San Diego Comic-Con looks a little bit different this year amidst the pandemic, with all of the panels going virtual. Fortunately for us this means we have a whole weekend of new content and discussions to look forward to. Today HBO and the BBC brought us a virtual panel for the season 2 of His Dark Materials. The Comic-Con at home panel brought us the first trailer for season 2 of His Dark Materials. There were also some interesting tidbits that we learned from the discussion, including one truly inspired casting decision. Let’s dive in and see what we have to expect from season 2 of His Dark Materials.
Featured on the panel were actors Dafne Keene; Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson, Ariyon Bakare, and Amir Wilson. Also joining in was writer Jack Thorne and executive producer Jane Tranter. The Comic-Con at home panel kicked off with the trailer for season 2 of His Dark Materials. And it looks like the BBC/HBO show is definitely raising the stakes next season.
Comic-Con At Home Teases Season 2 of His Dark Materials
From the start of the trailer we see Lyra and Will finally paired up together in season 2. The two characters followed their own paths in separate worlds in the first season. And those journeys culminate in them teaming up in both the second book and season. Amir Wilson’s character of Will Parry gets the first line of dialogue in the trailer, as he asks Lyra: “You’re not from here are you?” It is clear that the two of them have found their way to a new world, one so far unseen in the show.
Will and Lyra | Image via BBC/HBO
The Titular Subtle Knife Makes An Appearance
We also finally get to see Andrew Scott’s character, who was only glimpsed in a photograph in season 1. Scott plays John Parry, the famous explorer and father of Will. It is clear that he has also journeyed across worlds, as we see him with the aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) who helped Lyra on her journey in the first season. Scott gets one very significant line of dialogue in the trailer, as we see John Parry holding up a knife and explaining that it can “cut between worlds.” This is of course the titular subtle knife of the second book, and will be an extremely important tool in season 2 of His Dark Materials.
Image via BBC/HBO
The trailer also builds the tension in Lyra’s world with both the Magisterium and the witches led by Serafina Pekkala. We get to see more witches than we did in season 1 in just the short snippet of trailer that was released, so we can expect their role to be amped up significantly in season 2. There is also an indication that Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) is still searching for Lyra, although her tone regarding her daughter has changed significantly since we last saw her.
There is also one more significant character glimpsed in the trailer, that of Mary Malone, played by Simone Kirby. Malone is a physicist studying dark matter in Wil’s world. She is also very important in the last two books of Pullman’s trilogy. In the trailer she interacts with Lyra, indicating that Lyra will also travel to Wil’s world at some point in season 2. It is clear from the trailer alone that Lyra and Will will be world-hopping all over season 2 of His Dark Materials and I can’t wait.
The Comic-Con At Home Panel For His Dark Materials Reveals An Inspired Casting Choice
Image via BBC/HBO
One of the best tidbits of information that emerged from the Comic-Con at home panel for His Dark Materials came from Andrew Scott. Although the character of John Parry is from a world where humans do not have daemons (i.e. our world) Scott did reveal that John Parry would indeed have a daemon in season 2. The exact nature of John’s daemon was not revealed (although book fans already know). But Scott revealed that his daemon would be voiced by none other than his Fleabag co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. This inspired casting choice is sure to delight fans of both shows, and ensures some spectacular chemistry between Parry and his daemon. Terence Stamp, Chancellor Valorum in Star Wars and General Zod in Superman II, will also be joining the cast.
Also revealed in the discussion was that actor Lin-Manuel Miranda read the books with his wife during their courtship. Miranda says that he fell in love with the books while also falling in love with his wife Vanessa. This heartwarming anecdote prompted awws from the panel. Miranda’s character of Lee Scoresby has a much bigger role in the second season of His Dark Materials. And we look forward to seeing him play off Andrew Scott.
Producers Tranter and Thorne also discussed how Ariyon Bakare – who plays Boreal – influenced their decision to bring Will into the first season. While searching for the best way to loop Will into the story, they looked at Bakare’s performance and were so impressed by him that they decided to make him the connection between worlds.
James McAvoy Was Supposed To Get A Standalone Episode In Season 2
James McAvoy as Lord Asriel | Image via BBC One/HBO
Another major piece of information that the producers dropped during the Comic-Con at home panel is that there was supposed to be standalone episode in season 2 of His Dark Materials. This episode focused on Lord Asriel, as portrayed by James McAvoy (who was sadly not part of the panel discussion). Tranter and Thorne discussed how they ‘played detective’ while reading through The Subtle Knife. The two of them tried to piece together what Asriel was up to during the events of the second book. They wrote an entire bottle episode about his adventures, with the blessing of author Philip Pullman.
Unfortunately, this was the episode that was filming when the pandemic shut down production in March. As it stands, the entire story of The Subtle Knife has already been filmed and is ready to go. Only that episode remains to be completed. As Lord Asriel does not appear in The Subtle Knife, the loss of this episode means that he will ‘barely be in season 2’ according to a recent interview that McAvoy gave to Empire magazine. Tranter indicated that they hope to ‘revisit’ that episode in the future. So hopefully we will get to see it – and more of James McAvoy’s Lord Asriel – in season 3 of His Dark Materials.
Image via BBC/HBO
All in all, the Comic-Con at home panel teased an exciting and ambitious second season for His Dark Materials. Season 2 is set to premiere in Fall of 2020 on HBO and the BBC.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.