy, to be produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema.[42] The eight-part[43] adaptation had a planned premiere date in 2017. In April 2017 writer Jack Thorne told Radio Times that the series was still in pre-production. He said, "It's at an exciting point where we're just throwing things at the page and trying to work out what works and what doesn't", and that he wanted to ensure that they were being loyal to the books.[44] Director Otto Bathurst explained that some elements of the book and film had been changed to give the series a more modern feel, compared to the original's Victoriana fantasy.[45]

On 12 September 2018, HBO was announced as the co-producer and international distributor of the series.[46] On 10 October 2018, Miranda reported that he had wrapped up filming for his role.[47] On 14 December 2018, it was announced that filming for the first series was complete.[48]

Before the series premiered, it was renewed for a second series of eight episodes, which is primarily adapting the second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife.[49] Filming of the second series began before the premiere of the first, which was considered "a necessary move considering the age of the show's young star".[50] While filming for series 2 was mostly completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, a standalone episode focusing on Lord Asriel was left unfinished. As a consequence the series ultimately only consisted of seven episodes.[51] Although McAvoy completed a small amount of filming before production was shut down,[52] his appearance in the second series' final episode was filmed during the pandemic, repurposed from material written for the abandoned episode.[53]

By November 2020, work had begun on six of eight scripts for a third series adapting The Amber Spyglass. The commission was confirmed in December 2020, for a series of eight episodes,[9][54] and production began in early 2021.[52] Filming for the third series took place between 24 May and 31 October 2021.[55]

Casting

Promotional image showing lead characters and locations
Promotional image showing lead characters and locations

On 8 March 2018, it was announced that Dafne Keen had signed on to star in the series to play Lyra with director Tom Hooper signed on to direct. Lin-Manuel Miranda would star as Lee Scoresby.[56] On 8 June 2018, it was reported that James McAvoy, Clarke Peters, and Ruth Wilson had joined the cast.[57][58]

On 27 July 2018, the BBC and Bad Wolf revealed the cast and crew for the series.[59]

On 1 July 2020, it was revealed that Bella Ramsey had been cast in the role of Angelica in series 2.[60]

Additional casting for the third series was announced on 22 June 2021, including Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Commander Ogunwe, Jamie Ward as Father Gomez, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Balthamos, Simon Harrison as Baruch, and Amber Fitzgerald-Woolfe as Ama. Chipo Chung was also reported as playing the angel Xaphania, who was voiced by Sophie Okonedo in series 2.[55]

On 20 September 2021, it was announced that Sian Clifford and Jonathan Aris had been cast in series 3.[61]

Music

On 14 August 2019, it was announced that Lorne Balfe was hired to score the series.[62] Speaking about the job, Balfe stated that he "wanted to write a musical letter to the creators of the show", also mentioning that the series was a "mammoth task" and one of his biggest projects yet.[63] Scoring primarily took place in St David's Hall in Cardiff, Wales with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, while the ethnic Bulgarian choir was recorded in Bulgaria with additional remote sessions taking place at the Synchron Scoring Stage in Vienna, Austria with the Synchron Stage Orchestra.[63] Also featured on the score are cellist Tina Guo, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, classical French horn player Sarah Willis, violinist Lindsey Stirling, and recordist Richard Harvey.[64] Two soundtrack albums were released: a musical anthology with thematic pieces and an album containing all the cues used in the series. Silva Screen Records released the albums digitally on 3 November 2019 and 20 December 2019 respectively.[65][66]

Lorne Balfe's His Dark Materials score was nominated for two awards: for Best Original Score for a Television Series at the 2020 International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) awards and for Music – Original Title at the 2020 Royal Television Society awards.[citation needed]

Release

On 24 July 2019, it was announced that the series would premiere in the fourth quarter of 2019 in the UK and the US.[67][68][69] On 12 September 2019, sources revealed that the series was set to premiere on 3 November 2019 on BBC One and the following night on HBO.[70] In New Zealand, the series is broadcast by Sky TV and is available on streaming service Neon. The series began on 5 November 2019.[71][72] In Australia, the series is distributed by the cable and satellite television company Foxtel through their HBO output deal.[73]

The second series premiered on 8 November 2020 in the UK, and on 16 November 2020 in the US.[74][75][76] The third series premiered on HBO on 5 December 2022,[18] and premiered in the UK on 18 December 2022, with the series being released in full on BBC iPlayer, and airing weekly on BBC One.[19]

Reception

Critical response

Series 1

Series one received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first series has an approval rating of 77% based on reviews from 114 critics, with an average rating of 6.99/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "The daemon is in the details and while His Dark Materials' visual splendor and exceptional performances deftly capture the essence of Philip Pullman's seminal novels, it could use a little more magic."[77] On Metacritic, the series has a score of 69 out of 100 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[78]

Dan Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "this effort nails much of what makes the books pop, and both the special effects and a star-studded cast led by Dafne Keen and Ruth Wilson are in fine form." However, he followed that by saying "What never fully worked for me in the four episodes... sent to critics is the necessary feeling of narrative and thematic momentum. It's vastly better than the movie, but neither fun nor smart enough to quite succeed."[79] Caroline Framke of Variety wrote: "Despite the rich complexities of the novel's world of daemons, power-hungry players and warring faiths, HBO's His Dark Materials feels like it could have been plucked from most any other fantasy epic out there."[80] Beth Elderkin of Gizmodo was critical of the show's inability to capture the connection between humans and daemons.[81]

Ben Lawrence of The Telegraph gave the first episode 4 out of 5 stars, calling it "a fine piece of drama, capturing the strangeness and childlike wonder of the books, but also their rigour and bite. This is intelligent populism writ large."[82] Huw Fullerton of the Radio Times gave the first episode a positive review: "While there is a slight element of table-setting in the series' first hour the appeal of the actors and setting are beguiling enough to pull you through all the exposition and explanation." Fullerton praised Wilson for her performance, saying she "nearly walks away with the whole series".[83] David Levesley of British GQ wrote that His Dark Materials as a whole illustrates the fundamental problem with remaking adaptations: "the execution doesn't feel far enough removed from the previous version to actually make for a significantly better product".[84]

Series 2

Series two received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the second series has an approval rating of 85% based on reviews from 33 critics, with an average rating of 6.87/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "His Dark Materials' chilly emotional core and imposing complexity is unlikely to win over the unconverted, but its sophomore season rewards the faithful with impeccable production values and cerebral thrills."[85] On Metacritic, series 2 has a score of 71 out of 100 based on reviews from 4 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[86]

Stuart Jeffries of The Guardian praised the series and in particular the villainous Mrs. Coulter, calling Pullman's creation a compelling monster, and that writer Jack Thorne clearly "revels in punching up Coulter as a combination of Iago and Lady Macbeth with a hint, at her most pantomimic, of Cruella de Vil" and "you never know what she might do next". Jeffries was critical of the musical score, comparing it to "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", leaving audiences in doubt if the next dramatic moment was quite as significant as the music was suggesting, and undermining the two good lead actors who convey the necessary dramatic tension in their performances.[87] Ed Cumming of The Independent wrote: "His Dark Materials looks great, it's robustly made, and there are great actors everywhere, occupying well-built universes. But it doesn't inspire as much wonder as it ought to."[88] Ed Power of The Irish Times was critical of the series. Despite the strong cast, he called it "slow-moving and inhospitable towards newcomers" and plodding in its execution. Power blamed Pullman's source material: "frankly the whole thing is a bit of a drag. It's never fun being preached to, not even by an atheist." He concludes "His Dark Materials has a lot going for it. But it desperately lacks a sense of fun and, crucial for fantasy, the promise of escapism."[89]

Series 3

Series three received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the final series has an approval rating of 90% based on reviews from 21 critics, with an average rating of 7.30/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "In perhaps its most stirring season, the final installment of His Dark Materials rewards its viewers with a heart-wrenching conclusion befitting this faithful adaptation."[90] Stuart Jeffries of The Guardian gave it four out of five stars, praising the performances and visual effects.[91]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2020 Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production Aulo Licinio Won [92]
British Academy Television Awards Best Costume Design Caroline McCall Nominated [93]
Best Photography & Lighting: Fiction Suzie Lavelle Nominated [93]
Best Sound: Fiction Dillon Bennett, Jon Thomas, Gareth Bull and James Ridgeway Nominated [93]
Best Special, Visual & Graphic Effects Framestore, Painting Practice, Real SFX and Russel Dodgson Won [93]
Titles & Graphic Identity Elastic, Painting Practice Won [93]
Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Genre His Dark Materials Nominated [94]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Russell Dodgson, James Whitlam, Shawn Hillier and Robert Harrington Nominated [95]
2021 Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Genre His Dark Materials Nominated [96]
Saturn Awards Best Television Presentation (under 10 Episodes) His Dark Materials Nominated [97]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c The third series premiered first on HBO on 5 December 2022, with weekly releases following.[18] The series was released in full on BBC iPlayer on 18 December 2022.[19]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Additional direction by William McGregor
  3. ^ Not reported in the weekly top 50 programmes.
  4. ^ Additional direction by Russell Dodgson
  5. ^ Additional direction by Weronika Tofilska
  6. ^ Additional direction by Russell Dodgson

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