Tweetable Takeaway: #JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell join forces to fulfill the prophesies and break free of their tormentor.
Airtime: Saturdays at 9pm central on BBC America
By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor
We’ve reached the final episode of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, and though I’m sad for it to be over, I’m happy they did the book justice. Everything comes together in the end to bring the two magicians back together, united to use English Magic to defeat the Gentleman who created so much havoc in their lives.
When Jonathan decided to open all of the pathways behind the mirrors in England, he did it so magic in England would be free. The consequences of his actions reverberate all through the land, and the complaints find their way to Parliament. Sir Walter Pole presents the complaints he’s heard, and since he’s inextricably linked with the magicians who’ve caused so much anxiety for the people of England, he resigns from office. It’s interesting to note he explains he doesn’t believe what Jonathan has done is treason, but more akin to revolution. We all know how those in power feel about revolutions as they begin to unfold, and the powers that be in England fear the loss of their status so much that they’d do anything to quell this revolution. They fear Jonathan’s return to England and the black tower that follows him around as if it will usher in the end of days.
Drawlight is interrupted in his mission of sending messages to Norrell, Lady Pole, and Childermass by Lascelles. He kills Drawlight to him to keep him quiet, and steals the box intended for Childermass along with the message that was inside of it. Lascelles has always been a poisoned tongued dandy, but now senses things spiraling out of control and afraid of life without the magicians aid, takes matters in to his own hands to protect his status. It’s a desperate measure, and won’t go unpunished for long. There has been a class and social struggle between Lascelles and Childermass that finally bubbles to the surface before things end. It’s fun to watch, and you have the feeling Childermass could crush him like a bug, but holds back.
The curse the Gentleman put on Jonathan slowly kills him, and he needs to do something drastic to both save his wife and remove the curse from himself. He arrives at Norrell’s home in Yorkshire moments after Childermass and Lascelles clash, and right as Childermass leaves with Lady Poles finger. The charming part of this scene is the horror Norrell feels at Jonathan’s arrival. He’s afraid Jonathan is there to kill him, and they scuffle a bit, but Norrell collapses after only being able to conjure rain. He’s outmatched by his former pupil, and shocked when Jonathan doesn’t want revenge, but needs Norrell’s help. The reunification of these two magicians is delightful, and brings life back into Norrell’s dour face. They now combine forces to conjure up the Raven King to help them destroy the Gentleman who’s been the cause of all of their misfortunes. The Raven King is the only magician in history to kill a fairy, so they rely on him for help. Jonathan points out that all that’s happened has been a direct consequence of Norrell’s actions. When it comes time for the summoning, Norrell admits to Jonathan that his book “is the most beautiful book of magic I have ever read.”
Lady Pole is supposed to be guarding Arabella in Lost Hope to help usher her out through an escape path Jonathan has devised. Unfortunately when Childermass arrives, Segundas takes it upon himself to use the reattachment spell he unsuccessfully uses on clay pipes in the first episode to reattach Lady Poles finger, and throws Jonathan’s whole plan in disarray. He also infuriates the Gentleman who tries to use Stephen to kill everyone involved in stealing Lady Pole from his grasp.
Jonathan and Norrell are successful in conjuring the Raven King, but he disappears right away (and revives and rewrites Vinculus) so they try again using his other name, “The Unnamed Slave” and give him all of English Magic to command. Right as Stephen is being forced to kill for the Gentleman, he’s swept away to Jonathan and Norrell by a flock of Ravens. It’s at this moment when all of the storylines and prophecies begin to fall into place. The way the writers have made the moving pieces come together in such a magnificent way is commendable. The book is huge and sprawling, and they’ve done a wonderful job translating it for the screen. Norrell is confused by the appearance of Sir Walter Pole’s butler, but hasn’t time to even question why before Lascelles shoots Stephen and kills him. Lascelles threatens Jonathan with the other pistol, but turns to see the Gentleman, who in his anger over Stephen’s death, turn him into porcelain and shatter into pieces. The Gentleman mourns Stephen and takes his body away with him to Lost Hope.
Norrell saves the day by conjuring a way for him and Jonathan to get to Lost Hope. The prophecy comes true as Norrell conjures rain and says “The rain shall make a door for me, and we shall go through it.” Once they get into fairy, Norrell is like a kid in a candy shop. He’s giddy and excited, and questions why he hasn’t done this sooner. When they reach the Gentleman’s abode they find Arabella, and Jonathan quickly saves her. Stephen comes back alive filled with English Magic, and fulfills his destiny. He realizes the king he’s supposed to kill and take the place of is the Gentleman. His power is too much for the Gentleman, and Stephen kills him as Jonathan and Norrell escape. Their escape is short lived, as they find themselves transported to somewhere they cannot escape from. Childermass gathers magicians around him to help translate Vinculus in the hopes of finding Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell again one day.
More thoughts on English Magic:
- I felt bad for Drawlight. No matter what bad things he did in the past, he didn’t deserve to be shot in the face by Lascelles. It was great to see Lascelles eventually met his end.
- The scene between Jonathan’s reflection and Arabella in Venice was touching and sweet. He wants her to be happy, and she only wants him. She tells him she’ll do everything in her power to find out where he is and bring him back to her.
- Childermass is a badass, and I really hope the sequel of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Susanna Clarke was working on, and said to feature Childermass, comes soon. It’s already been far too long.
- The adaptation of the book really nailed it. There wasn’t too much CGI like an American version would likely have used as a crutch, and for how huge a novel it came from, they boiled it down into a compelling narrative. It was a joy to watch and write about. I hope you liked it as well.
For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates. Twitter: @OfSoundnVision