The BBC has certainly been successful in adding magic to television this summer.
Last week Arabella joins the Lost-Hope ball. Jonathan grieves his lost wife, and begins a journey into madness.
Those with a fear of mice, birds, or crazy cat ladies, should probably avoid this week’s episode of “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.”
The Book Thief
Jonathan Strange’s book has been published and people are not happy. They are not unhappy because the book is bad, but because their books keep disappearing. The culprit behind the theft by magic is, Mr. Norrell.
It’s still a bit difficult to get a true handle on Mr. Norrell’s motives. There are times when his motives appear to be petty, yet at other times he seems genuinely concerned for the safety of others and the integrity of English magic.
Jonathan has blocked Mr. Norrell from finding out where he is, so Mr. Norrell must enlist the help of the debt imprisoned Mr. Drawlight. Mr. Norrell agrees to pay off Drawlight’s debts, thus freeing him from prison, but he also physically threatens Drawlight if does not succeed in obtaining information on Strange. Maybe Mr. Norrell is a jerk after all.
Actor Vincent Franklin has done a fantastic job portraying the manipulative, parasitic, Drawlight. As much as I want to hate him, there is something playing in his eyes that in the end, compels me to feel sorry for him.
We’re All Mad Here
Jonathan Strange is hiding out in Venice, spending his days attempting to make himself mad.
Venice offers some serious eye candy in this episode, the faded beige backdrop punctuated with vibrant splashes of color, the scenes are stunning. I wanted to slip through my screen, like the mirrors in the story, and find myself transported to Strange’s Venice.
While in Venice, Jonathan encounters Doctor Greysteel and his daughter Flora.
Flora has a habit of running away with eccentric men, Lord Byron among them. Doctor Greysteel is immediately on alert as Flora takes an instant liking to the handsome, fugitive magician.
Flora is a great character. She is intelligent, curious, brave, and independent. It is a shame that she doesn’t appear until the end of the story.
Rumor has it that author Susanna Clarke is working on a Norrell sequel that will focus on Childermass. I wouldn’t mind if Flora was also featured in the new story. Perhaps she could be a successful lady magician?
Flora remarks that she recently paid a visit to a Mrs. Delgado. Mrs. Delgado is proof that the crazy cat lady is nothing new. Flora tells Jonathan that Mrs. Delgado is quite mad. This is exactly the news Jonathan needs.
The scene is bizarre in the most wonderful way. The dark apartment filled with cats, the old, decrepit woman in a tattered dress who only speaks in hisses and meows. Mrs. Delgado, I’m sure, has a fascinating, untold back story.
Jonathan places a spell on a dead mouse. The cat lady then places the mouse in her mouth, and gets her heart’s desire. Mrs. Delgado turns into a cat.
I’m sure there were many cringes and exclamations shouted at television sets as she put the mouse in her mouth,
“No, no, no…”
The mouse, now imbedded with lunacy, is used to create a madness inducing tincture. Professor Snape would be proud.
The music really enhances the scene. All of the erratic strings and spontaneous flute, you can’t help but think mad thoughts.
Upon drinking a few drops of the tincture, Jonathan is finally able to see the summoned fairy, much to The Gentleman’s displeasure.
I haven’t liked The Gentleman in the mini-series as much as I liked him in the book. He seems too stiff and reserved, but I did enjoy his first few exchanges with Strange. They show The Gentleman’s more playful, devious side as he toys with the naive magician.
Jonathan, pleased with his success, and immediately begins to plan Arabella’s resurrection. He is of course crushed when The Gentleman cannot bring Arabella back. The Gentleman does let slip that he worked with Norrell, and Jonathan is able to put the pieces together. The Gentleman also slips up and makes a bargain with Strange, allowing Strange to become the owner of Lady Pole’s amputated finger.
Using his favorite form of transportation, mirror, Jonathan finds himself in Lost-Hope. He is overjoyed at the sight of Arabella, but she doesn’t recognize him. He’ll do everything he can to be united with her, as he said,
“I must save my wife. Why did I become a magician if not for this?”
I’m sure many wives exhaled a dreamy collective sigh.
The director of “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” also directed episodes of “Doctor Who,” a show that has made me fearful of statues, and shadows among other things. Now I feel I will be weary of mirrors, and leaves.
The Gentleman throws a hissy fit when he discovers Jonathan in his ball room. As The Gentleman and Strange face off, The Gentleman unleashes a flood of injurious leaves.
Jonathan, losing the battle, is thrust into a state of eternal darkness.
Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
Vinculus tells Stephen Black that he can free him from the fairy. Unconvinced at first, Stephen eventually helps Vinculus keep an appointment with a tree.
Oh and by the way, Vinculus is also a book.
Vinculus’ father lost The Raven King’s book in a drinking game, so the father ate the book. Four years later little Vinculus is born covered in tattoos. The tattoos are the words/prophecies of The Raven King.
I remember thinking this was brilliant when I read the book. I also spent some spare thinking time pondering what book I would want to wear as a permanent full body tattoo.
The Gentleman meets up with Stephen on the road. Already irritated at having to appear to Strange, The Gentleman is equally irked when he discovers Vinculus can see him. After exchanging words with the impertinent Vinculus, the fairy creates a noose in a tree and hangs the book imprinted vagabond. The Gentleman promises Stephen that there is no escape from Lost-Hope.
Venice, all of Europe really, is in an uproar over the giant black tornado that envelops Strange’s current residence.
Trapped in the eternal darkness, Jonathan is visited by Flora, who has no hesitations about entering a possible black magical void. Jonathan throws Flora out, for her own good.
As she stumbles away she is met by her father and the dutiful spy, Drawlight, who immediately begins harassing Flora for information. One of the best pieces of dialogue of the series is exchanged.
Doctor Greysteel: “Do you wish to be shot?”
Doctor Greysteel: “Then behave differently.”
I feel like this could be handy to use with kids, not the shot part of course, but it could easily be replaced with going in time out or being grounded.
After sucking Drawlight into the eternal darkness and scaring the bejesus out of him, Jonathan gives Drawlight threes tasks, and a death threat. Poor Drawlight, I’m guessing he wishes he never got mixed up with magicians.
While Jonathan is admitting Mr. Norrell was right, dark magic should not be toyed with, Mr. Norrell dishes out a serious helping of I told you so to those who thought him too conservative.
I’m happy that I recently disposed of the mirrored closet doors in my bedroom because I might have had trouble sleeping after seeing the final scene. Mr. Norrell hears a tapping at one of the mirrors in his room. A beak breaks through the glass, and soon the entire room is filled with a flurry of black ravens.
I’ve read a few spoilers regarding next week’s finale. Mainly the question/complaint, is the episode too bizarre for TV? Instead of discouraging me, it makes me even more excited to see what bizarre things will be seen. So I wait with excited anticipation, and just a little it’s almost over sadness, for the “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” series finale.