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His Dark Materials Season 3 Release Date, Cast And Plot - What We Know So Far

His Dark Materials stepped up its game in season 2 to become a darker and altogether bolder series. Part of the show's shift in tone is thanks to author Philip Pullman's trilogy of the same name becoming naturally more adult as Lyra (Dafne Keen) comes of age during her quest to discover the truth about Dust. And Lyra's story seems poised to become even more intense in the show's third season.

In a November 2020 interview with Deadline, executive producer Jane Tranter revealed that her team had already started pre-production on the show's ambitious third chapter, which will be based on the longest book in the series, The Amber Spyglass. While Tranter previously shared that she imagined it would take two seasons to do the book justice, she now believes the story can be told in one eight-episode season. "The Amber Spyglass is quite right adapted into eight episodes and I will fully and humbly admit I was completely wrong," she told the outlet. 

Now that Tranter is convinced that the final book can be adapted in just one season, His Dark Materials fans can get busy theorizing about which stories will make it into the show and which will be cut for the sake of time (and clarity). With HBO and BBC One officially confirming the series' season 3 renewal on December 22, 2020, fans can also get to thinking about when His Dark Materials will return and who might star in the upcoming episodes.

His Dark Materials season 3's release date could be delayed due to the ongoing pandemic

Like so many other shows, His Dark Materials' production schedule has been affected by the pandemic. While season 2 had mostly completed filming before production was halted, a standalone episode devoted to James McAvoy's Lord Asriel was scrapped. It's unclear whether or not the episode will fit into season 3 or be completely abandoned.

As for season 3's timeline, Tranter told Deadline that executive producer Jack Thorne and a team of writers had written six of the eight episodes as of November 2020, and she was optimistic that production on the third season would begin by spring 2021. The statement HBO and BBC One released announcing season 3 of His Dark Materials noted that production will kick off in Cardiff, Wales in 2021 — though no set date or even season of the year was mentioned alongside that. 

Everything considered, it seems unlikely that viewers will see the third season in 2021. If production starts in the spring, viewers can probably expect season 3 to premiere sometime in early 2022.

Expect plenty of returning characters in His Dark Materials season 3 cast

There's no official word on who will be returning for His Dark Materials season 3, but Keen and Amir Wilson (Will) are both safe bets. Viewers can also expect to see more of Ruth Wilson's Mrs. Coulter, and Thorne told Express that Will Keen's Father MacPhail is poised to play a large role in the final season.

Additionally, if all goes to plan, season 3 should include the return of McAvoy's Lord Asriel. While the actor was completely absent from season 2 after his character's standalone episode was unable to be completed, Lyra's father has a key role to play in the last book in the trilogy. As a result, he should return from his expedition through other worlds to stir up trouble for his daughter and Will in the show's final chapter. 

If Thorne and his team of writers adhere to the book, McAvoy won't be the only actor missing from season 2 who could return for season 3. A voyage to land of the dead in The Amber Spyglass briefly reunites Lyra with her friend Roger (Lewin Lloyd), so it's possible the young actor from season 1 will return for a brief appearance in season 3 if the series is renewed.

The plot of His Dark Materials season 3 will be far more complex than seasons 1 and 2

Season 2 of His Dark Materials was darker than season 1, but season 3 is set to be weirder than both previous seasons combined. The third book in Pullman's trilogy is sure to be a beast to adapt thanks to its dense plot which includes copious amounts of world-hopping and an all-out war with the Magisterium.

In addition to Lyra's descent into the world of the dead to free Roger, The Amber Spyglass also includes a battle against soul-devouring spectres and an extended visit to a world populated by mulefa, non-human creatures that are described as being "elephantine" in the novel. For his part, Collins is excited to bring the mulefa to life on screen for the first time.

"It's all complicated, but I utterly have an idea of the Mulefa and what their world is, Asriel's Republic is an amazing place," the production designer shared with RadioTimes.com.

Adapting The Amber Spyglass into an eight-episode season is going to be a tricky task, but the His Dark Materials team appear ready and willing to take it on.