If you checked out my panel recommendations or watched our recent pre-SDCC webcast, you’ll know that the His Dark Materials panel is one of the ones I was most excited about. For those who couldn’t watch (or don’t have time to check it out), I’m here to give you a recap of what we learned.
Many frequent SDCC goers are struggling to deal with the con being virtual this year, and I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard someone talk about it (and it won’t be the last). But as I attended the His Dark Materials panel last year in Hall H, I will say that it was a bit of a letdown watching this one on my living room sofa. The energy in Hall H just cannot be matched, and a pre-recorded panel doesn’t have the same vibe as the one you experience live.
That said, last year’s panel only contained four cast members (the four most important, to be sure, but still only four), and this year’s had six; one of the pluses of a pre-recorded, virtual panel is that it’s easier to get around scheduling conflicts (and considering the state of the world, there aren’t many conflicts), which means that it’s easier to get more of the cast to participate.
The two biggest pieces of news out of the His Dark Materials panel is that they released the trailer for season 2, and Andrew Scott (John Parry) revealed who will be voicing his character’s Daemon: Phoebe Waller-Bridge!
Season 2 will adapt the second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, and we’ll be officially introduced to Will’s dad, John. (Scott revealed that he was extremely intimidated coming into the season because of how well-received the first season was. He didn’t want to disappoint.) We can also look forward to Will (Amir Wilson) and Lyra meeting and learning more about the various worlds and how they’re connected.
Dafne Keen (Lyra) talked about the importance of Will and Lyra’s relationship (and anyone who has read the books will know what an understatement that is). She talked about how going into season 2, Lyra doesn’t trust anyone or anything. She only really trusted Roger and the alethiometer and now she’s lost them both. But meeting Will and going through everything with him really makes her start to open up again.
Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Coulter) talked about how much season 2 will dive into what really makes her character tick – although she did mention that the best characters in fiction are the ones that you never truly understand. It’s about her circumstances – like being a woman in a male-dominated world, or the consequences of her decisions (like losing her daughter). Wilson said that it’s important to balance the horrific things Mrs. Coulter does with potential reasons why she does those things.
On the lighter side of things, the His Dark Materials panel also revealed tidbits like the fact that Ariyon Bakare (Boreal) had never played a villain before, but he did once have a director tell him he would make a good villain if he just never did anything with his face. Bakare said that he tries to do that with Boreal – never give anything away. Amir Wilson also told a hilarious anecdote about Bakare forcing everyone on set to say, “Boreal, because you’re worth it” (a play on the LOREAL commercials).
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby) talked about getting into the books more than a decade ago, remembering it as the first series that he read alongside his wife (then girlfriend). In a sweet moment, he said that they both fell in love with the world of the books as they were falling in love with each other, which prompted the other panelists to all go “awwwww”. Miranda also talked about bonding with Scott (with whom he spent a lot of time in Lee’s hot air balloon) over Judge Judy and Percy Pigs.
It’s also a relief to know that season 2 will release more or less on schedule. Executive producer Jane Tranter credited their amazing post-production team for working through lockdown, but it was also due to the fact the show’s main unit was already finished filming before the lockdown began. It will air on HBO and BBC sometime this fall, though no set date was given.
There is an Asriel-centric episode that wasn’t quite completed that Tranter says they may visit later, but for the most part, the entirety of The Subtle Knife was filmed.
You can watch the entirety of the His Dark Materials panel from Comic-Con@Home 2020 below.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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