His Dark Materials Heads Into Its Final Season With The Heavens And The Earth At Stake [NYCC]

Going into its third season, the HBO series "His Dark Materials" has angels, witches, and oppressive religious systems to contend with. But most intimidating of all, it has the monumental task of adapting the most ambitious and lavish book of the series, "The Amber Spyglass."

"His Dark Materials" season 2 last ended on Lyra Silvertongue (casting off her original last name due to her really messed-up father) and her spiritually-linked daemon Pan (voiced by Kit Connor) being captured and knocked out unconscious by her equally messed-up mother, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson). William (Amir Wilson), a boy from a world with no daemons (closer to our world), tragically loses his long-missing father (Andrew Scott) to a Magistrate soldier. But Will has now fully accepted his destiny as the Subtle Knife's bearer, wielding the ability to cut through into different dimensions. But this season's great threat is the ruling Magistrate (not subtly based on the Catholic Church) in Lyra's world, that have decimated the witches' land and are waging war.

In Lyra Silvertongue's world, humans have a connection to a "daemon." If their daemon is killed, they die, and vice versa. There's also the existence of world portals and a mysterious matter known as Dust. Lyra is searching for Dust — to enact vengeance against her father, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) for murdering her orphan friend Roger.

New worlds

Expectations are running high at the "His Dark Materials" New York Comic Con panel moderated by Emily Alsatian of TV Guide Magazine, and attended by executive producers Jane Tranter and Dan McCulloch, and stars Dafne Keen, Amir Wilson, and James McAvoy.

Tranter said that the season 3 tone is "challenging."

"If you think everything in Dark Materials starts out in Lyra's world. We go from [Lyra's world]. Season 3 on one level the most grounded "Dark Materials" has become. It's extremely emotional between Lyra, Will, and Asriel. The tone is grounded fantasy but a lot more emotional."

Season 3 will show Asriel's Republic, which he has built in defiance of heaven (literally). Dan McCulloch explained, "It's where he's been furthering his thinking. We will also see the Clouded Mountain, which I can't say much about... it would be the answer or enemy to Asriel. And lastly but not least, we will see the Mulefa. We will also see the Land of the Dead."

Asriel is the worst good-intentioned dad ever

"He's just like this locomotive train" is James McAvoy's own words describing Asriel's pursuit to unite the angels for the war.

Reflecting on his turbulent father-daughter relationship, the moderator even questioned if Asriel is even thinking of his daughter Lyra? "His love for his daughter is complicated. I don't even know if it's existent," McAvoy commented, adding:

"If he loves his daughter, it's a very different love for his daughter that I recognize with my own children. He has killed her best friend. You see more in season 3 that he's down on her. He says a lot of bad stuff about her. I don't know if he loves her or actively dislikes her. But he definitely got bigger things on his plate than fatherhood. He's this obsessive and self-righteous guy who does what he thinks is right. But his journey is about this little girl derailing his world. He thinks he's Spartacus. She's Spartacus."

Asriel's plan for the war: "He's gonna win it. And everybody's going to get McDonalds," McAvoy said, laughing. "He wants to emancipate the human spirit from institutional abuse. But he's just a guy where the end justifies the means... For Lyra, the means have to be full of integrity. He's learns from her, is embarrassed because of it. His ego takes this massive hit because of her."

Lyra is also going to face being with her mother again. Keen said, "[Lyra's feelings toward her mother] has been that initial hate. As she grows up, she starts having those feelings for her mother. So it's interesting to investigate that."

Destiny for Lyra, Pan, and Will

Lyra is prophesied to be the "Eve" of this contemporary telling of John Milton's "Paradise Lost," so that has major implications for her destiny. Dafne Keen shared:

"Lyra doesn't really know about this. She's just going about life... We always talk about goodness and greatness and that's what always lost with the rest of the adults. They're questionable adult figures. [Her greatness is] what makes Lyra precious. That's what makes season 3 Lyra interesting where she's entering that grown-up world. She's faced death before but she has to go make amends."

She has been split from Will, who has matured in his exploration of the new worlds beyond his non-magical homeland. Amir Wilson revealed, "He meets angels, he meets bears. He's just slicing through worlds. His experience has changed him. By the time we caught him in season 3, he's better with the Knife. He's got new boots, new clothes. He went shopping in-between seasons."

There's also a budding romance between Will and Lyra. Though Wilson states that although the pair see each other as friends, the audience will know better than them.

Lyra and Pan's human-daemon relationship will put to the test as well. Keen revealed that "Lyra is very joined to Pan. But as everyone goes through in their youth, there's this identity crisis. In this case, her daemon is your [her] identity." She said she acted her heart out with voice actor Kit Connor. "I got to shout, I got to cry, which I loved."

The fate of others

Mary Malone (Simone Kirby), a dark matter researcher from Will's world, is continuing her journey into a world beyond her own to find Lyra. According to Jane Tranter, she's just on her merry journey. "In season 2 when the angels speak through the Shadow Particles, it's really a challenge of great faith that she believes [following them is] the right thing to do."

A season 3 trailer was also shown to the audience. To the excitement of a roaring audience, it ends right on Lyra reencountering the aeronaut cowboy Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who was shot down in the season 2 finale before he and Lyra could reunite for real. The ending of the trailer cued in a surprise video recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda greeting the attendees after the trailer. How did Lyra "reunite" with a dead man? You'll find out.

"His Dark Materials" season 3 will release on HBO Max on December 5, 2022.