Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of His Dark Materials Season 2 Explained

Major spoilers for season 2 of His Dark Materials and minor spoilers for the novels to follow

The second season of the BBC and HBO's high fantasy series His Dark Materials, based on the acclaimed novel trilogy of the same name by Philip Pullman, came to a slightly truncated end on Monday night. Although the series wasn't able to finish shooting a planned Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) standalone episode before COVID-19 shut down production, fans still got a satisfying conclusion to an enchanting season. The finale was full of devastating deaths, prophetic revelations, and plenty of intriguing hints at what's in store for fans heading into its third and final season.

Season 2 began with Lyra (Dafne Keen) crossing through a portal to a strange and deserted city called Cittàgazze. There, she met a young boy named Will (Amir Wilson) who traveled to the city from his own world, and the two set off together to further unravel the secret destiny that seems to be following Lyra. Also on her heels is her mother, the sinister Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who is, as always, working toward her own goals.

Heading into the finale, Will has come into possession of a knife that offers its wielder extreme powers, and he and Lyra are being helped by a clan of witches who believe the girl to be the one spoken about in a prophecy. Sound jam-packed? It really was, and while the final episode left plenty of mysteries unsolved, it did illuminate quite a bit by the time the credits rolled.

Mrs. Coulter learns of the prophecy concerning Lyra

As Mrs. Coulter has worked to intercept Lyra, she's also slowly been piecing together her daughter's significance to the larger machinations at work.

While searching for Lyra in Cittàgazze, she encounters Lena (Remmie Milner), one of the witches who has been helping Lyra and Will. Lena urges Mrs. Coulter to leave the dangerous city. Instead of complying, Mrs. Coulter ruthlessly has her daemon attack Lena's and demands information from the woman. Lena reveals that Lyra is prophesied to be the next Eve. We later see Serafina (Ruta Gedmintasa) explaining the significance of this: "She is the child that shall bring about the end of destiny and return free will." After dispatching the witch, she is clearly rattled by the revelation, and quietly mumbles to herself, "She's Eve ... before the fall. This time she must not fall. I'll see to that."

There are forces at play, such as Lord Asriel and the witches, who would like to see the end of the current world order mandated by the Magisterium. Lyra being the second coming of Eve — the figure in the Bible who ate of the tree of knowledge — clearly represents a serious threat to the organization's ability to control the populace. This puts the young woman at the center of the upcoming war between the forces of free will and the Magisterium, and although Mrs. Coulter's motives remain as opaque as ever, in the short term she will do whatever she can to protect her daughter.

The great war looms large for many characters

The brewing war also came into a clearer focus for the viewer by the end of the finale. Serafina's fellow witch Skadi (Jade Anouka) pledges herself to help in Lord Asriel's fight after learning she needs to find a special knife called Æsahættr, the "subtle knife" from Pullman's novels, a weapon that will ensure Asriel's victory. Little does she know that it's the very knife that Will has been tasked with carrying. It's an object so powerful that it can slice through dimensions, so it's clear why it may be of some use to Lord Asriel as he goes up against the Magisterium.

Speaking of Will, he finally reunites with his long lost father, Colonel John Parry (Andrew Scott). Parry fills Will in on the situation he's found himself in and instructs him to deliver the knife to Lord Asriel. Will isn't interested in being a cog in this larger conflict, but unfortunately, he no longer has a choice. Parry imparts the seriousness of his mission on his son before he is shot by a Magisterium soldier that happens upon the bittersweet reunion.

With his mission now clear and his father dead, Will returns to where he last left Lyra. Unfortunately for the young man, Mrs. Coulter found her first. Alone in the strange world, Will then heads off to deliver the knife to Lord Asriel.

Lord Asriel recruits the angels

Although an episode dedicated to Lord Asriel was canceled, viewers still got a glimpse of him at the very end of the finale. In a voiceover, he lays out what he's fighting for and what this great war he's gearing up for is all about. He's not just taking on the Magisterium, but also the very foundation of its beliefs. He's fighting for humanity's right to free will and knowledge, and against all the forces that seek to restrict it. He declares, "My fight is with the Authority and those doling out cruelties in his name."

When the scene cuts to Lord Asriel himself, we see that he's directing this soliloquy to the sky, clearly hoping that someone has heard him. It appears at first that his message has gone unheard, but then a flock of angels appears above him. Lord Asriel is recruiting the angels for the war, to which the angel Xaphania (Sophie Okonedo) responds, "We stand with you ... "

Satisfied, Lord Asriel says, "Good. Then let us prepare for war."

The end credits scene and season 3 hints

As the season comes to a close, we see that Lyra is in the clutches of Mrs. Coulter, who promises, "I'm taking you somewhere entirely safe." However, it's hard to imagine where that might be considering the escalating scope of the conflict brewing across the many worlds. Lord Asriel, the angels, and the witches are preparing for war, while Will is presumably working to fulfill his unwanted destiny as the person who will deliver the tool that will help Lord Asriel win it. The Magisterium and its tyrannical forces stand in opposition to them, and it looks as though Mrs. Coulter and Lyra are caught right in the middle.

But that's not all. After the credits play, we hear the voice of ... Roger (Lewin Lloyd), Lyra's friend from Oxford who was killed at the end of season 1. His pleas for Lyra to help him reverberate in the darkness for a moment before we get a glimpse of the boy, hazy and surrounded by black. Lyra asks, "What is this place?" before the season ends for good.

For those whose experience with His Dark Materials begins and ends with the series, this won't have much meaning. Those who are familiar with the books the show is based on, however, will likely guess that this is the show's first tease of the Land of the Dead. This shadowy realm plays a significant role in the third book in the trilogy, and it looks like the show wanted to give fans of the novels a little tease of what's to come when His Dark Materials returns for its third and final season.