When last we left Mr. Norrell, he was shivering with fear as he witnessed the bullet meant for him tear into Childermass’ flesh. The cunning escape artist and shooter, Lady Pole, is captured. Jonathan, who was away at war, is finally home, reunited with his wife Arabella. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on this week’s episode of “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.”
Roses at Their Mouths
While having the bullet extracted from his body, Childermass has a vision.
There is a tree. There is a raven, but not much of a clue as to what it all means. What we do know is that Childermass is more than just a shady, dutiful servant. Years of serving Mr. Norrell has caused the top hat wearing right hand man to develop magical abilities of his own. He also appears to be developing a distrust of his master, especially when Mr. Norrell refuses to discuss the magic that surrounds Lady Pole. Childermass is determined to get to the bottom of things.
A screaming, squirming Lady Pole is chloroformed. At first Mr. Norrell wants her hanged for her murder attempt. Since only a few people saw the actual shooter, a falsehood is quickly concocted. It was a French spy who tried to kill Norrell. Norrell looks like a hero, and Lady Pole is saved from the noose. Lady Pole is also saved from being shipped off to the notorious madhouse, Bedlam. Mr. Norrell fears that Lady Pole would become an attraction at Bedlam, and her residence there would cause people to gossip about how his magic caused her madness.
Lady Pole is instead brought to the country house recently acquired by Mr. Segundus and Mr. Honeyfoot.
This appears to be an improvement for Emma. The two men are protective of Emma, and their genuine kindness, and gentleness appears to put the wild Lady at ease. We also learn that like Childermass, Mr. Segundus is developing into more than just a theoretical magician. Mr. Segundus reveals to Stephen Black that not only can he see the magic that surrounds Stephen and Emma, he is able to clearly see the roses at their mouths. Unfortunately when asked, Stephen is unable to tell Segundus what it all means. It is however the first glimmer of hope that someone is on the right track to rescuing poor Lady Pole.
Through a Glass Darkly
Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange are asked to pay a visit to King George. It would seem like a great honor if not for the fact that King George is quite mad. In his slippers, with an unkempt beard, the King pounds away at his harpsichord. As madness can’t be cured by magic, Mr. Norrell refuses any further visits with George, but Jonathan Strange does not give up so easily.
Continuing to explore the more medieval areas of magic, Jonathan attempts a spell that causes the King to converse with an imaginary man. Though it appears to be just more ramblings of a mad man, per the conversation we as the audience know that he is speaking with The Gentleman. The King then disappears through a mirror, and pops up in front of the carriage carrying Lady Pole to her new home. When Stephen nervously approaches the vagabond looking King, a sword appears in Stephen’s hand and is magnetically drawn straight for His Majesty.
Strange is pretty freaked out, you probably would be too if you lost The King. He hastily performs another spell that brings the King back to his harpsichord, just before George’s head meets Stephen’s sword. We learn that The Gentleman has little knowledge of how modern English politics work. His plan was to have Stephen behead King George so that Stephen could become The King. Stephen of course points out that King George has thirteen children chomping at the bit to rule.
Jonathan’s mirror play does not stop with King George. Word has spread that Jonathan Strange has been making quite a profit by taking pupils and magical commissions. Jonathan however hasn’t seen a shilling. When he encounters one of his so called pupils, he appears to understand who is behind the hoodwink. To prove to the men that he is in fact Jonathan Strange, he disappears through a mirror.
On the other side of the mirror, Jonathan finds himself on The King’s roads, the Raven King’s roads.
He is amazed by what he experiences and even more drawn to the forbidden magic of John Uskglass, the Raven King.
Strange exits the Raven King’s land through a mirror that leads him to Mr. Norrell’s “friend,” the odious Mr. Drawlight. Drawlight is the culprit behind the magical dupe. He is in fact at the moment Strange enters the room, engaged in the arranging of a commission. If I were friend or family, I’d stay clear of Mrs. Bullworth, as her commission includes the killing of her mother-in-law, thrice. After confronting Drawlight, whose obvious cowardice prompts him to run away, Jonathan returns home.
A Parting of Ways
I love the care that has been taken in portraying the marriage relationship between Arabella and Jonathan Strange.
It is written, and the lines are delivered in such a believable, relatable way. Jonathan struggles with balancing the love of his career with the love of his wife. Arabella struggles with allowing her husband to become the greatest man of the age, and fearing for his life.
Traveling to other magical realms seems to be where Arabella draws the line. After a quarrel, Jonathan decides that Arabella, not magic, is the love of his life. He tells Arabella that they will leave London and make a happy life in the country. Just as happily ever after seems to be on the horizon, Jonathan is called back to war, and it appears Arabella will soon have more to worry about than just her husband’s safety.
The Gentleman takes Stephen Black to a bog to retrieve a Moss-Oak. It was uncertain when The Gentleman lifted Arabella’s handkerchief, if it was just a creepy stalker move, or if it would spell Arabella’s doom. It is now clear that doom will be unavoidable. The Gentleman squeezes tears from the handkerchief onto the Moss-Oak, creating a waff, a creature-like apparition of Arabella Strange.
Mr. Norrell is not pleased with Jonathan’s continued exploration of dark magic. Their relationship is further strained when Jonathan publishes a glaring review of Mr. Norrell’s recent, stuffy book. Jonathan states in his review that,
“Surely magic should be magical. Surely magic is a dream.”
Mr. Norrell tries to persuade Jonathan to abandon his examination of the Raven King’s magic, but in the end Jonathan states,
“I believe the period of our collaboration is over,” and the two part ways.
The episode closes with a coldly composed Gilbert Norrell. He is determined to keep dark, evil magic out of England, and marks Jonathan Strange as his enemy by declaring
“We must work to destroy him, before he destroys us.”
Will Jonathan survive another battle on the war front, or will Norrell prove to be a far more dangerous foe? Will Arabella soon be joining Emma and Stephen in Lost-Hope, and could Mr. Segundus hold the key to freeing them all? Next week’s episode awaits.