After a two-year wait, His Dark Materials kicked off its third and final season with a two-episode premiere that picked up moments from where Season 2 left off. Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) had kidnapped her daughter Lyra (Dafne Keen) and was keeping her tucked away in a cottage under a sleeping spell, and Will (Amir Wilson) went on a hunt to find her, encountering angels along the way.
Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), meanwhile, returned in a big way. After recruiting Commander Ogunwe (new cast member Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to his army, he went off in search of his daughter. Not because he was trying to protect Lyra following the reveal that she is Eve — and therefore someone the Magisterium wanted dead — but because she was last seen with Will, the Knife Bearer, whom everyone still believes to hold the secret weapon in this war.
Throughout the two-hour episode there were plenty of twists and reveals, many of which set up the series for the rest of its final season. To dig in more and preview what to expect next, Metacritic sat down with Ruth Wilson, Amir Wilson, and Keen to get their takes on the episodes' five biggest moments.
Lyra historically has had back luck with her parents, and so far Season 3 was much of the same. In the premiere, her mother kept her under a sleeping spell for most of the two hours, a change of pace that Keen enjoyed.
"It's kind of sweet to see how well Mrs. Coulter was caring for her, but at the same time it was very messed up because she put her in a permanent coma," Keen says. "I was lucky, I just got to sleep for about a month."
Meanwhile, Asriel showed his true colors when he set off in search of his daughter to try and claim the knife as his own. He was too late, but the way the last episode ended, it appeared as though Asriel was just getting started on his mission to reunite with his kin. According to Keen, that attitude was exactly why Asriel is the worse of her parents.
"The difference is Mrs. Coulter doesn't know how to love, but at least she's trying — really badly and by kidnapping her child," Keene says. "But at least there was effort. Asriel deliberately murdered Lyra's best friend [Roger, played by Lewin Lloyd] and then ghosted her."
Speaking of Roger, he made a big return in the first two episodes as an unconscious Lyra found herself in the Land of the Dead, one of seven worlds featured in the third season. Now that Lyra has learned where to find her former best friend, it seems likely she'll try to travel back there, although the Roger she finds could be a lot different than the one she knew in life.
"One of my favorite things about the Roger plotline is viewers get to see how that love is still there between Lyra and Roger," Keen says. "But they also see how heartbreaking it is for Roger to see that time does pass and time kills things. She's found someone new and gotten to grow up and he hasn't."
While Mrs. Coulter wanted to keep her child safe and Asriel made it clear he's all-in on this war, the Magisterium — led by new character Father Luis Gomez (Jamie Ward) — also went on a quest to find Lyra. He arrived at the cottage just in time to have a tense conversation with Mrs. Coulter, but in the end she outsmarted him — with a rock to his skull. When viewers last saw the character he was unconscious, and he probably won't be happy that he failed in his first mission for the Consistorial Court of Discipline.
Unfortunately for Mrs. Coulter, Lyra escaped her anyhow. According to Wilson, that was just more proof that her character continues to underestimate her daughter.
"She completely underestimates how powerful, how amazing, how manipulative, how strong and clever and smart her kid is," she explains. "The kid keeps escaping and no one's ever escaped Mrs. Coulter. But she did grow over the course of the three seasons to understand her daughter's value. Lyra is much greater than Mrs. Coulter could ever be and that was something she came to learn."
In the end, Will managed to track Lyra down through worlds and rescue her from Mrs. Coulter's clutches — but not without consequences (more on that below). For now, the fact that they were put back together opens the potential for their romance to grow. Finding Roger, according to Keen, may be another catalyst to that coupling.
"Roger seeing Lyra moving on, or at least trying to, also shows Will how much Lyra actually cares about Will," Keen explains. "And how different that is to the way Lyra relates to Roger. That may be one of the first moments viewers realize there's more than friendship going on there."
While Will was able to rescue Lyra and extract her from that cottage, there was a hefty price: the breaking of the all-important knife. Mrs. Coulter saw it happen before Lyra and Will escaped, but whatever happens next may lead to some fairly big plot twists — especially as Lyra and Will attempt to fix the weapon and they realize their deeper feelings for each other.
"Not just the knife breaking and trying to fix it, but that whole moment where they were running away with people trying to shoot at them, that was a big, epic moment," Amir Wilson says.
"They couldn't trust anyone and then they realized they could trust each other," he continues. "Their experiences will unite them as they find themselves in weird worlds and in front of weird people with difficult and odd challenges to face. That brings them together."
His Dark Materials airs two episodes beginning at 9 p.m. Mondays on HBO until the Dec. 26 series finale. The series also streams