Previously on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: Jonathan employed some old magic while on the Continent while back at home the Gentleman took a liking to Arabella. Norrell got a bit paranoid about the possibility of Jonathan finding out the reason for Lady Pole’s madness, and Lady P got so desperate she tried to shoot Norrell, accidentally catching Childermass instead.
All magicians lie. That one more than most.
‘You have no idea where these paths lead.’
‘No, and that’s the glorious, wondrous thing of it!’
Childermass and Lady Pole are both brought into Norrell’s house. He is laid out on a kitchen table to be attended by a surgeon while she’s strapped down to a bed upstairs. Pole is summoned and comes running as his wife is given something to knock her out. Pity they can’t spare some of that for the guy who’s having kitchen table surgery downstairs. Norrell, meanwhile, whines about how this will damage the cause of English magic. Shut up, Norrell, you selfish bastard. Lascelles suggests they hush this up and claim Norrell was shot at by a French spy, and Lady Pole’s name will be kept out of this entirely.
Meanwhile, Childermass either dies or has some kind of out-of-body experience, finding himself in a rather desolate place surrounded by cliffs. A raven flies around him as, in real life, the bullet is extracted and he comes to, gasping, then passes out.
He comes to again in bed, with Norrell sitting beside him. The man hasn’t even gotten his eyes open before Norrell’s asking him how he performed the spell with the water glass, which is magic he didn’t even know Childermass could do. ‘How am I to perform magic when I’m betrayed in this manner?’ he pouts. It’s all about you, Norrell. Childermass says there was magic everywhere in the square and asks who Lady Pole was and why she was surrounded by magic. Norrell explains that it was the magic that was used to bring her back to life and, unfortunately, has caused ‘some oddities.’ Norrell tells him not to bring it up again and mentions that Lady P might go to Bedlam, though he worries that the place is a little too public. He then snaps at Childermass for having been asleep for days when Norrell really needed him, and Childermass gives him a hard look, like ‘I was shot, you asshole!’ and Norrell briefly remembers to be a human and apologises. Childermass asks to be allowed to take care of Lady P himself.
Arabella helps Jonathan get ready for an important appointment, pinning on his medals and fretting a bit that he must be bored at home, after all the excitement of battle.
Jonathan: Bored?! With regular baths and actual meals and sex? Hardly!
She wonders if he really needs to keep studying with Norrell and he says he does, since he’s still an apprentice, technically, despite the advances he made while he was with the army. They flirt and make out a little.
Strange and Norrell have been summoned to try and cure George III of his madness, though Norrell knows they can do nothing. Jonathan is more hopeful. Before they go in to see the king, Norrell has this great subtle moment where he notes the three medals Jonathan now has, and glances glumly down at his one. Heh. They go into the room where the king’s hanging out, playing the harpsichord, and introduce themselves.
Arabella returns from some errands and asks the maid, Mary, if Strange has ever mentioned a Miss Grey. He has not. She then asks if there’s any gossip from Norrell’s about the shooting. Mary tells her that, via Drawlight, everyone there knows it was Lady Pole, and that Lady P is to be put away somewhere.
Norrell and Strange can do nothing for the king. On their way out, Norrell says he heard that Jonathan had done some naughty magic on the Continent, but of course he wouldn’t credit such a ridiculous rumour. Jonathan’s distracted by a painting of the Raven King. He notes the inclusion of the Gentleman, off to the side. Norrell pours scorn on the picture, saying this is an image of everything that has disgraced magic for the last 300 years. Strange studies the picture. The Raven King kind of looks like Severus Snape.
That evening, Arabella asks about the magic that was attempted on the king. Jonathan says he doesn’t think Norrell wanted any of it to work. Arabella says she was visiting a friend and there was a young lady there who seemed to be under the impression that Jonathan was teaching her. This is the Miss Grey she was asking Mary about. Jonathan scoffs at the idea, because he doesn’t take students, and he certainly didn’t receive the 400 guineas she claims to have paid him. He comes and sits beside her and she asks if he knows who shot Norrell. He does but urges her not to keep stressing herself out about Lady P. She asks if he’ll go back to the king and he says he might. Norrell won’t, but Jonathan has other magic he might try.
Arabella watches from the square as Lady Pole is helped out of her house by Stephen and put into a carriage. Childermass follows her down the steps, shaking hands with Pole before walking away.
Lascelles is writing a book about how awesome Norrell is. It doesn’t sound like this book mentions Jonathan at all. Lascelles plans to devote a whole chapter to the plight of the king, which gives Strange an opening to suggest they try other forms of magic, maybe some older spells. Norrell shuts that down.
Jonathan goes back to the king, who’s still playing his harpsichord. He attempts to summon the Gentleman, but he can’t see him, so he thinks he failed. But the king can see him, and says so. The Gentleman apparently tells George that he’s a king, but George says he has never heard of Lost Hope, that he is king of Great Britain, a place everyone has heard of. While he chats with the Gentleman, he walks towards a large mirror and vanishes through it, leaving only a slipper behind for an alarmed Jonathan to find.
George appears on the road just in front of Lady Pole’s carriage. They pull up and Stephen hops down, asking if the man needs help. George is reasonably confused. Stephen steps towards him and finds a large sword suddenly in his hand. The sword begins dragging him towards George, as Stephen yells in alarm. Back at Windsor, Jonathan does some quick magic with that slipper and somehow manages to get George back, to everyone’s relief. Maybe no more experiments, eh, Jon? ‘This act will have consequences, magician,’ George suddenly tells him, before returning to his music.
Gentleman appears on the road with Stephen, complaining that Jonathan has once again thwarted their plans. He brought George there so Stephen could cut off his head and become a king, fulfilling his destiny. Stephen points out that George has enough kids to field an entire football team, so it’s unlikely the throne would ever be handed to him. Gentleman wonders what they should do about Strange, who needs to be destroyed so Gentleman can help himself to Arabella. He gets an idea and tells Stephen they’ll need to find a moss-oak, which will enable them to convince Jonathan to bargain his wife’s life away, without even realizing it.
Jonathan whirls into Norrell’s study, babbling about fairies and mirrors and Windsor. He calms down enough to tell Norrell that something strange happened at Windsor and Norrell tells him that he mustn’t do magic without Norrell around. Jonathan’s a little fed up with this and tells Norrell about the corpse reanimation he managed in Portugal. He’s really excited by this type of magic but Norrell tells him he mustn’t become too attached to that, because while we do things in wartime that perhaps we shouldn’t, we mustn’t do them back at home. Jonathan reminds him that Norrell claimed this old magic couldn’t be done anymore and Norrell still insists it can’t be, there are just little remnants left here and there. I don’t really know why he’s staying that course when he knows it’s untrue and knows that Strange knows it’s untrue. Isn’t it better to come clean and just say that this type of magic has terrible unforeseen consequences and really shouldn’t be meddled with? He wants to stay the course of respectable, modern magic. He then draws Jonathan’s attention to the proof for Lascelles’s book, which he hopes will firmly establish Norrellite magic as the only magic in the land.
Lady P arrives at her new home: Staircross, that house where Segundus hoped to open a school. Segundus and Honeyfoot are now her caretakers. She is taken inside and taken to her room as Stephen asks the guys who they are. Segundus dances around the answer. Lady P identifies them both as magicians and accuses them of being Norrell’s men. They insist they’re no friends of Norrell’s and only want to help her. She screams for Stephen to take her back but everyone bundles out of the room and the door is closed. She continues to scream for Stephen.
Jonathan puts a hand to a mirror at home and it looks like it ices over briefly, before Arabella comes in with the proof of the book and announces that Lascelles hasn’t done Jon justice. He’s not surprised. There’s no mention of Jonathan’s magic in the war and everything Norrell has done has been massively exaggerated. She advises Jonathan to steer clear of this and refuse to attach his name to it. He doesn’t care about the book. She reminds him of the first spell he did, to see what his enemy was doing. He snaps that he does, but what does she expect him to do here? She gently says that they seem to have lost sight of why they started on this path in the first place.
Strange joins Grant and another officer at a billiard club for a game and some gossip about how bored Napoleon is in exile. Two men come in to try and claim the table. They’re rather rudely rebuffed, and as things escalate to mockery, one of them claims to be a student of Jonathan Strange himself. Jonathan’s like, ‘the what now?’ Apparently Mr Strange sends this man letters and is paid handsomely for them. Jonathan informs them that he is Jonathan Strange and they’ve been the victim of a hoax. They don’t believe him, so Grant urges him to do a bit of magic. He goes over to a mirror, puts his fingers on it, and disappears.
He reappears in fairy-land and looks about in wonder at the Escher-like landscape of endless stairs and crumbling towers and deep chasms. Where others would probably be alarmed, he seems pleased.
Drawlight is meeting with some lady who’s also paid Strange for some favour. Drawlight reassures her that Strange will come through. The walls begin creaking, and then Strange comes striding right out of the mirror, advancing on Drawlight and apologizing to the lady for dropping in like this. He introduces himself and Drawlight introduces Mrs Bullworth.
Mrs B: Oh, at last. Here’s a list of people I want you to kill. Kill my mother-in-law three times in three different ways, will you?
Jonathan: WTF? I don’t do this. Sorry to tell you, you’ve been scammed, lady.
Drawlight grabs his things and runs. Jonathan leaves a bit more gracefully.
He returns home, where Grant and the other officer are telling a very anxious Arabella that they waited for hours for Jonathan to come out of the mirror, to no avail. Jonathan comes in, helps himself to a drink, and excitedly tells the others that everything he and Norrell have done is nothing compared to the awesomeness he witnessed tonight. He says he’s found the ancient paths between their world and the fairy one, which have been closed for centuries. Belle is not happy with the idea of him traipsing off to some mysterious other world that doesn’t sound particularly safe. Jonathan says this is important, and it’s a little late for her to be complaining about his profession, when she was the one who insisted he get one in the first place. He insists this is a momentous discovery, but she points out that he has no idea where these paths lead. That’s exactly what excites him, because he’s a bit of a child, our Jonathan. Also, he has no idea why he should be afraid. She asks him to promise not to go back but he won’t, and then she tells him she’d rather he didn’t have an occupation after all, because it’s ruining them. She rushes out, and Grant and the other guy, who’ve been awkwardly standing there this whole time, take the opportunity to excuse themselves.
Lascelles meets up with Drawlight in some unsavoury part of town and tells him that Norrell’s heard all about his little scam and is absolutely livid. He won’t see Drawlight, not right now. Lascelles screams at him for being so stupid and Drawlight turns into a puddle, showing Lascelles all his debts and saying he had to do something to raise money. Lascelles asks where he’s staying and tells him to go back there and wait for further word. Once Drawlight is gone, Lascelles hands the debts to the footman and tells him to take them to the bailiff’s and tell them where Drawlight can be found. Cold, Lascelles.
Norrell is insisting to Pole that a medieval magical court be resurrected to deal with Drawlight. Pole points out that Drawlight isn’t a magician, so it makes no sense for a magical court to sit in judgment on him. Why is Pole even part of this discussion? He’s secretary of state for war, not solicitor general. He has nothing to do with courts and justice. Norrell creepily says that he needs to have a court ‘of his own’ to protect himself from other magicians—evil magicians. Pole says that it’s not the job of any court to exalt one person’s opinions over another’s and if someone disagrees with Norrell, he just has to deal with that on his own. Norrell pouts that this court is the best chance they have of having Drawlight hanged. Woah, Norrell!
Jonathan: Let’s return to sanity, shall we? I’m the one who was actually wronged here, and even I don’t want to see that asshole hanged.
Norrell then turns his ire on Jonathan, scolding him for going out on the King’s roads and saying that people might think he approved of that. Jonathan doesn’t see the issue, since this is a momentous discovery, but we already know how Norrell feels about this stuff. Jonathan asks why Norrell bothered to undertake the restoration of English magic if he’s not actually going to do it, and Norrell firmly says that he wanted to make it respectable. Jonathan gives up and excuses himself, finding a copy of Lascelles’s new book on the way out. Lascelles invites him to have it.
Arabella comes into the drawing room, finding Jonathan hard at work, and Jonathan apologises for having upset her. She accepts it and admits she’s partly to blame, because she did insist he get a job, though she had something like landscape architect in mind. He shows her the book and says he’s writing a scathing review of it. She wonders what Norrell will have to say about that but I don’t think Jonathan cares anymore. Once it’s published, he wants the two of them to go home to the country.
Segundus is trying to feed Lady P, but she refuses food and only asks that she be untied from her wheelchair. Segundus gently says that they were told she might hurt herself and she says she’s tired of men deciding what’s best for her. Yeah, she may hurt herself, but she belongs to no one but herself and deserves to do with her body what she will. She glances out the window and sees Childermass riding up to the house. She screams for Stephen to shoot him.
Segundus hurries outside and asks Childermass what he’s doing there. Childermass wants to see Lady P but Segundus stands his ground and refuses to let him in. Honeyfoot comes out with a blunderbuss and threatens to give Childermass another couple of holes. Childermass promises to return, and leaves. Before he goes, he tells Segundus that there’s less to Lady O than meets the eye.
Lady P has been watching this through the window and looks thoughtful.
Jonathan’s review has been published in the Edinburgh Review, and Lascelles is throwing a serious tantrum about it, whining like a child as he shows it to Norrell, who seems a bit stunned by this betrayal. He really is quite clueless, isn’t he?
Shortly after, Jonathan goes to see Norrell, who’s surprisingly calm, all things considered. Jonathan tells him that the magic of the Raven King is coming back and Norrell says that’s old, cruel medieval magic (which should go nicely with your old, cruel medieval magical courts, Norrell) and they can’t have fairy princes ruling alongside actual princes and generals. That magic can’t be controlled. Jonathan suggests they learn how to control it, which is better than ignoring it. He backs up a bit and says he’s grateful for everything Norrell’s taught him, but it’s time for them to part. Norrell tells him that, if Jonathan leaves the house that day, he’s cut off completely. Jonathan remains firm and says that, ever since he came back from war, it hasn’t felt right to still call himself a pupil. Norrell offers to make him a full partner, then, and even give him the keys to the library. Jonathan thanks him for that, but insists that he must follow his own course. Norrell looks sad.
Segundus unstraps Lady P from her chair as Stephen bids her farewell. She tells him not to worry about her, because she’s sure she’ll be more comfortable there. She’s given a cup of tea and seems happier and more at ease than we’ve ever seen her.
Segundus follows Stephen out and asks what magic surrounds him and Lady P. he says there’s a rose at both of their mouths; he can see it plain as day and wonders what it means. I wonder what Segundus’s deal is. He can’t do magic but he can see fairy roses and sense when other people are doing magic? Interesting. Stephen insists he has no idea what the man is talking about. He opens the door and the Gentleman is waiting on the other side. It doesn’t seem that Segundus can see him.
Jonathan promises Belle he won’t go on the King’s Roads again. They’ll go back to Shropshire and he’s going to stop being a practical magician, because it’s getting to be a bit much and it’s interfering with their relationship. She’s happy to hear this. And right on cue, Grant comes in and tells Jonathan that Napoleon’s escaped from Elba and he and Jonathan have been recalled to the Continent. They sail in just a few hours. Jonathan tries to refuse to go but he has no choice. He takes a moment to take all that in and then tells Belle that she should go back to Ashfair, as they planned. She goes back to packing. He firmly tells her that she’s his whole life. ‘And you’re mine, Jonathan,’s he replies. He kisses her hands.
The Gentleman takes Stephen to a bog or something where the moss-oak is and has Stephen retrieve it. He does, with difficulty, and the Gentleman says it’s been waiting for a thousand years to learn what form it will take. He takes out Belle’s handkerchief. ‘Tears of the lady, shed in pain,’ he intones, then peels back part of the oak’s bark, revealing a pale, creepy version of Belle’s face. ‘Beautiful,’ says the Gentleman. Yeek!
Lascelles asks Norrell if Jonathan accepted their conditions: a full retraction and banishment, or they would reveal what they know of the black magic done on the peninsula. Norrell says he said none of those things. Lascelles insists that there can only be one magician in England and they must now consider Strange their enemy. Norrell agrees that they must work to destroy him, before Jonathan destroys them.