His Dark Materials: Season 3/ Episode 8 [Finale] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

While the war might have been a flop, Lyra’s final moments with Will may more than compensate for that.

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Will and Lyra having a moment

While the war might have been a flop, Lyra’s final moments with Will may more than compensate for that.

Aired (BBC iPlayer) December 18, 2022
Episode Title The Botanic Garden
Director(s) Francesca Gardiner
Writer(s) Harry Wootliff


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Mourning What Could Have Been – Lyra, Will, Mary

While things with Pan and Kirjava eventually smooth other, Lyra can’t shake the feeling something happened to her parents. She saw her mother’s daemon fade away, so she can piece that together, but she can sense Asriel is gone as well. This leads to a moment of mourning over what could have been if both, or either, had the desire to be parents. For Lyra loved Asriel when she thought he was her uncle and Marisa? Well, things were complicated.

Luckily for Lyra, Will is there to help her process and try to heal, and she is thankful for it. But, it is seeing Mary which helps her really feel better as Mary, aka The Serpent, opens up to about things she has mourned in her own life. Though, for her, maybe “mourn” is the wrong word since more so a chapter ended previously than a part of her died.

As Mary has said before, she was a nun before she committed herself to science, and it seemed what led to her leaving the faith was realizing there was no enforcer of what is right or wrong. She felt feelings for a woman, feelings she had long forgotten, and nothing or no one punished her for them. So, she decided to live her life fully. Now, does she have a partner, or did anything happen with the woman who re-awakened her feelings? No. But, with realizing that there was nothing wrong with how she felt and any negative feelings were enforced internally, she moved on and focused on all things which made her feel happy and alive.

Wrapping Up A Storyline – Father Gomez, Balthamos

Father Gomez before he gets killed
“Father Gomez,” His Dark Materials, “The Botanic Garden,” directed by Francesca Gardiner, 2022, (BBC One)

Throughout part of the episode Father Gomez, tasked with cutting the tongue of the serpent, is hunting Mary. However, he comes across Lyra, and right before he shoots her, Balthamos reveals himself. Father Gomez, seeing an angel, wishes to do nothing more than please him, but with Balthamos knowing what’s in Father Gomez’s heart, he decides to crush his heart.

Thus Father Gomez dies, and seemingly, for taking a life, Balthamos dies as well.

It’s Hard To Say Goodbye My Love – Lyra, Xaphania, Will, Mary

With Lyra and Will both being innocent, while there are hints of wanting to be something more, either the hint isn’t picked up or ignored, for they figure there isn’t something there. That was how things operated for a long time, but Lyra, adventurous as she is, decides to stop waiting on Will to make a notable move and does it herself. This leads to all the commitments of being together in life and all that going from friendly to romantic, and damn that, no sooner than they are committed does Xaphania swoop in and tell them it is over.

Why? Well, because, while Eve finding love is healing the world, the various holes left by former knife bearers are making it so, while Dust is making a return from the ethos, it isn’t enough. So, Will and Lyra are forced apart, left to hope that, whenever they die, they’ll be reunited.

But, to solidify their bond, they vow to go to the same bench, in their respective worlds, each year to be together. And they do throughout the years as Will becomes a surgeon, Lyra continues to be an adventurer, and as for Mary and the rest? Well, we don’t get the same type of closure with them.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Did Mary stay in Will’s life?
  2. What role did Serafina play in the adventures we’re told Lyra went on
  3. Did either find love outside of one another? Heck, did either have children?
  4. Why did Balthamos die after taking Gomez’s life?
  5. What happened to all the world’s different power figures who represented The Authority?
  6. What of the Kingdom of Heaven now that Metatron is gone?
  7. Did everyone else get to go back to their own worlds after the war? Did the two girls Mary met get their father back?
  8. Why did Balthamos die?

Collected Quote(s)

Xaphania noting how love can a momentous discovery
“Xaphania,” His Dark Materials, “The Botanic Garden,” directed by Francesca Gardiner, 2022, (BBC One)

Love is never small to those that discover it for the first time.
— Xapahania


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Will and Lyra’s Romance

Before this episode, I wasn’t paying much attention to whatever Will and Lyra had going on. She was on a much bigger journey; he had something far more important to do, so teen romance wasn’t at the forefront. But that’s perhaps why I got teary-eyed when the heroes did their part in defeating the big evil and got to be kids. Now, Lyra’s biggest issue is Will noticing the signs that she likes him or Will trying to show Lyra, without being weird, that he wants to have a place in her life, even with things calming down.

To me, that makes it so, while the war against Metatron was ultimately trash, we do get an ending that feels earned and emotional and yet gives you a sense of closure.

Mary’s Story

Mary relaxing on a tree
“Mary,” His Dark Materials, “The Botanic Garden,” directed by Francesca Gardiner, 2022, (BBC One)

For most of the season, you could rightfully ask, “What is Mary’s purpose?” She wanders from world to world and learns a bit, but seemed to be in waiting forever. Well, damn if she didn’t have her moment in the sun and used that spotlight in ways unexpected. Her story about why she is no longer a nun was a game changer and compensated for all the times I was left wondering why we’re wasting screen time on her.

For with her talking about doing something and bringing her full self, her full nature, not just part of it, beyond that being an epic coming out speech, it was a wonderful way for her to give Lyra and Will permission to explore what could be rather than fear what it might not.

Low Points

Father Gomez Being A Loose End Quickly Clipped

It’s understood that Father Gomez was left with a task and had no idea what was going on outside his little bubble. But the way his ending was handled was purely to avoid fans pointing out an unresolved storyline. However, the way his life ended pushes the need to ask more questions, so it feels like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for the writers. And damn if they didn’t pick the least satisfactory way to kill off a character.

Unresolved Questions

It’s cute we got an epilogue saying what happened to Lyra and Will, saw Iorek see snow in his part of the world, and moments like that. However, the gaping hole of what happened once the Kingdom of Heaven fell is not handled at all. The war is over, but what happened to those who would benefit or participated? Ogunwe’s daughter was freed from that spell, but with him being a commander of war for so long, what was next for him? Also, these people got exposed to the fact there are witches, angels, and so much more, so how did that change faith and their ways of life?

Never mind, how did they react to no longer being able to access each other and this republic Asriel aspired to have no longer being an option? Never mind, having to now do one final war with the now cut-off arms of the Authority? Assuming they still existed after the fall of the Kingdom of Heaven?

Will and Lyra having a moment
His Dark Materials: Season 3/ Episode 8 [Finale] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
“The Botanic Garden” erases the foul stench of its preceding episode as it shows life after the chaos of war and gives us the kind of romance that makes you satisfied enough to not want more.
Community Rating0 Votes
Mary’s Story
Will and Lyra’s Romance
Unresolved Questions
Father Gomez Being A Loose End Quickly Clipped

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