Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: Episode Three Recap

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Need a refresher or two? Check out the recaps for Chapter One: Friends of English Magic and Chapter Two: How is Lady Pole?

Now onto Chapter Three: The Education of a Magician.

We open on Lady Pole, who is… well, cue the Pete gif from Mad Men.

(I will never get tired of this gif. Ever. You might. But I guarantee you, I will not. Evil laughter, hehehe…)

She wakes up after another night in Lost Hope and appears determined. She rummages through her wardrobe and rips up, cuts up her dresses. Costume designers and cosplayers everywhere could be heard screeching in pain and sorrow.

On the other side of town, Arabella is taking care of household business, but clearly missing her husband. She writes a letter to Jonathan, and she exits the house. Unbeknownst to her, Childermass waits outside, puffing on his pipe like a Dickensian-looking Gandalf, waiting to intercept the delivery boy and take Arabella’s letter to Mr. Norrell. (That is just not nice, sir.)

Arabella makes her way to Harley Street, where Sir Walter and Lady Pole reside. Yet despite her quick steps, the foppish gossip-monger Drawlight is there to invade Mrs. Strange’s space and asks for information about Lady Pole. Arabella politely tells him that she won’t tell him anything. (Arabella: “Odious, odious little man.”) As she visits her friend, Lady Pole sews “Lost Hope” for Arabella using the remnants of her dresses, telling Arabella to cut the rest of them up including her wedding dress. (Cosplayers/Costumers: [wailing] NOOOOOO, WHYYYYY?) When Arabella is about to leave Harley Street, the Gentleman with Thistle Down Hair approaches Arabella… who does not think it weird that he’s there. While the Gentleman tells her that normal life will be “too boring” for Jonathan after the war, the audience is telling her to run like hell. Which, you know, she walks out of the house without a second glance at him. We’ll take that.

Cut to Lisbon, Portugal!

Jonathan and servant Jeremy have just arrived by ship with Norrell’s forty books. You know who isn’t there? Lord Wellington, the leader of the British Army. (Major Grant: “Lord Wellington does not stay in one place, sir. Lord Wellington goes wherever he is needed. And Lord Wellington is needed everywhere.”) A random man tells him, “Lordship’s in the lines, sir.”

So Strange and Jeremy head to the lines. None of the soldiers respond to Strange. He introduces himself as the “magician.” No one gives a frak, and Jonathan is a bit frustrated. Cue angry faces!


(Not quite morning face, but it’ll do.)

When Lord Wellington finally arrives. Strange introduces himself as the magician. (Wellington: “You’re Norris?” Strange: “Norrell, my lord, but he is in London. I am Strange!” Wellington: “… Indeed.”) However, the magic that Wellington wants is more men and more artillery. Jonathan says he can… make it rain. Wellington makes it very clear that the nobles in London have no idea what’s going on in Portugal and he has “no need of a magician.” (Really, Jonathan? You make horses out of Horse Sand, and you’re telling this dude you can make it rain? Norrell has too much of an influence on you.)

Back in Yorkshire, Segundus and Honeyfoot are prepping their school of magic. However, Gundy sees Childermass on horseback. Not good. Childermass tells them that they are not allowed to do this. Also not good. He tells them that despite the fact that Segundus did not sign the contract, Norrell will make sure that a school of magic will not reach fruition. And so he suggests Gundy and Honeyfoot find another business to pursue. Poor Gundy and Honeyfoot… Should I put up the Mad Men gif again? Nah, it’s fine.


Lady Pole shows Arabella her completed tapestry to try to explain what she has endured yet cannot verbalize. (By the way, the fact that she uses art to communicate is SO AWESOME.) Arabella still doesn’t quite understand and Lady Pole becomes emotional because she needs Arabella to tell Jonathan. Arabella goes to visit Sir Walter, and he repeats what Norrell told him: “magic cannot cure madness.” He tells her that if she wishes to continue her visits with his wife, she must not tell anybody. Including Jonathan. Of course, maybe Sir Walter wouldn’t have such a big stick up his butt if he knew the Gentleman [with an unwilling Stephen] was being stalkery at Arabella’s home and plotting to take her to Lost Hope. Oh, Regency society!

Back in Portugal, Jonathan bonds with the soldiers, mainly because he is literate and reads their letters for them. (Poor sap found out that his lady love cheated on him… “[spoiling the] wedding china by spilling a pan of jam upon it” was the euphemism used. Tee hee.) One man is expecting a parcel of boots because the Portuguese roads tear through them like crazy and huts his feet. Strange has an idea. With Lord Wellington’s approval, Jonathan and book-carrier Jeremy head out into the wilderness and creates a smoother road for the army to tread upon. Lord Wellington is pleased and Jonathan receives a new nickname: “Merlin.” (Jonathan: “Please, sir, don’t call me Merlin…” Lord Wellington: “What should I call you then?” Jonathan: “Strange?” Lord Wellington: “Merlin it is, then!”)

In other news, Norrell has intercepted all of Mr and Mrs Strange’s letters. And rather than be bothered with the lack of guilt over it, he’s more frustrated that he can’t find any information about what Arabella and Lady Pole talk about. Childermass demands to know what is really going on. But instead, Norrell asks him a favor. That favor involves Childermass breaking and entering into the Pole residence, finding the tapestry, and destroying it.

Cut back to Portugal! (Geez, I’m going to get a whiplash from recounting all these cut scenes.) Wellington asks Strange to move an entire forest so that he can attack the French battalion and gain a cannon. Jonathan is doubtful that he can do this–unlike rocks and rivers, trees are living things and will have “humors of their own.” Well, Wellington doesn’t care and tells Grant and his men to follow Merlin there to make sure he doesn’t get shot. Jonathan tells Jeremy he’s going to need books. Jeremy: “Which ones sir?” Strange: “All of them.”

Jonathan tries to find the oldest tree as Jeremy carries way too many books in a trunk. The trees start to groan when Jonathan makes contact with them. (Quote Dr. Horrible: “That’s… not a… good sound.”) This draws the notice of the French, who start firing. Jonathan continues trying to communicate with the trees. But Jeremy sees the cannonball crashing through the trees and heading toward his master. Jeremy pushes Jonathan out of the way of the cannon blast and takes the blow. He apologizes to his master and tells him that only one book survived the destruction of the forty–Arabella’s wedding gift to Jonathan, A Child’s History of the Raven King.

Jeremy dies. (By the way, Jeremy is alive and well in the book. This is one of the major changes from book to screen. I think it actually works quite well.) Desperate to save his own life and the lives of the men around him, Jonathan creates a mist that hides them. He succeeds in this, at least.

Wellington reprimands Strange for not achieving what was asked of him, but he will be remaining with them. Jonathan tells him that he’s at the limit of his magic. Lord Wellington says, “Find other magic!” Simply put, Jonathan is not having a good day. (Again, Mad Men gif: “Not great, Bob!”) Major Grant comforts Strange, telling him that even though he didn’t get the cannon, Strange saved their lives. (“Well, most of us.”)

Lady Pole finds the destruction of her tapestry and is devastated. When Arabella comes to visit, Stephen tries to tell her that she shouldn’t visit Lady Pole anymore. (Because saying, “You should stop seeing Lady Pole” is the closest thing he can get to saying, “There is a fairy man after you and he is making me help him, RUN!”) Both find Lady Pole on the floor, having just attempted to end her life. As Lady Pole is attended to, the Gentleman sits next to a distressed Arabella. He offers to relieve Lady Pole’s condition if she will give him something in return. Arabella calls him out on his bull by saying, “If you can help her, then for the love of God, do it. But do not make a bargain of my friend.” She leaves him behind. However, she also leaves behind a handkerchief that she had used to wipe her tears away. The Gentleman takes it. Creepy much?

Jonathan is still shaken from his experience in the forest. But Wellington is already focused on finding the cannon again as well as other guns, which have been stolen by Neapolitan thieves. Wellington orders Jonathan to find it, but there’s not much he can do since location spells don’t work like that. Jonathan asks Major Grant if there are any Neapolitans among the prisoners. Grant says that there are no living Neapolitans with them… Jonathan gets another idea… a bad idea.

Inside a windmill, Jonathan is delivered three corpses and he instructs the witnesses there not to say a word about this. He then slices his hand and uses black magic to resurrect the corpses. The dead, mutilated Neapolitans awaken speaking in the tongues of hell. Jonathan fixes that by spitting into their mouths (gross) and suddenly they’re native Italian tongues. Major grant speaks to the Neapolitans and Jonathan freaks out. (I would be too if there were zombie Neapolitans who were walking about because of me. It also doesn’t help that they are sentient and know what hell is like!)

talkingsentientdead neapolitandead

In a room on Harley Street, Lady Pole is strapped to a bed to prevent harming herself any further. Norrell visits her and she is NOT happy to see him. He apologizes to her, but tells her that she cannot be freed from this magic and she must not try to communicate with anyone about her predicament. He tells her that she will live another 75 years under these circumstances. She wails and screams. Norrell tells Sir Walter that Lady Pole shouldn’t have anymore visits, especially not from Arabella Strange. (Boooooooo… fearfulness, thy name is Norrell!)

Jonathan is still in the windmill, where the Neapolitans are begging him in Italian not to send them back to hell. Jonathan cannot make them dead again no matter what he does. He even tries shooting them with one of Major Grant’s guns. But the British army are on the brink of victory, and Wellington orders Strange to go prepare a road for them. When Jonathan leaves earshot, Wellington then tells Grant to lock the dead Neapolitans inside the windmill and set it on fire. (Wellington: “They’re distracting my magician.”)

The soldiers take off their hats to Jonathan.



Arabella goes to visit Lady Pole, but Stephen tells her she is not invited in. He tries to tell Arabella the truth… but it appears he is under the same condition that Lady Pole is. So instead he just shuts the door in her face. While apologizing of course. Oh, Regency Britishmen! The Gentleman calls Stephen to Lost Hope wishing to discuss his destiny. He presents an image of Stephen’s past to him, where his mother died upon giving birth to him. On a slave ship that belonged to Sir Walter’s father. Thus Stephen’s title of “the nameless slave.” And the Gentleman promises him to fulfill his destiny and make him king.

Stephen returns to Harley Street, unsettled by what he has seen and heard. He goes to check on his ladyship, but Lady Pole has escaped her bonds. She is gone.

In happier news, Arabella comes home to a surprise. Her husband. Kisses and happy tears are had. (Don’t mind the water running down my face, it’s nothing. It’s nothing!)

Norrell goes to visit Jonathan the following day, interrupting breakfast between Mr. and Mrs. Strange. He is very excited to have someone to talk to of magic again. He is just as excited about the return of his forty books. (Mmm-watcha say-ay-ay…)

Back at Norrell’s home, Childermass suspects magic is being done near the residence and uses a spell involving a glass of water to look for the source. He goes to the square with his glass of water which identifies magic. It focuses upon Lady Pole. And she’s got a gun. Just as Norrell arrives back from his visit with Jonathan, he has barely stepped outside of his carriage when Lady Pole calls his name and prepares to fire.

Childermass blocks her and takes the shot. (This is really inappropriate, but… Mmm-watcha say-ay-ay…)

Is Childermass going to live? How is Norrell going to react to Lady Pole’s assassination attempt? Will Arabella keep her word to Sir Walter, or will she talk to Jonathan about what has been happening? I’ve read the book, so I already know.

Check in next Monday for my recap of Chapter Four: All the Mirrors of the World.

Discuss this episode and previous ones in the comments below. Or compliments… I like compliments. Who doesn’t like compliments?

KC’s Favorite Moment:

Also, can we talk about Jonathan’s loving stare at Arabella after returning home? I mean… c’mon. Like I wasn’t in love with you after reading the book? You have to add this on?



P.S. My many thanks to the citizens of Tumblr for their creative and gif-making skills. I have lost so much time to you and I am grateful.

About the Author

KCCo-Host/ Anomaly Supplemental
After misspellings of her first name and confusion with her middle name sounding like “Klingon,” she now uses her initials as her nom de plume.
By |2016-12-22T14:24:43+00:00June 29th, 2015|Anomalous Musings, Fantasy, TV episode review|0 Comments

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