‘His Dark Materials’ Season 2 Review: World Building Mixed in With Mystery

His Dark Materials

Spoilers Below

His Dark Materials Season Two, written by Jack Thorne, further develops the multi-universes and reveals even more mysteries. 

Lyra Silvertounge has embraced her role as a heroine and teams up with Will Parry to help find his father, Colonel John Parry. At the same time, Marisa Coulter enters new worlds with Lord Carlo Boreal in the hope of finding her daughter Lyra. We also see Serafina Peekla and the rest of the witches battle the Magisterium while trying to secure Lyra’s safety. The young Silvertounge and Will have a destiny that they need to fulfill. And the witches will do anything to make sure she can save all three worlds. Both Will and Lyra spend most of season two in Cittàgazze, a city in the mulefa world.

Will and Lyra’s tight friendship grows organically through this season. Dafne Keen (Lyra Silvertounge) and Amir Wilson (Will Parry) are amazing teenage actors who bring life to their characters and hold the whole series together. They have a lot of things in common. They are both young teenagers, who practically raised themselves, and they are fiercely independent and brave. 

Lyra and Will bump into each other in the mostly empty city of Cittàgazze after crossing over from their different worlds. They create an alliance because they need each other to survive. Will reluctantly let Lyra and Pan stay with him. And their friendship grows as they learn about each other. They first connect over both being from a place called Oxford. 

Together, the teenagers take back the alethiometer from Lord Boreal and Ms. Coulter. Lyra promises to help Will find his father with the truth-telling device. He becomes the subtle knife’s bearer and learns he needs to protect Lyra. Their closeness is personified by how Pan comforts Will and almost lets the teenagers touch him. Touching another’s daemon usually is taboo, which demonstrates how close their friendship is. They don’t just bond because of their destiny, but their commitment to keeping each other safe (Lyra lost her best friend Rodger because she had been too trusting of her father. She will not make that mistake again.).

One of my favorite new characters this season is Dr. Mary Malone. Mary is a workaholic Oxford astrophysicist and neuropsychologist. She studies dark matter, a.k.a. “Dust.” 

Mary is a nun turned scientist who created the Dark Matter Research Group, with her colleague Dr. Oliver Payne. The project researches shadow particles and their effects on the human mind. She gets drawn further into the dangerous world of “Dust” by Lyra. 

The alethiometer instructs Lyra to travel to Will’s world to find Mary and have the female scholar teach her about Dust. Lyra can’t lie to the scientist. And at first, Mary finds her a bit odd, but soon they deeply connect over Dust. 

The scientist built a computer to communicate with dark matter called “The Cave,” but she is unable any significant readings on the device. When Mary brings Lyra to “The Cave,” and the young teenager uses the alethiometer in front of it, the computer comes to life, registering the Dust for the first time. The output inspires Mary to program the computer to speak directly with the dark matter. 

Eventually, the Dust speaks verbally to Mary through the “The Cave.” The dark matter tells her they are essentially angels and that she needs to travel to the mulefa world. Lyra and Will require her help. 

Until Lyra enters Mary’s life, she was always working. She has no life outside of science. Her sister has been pushing her to take time off work and go on an exotic vacation. The mulefa world is not quite what her sister meant, but it’s Mary‘s destiny.

Ms. Marisa Coulter’s obsession with “saving” her daughter Lyra leads her further into darkness. Early in His Dark Materials Season Two, it seems like Coulter genuinely wants to help Lyra. She frees Lee Scoresby from The Magisterium prison in the far North. She knows that Lee will do anything for Lyra when he refuses to give up her location, even when she tortures him. They connect because they were both abused by their fathers. Pain doesn’t bother them. But quickly, it’s clear that even though Ms. Coulter loves her daughter; she is up to no good. 

First, we see how Lyra’s mother brutalizes her golden monkey daemon, even locking him up to blend in when she is in Will’s world. Normally humans can’t walk too far away from their daemons, or they both feel incredible amounts of pain. Ms. Coulter must have messed with her daemon (her soul) or their connection. Further proof of her daemon being wrong is that even when they are truly alone, the golden monkey never speaks. 

Second, she can connect with specters from the muleta world. The specters drain the souls of adults because they are surrounded by “Dust.” Their souls are mature enough to attract dark matter. Since Ms. Coulter can suppress her soul, meaning her humanity, she can command them to do whatever she wants. 

Lastly, she poisons Boreal because he is weak enough to fall in love with her. By killing, Ms. Coulter’s soul is poisoned too. She has zero compassion or genuine warmth. Ms. Coulter’s blind greed causes her to see angels or “Dust” as sin. She attempts to control her daughter and the alethiometer to gain power.

His Dark Materials Season Two is worth watching if you loved the first season and the book series by Philip Pullman. Jack Throne does an incredible job of adapting The Subtle Knife by Pullman onto the small screen and creating an engaging serialized story that stands on its own.