What Can Fans Expect From 'His Dark Materials' Season 3?

(Photograph Courtesy of HBO)

Had the team behind His Dark Materials had their druthers this morning, you would be reading a recap of Season 2's final installment, Episode 8. But like many things in 2020, things didn't go as planned. The production never finished the season's final installment. At first, the producers talked about going back and making it, releasing it as a stand-alone bridge between Seasons 2 and 3. But that plan is now scrapped. So what can fans expect from Season 3?

The good news is that the final episode had been something of a one-off. It was supposed to be a deep dive into the history of Cittàgazze, the Subtle Knife, the alethiometer, and a way to put Lord Asriel front and center heading into the final season. So the show finished fine (roughly) without it. But the lost episode will stay lost, with the information it would have held that was not redistributed into Season 2 will be cycled into Season 3.

Hardcore fans might find that a bit disappointing, but in the end, knowing the information that the episode planned to drop is being worked semi-organically into the forthcoming season is probably a relief. The production's instincts were right to do an explainer episode since there is quite a bit of mythos that the show has not delved into. What is Cittàgazze? How did all these windows get here? Why do these windows lead here at all; why can one not cut directly from Lyra's Oxford to Will's Oxford without passing through this waystation of an abandoned place? And what is this prophecy everyone keeps talking about?

Speaking to Deadline, executive producer Jane Trantor promised that Season 3 will hold answers.

So the prophecy with Lyra is really clearly explained in season three. In Season 2 , we learn about the prophecy. In season one, we learn that the child’s important. We learn that the child will have a boy with her, and we learn in Season 2 that the witches are very sure of the importance of Lyra.

As for the parts that didn't make it into Season 2, the production will mostly cycle the information into the top of Season 3, so the final episode can "hit the ground running." 

"We definitely want to include it in the third season because the third season is an adaptation of the end of Spyglass and that’s a whopper. We really just need to hit the ground running with that and get on with it. It’s something that exists as a standalone. Season three will just be The Amber Spyglass.

(Photograph Courtesy of HBO)

She's not kidding about The Amber Spyglass being a heck of a book to attempt to adapt. It's one thing to CGI daemons and empty cities through mirror worlds. Philip Pullman's final book goes beyond these recognizable tropes into the utterly fantastical. His last book imagines an Earth where humans aren't the dominant species at all, but a planet run by sapient creatures called "Mulefa." Mulefa are described as "sort of like elephants," in that they have the remnants of a trunk in the center of their faces. But they're not elephants at all. They are "diamond-shaped" creatures without a central spine, who have invented these odd versions of roller skates out of giant pods that fall from the trees, which they ride by holding the axel in the central claw of each of their feet.

Moreover, these are not just like a side set of fun creatures. These are major characters who Mary Malone befriends and who play significant roles in the conclusion of Lyra's coming prophecy. It's not just creating these visions of creatures for which we have no immediate visual reference. It's making such a thing and then having those creatures be realistic enough to carry an entire main plotline.

And that's just the beginning. There's also the Mulefa's main enemy predators, the Tualapi, a giant birdlike race, though again, they aren't birds, except that they can fly, and that's the best reference we've got. There are also Gallivespians, who are a cross between humans and tiny poisonous lizards. (Think lilliputians, but with toxic spines in the backs of their heels.) At least we have some visual reference for that, as well as the Harpies (the human-bird hybrids from legends), who Lyra and Will will meet when they visit the lands of the dead.

Even if there wasn't still a pandemic, this would be difficult, to say the least. How exactly the show will go about creating this insane fantasy multiverse remains to be seen. But with filming not yet underway, fans may not get to find out until 2022 how it turns out.