Why His Dark Materials Might Change A Major Death From The Books


Spoilers ahead for the first five episodes of His Dark Materials Season 2 AND the events of The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman.

Only two episodes of His Dark Materials are left before the end of the second season, based on the second book of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials novel trilogy, called The Subtle Knife. While the show has managed to pack in a lot of what happened in the book, there have been some moments in Season 2 that leave me wondering if His Mark Materials is going to change a major death that went down in The Subtle Knife. Andrew Scott's John Parry -- a.k.a. Jopari and Stanislaus Grumman -- might not meet his end on the show like he did in the book.

In The Subtle Knife, John Parry's long journey to meet the bearer of the subtle knife and Will's lifelong desire to reunite with his father were satisfied when they met toward the end of the book... only for the reunion to be ruined almost immediately when a witch by the name of Juta Kamainen shot and killed John with an arrow. Still devoted to his wife despite their long separation, John spurned Juta Kamainen's love, and apparently hell hath no fury in His Dark Materials like a witch scorned.

Serafina Pekkala's efforts to keep Juta Kamainen away from John so that she wouldn't seek revenge backfired when Lee Scoresby flew John into the world where the witches had been searching for Lyra, and Juta Kamainen killed John right in front of Will before killing herself. It's a huge death in the His Dark Materials books, but the absence of Juta Kamainen in Season 2 of the show so far leads me to suspect that it's not going to go down on the screen the way it did in the page.

his dark materials andrew scott john parry grurmman jopari hbo

(Image credit: HBO)

I've been wondering for a couple of weeks now if it was just a matter of time before this particular witch made her debut, but after John Parry didn't even appear in "The Scholar" as the fifth of seven episodes, I'm inclined to think that there's no time for His Dark Materials to introduce her, establish her motivation for wanting to kill John, and then have her actually kill John without feeling incredibly rushed. The show has done a great job with pacing this season, so it's hard for me to imagine His Dark Materials rushing such a huge death just to make it match what happened in The Subtle Knife.

After all, even the most faithful adaptations of books for TV and movies have to make some cuts and additions, and "The Scholar" even made some big changes to Will and Lyra's heist to get the alethiometer back to allow for an intense confrontation between Lyra and Mrs. Coulter (as well as a slightly hilarious moment of Will infuriating Boreal by decapitating a figurine). John Parry could still very well die in the Season 2 finale, assuming the end of Season 2 more or less corresponds to the timeline of the end of The Subtle Knife, but I'm guessing there will be a big change in how it happens.

And honestly, it wouldn't have to be that big of a deal. Maybe a Spectre will get him, or a rogue witch who doesn't need any kind of backstory to kill him, or somebody from the Magisterium somehow. There are a lot of ways to be killed off in His Dark Materials, so the show might not have to try all that hard to find a believable way for John Parry to die without cramming Juta Kamainen's story into the two remaining episodes of Season 2.

It's possible that the show won't actually kill him off as quickly as Philip Pullman did in The Subtle Knife, and he could theoretically survive into the Season 3 adaptation of The Amber Spyglass so Will could catch a little bit of a break before everything goes sideways again, but my money is on John's death through some non-scorned witch means before the final credits roll on Season 2.

See what happens next with the penultimate episode of His Dark Materials' second season, airing on Monday, December 21 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. For what you can watch in the new year, check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).