The summer is flying by, and so is the “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” mini-series.
Last week we saw Lady Pole whisked away to the country, Jonathan walking the Raven King’s roads, and The Gentleman creating a bizarre Arabella clone from a piece of ancient wood. With so many threads, and only a few episodes left, it will be interesting to see how the series will tie everything together.
Heart and Soul
After The Battle at Waterloo, and some impressive Strange magic/special effects involving a mud fist, the war with Napoleon is finally at an end.
Jonathan returns home to live a quiet life in the country. He begins writing a book of magic, and talks of getting a little work done in the garden.
It’s safe to say that many wives would love to be gazed at by their husbands the way that Jonathan gazes at Arabella. It doesn’t hurt that actor Bertie Carvel, with his charming smile, tousled hair, and snappy wardrobe, is rather dashing.
As they discuss their future you can already see Jonathan and Arabella planting lettuce in the garden while the little ones run about.They seem to be on their way to a happily ever after. The set up is well written and well acted, and filled with lots of feels, which of course makes what follows horribly heart-wrenching.
Arabella leaves her bed in the middle of the night to answer a knock at the door. It is Stephen Black who urges Mrs. Strange to come quickly, Lady Pole is in distress. I would be a little wary of a carriage with branches growing out of it, and would have asked a few more questions before leaving the house in my nightgown without a word to anyone. Arabella is more trusting, and a better friend than me. Without hesitation, she climbs into the creepy carriage that whisks her away to her doom.
It was exciting to get another grand, spooky ball room scene. The set design, the makeup, the costumes, and the choreography are sensational. It makes me want to attend a ball at Lost-Hope, providing I could bypass the whole having to stay there forever and ever thing. The back stories of some of the other ballroom guests and how they ended up in Lost-Hope would make its own intriguing mini-series. Perhaps a Gentleman prequel?
Of course Arabella is not happy to find that she is trapped in a fairy kingdom, but no worries, The Gentleman, or Eyebrows as he has been lovingly dubbed on social media, merely enchants his new dancing partner.
Mrs. Strange is joyful and content at the ghostly ball, which greatly disturbs the long trapped Lady Pole.
Meanwhile back at the Strange home, Arabella has gone missing.
As a child, I fell in love with the ominous romance of English moors through The Secret Garden. The design team of “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” did not disappoint. The men wandering the vast, dark moors, the soft glow of their lanterns providing the only light, and the ash-like snow falling close to the screen is gorgeous.
Arabella is not found during the search. Instead she returns home on her own, cold, and seemingly ill.
This was definitely a jump through your television episode. We know that the Arabella who returns is not Arabella. We know that it is the Moss Oak double that dies. Jonathan’s wife is alive, trapped in Lost-Hope. Jonathan however is oblivious to all of this information. His heart is utterly broken by the death of his beloved wife. I so badly wanted to jump through the television screen, give him a good shake, and tell him that Arabella is alive, and he needs to start working on her rescue.
Jonathan makes a few unsuccessful attempts to bring Arabella back to life. He writes multiple letters that are never answered, begging Mr. Norrell for help. In the end Strange must let his wife, his heart and soul, go.
The funeral scene is similarly beautiful to the scene on the moors. The white snow signifying Arabella’s beautiful purity; the bare, gnarled tree at the grave-site, reminiscent of the tree in the center of the ballroom at Lost-Hope. It got a little dusty in the room watching Jonathan grieve his lost wife.
Friendship is an active theme that winds throughout the story. It’s interesting how many characters make decisions based on the fear of losing a friend.
Mr. Norrell, who it seems would be happy having only books as friends, complies with the bad advice given by Mr. Lascelles, who threatens to withdraw his friendship if Mr. Norrell does not follow his counsel.
For Lady Pole and Arabella, roles have reversed. Arabella was the one eager to befriend and help the stricken Lady Pole. Now seeing her friend captured by The Gentleman, it is Lady Pole who desperately wants to save Arabella. Fortunately for Emma, Mr. Honeyfoot discovers that the stories she spews are not nonsense, but fairy tales told from the perspective of a fairy. It’s not yet clear exactly how this information can be used to liberate the Lost-Hope captives, but it’s nice to see that Emma has someone on her side who is committed to getting to the bottom of things.
Though they are the secondary magicians compared to the overly conservative Norrell and the reckless with dark magic Strange, the level headed Childermass, and kindhearted Segundus could end up being the magicians who perhaps save the day.
This episode really endeared me to Childermass. He chooses his words and actions carefully. He is wise, fair, and honest. His fairness and honesty unfortunately cause Jonathan Strange to snap. Jonathan travels via mirror to confront Norrell. The confrontation leads to Jonathan’s arrest. Jonathan now believes that his problems could be solved by summoning a fairy, and concludes that the best way to make this a success is to go mad. In the end he disappears from his gloomy, wet prison cell through a puddle, and sets off on a quest for madness.
Madness seems like something that just happens. How does one force it? I can’t wait until next week’s episode to see exactly how Jonathan Strange plans on transforming himself into a lunatic.