'His Dark Materials' Season 2: Lyra Meets Will & the Significance of Cittàgazze

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Season 1 of HBO's fantasy series His Dark Materials — based on Philip Pullman's young-adult fantasy trilogy about a girl's quest to learn more about her coveted connection to a mysterious substance called "Dust" — ended on a sad note for young British adventurer Lyra Belaqua (Dafne Keen), now dubbed Lyra Silvertongue.

Her pal Roger (Lewin Lloyd) was an unforeseen and devastating casualty of her experimenting father Asriel (James McAvoy), who used the boy to create a window into another world. Devastated Lyra stepped into the new dimension with her "daemon" Pan (voiced by Kit Connor), the physical extension of her soul. Similarly, pre-teen Will Parry (Amir Wilson) — from a parallel universe based on our own — steps through his own portal. 

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In the sophomore season opener, Will and Lyra quickly collide in Cittàgazze, a crossroads world connecting their Oxfords. "Lyra is deeply suspicious of Will at first and Pan is a mediator between them," says executive producer Jane Tranter. "After everything Lyra went through in Season 1, she learns not to trust regularly. She doesn't even trust the Alethiometer [Lyra's dust-related truth-telling tool] anymore at the start of Season 2, and through her relationship with Will, we see Lyra begin to learn how to trust again and how it is not always the right thing to just fly into a situation."

The pragmatic Will, we learn, is using Cittàgazze as a hideout after accidentally killing that home intruder back in Season 1. "I think Will is one of Philip Pullman's best character creations," Tranter says. "He's had to face an awful lot of things in life, and he's Pullman’s way of showing us where our true heroes come from. They are not always those who are the fastest in every race or they have captured this, that, or the other. Sometimes they are those who are hiding in plain sight."

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Will's first heroic contribution is helping Lyra learn more about dust. When she accompanies him to the Oxford University in his world, she'll meet dark matter scholar Mary Malone (Simone Kirby) — "a really, really significant character," the producer notes. She adds: "Gradually, Lyra learns that, actually, her and Will's destinies are somehow connected."

Of course, danger lurks around every corner, with the totalitarian church-like entity the Magisterium working to suppress any information about dust, Lyra's evil mum, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who goes on a solo mission to find her daughter ("She knows Lyra is incredibly powerful, and if she has her, she has power," Wilson says), and even baddie Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare), who Tranter notes, "is after power for power's sake."

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(Credit: HBO)

"You find that [Cittàgazze] acts as a magnet to our main players," the exec adds. "It's exciting because suddenly all of our main players begin to be in the same space together. And there's a reason why, and the main cause of the mystery of Season 2 is what that why is."

Also on deck in the magical installment: Will's presumed-dead dad John Parry (Fleabag’s Andrew Scott, reuniting with his former costar Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who voices John's daemon) is seeking the Subtle Knife — a tool that can rip the fabric between worlds — in Cittàgazze. He'll be seen alongside fan-favorite aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda), while they "spend an awful lot of time together in Lee's balloon," teases Tranter. Plus, fans can look forward to learning more about the witches, including Serafina Pekkala (Ruta Gedmintas) and of course, the return of armored bear — now king of his kind — Iorek Byrnison.

His Dark Materials, Season 2 Premiere, Monday, November 16, 9/8c, HBO and HBO Max