What began as a story of a precocious young girl tracking down kidnappers has grown into a multiversal event of epic proportions. Of course, if you know a little Philippe Pullmann‘s book series, so you know that was always going to be the way of things. Season 3 of Its dark materials adapts the third epic book in the series, The amber spyglass, and he fully delves into the complexities and weirdness of that last story. Complete with angels, flying fairy figures, aardvarks rolling on balls and a visit to the land of the dead, Its dark materials Season 3 is the show’s densest and most emotional entry, but that’s exactly what it should be.
This show is by no means the kind you put on and casually listen to in the background. If you want to understand why The Authority is some kind of god, but not really, and how it’s not about fighting the Authority but actually about some guy named Metatron, you’ll have to pay attention. And yet, even with all of its convoluted multi-world construction, Season 3 doesn’t lose the essence of The amber spyglass, though he occasionally puts on a show that feels epic but also off-brand for the show. The series is at its best in the quiet moments between two characters, whether between james mcavoyis Lord Asriel and Ruth Wilsonby Marisa Coulter, or between Amir Wilsonby Will Parry and Daphne Keenby Lyra Belacqua.
With so much new material thrown at you, the show’s strong cast does a lot of emotional lifting for the show. Complicated characters like Asriel and Mrs. Coulter have more room to breathe in the final season, expanding their roles as both former lovers, Lyra’s parents, and scientists questioning the Authority’s role. The crackling chemistry between McAvoy and Ruth Wilson makes them enjoyable to watch on screen, reinforcing the dynamic we see playing out between them. If you’ve ever been curious about what these two look like beyond their brief encounter at the end of Season 1, Season 3 offers boatloads of exciting scenes. Without any flashbacks to the past, it’s still pretty clear what drew these two wickedly brilliant people together.
On top of that, Wilson’s performance is more dynamic than ever – not just opposite McAvoy, but with Keen and the Magisterium characters. The season not only explores Mrs. Coulter’s identity as a woman within the Magisterium, but also her role as a mother to Lyra, and finally gives us a glimpse of her connection to her golden monkey demon. As a complex character who often walks the line between villain and anti-hero, Wilson is able to walk that line, and his portrayal of the character is near perfect.
After finally reuniting Will and Lyra in season 2, the third season spends quite a bit of time developing the relationship between the two young leads that is crucial to the series. Keen and Amir Wilson have natural chemistry together and are able to masterfully tackle some of the show’s most emotionally tragic and gripping scenes. If you know anything about The amber spyglass, you know that Will and Lyra are at the center of the story and that the emotional core of the story rests with them rather than the adults waging their war. We are once again reminded of the intelligence and wit that Lyra possesses, though it is now balanced by Will’s steadfastness and bravery.
Although the season spans eight episodes, that often doesn’t feel like long enough. Given the density of some of Pullman’s theories and philosophies in Its dark materials, it can sometimes feel like a boost from lofty concepts of free will and false gods to the struggles of puberty and dealing with your childhood crush. And when you include creatures like the Mulefas, otherworldly aardvarks, and Mary Malone (Simone Kirby) dust understanding, the series can seem alienating to anyone who wants to casually watch the series.
The show, for better or worse, doesn’t really hold your hand throughout the season. Concepts are explained but fleetingly, and sometimes characters from different worlds are just introduced without much explanation of who they are. Plot points from the previous two seasons are covered without much recap. As a lover of Pullman’s series and a devoted fan of the series, this sounds refreshing, but some details will likely be confusing to viewers who enjoy the story more casually.
In terms of adaptation, the showrunners Jane Trater and Dan McCulloch nailed it. The amber spyglass is a naturally disorienting novel, jumping between perspectives and different tones and writing styles. The show manages to tackle this with grace while not losing sight of the bigger message of this story. Its dark materials has always been to question the authorities of our world and not to shy away from the difficult questions that must be asked of those in charge. An eternally relevant message, the entire season is about it, from Asriel’s determination to the prophecy about Lyra. If you missed the previous post among talking polar bears and Lin Manuel Miranda as an aeronaut, you certainly won’t miss it here. After the end of this series, there should be no doubt why Pullman’s books top the list when it comes to America’s most banned books.
As the show draws to a close, it’s welcome to the world of adaptations and IP. It’s clear that the series embraces the books, while indulging in small changes here and there that make it a compelling TV show. The conclusion of Its dark materials is best paired with a box of tissues. Season 3 is empowering, devastating at times, and thoroughly emotional. The final episodes turned me into a sobbing mess, just like the books, and reminded me why I loved the story so much.
Its dark materials Season 3 premieres December 5 on HBO Max.
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An emotional conclusion to the war against God – CNET – ApparelGeek
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