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Why James McAvoy Isn’t In Season 2


His Dark Materials season 2 doesn’t include James McAvoy’s Lord Asriel, so where is the character and why is he missing from the new episodes?

James McAvoy’s Lord Asriel is missing from His Dark Materials season 2, but while that may raise questions about where he is, it doesn’t mean he’s gone for good. Although Lord Asriel will not appear for the entirety of season 2, it is expected that McAvoy will later return. If His Dark Materials continues to stay true to its source material (and gets renewed), Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels of the same name, viewers can expect Lord Asriel to play a large role in season 3.

Lord Asriel is one of the most powerful characters in the world of His Dark Materials. In season 1, he journeys to Svalbard, in the far north, in order to study the properties of the mysterious substance Dust and its potential connection to a city in another world. This research poses a great threat to the Magisterium, whose members wish to see Lord Asriel defeated. Lord Asriel is also Lyra Belacqua’s (Dafne Keen) father, but he pretended to be her uncle for her entire childhood.

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Related: His Dark Materials: Every Major Change To The Books In Season 1

As Lord Asriel, McAvoy balances Asriel’s desire for power with his strained father-daughter relationship with Lyra. His Dark Materials sets up a greater conflict between the two when Asriel kills Lyra’s best friend Roger (Lewin Lloyd) in order to travel to another world. However, Lyra will not encounter Lord Asriel in her journeys in His Dark Material‘s season 2. The absence of Asriel is due to a number of factors, including the source material itself and shooting complications brought on by the coronavirus. The simplest reason for Lord Asriel not being in His Dark Materials season 2 is that he does not appear at all in The Subtle Knife, the second novel of Pullman’s trilogy, upon which this season is based. The Subtle Knife focuses more on Lyra and Will Parry’s (Amir Wilson) journey between worlds, as well as Lee Scoresby’s (Lin Manuel-Miranda) search for John Parry (Andrew Scott). While Asriel is not present in the novel, characters still feel his presence, as rumors build about the work he is doing in other worlds.

His Dark Materials writer Jack Thorne anticipated the problems of leaving a key character out for an entire season and wrote a standalone episode focusing solely on Asriel’s journey, which would have connected some of the dots between the books, as he continues to develop his plans to move against the Magisterium. Thorne worked on the episode alongside Pullman in order to stay true to the novels, but the episode was never fully shot, as the production stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unlikely that the episode will ever be finished and released, as Thorne said in an interview with Metro that, “I don’t think that would be quite right.”

While McAvoy and Lord Asriel will not appear in the His Dark Materials season 2, fans can rest assured that the show will still feature beloved characters from the first season, as well as some new faces. McAvoy will return with a much larger role in the third season, based on Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass, and viewers will be able to see what exactly Asriel was working on after vanishing into another world.

Next: His Dark Materials Season 1 Ending Explained (In Detail)

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