In His Dark Materials episode 2, "The Idea Of The North", the story continues to deviate from the books - though in intriguing ways - as the series introduces a second world until much later in the novels. What's interesting is that this twist happens in the second book in the His Dark Materials series, which certainly means it wasn't expected to happen in season 1 of the BBC and HBO show.
The His Dark Materials TV series is the second time that Phillip Pullman's books have been adapted, and even though it's only recently begun, it's already receiving much higher praise than the box office flop, The Golden Compass. Much of His Dark Materials' praise comes from the fact that the show is happy to make major changes to the books in order to create a more compelling world for the screen - including the decision to introduce the audience fully to the concept of multiple worlds straight away.
In "The Idea Of North", the character of Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) is introduced - and as well as attending a party at Mrs Coulter's (Ruth Wilson), he also visits Jordan College to try and see the skull of Grumman. He then does something even more astounding; he slips into a strange, shimmery patch of air, and disappears - only to reappear in a world that looks just like our own. Unlike Lyra's world, this one has cars, streetlamps, and appears to be Oxford - but the real Oxford, not Lyra's. There are no daemons here, either, and Lord Boreal's snake daemon hides in his sleeve.
His Dark Materials' New World Is From The Subtle Knife
This His Dark Materials twist is something that does happen in the novels; however, our world isn't introduced until the start of the second book, The Subtle Knife. And while Lord Boreal exists in both worlds in the books, he is not the person to introduce it to the readers - instead, the books simply jump from one world to the other, before Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) meet partway through the novel. Furthermore, it can be confirmed that this world doesn't just look like ours, it is ours. In all respects, the world that Lord Boreal enters is the world that we live in, and he just happens to be one of only a handful of people who are aware that other worlds exist.
What Will's World Means For His Dark Materials
While the decision to introduce Will's world so early is a major deviation from Pullman's books, it's an excellent choice. The shift from Lyra's fantasy world to Will's world in the books is quite jarring, and wouldn't necessarily translate well to the small screen - but making the choice to wander between realities using another character is a fantastic one. This introduces the concept of multiple worlds early, allowing viewers to meet Will sooner rather than later, and giving them more of a sense that this isn't just fantasy but something more grounded.
In practical terms, the introduction of Will's world this early means a few things. Firstly, Will himself will be coming to His Dark Materials quite soon, which may change the narrative slightly. It also suggests that Lord Boreal and Will's world may receive more time and importance than they do in the books, and that the series won't be a one-to-one adaptation. The major surprise at the end of The Golden Compass, that there is another world accessible from Lyra's one, won't be such a big one, seeing as the audience has already been introduced to the idea of so early on. However, this doesn't mean that the final scenes from the book will lose their impact - just the the series can continue Lyra's adventure without wasting time setting up Will as a character. Yet again, it seems that His Dark Materials proves that they know exactly how to adapt the novels, and fans can't wait to see what they change next.