Previously on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: Norrell and Strange both made deals with the Gentleman, and neither one really worked out. Lady Pole is being tortured, Belle is a prisoner, and Stephen is…both. To try and fix the damage, Jonathan dangerously opens England up to the other side, allowing ancient magic to flood on in.
‘The mirrors of England are broken.’
‘I have had my fill of you gentleman taking what you want of me.’
‘They are the spell the Raven King has spun, and that is all they have ever been.’
Ooh, this chapter doesn’t even get a name. That’s how we know it’s serious. That, and the fact that we open with Pole walking into the House of Commons in slow motion. He takes his seat. The place is in an uproar, but everyone quiets down long enough for Pole to speak. He has a bunch of reports of the disruptive new magic taking root all over the country. They somehow know Jonathan’s behind this, and they also hear rumors that Jonathan’s going to leave Venice, along with his black tornado.
Indeed, Jonathan allows himself to be sucked up into the tornado, which then presumably departs, so I guess all the cruise ships can come back to Venice now. Also, that’s probably a much better way to travel in the early 19th century than any conveyances of the period.
Flora watches him go, then uncovers the mirror he sent her.
Pole continues that he feels kind of responsible for all this, so he tenders his resignation.
Segundus and Honeyfoot try, unsuccessfully, to wake Lady P. They also find Jonathan’s letter to her.
On the road to Yorkshire with Norrell, Childermass cuts his cards and turns up the Death card.
Pole finds Stephen and has him prepare his carriage so he can go visit Lady P.
Lascelles meets up with Drawlight out in the countryside somewhere and scolds him for not remaining in Venice as ordered. He’s also annoyed with Drawlight for not killing Jonathan. ‘I would have done it,’ he says carelessly. Woah. Drawlight, completely terrified, tries to describe the dark tower Jonathan’s stuck in. He also tells Lascelles about the letter to Lady P, which he’s already sent, as well as the message to Childermass about Norrell using a fairy to raise Lady P from the dead. And finally, Drawlight mentions the box he’s to give to Childermass. Lascelles demands Drawlight hand the box and message over. Drawlight shows him the box with the finger in it and Lascelles sniffs that this is disgusting superstitious nonsense and Drawlight’s a fool. He throws the letter in the mud and calmly tells Drawlight that none of this will be delivered, except the message to Norrell warning him that Jonathan’s coming back, and Lascelles will deliver that one personally. Drawlight finds some balls somewhere, grabs the box back from Lascelles, and tries to run, but Lascelles just pulls out a pair of pistols and shoots Drawlight in the leg. As Drawlight begs for mercy, Lascelles strolls over to him and informs him he will not be permitted to destroy Norrell (and, by extension, destroy Lascelles) before shooting him in the head. Wow, when did he become a complete psychopath?
Pole arrives at Segundus’s and is told that Lady P has taken to her bed for some days and can’t be woken. Nobody knows what to do. Segundus tells Pole they don’t think Lady P is crazy, just enchanted. Pole finds the letter and asks who sent it. Segundus tells him it’s from Strange.
In Lost Hope, Lady P pulls Belle aside and tells her that she’ll watch out for her, and when the time of their disenchantment comes she’ll show Belle how to escape. In the meantime, she urges Belle to try and hold on to some semblance of who she once was. The Gentleman joins them and tells them how lovely this picture is, the two of them together. He mentions a dance from the far side of hell that has three partners. He learned it once, but he’s forgotten it, so he’ll just stick with one partner. Lady P steps forward, whispering to Belle to stay safe.
Norrell arrives home and finds Lascelles waiting for him. Norrell asks after Drawlight and is given Strange’s message. Lascelles figures Strange is on his way there to take revenge on Norrell and thinks this is an opportunity to destroy Strange. Childermass scolds Lascelles for not bringing Drawlight with him. Lascelles lies that Drawlight has returned to London, and when Childermass goes to fetch him, he backtracks and says he’s gone elsewhere. Norrell goes to strengthen the labyrinth around his library and Childermass hisses that Lascelles is useless.
On the way to the library, Lascelles asks if there has ever been a magical duel. There has, but not one that killed one of the magicians. Lascelles pushes hard for Norrell to kill Jonathan, as if Norrell had that sort of violence in him. Childermass starts dealing his cards while Norrell gets to work. While carelessly eating a pear, Lascelles asks what the cards say and Childermass says they say he’s a liar and thief who’s taken a valuable object meant for Childermass. Lascelles gets in his face, holding a knife to Childermass’s cheek and demanding an apology. While he’s busy being crazy, Childermass picks his pocket, grabbing the box as Lascelles slashes his cheek. Jesus. Norrell finishes his spell and then asks what the hell has been going on. Childermass shows Norrell the finger in the box and adds that Drawlight is dead, according to the cards. Helpful, those cards. Childermass asks to be allowed to take the finger to Lady P. Norrell refuses, so Childermass just goes, telling Norrell he’s made the wrong decision, as usual. Lascelles calls him a traitor and Childermass warns him to speak carefully, because he’s in the north now, and their laws were made by the Raven King, and he’s on his way back. Norrell asks for the box but Childermass departs.
Lascelles strips off his coat and dashes after Childermass, shouting for him to come back and face him. Norrell runs after Lascelles, calling him back to the library. Lascelles is magically locked in the dining room as Childermass rides away and Jonathan’s magical tornado descends on the house. Norrell screams for Childermass, like the giant baby he is, and then flees to the safety of his library.
There’s no safety there: Jonathan’s arrived and is sitting at a desk, reading about people being stolen by fairies. He asks Norrell where Childermass is and Norrell tells him he left. Jonathan compliments the labyrinth and says that he was able to beat it the way he can usually beat Norrell’s magic: by copying Norrell and adding a few refinements. Both men suddenly convulse for a moment, and when they recover, Jonathan says that this is because of the curse, which is weakening him as it gets stronger. Norrell yells at him for dealing in disreputable magic and tries to run, but Jonathan’s better at this than Norrell and stops him. Norrell threatens him with magic and they tries reaaaaaally hard…and conjours up a trickle of rain. Jonathan laughs and Norrell sadly shrinks to the floor and pathetically asks Strange not to laugh at him just because he isn’t as magically clever as Jonathan is. Jonathan stops and apologises for having laughed. Norrell asks if Strange is there to kill him and Jonathan says he isn’t. He doesn’t have time to be angry with Norrell: Belle has been stolen and the darkness is killing him. He needs help to rescue Belle before he dies. Norrell agrees to give it. Finally.
Childermass arrives at Segundus’s and goes to Lady P’s room. He briskly tells Pole that Norrell is with Strange and shows him the finger, saying he thinks Strange wants them to use it to help Lady P. Walter holds up Strange’s letter and asks Stephen, who’s just skulking in the doorway, if what Strange says is true. He accuses Stephen of serving the fairy, betraying Pole, and colluding in the torture of Lady P. Stephen tries to explain himself, but as always, gibberish. He’s locked up in Vinculus’s former cell. Poor Stephen sinks to the floor, weeping.
Jonathan and Norrell get to work and Jonathan says that the death of the enchanter tends to end all contracts. Norrell says that no one has killed a fairy in a very long time, and setting himself against the Gentleman will only bring a worse fate on himself. How much worse can it get? Strange accuses Norrell of unleashing this creature on the world. Norrell tries to play dumb, but Strange is like, ‘seriously? Still, Norrell?’ and Norrell admits he screwed up here, and he tried to keep Jonathan from repeating his mistakes. Jonathan takes up the refrain I’ve been shouting for weeks now, that Norrell could have done that by just coming clean from the start.
They agree that neither of them has the knowledge to defeat a fairy. Strange has a solution, though: bring back the Raven King, who knows something about defeating fairies, and have a word with him.
Childermass warns Pole that, if they break the spell, Lady P might wind up dead, as she was before the spell was performed. Pole recalls that she’s said she’d rather be dead than as she is, so they’re given the go-ahead. Segundus remembers the spell he was working on at the beginning of episode one and rushes to look it up. While he’s gone, Pole mentions that Strange wants Lady P to remain bound. His letter instructs her to stay in Lost Hope, which is why she sleeps. Childermass grabs the letter and reads it. He realizes he’s gotten things wrong and rushes to speak to Stephen, asking him why Strange wants Lady P to remain asleep. Stephen says that the man with the answers is hanged, and that the hanged man was the book of the Raven King. Childermass asks where the man was hanged and Stephen tells him the body’s in a ravine nearby. He urges Childermass to stop the rejoining magic. Childermass races to stop Segundus. But he’s just too late. Lady P’s finger is rejoined to her body and Lady P vanishes from Lost Hope, to the Gentleman’s rage.
She wakes with a start and asks why she’s been brought back. Pole tries to comfort her but she accuses him of selling her in return for a wicked man’s career (she could be talking about both Pole and Norrell there). She whispers that Arabella will be lost.
Norrell and Strange argue about the best way to summon the Raven King and finally agree to adapt some magic they know to channel their message to him. Norrell knows just the book to help them: Jonathan’s own book, which he says is the most beautiful book of magic he’s ever read. Aww.
Jonathan realizes the magic has been done and Lady P has disappeared from Lost Hope. He insists he and Norrell do their spell now.
Childermass leaves to go find Vinculus, and once he’s gone the Gentleman appears outside Stephen’s cell, wondering why this guy doesn’t just give up. He asks what Stephen’s doing in that tiny room.
Norrell prepares to do the summoning and Jon notes that his hands are shaking. Norrell says it’s because he’s afraid. Jon says his hands shook like that, after Waterloo. Sometimes it was fear, and other times it was because he was going to do great magic.
Childermass finds Vinculus’s lifeless body and cuts it down.
Norrell warns Jon that Strange will die before Norrell, because he’s been in the darkness for so long. But he promises to keep trying to get Belle out, for as long as he has.
The Gentleman is in a rage and tells Stephen that they’re going to kill everyone. The door of Stephen’s cell flies open.
The magicians do the summoning, and a moment later hundreds of ravens fill the room, resolving into the form of a man with pale skin and long black hair who gives the men a smirk and disappears.
He reappears in the ravine, where Childermass is just laying down Vinculus’s body. Childermass tries to claim the body, but the Raven King magically freezes him and continues on to the body. He passes his hand over it, and the words vanish and new ones appear. He then puts something in Vinculus’s mouth, passes a hand over Childermass’s face, and leaves. Once he’s gone, Vinculus wakes, and Childermass comes to, astonished to find the former body now living and breathing. Vinculus notes that he’s changed and the book doesn’t say what it said before. Childermass asks what it says now and Vinculus says he has no idea, because books can’t read themselves.
Jonathan, meanwhile, hysterically tries to think of ways to re-summon the man, running through his various titles and finally settling on the Nameless Slave, which Norrell points out is really imprecise. Jonathan needs to offer up a gift in return for the King’s help, and he’s planning to offer all the magic in England.
The Gentleman, followed by Stephen, goes into the main room of the house, where he’s soon joined by Pole and Lady P and Segundus and Honeyfoot. Apparently everyone can see the Gentleman now. Segundus pulls Honeyfoot away as Pole tries to get Lady P to stand behind him, but she’s finished with men ordering her about. She calls the Gentleman a boor, with his tasteless clothes and thistledown hair. Segundus and Honeyfoot reappear with the blunderbuss and Honeyfoot fires. The Gentleman slowly turns and asks why they’re firing walnuts at him. Segundus says that Lady P is under their protection and orders the Gentleman to return to his other lands. The Gentleman has some fun with them, making Segundus’s mouth disappear and Honeyfoot’s ears peel off his head. He then accuses Walter of having sold his wife and blinding himself to the consequence, so now Walter gets to be blind. Lady P orders the Gentleman to release everyone, and she gets to have a rose grow out of her mouth for her trouble. He then makes a sword appear in Stephen’s hand and orders him to kill them all. Stephen refuses, saying that nobody has made him as much of a slave as the Gentleman has.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]‘We channeled all of English magic into a butler, and he shot him!’ [/cryout-pullquote]Norrell reminds Strange that he has to offer up some physical artifact to embody the gift. Jonathan hopes to offer up Norrell’s books, which Norrell, naturally, is not happy about. Strange reminds him that they’ll soon be dead, so the books will be useless. Norrell reluctantly agrees.
The spell is cast, ravens flood into Segundus’s, and Stephen disappears, reappearing in Norrell’s library, which is now empty of books. ‘That is not the Raven King, that is Sir Walter Pole’s butler!’ Norrell shouts. And then Lascelles comes in and shoots Stephen in the chest. Oh, for God’s sake! He then threatens to shoot one of the other men, because sure, why not? Strange notices that the Gentleman has appeared behind Lascelles and he tries to talk Lascelles down, but Lascelles will not be calmed. The Gentleman asks what Lascelles has done, and when Lascelles tries to shoot him, the gun crumbles away like broken pottery, and then Lascelles does too. The Gentleman crumbles what remains of the man’s face as he walks over to Stephen. He roars in a rage and then disappears with the body. ‘We channeled all of English magic into a butler, and he shot him!’ Norrell cries.
They land in Lost Hope and the Gentleman bewails the loss of beautiful, gracious Stephen. He roars that the world shall be punished for this.
Jonathan’s in a bad way, shaking and gasping weakly that they’ve failed. Norrell remains hopeful and says that if they can get to Stephen before he dies, they may be able to instruct him. Jonathan says that they’ll have gone to Lost Hope, and the way there is blocked to him. But it’s not blocked to Norrell! He drags Jonathan to his feet and conjures up some more rain to make a door for himself.
The door works and the two men arrive in Lost Hope. Norrell is kind of childishly excited to be there.
Meanwhile, Stephen realises he’s not dead and pulls himself to his feet and the Gentleman notices that he’s full of magic.
Norrell and Strange reach the ballroom and Jonathan goes to find Belle while Norrell tries to find Stephen. He locates him quickly and yells for him to use his power to destroy the Gentleman. The Gentleman goes to attack Norrell, but Stephen stays his hand and says that it’s been foretold that he shall be king. He now realizes that he will kill the Gentleman and take his place as king of Lost Hope. He begins calling on various elements, finishing with the trees, and the tree at the centre of the room starts grabbing the Gentleman and pulling him down into its roots.
Jonathan finds Belle and brings back her memory of him with a kiss. She says she feels like she’s just woken up. He takes her to a mirror and tells her to touch it and think of home, and he’ll follow her right away. She wants to stay with him but he insists. He promises this is a path made for her alone and she’ll be led to his friends. She asks him to promise to follow, and he kisses her hand without answering and pushes her towards the mirror.
She comes out the other side in the Greysteels’ sitting room in Venice. Flora tells her where she is and Belle desperately asks where Jonathan is.
Stephen shouts for Norrell and Strange to go, as he finishes off the Gentleman and destroys the house, calling it a place of depraved cruelty. It always was a bit of a fixer-upper.
Jonathan and Norrell return to Norrell’s library and Jonathan runs over to the metal bowl and brings up Belle, laughing in relief to find her in Italy. Norrell is amazed that they actually managed to kill a fairy, which no English magician has ever done before. I guess the Raven King doesn’t count. Jonathan goes to leave so he can join Arabella, but before he goes, he tells Norrell that he’s a great magician, and his friend. Norrell says the same. Jonathan heads out the door, but gets sent right back and he realizes they’re both trapped there in the darkness, even though the Gentleman is dead.
Jonathan collapses, gasping that he’s been under this spell for too long. Norrell cradles him, soothing him and urging him not to be afraid, because Norrell won’t leave him. The house begins to collapse around them.
Childermass and Vinculus gallop up to the house just in time to see it disappear. ‘We’re too late,’ says Childermass. ‘Do you not understand yet, Childermass?’ asks Vinculus. ‘They are the spell the Raven King has spun, and that is all they have ever been.’ The tornado disappears, leaving blue sky in its place.
Over breakfast one morning, Pole makes some small talk about Wellington becoming prime minister, and his wife informs him she’s leaving him to go help Belle. She will not be returning.
In Venice, Flora shows Belle the place where Jonathan used to live. It’s abandoned, because people still think it’s cursed. Belle goes into the courtyard and, as she wanders around, she hears Jonathan calling to her. She follows his voice to a water-filled urn in the middle of the courtyard and sees his reflection in the water, looking much better than he did the last time we saw him. He apologetically says he can’t stay long and tells her he’s not sure where he is. He’s happy to see her looking so well. She tells him she’s miserable and he urges her to be happy, because he’s not suffering and he’s happy to see her back to herself again. And living. She promises that they’ll find the right spell to return him to her, one day, and she’ll wait. He urges her not to be a widow, telling her she should be happy, as they were before the magic. She tells him that if he doesn’t return, she’ll track him down and bring him back herself. He kisses her reflection on the cheek and bids her farewell, leaving her weeping.
In York, the magicians are gathering again. Segundus and Honeyfoot are there, of course, and they’re all joined by Childermass, who tells them they’re all free to be magicians again, if they want to be. Unfortunately, there are no books of magic left, except for one: the Book of the Raven King, which has now been rewritten. He’s hoping that they might be able to decipher it together, and therefore help save Norrell and Strange. He calls forth Vinculus, who shows off his skin. Honeyfoot asks Vinculus what he is now. Vinculus jokes that he may be a recipe book or a novel now. ‘I hope you are what you’ve always been, sir,’ says Childermass. ‘The key to their futures. And ours.’ Segundus asks Childermass where Norrell and Strange have gone but Childermass has no idea. He supposes it’s where magicians have always gone: the other side of the rain.
Well done, folks. Let’s give them all a round of applause, because that was really entertaining. I’ll admit there were a few things that I think could have been elaborated on (like Drawlight and Lascelles, who both started just filling roles as needed instead of feeling like organic characters whose actions made sense) but overall this was well worth the seven-hour commitment. Good CGI, good writing, excellent work by the cast. MVP goes to Marc Warren, who managed to bring a perfect mix of humour and menace to the Gentleman, and Clive Mantle, who did a lot with the fairly small role of Dr Greysteel. But great job all around, I couldn’t have asked for better.