His Dark Materials Cast Breaks Down Their Characters' Very Different Priorities In Final Season

His Dark Materials is on the verge of returning for the third and final season, after the second season ended on cliffhangers for all of the major characters. With Will and Lyra separated following the death of his father and her kidnapping by her mother, Mrs. Coulter on the run with her sleeping daughter, and Asriel ready to start a war with the Authority, the stage is set for a dramatic end to the story. Fortunately, with so much at stake, stars Dafne Keen, Amir Wilson, James McAvoy, and Ruth Wilson spoke with CinemaBlend about their characters’ priorities… and those priorities are definitely not all the same. 

Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson play Lyra and Will, and their characters were torn apart at the end of Season 2 after spending seven episodes growing their bond. When asked about Lyra and Will in the third season, both immediately agreed that their characters’ priorities will be “each other.” The first look at Season 3 revealed that they will reunite, and the trailer proved that there are some adventures in store for them before the end. 

Will and Lyra both have some additional priorities, however, as Amir Wilson said: 

Will's obviously got the dying wish of his father, which is to take the subtle knife to Asriel, and I guess that's on the back of his mind throughout the whole show.

Will’s whole life changed in the few minutes that he spent with his father after their reunion and before John Parry’s death (which was different from Philip Pullman’s book), and he was given the task of taking the knife to Asriel to destroy the Authority. For her part, Lyra also has a second priority in light of the post-credits sequence from the Season 2 finale, as Dafne Keen shared: 

I think Lyra has on her mind Will and Roger. Those are the two priorities she has right now.

Given that Roger died way back at the end of Season 1, helping him undoubtedly presents quite a challenge for Lyra… and not necessarily one that matches with what Will wants to do to honor the dying wish of his father. Especially since Lyra may not be inclined to do anything that could help Asriel, in light of what he did to Roger! 

As for Asriel, James McAvoy opened up about what his character’s #1 priority will be when Season 3 picks up, and it’s definitely not a heartfelt reunion to make amends with his daughter. It certainly is in line with the grand speech he made to recruit angels for a war across multiple worlds at the end of last season, however! The IT Chapter Two actor said:

Multiversal domination is number one, and complete subservience of everybody around me, I'd say, is number two. [laughs]

Let it not be said that Asriel doesn’t aim high for himself! As the human who managed to open a door to another world without the subtle knife or any special powers and then recruited some celestial help, perhaps the Authority should take him seriously. Whatever happens, fans can look forward to seeing more of Asriel than Season 1, after his standalone episode had to be cut from Season 2

So, what about Mrs. Coulter? She once had larger ambitions that might have almost rivaled those of her former lover, but according to Ruth Wilson, her focus has changed by Season 3. The actress said of her character’s priorities: 

I think mine is just purely now keep hold of [Lyra]. I keep losing her and she keeps running away from me. Now I've got her, don't let go of her. But I actually think it's the first time Mrs. Coulter's not had a grand plan. She's actually a bit lost for plans. So she's just, 'get away, find somewhere isolated, and just hope for the best.' But she knows the inevitable will encroach on her. I think there's some innocence to her at the beginning of like, ‘maybe I can just have this little time with her, and I want to hold on to it for as long as possible.’

Lyra has fled pretty much every encounter with Mrs. Coulter once she was able to get away back in Season 1, so none of the grand plans to keep her have worked. Will finding somewhere isolated work, after she was able to get Lyra away from Will and the witches? Her daughter has a knack for escaping and a friend who considers her a priority, so it presumably won’t be easy. Ruth Wilson confirmed that Mrs. Coulter isn’t exactly focused on multiversal domination like Asriel:

I think she's given up on the domination idea. She's kind of like, maybe just dominate the kid, you know, just keep hold of that one. That's hard enough for her. That feels like a big enough challenge.

Lyra, Will, Asriel, and Mrs. Coulter seem to be the main players of His Dark Materials’ third and final season, and only Will and Lyra seem to be on the same page with at least one of their priorities to start. As for who comes out on top and whose priorities might have to shift… well, fans will just have to tune in and find out!

Season 3 of His Dark Materials (with some mulefa on the way) will premiere on Monday, December 5 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, and will air two episodes per week until the series finale on December 26. You can revisit the first two seasons streaming with an HBO Max subscription during the final days of hiatus, and check out our 2022 TV schedule for other options that still have yet to premiere before the end of the year. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.