‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ review ‘The Education of a Magician’


“A magician is not an easy thing to kill.”

Being a magician is hard work, especially if you don’t quite know what you’re doing. This week Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell became even more aware of their limitations as they both realized that sometimes a spell is easier done than it is undone. And in cases of the dead, sometimes is best to let them be or you’ll just end up with pesky zombies.

Yes, this week’s episode was the series’ “zombie episode.” Jonathan Strange has joined the war effort and is finding that he is not getting as much respect as he had hoped. The gentleman in charge, Lord Wellington (Ronan Vibert), is demanding and unreasonable. After Jonathan Strange proves his usefulness by creating a road for the soldiers march upon, Lord Wellington tells him to move a forest. Jonahtan Strange is quite aware that sort of task would be difficult and quite possibly impossible, but his protests are ignored.

Jonathan Strange fails at moving the forest, losing both his manservant and Mr. Norrell’s 40 books to French cannon fire. He does manage to gain some respect from the soldiers when he creates a fog that saves most of the British troops. The only book that survives is The History of the Raven King.

p02qc4nzThe slightly shellshocked magician uses this spell book to complete his next task. He resurrects the rotting corpses of Italian soldiers so that Lord Wellington can interrogate them. The zombies jump to life spitting the language of Hell until Jonathan Strange restores them to their original dialect by spitting in their mouths. It’s an impressive trick, but Jonathan Strange can’t figure out how to make them dead again. Obviously he hasn’t watched The Walking Dead.

Meanwhile back home, Arabella is growing increasingly concerned for her friend Lady Poole’s apparent madness and hatred for Mr. Norrell. Unable to verbally tell Arabella what is happening to her, Lady Poole tears her gowns apart and makes a tapestry depicting the nightmarish balls she is forced to attend every night.

Arabella writes to her husband about Lady Poole and the tapestry, but unknown to her Mr. Norrell is having the letters intercepted. He has his manservant Childermass steal the tapestry for fear that his secret will be exposed. This pushes Lady Poole further to the brink and when Mr. Norrell visits her, he advises that he brought her back to life for the good of English magic and that she will have to live like this for another 75 years.

Lady Poole isn’t the only one bothered by The Gentleman. The fairy is growing more infatuated by Arabella and still continues to haunt Stephen. The Gentleman apologizes to Stephen about his recent distraction and tells him again that he is a king. Like the Raven King, Stephen was born into the world as a nameless slave. “Magic cannot tell the future, but it can throw shadows,” The Gentleman states as he shows Stephen his birth on a slave ship. What does Stephen’s past show about his future and why is The Gentleman drawn to him?

The episode ends with Childermass sensing the presence of strong magic and, with the help of his own magical ability, is able to find Lady Poole in the square with a gun raised to Mr. Norrell. Childermass saves his master, taking the bullet instead.

Some notable things in this episode:

  • Stephen speaks the same nonsense as Lady Poole does when he attempts to warn Arabella.
  • When The Gentleman appears to Arabella, she rejects his advances and tells him she does not wish to talk to him again without her husband present.
  • Segundus and Honeyfoot are opening a magic school despite the disapproval of Mr. Norrell.
  • Mr. Norrell is still insistent that he is the only magician in England, but Childermass seems to be able to preform some badass magic on his own.

Photos and video courtesy of BBC America and BBC One.

Scene for this episode: The Gentleman tries to make a bargain with Arabella

Preview of next week’s episode

Jenn Bishop
Jenn Bishop was TVSource Magazine's Soap Editor. She's a thirty-something fan girl of soapy television and anything involving Joss Whedon. She began sharing her views on daytime soaps in 2012 with her blog Save Our Suds. A former philosophy major, she loves discussing different view points with fellow TV addicts and aficionados. When not watching television, she enjoys art, live music, exploring the Midwest food scene, and drinking too many lattes. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceJenn.

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