Chapter 1: The Friends of English Magic
Chapter 2: How is Lady Pole?
Chapter 3: The Education of a Magician
Chapter 4: All the Mirrors in the World
Chapter 5: Arabella
Chapter 6: The Black Tower
Two weeks ago, I promised you one final recap of “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.”
Of course, the way life happens, I ended up in a Black Tower of my own. Let’s find a nice representation of that.
Yeah, sure, that’s about right…
However, one nice thing about being stuck in that Black Tower, I was able to catch up on the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell love here in the states. Which also includes a feature in the “Trio Mio” section of Felicia Day’s “The Flog!” Yeah! You’re my girl, Day! I’m linking to that episode here, which also involves fencing, but really I just watched it for the Strange and Norrell reference and that’s why the video starts at the “Trio Mio” section. (You will watch it and you will like it!)
And now for the final installment of this marvelous mini-series, “Chapter Seven: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” Let’s get some exposition out of the way, shall we?
Magic has returned to England because of Jonathan. All the mirrors in England have been smashed open and ravens are hopping and flying about everywhere. Whereas we find that what Strange had sent to Flora was an unbroken mirror. And Jonathan himself is vacating Venice and making his way back to England, going to search for Norrell. Lady Pole is sleeping the day away, meaning that she is in Lost Hope dancing in her other life. Mr. Norrell and Childermass are returning to Yorkshire. Sir Walter, meanwhile, resigns his commission as a politician and decides to seek out his wife at Starecross.
In the woods, Lascelles goes to meet Drawlight. The latter explains to him that Strange is trapped in the Black Tower and that he has sent Drawlight out to send messages. He’s already sent one to Lady Pole, but he still needs to give Childermass a set of instructions and the box that contains Lady Pole’s finger. Lascelles demands that he give him the box and the instructions, after which he tells Drawlight that the only message that will be delivered will be to Norrell about Strange’s return. Drawlight, the little ball of fear that he is, snags the box away and races away. You know what he can’t run from, though? A bullet in the leg, placed there by Mr. Lascelles himself. You know what he else he can’t run from? A bullet through the eye, also courtesy of Lascelles. The murderous fop then snatches the box out of his lifeless frenemy’s hand and marches back to his horse. Thus endeth the life of Drawlight.
(Cue Sarah McLachlan! I will remember you… will you remember meeee?… In the aaaarms ooooof the angel… May you fiiiind some comfort here– Her songs are all sad and sound the same, okay?)
At Starecross, Segundus tells Sir Walter that Lady Pole has been sleeping for several days, and she is not easily woken. Sir Walter finds a letter from Jonathan Strange next to her pillow. Cut to Lost Hope, and Emma tells the enchanted Arabella that Jonathan plans to help them, and that she is to take them both to freedom upon their disenchantment. When the Gentleman interrupts the conversation to dance with Arabella, Lady Pole jumps right in with an, “Allow me!”
Back at Hurtfew Abbey, Lascelles has beaten Norrell to his own home–jerkface–and tells him that Strange is coming. Norrell immediately goes into a panic. Childermass notices that Drawlight isn’t with him and asks where he is. Lascelles lies, because “I killed him because he was a scaredy cat and he annoyed me” probably isn’t a very good excuse. Childermass calls him “bloody useless.” Mr. Norrell decides to prepare a labyrinth that should protect him. But Childermass is a little distracted. He pulls out his deck of cards and begins to set them down one by one. On reading the final card, he stares at Lascelles, knowing that he’s keeping something from him.
Childermass calls him a thief. Lascelles responds by giving Childermass a nice cut on the cheek with his knife. However, don’t mess with someone who was a pickpocket before he was a servant. Childermass holds the box in his hand and tells Norrell of Lascelles treachery and the death of Drawlight. Norrell tells him to give forth the box. “Goodbye Mr. Norrell,” Childermass says. “You’ve made the wrong choice. As usual.”
Childermass leaves, and Lascelles tries to go after him. Norrell chases him as well, trying to tell Lascelles that they’re only safe if they stay in the library. However, Childermass has already galloped away on his horse, and the Black Tower has dropped down. And the labyrinth? Well, turns out that worked because now both Lascelles and Norrell are lost within it.
Norrell is super freaked out and the labyrinth somehow rearranges itself, leading him back to the library. Strange is waiting for him. After a bit of idle chit chat, a force suddenly strikes both of the magicians, causing them both to scream out in pain. It’s the Gentleman’s curse which is growing stronger and killing Strange. Norrell freaks out some more, and comes up with the only defense that he has: making it rain.
Strange just starts laughing. Because that is hi-larious. But Norrell’s vulnerability comes out, as he asks him to stop laughing. Strange apologizes, and Norrell is shocked. If he’s not there to kill him or seek revenge what is he there for? Strange tells him that his wife was stolen away and the Black Tower is killing him. He needs Norrell’s help.
Cut to Starecross and Childermass enters Lady Pole’s quarters, where Gundy and company are there. Childermass presents the box with Lady Pole’s finger. Sir Walter, having read Strange’s letter to Lady Pole, realizes that everything in it is true–including Stephen’s servitude to the Gentleman. Sir Walter is betrayed, and though Stephen tries to explain himself, all that comes out is nonsense. Stephen is locked away in the cell that once housed Vinculus. Cue sympathy tears for Stephen.
Back to Hurtview Abbey (wow, lots of bouncing back and forth this recap has), Strange tells Norrell the only sure way of freeing Arabella would be to kill the enchanter who created the contract. Norrell tells him he shouldn’t do it, that doing so would bring about the worst. Strange assures him that nothing would be worse than any that the fairy has already done… especially since Norrell gave him such power. Norrell goes into liar mode, as he has done for years, but Strange sees through it. So he confesses and apologizes, but he still believes it impossible to kill a fairy. Strange then brings up the other part of his plan: they’re both going to summon the Raven King. The problem here is that the Raven King doesn’t have a name–he may have used John Uskglass as a name because that was supposedly his father, but he was the nameless slave. (Hmmm… Stephen is the nameless slave too. Coincidence?) However, they figure out that Hurtfew Abbey was built by the Raven King himself and they can use the elements to conjure him. (Yeah, teamwork!) When Strange asks Norrell which summoning spell they should employ, Norrell goes to a box on his desk, saying, “This is the best I know.” It’s Strange’s History of Magic. (Yeah, respect!)
At Starecross, Gundy, Childermass and company decide to break the spell over Lady Pole, even though the risk is it might return her to the state she was previously in… meaning she’d be dead. Callback! Remember the spell Gundy said he had received from Vinculus in Chapter One? Well, it’s time to “join together two articles that have parted.” The articles being Lady Pole and her pinky finger… in case you haven’t caught on to that. Yeah. Oh, but there’s a problem–remember those instruction that Lascelles crumpled up? Yeah, turns out that Sir Walter Pole has been reading over Strange’s letter again and he gets to the part we already know, which is that Lady Pole is supposed to be in Lost Hope. Childermass runs to Stephen’s cell to figure out why Lady Pole is supposed to stay in Lost Hope. Stephen brings up “the book of the Raven King” and how he helped hang the man who knew the fortunes of everyone. Childermass figures out it’s Vinculus and Stephen tells him Vinculus’s body is in a ravine.
Then Gundy runs to Lady Pole’s room with his spell in hand. (Damn it, Childermass, you couldn’t have told Gundy to hold on a second first? You just had to talk to Stephen right then! C’mon, dude!) Childermass tries to stop the spell, but it’s too late. Lady Emma Pole disappears from Lost Hope and returns to consciousness at Starecross. Sir Walter is ecstatic, but Lady Pole does not want any of his love and affection. Her worry is toward her friend.
And because Gundy was too quick with his spell and Childermass too slow to stop him, Strange and Norrell find out that they have to speed along their process. Norrell is fearful, but he promises if they should fail, he will continue trying to save Jonathan’s wife.
Childermass heads out to find Vinculus, leaving a desperate Stephen begging to be freed before the Gentleman finds–oh! Too late, he’s at Starecross, wondering why “[Stephen’s] in that tiny room.” Oh, and he wants to kill everyone who stands in his way. You know, the usual.
Together, Strange and Norrell speak the summoning spell and blow out the candle’s flame. Silence. Then a frak-ton of raven’s crash through the windows of the library. They swarm in a tornado of feathers and wings, and beyond them we see… the Raven King! (Or a death metal band member who happens to know magic! Same thing!) And then he disappears. Strange doesn’t understand what just happened–where did he go!
Well, I’ll tell you. In the ravine where Vinculus was hanged, Childermass has found him and cut down his body. And who should appear but our favorite long-haired Fred Armisen look-alike, the Raven King! He freezes Childermass in place when the man is being a bit too possessive of a dead body. He sweeps his hand over Vinculus’s body and the words that were once there change. Then he walks away, unfreezing Childermass and bringing Vinculus back to life. Childermass, though a bit freaked out, tells him that they both need to get to Hurtfew Abbey.
Strange decides to summon the Raven King again, this time offering all of English magic to him. Norrell points out that the Raven King would need a physical token. Strange gets a look in his eye, and Norrell immediately knows what’s what. His books are going to have to be sacrificed. And book nerds everywhere cried.
Then Jonathan performs the spell, calling upon English magic to be given to the “nameless slave.” All of Norrell’s books then turn into ravens and fly out of the Black Tower…
So to save on the amount of scene jumping there is in this single hour, this whole paragraph will be dedicated to everything has that has happened at Starecross while the above was happening concurrently. The Gentleman blasts down the door to Stephen’s cell, which alerts everyone else to his presence. I guess he wants to be seen because everyone can see him. Sir Walter is trying to play the noble gentleman, but Lady Pole is having none of it. Now that she has her voice back, she’s going to use it. So she calls the Gentleman “an uncivilized boor” (or bore) with “hair like thistledown.”
Then out of nowhere, Gundy and Honeyfoot bring out the shotgun and fire. But if you keep track with your continuity, you’ll remember that their ammo was basically nuts. The Gentleman literally asks, “Why… are you shooting walnuts at me?”
Oh, the Gentleman is not having this human bullshit anymore. He silences Gundy by taking away his mouth, Honeyfoot’s ears detach and start flitting away like butterfly wings, Sir Walter is blinded, and he makes a rose grow from Lady Pole’s mouth. And then he turns to Stephen and says, “Now you can kill them!” And now Stephen has a sword in hand and is fighting against the Gentleman’s willing him to slice them through. But then Stephen is saved!… by the books-turned-ravens from the Black Tower? They swarm around him and he disappears…
…reappearing at the Black Tower to a very confused Strange and Norrell. (Mr. Norrell: “That’s not the Raven King! That’s Mr. Pole’s butler!”) They aren’t allowed to figure out what happened because then Stephen is shot. By Lascelles. Because he likes shooting people for no reason. However, you know who else has wandered into the Black Tower? The Gentleman. And he is not happy. Lascelles’s gun begins to crumble into porcelain… as does his hand… and the rest of Lascelles body. Then the Gentleman walks on top of the cracked pieces, breaking them further into tiny pieces. (Quick interruption and sort of spoiler: This is a MAJOR difference from Lascelles’s fate in the book. And I’m going to be honest, book fate is my preferred fate. Yes, I know, they probably needed something more condensed for the one hour finale. However, if you have a copy of Jonathan Strange with you, flip to Chapter 64 titled “Two Versions of Lady Pole” and go to the sentence starting with “Lascelles walked on. The path entered a wood.” It can be found on the last few pages of said chapter. Back to the action!)
The Gentleman is devastated by Stephen’s death, which he takes out on Strange and Norrell, the invisible force sucking the life out of them while he returns to Lost Hope with Stephen’s body. When the force releases them, Mr. Norrell has the wits to exclaim, “We just channeled all of English magic into a butler! And he SHOT him!” Jonathan has collapsed to the ground, looking incredibly weak and realizing that they failed just like the prophecy said they would.
Norrell hasn’t given up yet though. There’s still a chance that they could reach Stephen before he takes his last breath. More importantly, mirrors aren’t the only way to travel. It appears that Norrell himself has a realization about Vinculus’s prophecy as he reaches out his hand and the rain begins to pour again. “The rain shall make a door for me…and I shall go through it.”
And then they pass through the rain and they’re both in Faerie! And guess what? The Black Tower has no effect on them here, meaning Jonathan is no longer as weak as he was just a moment ago. Also, Norrell is on the opposite spectrum of where he was before. Who would have that that a man so somber in the first episode could become an excited puppy at the fact that he is in Faerie.
Inside Lost Hope, Stephen is alive somehow, and the Gentleman sees that he is full of magic. Meanwhile, off in the corner, Norrell tells Strange to go find Arabella while he focuses on Stephen. He tries to blend in as he looks for him. (Dancing Norrell is probably one of my favorite things, you guys. Can I get a music video of the dancing to Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance with Me?” Please? Any of you?) Upon seeing Stephen with the Gentleman, Norrell shouts that the man has the power of English magic inside of him which he must use to destroy the Gentleman. Well, the Gentleman’s about to open a can of whoop-ass on Norrell when Stephen grabs his arm and mentions that the prophecy said that “[Stephen] would become a king.” And that king isn’t the King of England… it’s the King of Lost Hope.
So Stephen starts calling upon the elements to take down the Gentleman.
Jonathan runs through the ballroom and finds his wife. She is utterly confused by who he is. But just like you see in the fairy tales, he kisses Arabella and when he pulls back, she’s no longer enchanted.
And I was filled with joy and love and everything that was good… for two seconds. Because the following happened.
Jonathan takes Arabella to the mirror and tells her to go through and that the road is only meant for her. She says she doesn’t want to leave him behind and asks him if he will follow her. Jonathan says nothing, just kisses Arabella’s hand and then ushers her through the mirror. And in no time at all, Arabella flies through the mirror in the Venice house of Flora Greysteel and her father.
Meanwhile, in Lost Hope, everything is falling down as Stephen has a tree slowly devour the Gentleman. Stephen tell Norrell and Strange to GTFO, which they do. The Gentleman makes one last attempt at appealing to Stephen, offering to tell him his real name. “I am the nameless slave,” Stephen says. “And I answer to no master now.” And then the Gentleman is no more. Lost Hope collapses as Strange and Norrell race back through the portal… rain-door? That sounds weird, we’ll go with portal.
(Real quick, Stephen’s fate is left ambiguous, but in the book he’s alive and well and cleaning his kingdom up. So yeah, he should be fine.)
Back at Hurfew Abbey, Jonathan bids Norrell farewell, thanking him for his help in saving his wife. He calls him a great magician and a friend. Jonathan exits… and then reappears again! But how, the Gentleman is dead? Well, no time to ponder that question as the invisible force returns to take more of their lives away. Jonathan is on the verge of death. Norrell tries to comfort him, saying that he won’t leave him.
Norrell summons the rain again. And from outside, just as Childermass and Vinculus ride up, we see that the Black Tower is dispersing.
“They were the spell,” says Vinculus. “They were the Raven King’s spell all along.”
(Quick commentary. One, I always loved that part of the book. It’s really clever. Two, I’ve always hated the Raven King for it. So many lives were destroyed, including theirs, so that you could return magic to England? You’re a human, dude! Or you were, you Metalocalypse look-alike. Way to go, using human beings as spells to get your way! #OccupyTheKingsRoads2015.)
We learn through Sir Walter’s exposition that the Duke of Wellington is going to be the prime minister. He is sitting with Lady Pole at the breakfast table and asks her if she still enjoys dancing. Lady Pole doesn’t stick with the small talk–she tells him she’s going to the continent to help her friend and she’s not coming back to him. Their marriage is over in her eyes.
Flora and Arabella are walking through Venice, and Flora points out where Jonathan resided when the Black Tower took him. Arabella enters and it is covered in shattered mirrors and the glow of sunlight. “Bell…” a voice calls. (Oh no, I’m gonna cry. This is going to happen differently than it did in the book, so I’m not going to cry as hard as I did in the book. Will not cry, will not cry…) Arabella wanders in the direction that she hears the voice calling to her. There in the fountain is Jonathan’s reflection, as if he is there with her, standing behind her. He looks just as he did when he first asked for her hand. (NO, I’M GONNA CRY!) They have a heart-wrenching conversation for a bit and she says that she will wait for him until he finds the spell that will free himself and Norrell.
Jonathan tells her, “Arabella do not be a widow. Be happy.” (The tears buuuuuurn!)
Before Jonathan leaves, Arabella calls to him and tells him that if he does not find a way back to her, she is going to bring him back herself.
And then he smiles at her and disappears.
Me: (endless sobbing.)
Back in Yorkshire, the Society of Magicians have taken up cause again, but this time the group is much more diverse. Men and women of all sorts discuss Strangite and Norrelite magic. Then enters Childermass, who introduces Vinculus as the Raven King’s book. The hope is to discover the meaning of the new text and bring Strange and Norrell back to England. “Where are they, Childermass,” asks Gundy.
“On the other side of the rain,” Childermass replies.
Cut to black. Roll credits.
Yes, for people used to closure, that’s a weird way for a mini-series to end with a couple of loose threads still loose, but it is the way of the book as well. There has been talk that author Susanna Clarke has been working on a novel that will focus more on Childermass and Vinculus, looking at the “lower class” magicians. However, it appears that Jonathan and Norrell’s tales are over for now. And until that day that The Ladies of Grace Adieu gets an anthology series like I pitched in the last recap, this is the last I will get to relay the tales of this world to you.
What did you think? Did you enjoy the series as a whole? Was the finale a satisfying ending for you? Are you going to miss anything or anyone from this serial? Leave a comment below, or contact Anomaly Podcast on Twitter (@AnomalyPodcast) or join our Facebook group.
Magic has returned to England… (and America screwed it up with the Revolutionary War. Thanks a lot, forefathers!)