Did anyone in America actually watch season 1 of HBO series His Dark Materials? The HBO/BBC co-production debuted in November 2019 to middling-but-positive reviews, and then stateside conversation about the show seemed to immediately drop off. The ratings for the show put it squarely in the middle of the pack for HBO’s originals. But the series was a major hit for the BBC, which helps justify the show’s significant price tag. (It broke BBC cost records.) The series was renewed for a second season before season 1 even aired, and now Comic-Con has brought along the first trailer for that new season, which comes with even more intensity and drama, and even more fantasy elements than before.
The show is based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy, with season 1 covering book 1, The Golden Compass, and season 2 heading into the sequel, The Subtle Knife. As the trailer mentions, the knife in the title is a magical weapon capable of slicing through the barriers between worlds, which becomes more relevant as the series moves from world to world. Like the original series trailer, this latest one leans heavily on action and grim drama, in an attempt to escape the more child-friendly tone of an earlier attempt to adapt the series for the big screen. Here’s HBO’s summary:
In the second season of HIS DARK MATERIALS, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) has opened a bridge to a new world, and, distraught over the death of her best friend, Lyra (Dafne Keen) follows Asriel into the unknown. In a strange and mysterious abandoned city she meets Will (Amir Wilson), a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.
The trailer also features glimpses at returning characters Mrs. Coulter (played by Ruth Wilson), Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare), and Lee Scoresby (Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda), alongside new characters John Parry (Andrew Scott), Ruta Skadi (Jade Anouka), and Dr. Mary Malone (Simone Kirby). While season 1 was eight episodes long, the show’s Comic-Con panel reports that season 2 will only be seven episodes, because an eighth — a stand-alone story about Lord Asriel journeying between worlds — was not completed before the COVID-19 quarantine started.
HBO has not set a date for season 2 of His Dark Materials, but according to the trailer, the show will premiere in fall 2020.