His Dark Materials: The Complete Season Three Blu-ray Review: A Fitting Finale for this Series

All too often, successful television shows go on longer than they should. Most of the time, it results in the people behind the scenes scrambling to come up with new storylines, characters, and angles to keep the eyeballs on the screen. For His Dark Materials, however, creator Jack Thorne already had the complete series outlined in book format by author Philip Pullman.

With three books having already been written, it’s apt that Thorne and crew decided to only keep the show on for three seasons. Any longer, the steam and interest will most likely wane. Plus, with Pullman having a hand in most of the creative aspects, it’s best to gather his advice to see what would be the next best step for the series to go in.

While I’m not as well-versed in the Pullman trilogy as others, HBO’s adaptation of His Dark Materials was certainly one of the best family-friendly series put on the premium channel. Although I knew it was not going to last as long as, say, Game of Thrones, I was certainly entertained from the first season through the last.

Season Two of the show ended abruptly, due to COVID restrictions, and it didn’t feel like there was proper closure. Even though the show was scheduled to continue, it still felt like there was something missing. Thankfully, the writers were able to bring some resolution to it in season three and then continue with the rest of the series, which adapts the final book, The Amber Spyglass.

There is a lot to unpack in this final season. And even though there was the build-up to it, a two-year hiatus brought on by the pandemic could make some forget about many details of the previous seasons. Thankfully, the crew gives fans a nice recap before the season begins and there’s some more explanation about what happened before it dives right in. The main focal point is on Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) being separated between different worlds. While they are stuck in different universes, they are still determined to reunite despite the outcome it may bring. There’s already war brewing between Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and the Authority, and that has the potential to drastically alter things as well.

I’ve read many comments from fans, saying The Amber Spyglass is “unfilmable.” Again, I’m unfamiliar with Pullman’s books, so I can’t attest to that. What I can say is that HBO and BBC have managed to weave together all the stories to make one epic series and give fans of the show a satisfying finale. Sure, there’s a lot to follow, as the characters travel across multiple universes. But the visuals are undeniably good, especially on all the daemons and when our protagonists enter the Land of the Dead.

It also helps to have an excellent cast that brings the characters to life and makes them intriguing. Keen is exceptional as Lyra and has great chemistry with Wilson’s Will. McAvoy is still incredible as Lord Asriel, and Ruth Wilson is terrific as the villainous Mrs. Coulter.

One of the unfortunate things about this Blu-ray release is that there are no special features attached to it. Sure, fans of the series get all eight episodes of the final season in this set and it all looks and sounds great. The transfer quality is impeccable and captures many of the visual effects well. But it would have been nice to have some features to see what the cast and crew thought of working on the last season of the show. As it stands, though, this is a fitting conclusion to the series and one that ties up all the loose threads perfectly.

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David Wangberg

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