SPOILERS AHEAD for the penultimate episode of His Dark Materials Season 2, called "Malice."
The second season of His Dark Materials is only one episode away from coming to an end, and "Malice" delivered a deadly twist that could change a whole lot heading into the finale and beyond into Season 3. This wasn't the first death of Season 2 and likely won't be the last, but it is a game-changer. Lord Boreal is dead. Admittedly, Boreal dying seems like a good thing for Lyra, Will, and the rest of the heroes, but the manner of his death at Mrs. Coulter's hands could means much worse things are to come.
Boreal thought that he and Mrs. Coulter were on top of another world after she mastered the Spectres, and he even got a kiss. Unfortunately for him, Boreal's continued inability to read a room meant that he didn't catch Mrs. Coulter's expression when he referred to them as equals, so he didn't see it coming when she poisoned his wine, telling him that he'd hold her back and she didn't need him anymore. He died as he lived: underestimating and desiring Marisa Coulter. Here's what that death means for the show moving forward.
Less Time In Our World
On the most basic level, the death of Boreal -- a.k.a. Sir Charles Latrom -- almost certainly means that His Dark Materials will spend less time in our world. He built a life in our world and kept some of the action there in Season 2 after stealing the alethiometer and bringing over Mrs. Coulter, but now that Will and Mary Malone have traveled to Cittàgazze (and possibly beyond) with Boreal dead, there's no reason for the story to continue playing out in our world. I don't see His Dark Materials spending much time on Will's mom!
Nobody Holding Mrs. Coulter Back
Despite what Boreal seemed to think, Mrs. Coulter never considered him an equal, and she seemed annoyed at having to spend time with him more often than not. That said, he still managed to temper some of her worst and most self-serving impulses when she had to humor him to secure his help. She needed him, and that meant sometimes doing things his way. Once she didn't need him and now that she has killed him, there's nobody in her way to make her compromise, and she could be a bigger threat to Lyra than ever before.
One Less Person Looking For The Subtle Knife
Boreal was determined to get his hands on the subtle knife, even after Will and Lyra used the knife to steal his only leverage, and was willing to chase after the young people by Mrs. Coulter's side. With Boreal's death, there is one less person that Will will have to deal with going after the knife, but there are still plenty of people who undoubtedly want to get their hands on it, and Boreal may have been one of the less dangerous in the grand scheme of things.
Bigger Problems Are Coming
When one of the longest-running villains of the series is killed off with still one more episode left in the season, I think it's safe to say that bigger problems are on the way before the end of Season 2 and heading into Season 3. A death like Boreal's normally wouldn't be out of place in the climax of a finale, not toward the end of a penultimate episode. Book readers have an idea of the storm that's a-brewin' and viewers should probably prepare for a lot worse than Lord Boreal on the way.
The Season 2 finale of His Dark Materials airs on Monday, December 28 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. The show hasn't officially been renewed for Season 3 just yet, but His Dark Materials has adapted two out of three books of Philip Pullman's trilogy so far. The stage is undoubtedly being set for one more batch of episodes.
Unfortunately, even if His Dark Materials does get a renewal ASAP, the wait for Season 3 could last for a while. The first two seasons were shot back-to-back, and the seven essential episodes of Season 2 were completed before the pandemic shutdown. For what you can watch in the meantime, check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.