Review by Sean Boelman
The BBC/HBO series His Dark Materials has gained a fair share of fans over the course of its past two seasons, and this third and final season comes after a bit of a wait. Well, the wait was more than worth it, as it is exactly the epic, emotional conclusion that any fan of the series would hope it would be.
The season picks up soon after the last one left off, with Miss Coulter having taken Lyra hostage and Will searching for her. An adaptation of the final book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, this season has a lot of story to wrap up in eight episodes, and yet it does so in a way that is satisfying and fulfilling.
Perhaps the best thing about this season of the show is how it explores the constantly shifting alliances. Rather than the clear battle between good and evil that we saw in the first two seasons, what we see here is more of a war of moral ambiguity, which aligns much more with the sense of Pullman’s writing.
This season is also even more unabashed with its anti-religion themes. Pullman’s books have always been controversial because of their themes, and the film adaptation was relatively neutered in this regard. Now that the first two seasons gave fans enough time to acclimate themselves in the world, it can pull out the punches.
However, this does not come at the expense of expanding the mythology even further. Whereas the second season dove a bit more into the fantasy elements, the third goes back into the sci-fi realm. We also get to spend more time with some of the characters, such as Lord Asriel, than ever before, adding a welcome emotional connection.
The action is also even higher-stakes. There are some full-on battle sequences that are some of the most epic you will see in any series or film this year. They spared no expense with this season, ensuring that it is the epic conclusion to the trilogy, while still emphasizing the emotion and sensitivity of the story.
The visuals are also second-to-none. The CGI in this season is better than ever before, from the creatures to the settings. Viewers will feel completely immersed in the many worlds in which this series takes place, especially the world of the dead, which is perhaps one of the most striking depictions of the afterlife in any media.
Season 3 of His Dark Materials is a wonderful conclusion to the show. It feels nice to finally see this part of the story adapted to the big screen, and in a way that is both so entertaining and so profound. Fans will be satisfied with the way this show ends.
His Dark Materials premieres on HBO on December 5 at 9pm ET/PT, with new episodes airing subsequent Mondays at the same time. All eight episodes reviewed.