'His Dark Materials': The secrets of Cittagazze and how it's connected to the Subtle Knife

The trailers for season 2 feature the city of Cittàgazze, the ghostly, empty city in which Lyra meets Will. There are also black whirlwind-like entities that inhabit this city and one of them hovers close to Mrs Coulter's head


                            'His Dark Materials': The secrets of Cittagazze and how it's connected to the Subtle Knife
(HBO)

We are headed into unknown territory in Season 2 of 'His Dark Materials' that premieres this Monday on HBO. Based on the second book of the trilogy, 'The Subtle Knife', the trailers for season 2 feature the city of Cittàgazze, the ghostly, empty city in which Lyra meets Will. Later, we see even Mrs Coulter in this mysterious city, which looks like a sunny seaside Mediterranean town. There are also black whirlwind-like entities that inhabit this city and one of them hovers close to Mrs Coulter's head in the trailer.

Where is Cittàgazze located?

Cittàgazze serves as the crossroad between worlds and is "built on greed", according to the series’ lead writer Jack Thorne. When Lord Asriel blasts a hole in the sky, and Lyra steps through it, she finds herself here. Will, who is running away from the consequences of accidentally killing one of the assailants who invaded his home, also finds himself here.

In the mythology of the series, this is the city that Lord Asriel captures in his pictures taken at the North pole where the fabric between the world is the thinnest. Nearly three hundred years before Asriel attempted to cross over, a city guild built the "Subtle Knife" -- a knife so sharp and precise that it can cut through the fabric between worlds to create 'windows'. The world prospered as people traveled to other worlds collecting ideas and inventions and bringing it back to their own -- thus it was called the "city of magpies". But their greed to accumulate wealth and ideas from other worlds meant they cut more and more windows that eventually led to disaster. 



 

Cittàgazze's Spectres

Spectres are the prototype for Harry Potter's Dementors. Author Philip Pullman has said that Spectres were his way of talking about mental states such as depression and self-hatred. They are created each time a window is cut, escaping from the void between worlds where they originally dwelt. Over time, as the merchants and the guild of Cittàgazze cut more and more windows, spectres infested the city. They have been common in this world for generations and have also entered other worlds like Will's Earth to affect humans with symptoms of mental illness. 

Mrs Coulter with a Spectre (HBO)

Since Spectres feed on Dust, they attack any adults feeding on their souls till they become soulless husks of their former self. But pre-pubescent children on whom Dust hasn't settled yet are safe until they 'mature' -- teenagers are most vulnerable because the Spectres gather around them waiting for the moment the Dust finally settles on them and their daemon becomes fixed. Thus, gangs of children roam Cittàgazze but the adults have all fled.  When Lord Asriel blasted a hole to travel through, the energy released to create his 'bridge between worlds' created a great many Spectres, making the situation even more dire.

For reasons unknown, if your daemon is manifest, it takes longer for a Spectre to drain a human, while those who carry them within are more susceptible to their effects. People who have been spiritually lobotomized by the 'intercission' surgery are not affected. Spectres can also be repelled by the Subtle Knife, ghosts can fight them, and angels can destroy them. They can also be controlled by humans and Stanislaus Grumman aka John Parry, Will's father, and Mrs Coulter are both able to do this.  

'His Dark Materials' Season 2 airs on HBO on November 16 at 9 PM ET. 

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