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The His Dark Materials season 2 episode you won't get to see

One planned installment of His Dark Materials won't make it onto the small screen.

HBO and BBC's hit drama, which is based on Philip Pullman's novel series of the same name, had originally intended to release an episode centered entirely around Lord Asriel, played by James McAvoy. Unfortunately, that season 2 episode has been scrapped.

Executive producer Jane Tranter confirmed this news on Thursday during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con@Home, revealing that due to COVID-19 and filming restrictions, the second season of His Dark Materials will run for only seven episodes. The Lord Asriel-focused installment was meant to be the eighth episode of His Dark Materials season 2.

As Tranter said, "It was separate from the other seven episodes because it was a standalone episode [that] Jack [Thorne] had written with the blessing and input of Philip Pullman, which looked at what Lord Asriel had been doing between going through the anomaly at the end of season 1 and when we see Lord Asriel at the beginning of book three, The Amber Spyglass."

She continued, "It meant that we could continue post-production on the seven episodes that make up The Subtle Knife [arc of the show] and just put the Asriel standalone episode to one side. Maybe in the future we can revisit it as a standalone, but essentially, our adaptation of The Subtle Knife had been completed."

If you're unfamiliar with Pullman's trilogy of novels, Tranter is referring to the second and third novels in the series. His Dark Materials season 2 will adapt the second book, The Subtle Knife, while a potential third season will focus on the third and final book, The Amber Spyglass.

Cutting this episode of His Dark Materials was a tough call for all involved

In response to Tranter's comments, Jack Thorne, who has adapted Pullman's novels for the small screen, took to Twitter to express his own disappointment at the situation.

"We were all absolutely gutted about this. We had the read through, got to set... [then] COVID," he tweeted. "Had some incredible actors raring to go and some new story to explore. But the brilliance of many departments on our show went into override to make up for the loss."

McAvoy perfectly plays the cold, inscrutable Lord Asriel, whose capture kicks off the entire narrative of His Dark Materials. After being held as a captive during an expedition in the far North, Lord Asriel — who's studying a branch of magic regarding a substance called "Dust" — mysteriously disappears. His niece, Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen), sets out to rescue him. However, as Lyra finds out later, Asriel isn't her uncle — he's her father, and her mother is the evil Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who kidnaps children for sinister medical experimentation.

Sad as it is to know that the Lord Asriel episode won't grace our screens any time soon, it's still exciting that His Dark Materials has enough material on deck to debut its second season later this year. The entire first season of His Dark Materials is available to stream on HBO Max now.