Previously on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: Jonathan found a way to the fairy land, but Belle objected to him returning and finally managed to talk him around to agreeing to give up practical magic and focus on writing a book instead. And then he got dragged back to war again. Lascelles published a book on Norrell that Jonathan trashed, so now the two magicians are on the outs. Lady Pole was taken to the countryside to be tended by Segundus and Honeyfoot.
‘The war is over. What do you think they’ll do with us now?’
‘Gentlemen, do not meddle in such things. You have no idea where it will end, and you’re not fit to do it.’
Let’s start with some action. Specifically, the battle of Waterloo, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this Thursday. The camera sweeps over the scene of the battle, men rushing at each other through the smoke and artillery fire. Jonathan is in a stableyard, calling down some rain, by the look of it, to put out the fire in the building behind him. He then goes over to a well and brings up a whirlpool that takes care of the fire, uses his metal bowl to shield himself from some bullets, and helps to magically reinforce a wall with some creepy vines that pick up and toss French troops around like dolls. He’s pretty good at this battlefield magic. As he runs back across the stableyard, a shell explodes nearby, sending him flying, and then the French manage to get through the gate. A British officer is killed, and the slaughter begins. Jonathan, dazed, tries to gather himself as a Frenchman rushes around wielding an axe. The man spots him and comes over, ready to deliver a killing blow, and Jonathan screams and digs his hand into the mud, and you know that when Jonathan digs his hands into the earth, things get awesome. Sure enough, a massive hand emerges, catching and squeezing the Frenchman to death (‘Could a magician kill someone by magic?’ ‘A magician might, but a gentleman never could.’)
Some months later, Jonathan’s back home, at Ashfair, looking out the window at the snowy landscape. His hands shake. Arabella comes in and gently asks if he’s gotten any writing done, and then embraces him.
Back at Waterloo, Grant finds Jon once the battle’s finished. They both go to join Wellington, who wonders what they’ll do now the war is over.
Ashfair. Belle takes Jonathan to their room and shows him some drawings of the King’s Road she’s done for his book. He’s delighted and tells her she’s done a great job and he’s very proud.
Norrell goes to see Jon’s publisher (who I guess is the same publisher as Lascelles) and pouts about the man also putting out Jon’s book. The publisher reminds him that he’s a businessman and magical books sell well. Or, at least, they do until Strange trashes them. Lascelles threatens to go to another publisher and the guy’s like, ‘eh, easy come, easy go.’
On the ride home, Norrell complains about how dangerous this book is and whines that Jon’s betraying him, adding that he hopes never to see or hear from him again.
Out in the countryside, a rider spots a woman walking out in the snow. He calls to her, and she turns and he recognizes Arabella. It’s not her, it’s that creepy moss-oak copy, but he can’t know that. She rushes away from him.
He goes to Ashfair and tells Jon what he saw. Jon dismisses the man’s claims, because Arabella hasn’t left Ashfair in days, and also she hates wearing black and the woman this man saw was definitely in a black dress. The man suggests this could have something to do with magic, but Jon says he no longer does practical magic. The man rasps that he’s glad to hear Arabella’s safe and excuses himself, apologizing for disturbing Jon.
As they get ready for bed, Arabella asks Jon how he thinks things will work out between him and Norrell. He sighs that it’ll go the way most academic disputes go: with attack articles and factions and posterity taking care of all that. Meanwhile, he’s got some home improvement plans he wants to see to. Belle wants a baby. Jon’s ‘all right!’ look is kind of hilarious.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”] Belle wants a baby. Jon’s ‘all right!’ look is kind of hilarious.[/cryout-pullquote]
Lady P sees visions of a carriage and hears a bell. She wakes with a start and screams for Segundus and Honeyfoot, who come running. She tells them to send a message to Jon, because something awful is going to happen. She tries to explain, but again it’s gibberish. She insists that Jonathan must not take the bargain. ‘Moss oak! Moss oak!’ she screams. Segundus apologetically says he doesn’t understand her.
At Ashfair, Jon and Arabella are asleep in bed. A carriage pulled by black horses pulls up at the door and Stephen knocks. Arabella gets up and answers the door. Stephen tells her that Lady P is in great distress and he wants to take Arabella to her.
Jonathan wakes in bed alone the next morning and gets up. At the breakfast table, he asks the maid where Arabella is. The maid has no idea. He asks her to go find his wife, as he looks out the window and sees that man from earlier arriving again.
The man is admitted to the house and tells Jonathan he saw Belle wandering around the hills nearby not an hour ago. Jonathan’s alarmed, and even more so when Mary says Belle’s not in the house. Nobody knows where she is. He grabs his metal bowl and tries to cast a spell that’ll show him where Belle is, but it doesn’t seem to be working properly. Jonathan grabs his coat and leads a search party for her that goes into the evening. It’s snowing, and freezing out.
Belle’s being jostled roughly over the roads, driven in the carriage by Stephen. She’s taken to Lost Hope, and Stephen drags her to the Gentleman’s ballroom. The Gentleman welcomes her, as Lady P hangs in the background, helpless and sad. The Gentleman informs Belle that Jonathan’s sold her to him in exchange for a piece of wood and she’ll remain there forever. She rushes towards Lady P, but the Gentleman catches her and seems to enchant her, because suddenly she’s laughing and dancing with him, dressed in a gown and very Empress Josephine-esque tiara. Lady P screams for her friend, but Belle seems to be gone now.
The search party has returned to the house, where Jonathan suddenly remembers her getting up in the middle of the night. He thought he had dreamt that. As he’s thinking of that, the front door bursts open and FauxBelle stumbles in. Jonathan rushes to her as the maid drapes a shawl over her. FauxBelle asks if Jonathan accepts her as his wife and renounces all other wives. Confused, he says he does, of course. She’s taken upstairs and put to bed and Jonathan sits beside her, looking distressed.
Segundus sits down by the fire with Honeyfoot, who’s reading some magical fairy tales and legends his mother gave him as a kid. He recognizes some of Lady P’s babble as being one of these stories, but she’s made some slight changes to it, which makes him think there’s a pattern here.
Jonathan wakes the next morning, still at FauxBelle’s bedside, and finds her dead. He gently tries to wake her, even knowing it’s useless, and then clutches one of the bedposts for support. Awww!
Norrell has now taken the cause of squashing Jon’s book to Pole and the PM, neither of whom would get involved in some petty squabble like this, even if they did know both the squabblers personally. Norrell says this book is dangerous, because it’ll give ammunition to the Johannites—rioters in the north who have lost their jobs to mechanized looms and are now going around smashing machinery and declaring themselves followers of the Raven King. It’s clearly Lascelles who has put this idea about. Pole says there’s a ragged preacher going about the north saying the Raven King is coming back, and now the government is worried. The PM asks if Strange’s book will support the Raven King and Norrell says it most certainly will. They agree this must be stopped.
Hey, Belle’s brother Henry is back! Jonathan is not pleased to see him, not at all, because he’s super busy trying to find a way to bring his wife back from the dead. Henry, who just came to mourn his sister and conduct the funeral service, is alarmed by this, even more alarmed when the best Jonathan can say is he ‘did something of a rough sort’ in Spain. But what’re you going to do against a determined magician? We’ve seen what he can do with sand and mud; I’d hate to see what could happen with snow.
Norrell returns home and tells Childermass that it looks like they might have found a winning lie with this Johannites thing.
Childermass: Has it occurred to you to, maybe, not be a dick? Also, I think you listen to Lascelles waaaaay too much.
Norrell: But if I didn’t have Lascelles around, who would tell me what to do and feed my Salieri-like enmity and competitiveness?
Childermass tells Norrell that he doubts Strange is going to be publishing anything anytime soon, what with his wife so recently dead and all. Norrell muses that Strange will feel that loss quite keenly.
Jonathan goes to the bedroom where Belle’s laid out, takes a swig of liquid courage, and gets ready to slash his hand and get this party started, but he finds he can’t do it. Instead, he sits down and writes a letter to Norrell, begging him for help and promising to completely give up magic if Norrell will just help him with this one thing.
Lascelles tells Norrell to just ignore this, because there’s already gossip that Jon killed Arabella through black magic. If he tries to raise her from the dead his reputation will be ruined and nobody would buy his book. I doubt that’s his number one priority at the moment, Lascelles. Lascelles eyes Childermass and asks if they can talk ‘without the servants present.’ Childermass says they’ll do no such thing and presses Norrell to help the man, because surely they can do a better job this time than they did with Lady P. Lascelles, in a hard voice, repeats his request and Childermass slowly leaves. Norrell says that it’s quite vexing to have Jon turn to black magic. Lascelles reminds Norrell that Strange has broken with him and will bring English magic into disrepute. Norrell must not help him, and if he does, Lacelles won’t be his bestie anymore.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]The Gentleman, being a jerk, just wants to mess with Jon and tells Stephen to go pinch the back of his neck, just for lolz[/cryout-pullquote]Jon tries the fairy summoning himself, but again, Gentleman refuses to reveal himself to him. He just looks on, Stephen at his side. Stephen feels badly for poor Jon, but the Gentleman, being a jerk, just wants to mess with Jon by turning the pages of a book that lies open on the bed. Jon basically ignores that. Gentleman sneers that watching Jon do magic is like watching a man sit down to dinner with his coat on backwards. Stephen points out that the man is grieving. Gentleman comments on the irony that he is the one Jonathan summoned. He then tells Stephen to go pinch the back of Jonathan’s neck, just for lolz.
Jonathan gabblingly tells Henry about someone the Raven King brought back from the dead, but he’s not sure how it was managed. He goes for his books, then goes back to the bedroom, where he tells FauxBelle she’ll come back speaking the words of angels, not the tongues of hell. He kisses her forehead, then slashes his hand and drizzles the blood over her face, urging her to wake up ‘if you please,’ he adds, politely. He begs her to wake up, but it doesn’t work. He writes to Norrell again, and Norrell ignores him. He gets ready to leap through a mirror and go see Norrell himself, but Henry stops him and gently tells Jonathan that the body upstairs is no longer Belle. What would it be if he brought her back now? He admits this breaks his heart, but they both have to let her go. Jonathan bursts heartbreakingly into tears, because he knows this is true but it’s a difficult thing to accept. Henry embraces him.
Later, Jonathan goes and says goodbye to his wife, telling her she was the reason he did magic. In fact, she was the reason he did anything, just because he wanted to see how she’d look at him. He kisses her forehead again, holding back more tears.
FauxBelle is buried, and Henry speaks the service. Holding a bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley, Jon watches as the coffin is lowered into the ground.
Stephen brings word of the death to Lady P, who’s not surprised by any of it, of course. She says she hoped Arabella might be someone for her to talk to, but Arabella’s so very far away. As Stephen prepares to leave, Segundus and Honeyfoot tell him they think they’re close to breaking the Fairy Code and they want to know if he’s cool with them asking Lady P to talk about magicians so they can study her odd speech pattern. He shortly orders them not to meddle in such things, since they have no idea where it will end and they’re just not up to the task. He adds that they must accept she can’t be cured. ‘And yourself?’ Segundus asks. Stephen says he doesn’t want any more talk about it. He leaves and Segundus asks Honeyfoot if he sees the rose on both of them, He does not. Segundus does, though, so he votes they go ahead with this plan.
Jon returns to London, accompanied by the proof of his book. Pole comes to see him, observing that he’s changed. Jon gives him one of the illustrations from his book, based on Belle’s pictures, and asks him to give it to Lady Pole to remember Belle by. He has no idea how horrifying a gift this is. Neither does Pole, so he agrees to pass it along. He asks if Jon has given up magic and Jon says he’s no longer a practical magician, but he hasn’t abandoned magic. Pole tells him that Norrell is in agonies whenever this book is mentioned. Jon is amused by that but says this is just the beginning. They need to bring back the powerful magic of an older age, but Pole urges him to rein it in and to stop talking about the Raven King. ‘Too much talk of other kings is bound to make the government nervous,’ he says. Jonathan loses his temper, frustrated by being stymied at every turn, and asks Pole if he ever wonders why his wife went mad.
Honeyfoot and Segundus get ready to talk to Lady P, even as Stephen tries to talk her out of it. He tells her that Belle is happy and they’ve…survived so far, and they should be content with what they have. She’s determined, and when prompted to try and describe what most distresses her, she starts the usual babble. Honeyfoot starts frantically paging through his books until he finds the proper story. Honeyfoot suggests she speak generally, since if she gets really specific she might veer into all sorts of directions. She tries again, and he goes back to his books as someone begins knocking on the door. Honeyfoot says that it seems she’s telling the stories from the POV of the fairy. They ask for her permission to write to Strange and she readily gives it. Stephen goes to open the door and finds a man outside saying he has a madman for them. He calls for Segundus and Honeyfoot and they go outside, where Vinculus springs up from the man’s cart. He calls Stephen the unnamed slave and laughs at him.
Pole takes Jonathan’s picture to Norrell, asking if any of it looks seditious. Norrell, of course, thinks everything’s evil and complains about not being able to establish his magical kangaroo court. Childermass looks at the picture and Pole promises to remain in touch. After he leaves, Childermass urges Norrell to call an end to this stupid feud, because it won’t end well for either of them. Norrell and Lascelles, however, are still determined to block publication.
Childermass lies in wait near Jon’s until Strange walks by and notes him. Jon asks how Norrell is and Childermass tells him that Norrell’s vexed these days. Jon invites him in to ‘see what you were meant to see.’ He shows Childermass Belle’s drawings, which he declares very beautiful. He asks if the magic used to get to the Kings’ Roads was hard (it wasn’t) and why magicians hadn’t been able to see this place for so long. Jon explains that the roads were all closed, but there’s so much magic flying around England now they’ve opened up again. He suggests Childermass leave Norrell’s service and join Jonathan, as a pupil, not a servant. Childermass likes the sound of it, but says he and Norrell aren’t done with each other yet. Plus, he’s pretty sure he’d make a lousy pupil. He makes Jon a deal: if he fails and Norrell wins, Childermass will leave Norrell’s service and take up Jonathan’s cause, so there will always be some magical opposition. But if Jonathan wins, he’ll do the same for Norrell. Jonathan says that seems fair.
He goes to show Childermass out, talking about his book, and Childermass is like, ‘yeah, about that. I wouldn’t be setting up any readings and signings just yet.’ Jonathan completely loses his temper (well, as much as he ever does) because the book is supposed to be a tribute to his wife. Yelling, he flies through a mirror and comes out in Norrell’s study. He screams for Norrell, grabbing a poker as Lascelles comes in and tells him Norrell isn’t at home. Jonathan swings the poker at him and bursts into the front hall, asking why they have a quarrel with his book. Lascelles tells him they’ve seen to it his book won’t be published. Kind of a dumb thing to say to a man fuelled by rage and wielding a poker, Lascelles. Jonathan shouts for them to leave him alone, because haven’t they hurt him enough? He tried to play by the rules and begged for Norrell’s help, only to be ignored. Norrell begins creeping down the stairs and Jonathan tries to go after him, asking to know what the magic was that brought Lady Pole back. Footmen bundle him out and throw him into the street. He starts throwing stones, until he’s arrested by the neighbourhood watch or something.
He’s put in a leaky jail cell, with only his reflection in a puddle for company, until Grant comes to get him out. He tells Jon he’s going to be arraigned for breaking into Norrell’s house, and he might also be tried for murdering Belle by witchcraft. Jon says he’s going to try summoning a fairy, though Grant doesn’t see how that would help. Jon says that no magician could help him as much as a fairy and it’s really important that he do this. He’s trying to figure out why mad king George was able to see the fairy when Jon couldn’t and then starts gabbling about madness and how he’s perhaps a bit too tame and should try to make himself a little mad. Grant urges him not to purposely become a lunatic and suggests Jonathan instead get away from here and get a handle on himself. He goes to fetch the jailer to open the door, just as Jonathan spots the reflective surface of the puddle in his cell. He vanishes through it just as the door is opened. In a cell nearby, Drawlight looks up, frowning in puzzlement.