Comic-Con 2020: His Dark Materials Season 2 Had to Cut James McAvoy Episode Due to COVID-19

While much of the upcoming TV slate is still in a state of flux due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans can still expect a new season of His Dark Materials to hit the small screen later this year. The HBO and BBC series debuted the first footage for its sophomore season on Thursday, as part of the ComicCon@Home digital festivities. In the process, the show's cast and crew revealed some early details surrounding Season 2 -- including that one episode was unfortunately scrapped due to the pandemic shutting down production. During the panel on Thursday, executive producer Jane Tranter revealed that Season 2 will only consist of seven episodes, after the eighth planned episode of the season was scrapped due to filming restrictions put in place in March.

The episode in question would have reportedly been a standalone self-contained narrative surrounding Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), and was set to be the character's main appearance in Season 2. The plot of the episode is not included in The Subtle Knife, the second Phillip Pullman novel which serves as the inspiration for Season 2, but was written with Pullman's blessing.

“It was separate from the other seven episodes because it was a standalone episode which Jack had written with the blessing and input of Philip Pullman, which looked at what Lord Asriel had been doing between going through the anomaly at the end of season one and when we see Lord Asriel at the beginning of book three The Amber Spyglass,” Tranter said.

As Tranter hinted, this doesn't mean that the episode concept is completely lost, as it could end up being revisited before the series tackles the events of The Amber Spyglass.

“It meant that we could continue post-production on the seven episodes that make up The Subtle Knife and just put the Asriel standalone episode to one side and maybe in the future we can revisit it as a standalone," Tranter continued. "But essentially our adaptation of The Subtle Knife had been completed.”

In the second season of His Dark Materials, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) has opened a bridge to a new world, and, distraught over the death of her best friend, Lyra (Dafne Keen) follows Asriel into the unknown. In a strange and mysterious abandoned city she meets Will (Amir Wilson), a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.

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Season 1 of His Dark Materials is currently available on HBO and HBO Max. Season 2 is set to debut sometime this fall.

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