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How We Could See The Cut Lord Asriel Episode In His Dark Materials

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on movie and TV productions all across the globe, and His Dark Materials is no exception.

While HBO and the BBC were able to complete filming on season 2 in time for its November premiere date, the fantasy series was forced to cut a standalone episode devoted entirely to James McAvoy's Lord Asriel — which means Lyra's duplicitous father won't appear in the second season at all. Fans were disappointed when the news was revealed at Comic-Con@Home in July 2020, but it seems not all hope is lost for the Lord Asriel episode of His Dark Materials just yet.

In an interview with Deadline, executive producer Jane Tranter expressed hope that the Lord Asriel episode, which was written by Jack Thorne with the blessing of the His Dark Materials trilogy author Philip Pullman, may still be made. The biggest question is where would the standalone episode fit in the third season, which is based on the final book in the series, The Amber Spyglass?

Lord Asriel doesn't appear in the second book, The Subtle Knife, which is what made the prospect of a standalone episode so appealing. Fans of the book series have no solid answer about what happens to the character after he walks through the window into a new world. His time moving through other worlds until he returns in The Amber Spyglass is something that should really be explored before the third season. But that doesn't mean there's no room for a flashback episode within season 3, especially if it means viewers get to see McAvoy take center stage for a solo Lord Asriel adventure.

His Dark Materials executive producer Jane Tranter is hopeful that the Lord Asriel episode will still be made

Tranter shared with Deadline that she hasn't given up on the episode getting made — she's just not sure where it fits into season 3. When asked if the Lord Asriel episode will still happen in some form, the executive producer told the publication, "That would be lovely. We were lucky in that the majority of that episode was sort of freestanding. It was something that we worked on with Philip Pullman and Jack to sort of think about, 'All right, what would Asriel have been doing...' but clearly we're powering forwards at the moment to The Amber Spyglass, so I don't know."

Even though there's no clear path to the episode getting made just yet, it's important to note that filming on season 3 isn't scheduled to begin until spring 2021 at the earliest. With that in mind, there's still time for a decision to be made on Lord Asriel's solo adventure. And given how excited everyone involved was to see McAvoy suited up in Asriel's expedition gear, it sounds like the team would love to see the episode completed.

"It was just terribly exciting to see James as Asriel," Trantor said. "He was there with the Asriel wig on, we had the Asriel expedition clothing, and he's James McAvoy and he comes in like a hot knife through butter with a kind of hurricane of energy with him. And he was there, and we literally did about four hours [of shooting before shutting down]."

Four hours of filming isn't much of a start, but with a script in place and the His Dark Materials team still excited about Lord Asriel's lost episode, viewers might still be treated to a standalone hour of Asriel's adventures in season 3.