The season 2 finale of His Dark Materials begins with Serafina, Will and Lyra continuing their ascent. While they do, creatures called cliff-ghasts stir in the shadows, talking of Lord Asriel’s army growing and how he needs Æsahættr.
With Skadi listening from afar, she presses tightly against the wall as these creatures suddenly take off. It’s clear a war is coming but when and where this will take place still remains unwritten whispers in the tense, night air.
These whispers grow to prophetic echoes as Will awakens from a bad dream about his Father telling him to stop the Authority. Pantalaimon is there though and listens as Will lavishes high praise on Lyra, admitting that she’s the best friend he’s ever had. Unbeknownst to him though, Lyra happens to be awake listening to this.
In the morning, Serafina sends two scouts on ahead; Reina is heading for the forest while Lena is going back to Cittàgazze intending to find the spectres.
Will however wants to go on ahead and leave the witches behind. Lyra is conflicted over what to do and certainly doesn’t want to make a mistake. However, she also worries that Serafina could get hurt by the spectres if they continue following her.
Jopari and Lee survive their crash and examine the wreckage of the hot air balloon before taking off. Magisterium soldiers are not far behind though, as they line up and begin hunting the pair. Using birds to scout on ahead, Jopari eventually notices and prompts both of them to run.
Lee immediately takes a bullet to the leg before finally hobbling to safety behind a rock cropping. Realizing one of them needs to stay behind and hold them off, Lee decides to sacrifice himself. Jopari thanks the aeronaut for his courage and heads off in search of Will, promising to make sure he and the knife are safe.
Mary leads the two girls out to the camp site. They encourage her to join them but she kindly rejects their offer. Instead, she’s heading off in search of answers. First though, she stops at a waterfall for a quick bout of reading. This, as it turns out, is actually the last we see of her this season.
Back in Cittàgazze, Mrs Coulter runs into one of the witches, Lena, who happens to show up on a scouting mission. Mrs Coulter blindsides the witch and even brings the spectres in while torturing her for information. Eventually she blurts out that Lyra is Eve, Mother of All.
As her daemon is taken by the spectre, Coulter reflects on what she’s learned, determined to make sure Lyra doesn’t fall this time. Tellingly, her daemon cowers from this swirling mass of death.
Skadi returns to the hideout and feeds back to Serafina what she’s learned. Asriel is raising an army to go after the agents of the Authority and that means bringing the clans together for the prophesied Great War. Given Lyra is the child of destiny, Serafina is staying with her while Skadi decides to find Æsahættr and bring it to Asriel, especially given it’s supposed to be the difference between winning and losing in this fight.
While Lyra and Will head out with Serafina, Lee is left with 30 bullets on his suicide run. He’s determined to make sure every bullet hits their mark though and begins picking off the soldiers one by one. Hester does her best to encourage… until she starts to despair and blame herself for what’s happened.
Lee’s valiant effort to protect Lyra sees him take another bullet to the shoulder before eventually using the pine to summon Serafina to him. Unfortunately it’s too late though as the daemon evaporates and Lee dies.
As Will heads off alone, he finds himself face to face with his Father…who happens to be Jopari (John Parry.) He’s confused, looking at Wil as he realizes he’s the knife-bearer. With little time for reunions, Jopari gives him his mission. He’s tasked with heading to Asriel and informing him he has the weapon that could change the fate of the world.
Jopari apologizes for what happened in the past and tells Will he’s a warrior. As a lone Magisterium soldier shows in the distance, he shoots Jopari in the back who dies too. Thankfully, his daemon manages to kill the soldier as a final noble act.
Mrs Coulter too has a family reunion of sorts too, finding Lyra asleep against the wall. While the spectre kills Reina, Lyra awakens and gasps, her blood turning cold, as Coulter looks at her. She’s taking Lyra somewhere safe but for now, is keeping her trapped inside a chest.
Serafina finds Lee dead by the trees and says a prayer in his memory while he lies peacefully with a gun in his hands. As the episode closes out, Will finds himself alone while all our different characters prepare for the coming Great War.
A rousing speech from Lord Asriel is the final scene of the season as we finally see Asriel himself in the smoldering ruins of a barren world. Demanding an answer, the Angels materialize above him and agree to join him into battle.
The Episode Review
His Dark Materials bows out its second season with a decent finale with some definitive answers and welcome reunions. Seeing Lyra caught in the cold tendrilled grip of Mrs Coulter again certainly spells big trouble for the future. Meanwhile, Jopari’s sacrifice after finally meeting his son again gives Will motivation enough to head out alone and tackle what he’s destined to do.
With Lyra captured and heading out for parts unknown, it’s seemingly now up to him to try and turn the tide of this coming Great War. It certainly sets up a very promising third season too, which will seemingly have no disruptions as the cast and crew work around the current pandemic.
The big reveal with the angels is certainly a stand out moment but this episode features several equally big set pieces worth mentioning too. Lee’s sacrifice for example is quite reminisce of Boromir from Lord Of The Rings and I’m glad he got a good send-off. Perhaps somewhat under-utilized, Lee has been a compelling and charismatic character across these two seasons and he will be sorely missed.
If there’s one player here who’s been kept at arm’s length though it’s Mary and it’s still not clear what role she’ll have in the fight to come. Still, with the clans joining together against the Magisterium and their forces, His Dark Materials lays the foundation nicely for what should be a very dramatic and exciting final season.