His Dark Materials trailer polar bearnalysis pt. 2

New trailer! Longer than the first one! Let’s get into it!

Lord Asriel gives a presentation to the scholars of Jordan College in the book’s opening scene. In the book he’s giving a fairly dry lecture about mysterious phenomena in the north whose relevance to the plot only becomes apparent much later on. Here he’s expounding on the dangers of the Magisterium and warning of the coming conflict with them, usng dialogue that sounds like it was taken from a different character from the second book.

It’s becoming apparent that one of the show’s main adaptational strategies is to make the Magisterium much more overtly villainous and centrally antagonistic, much earlier than the books did. Ironically, this is the exact same approach the much-maligned movie took. I can see why both adaptations went this route—a lot of the first book is somewhat lacking in narrative direction and it would solve problems with The Amber Spyglass if later seasons make it that far—but I have some misgivings about this, which I’ll get to later.

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tfw your uncle wants to kill God (spoilers btw). Apparently Lyra watches this scene from a rooftop instead of a wardrobe. Not a big deal, although I always liked the wardrobe detail because it’s a hint that the trilogy was written in response to the Narnia series.

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I still have no idea who these guys are. They appear to be agents of the Magisterium operating in Jordan college, which is a big change from the books.

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Mrs. Coulter’s golden monkey, apparently saving her a seat. The CG here looks way ropier than anything else seen so far, although the show is still a ways off so hopefully they can touch him up before release.

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Mrs. Coulter’s apartment, which looks like it was furnished solely via Wallpaperstore*. In the last post I expressed my hope that we’d see more of Lyra’s time with Mrs. Coulter in London, and that indeed seems to be the case.

There’s some dialogue here where Mrs. Coulter ominously and portentiously offers to show Lyra how to sieze power (everything in the trailer is ominous and portentious), which is another fairly big change from the book, where she’s more focused on turning Lyra into a docile and frivolous socialite. I guess this is part of the show’s take on the character, which seems more and more divergent from the books’ the more we see of it. I’m guessing the writers are maybe moving away from the whole “seductress who gains power in a male world via sex” angle, which has to be a good thing.


Okay, it’s not all ominous and portentious. This bit is pretty cute.

Also where the fuck is Pantalaimon?

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I believe this is the Witch’s consulate, or his equivalent. Worryingly, there’s still no sign of Serrafina Pekalla or the other witches. I will be very disappointed if they were written out.

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Our first look at the titular golden compass, the alethiometer. The show’s designers have taken the radical and bold move of making it square instead of circular. I think it looks cool.

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IT’S YA BOI PANTALAIMON I really hope he doesn’t stay an ermine for the entire series. We don’t see the daemons speak in this trailer either. I hope that’s not because they’re going to be silent or somthing stupid like that.

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I bet these guys are evil.

I can’t help but point out that the movie was lambasted for making the Magisterium into cartoonish bad guys, and now this series has them dressing like vampires.

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Absolutely no idea what’s going on here. This is all new to the series. All I know is that snakes coming out of skulls are cool.

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I also don’t know who this is. Maybe Fardar Coram? That would be a pretty big change given that in the book he’s a small, frail old man. I guess it could also be the dude with the hammer.

This is going to sound incredibly picky, but I find some of the clothing choices here sort of hilarious. In the book, the characters’ excursion takes them very far north—like, well above the arctic circle—and they dress accordingly, with Lyra getting what is clearly meant to be heavy-duty arctic survival gear before they leave. But here, the characters are dressed like they’re heading out into a mildly severe British winter. The guy Lyra’s talking to looks like he just went out to get some milk from Tesco.

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I guess Lee Scoresby fights a bunch of dudes now. In the book he just points a really big gun at them.

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There’s a very brief but very interesting shot of Mrs. Coulter firing a gun in her apartment, which definitely didn’t happen in the book. Putting this together with some other snippits, I think the show is introducing a sub-plot where that mysterious guy with the snake is investigating Lord Asriel on the Magisterium’s behalf, and here we might be seeing him cross paths with Mrs. Coulter as part of that. If so, I wonder if they’re taking elements of the priest assassin from the third book.

It would be an interesting change, as the Magisterium is almost entirely a background entity operating via the government in the first book. We know there are people specifically trying to investigate Asriel and Mrs. Coulter—and later chase down Lyra after she runs away—but the bad guys are never given any actual page time.

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My main takeaway from this trailer is that the suspicions I drew from the previous one—that the series is going to be significantly darker and have a more action-oriented focus—are seemingly correct. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

See, my other takeaway is that this looks incredibly expensive—like, higher budget than the first two seasons of Game of Thrones expensive—and I’m pretty nervous that the Beeb and HBO are making the same mistake the creators of the movie did: spend too much and set their expectations too high, and make the story more “broadly” appealing by putting in a lot of action and giving the plot more clear-cut villains.

Still, it looks gorgeous and some of the creative choices give me reason to be optimistic. It doesn’t seem like they’re just clumsily hammering more fight scenes into the story, and the fact that significant time is being given to Lyra’s stay in London is very encouraging, as that’s all character-focused material.

I guess now we just wait for the first episode to arrive. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t disappoint.