Friday, June 26, 2015

Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norell - Episode Four

Childermass becomes another victim of Mr. Norrell's hubris. He has now seen the Fairy Kingdom and despite all of Norrell's protestations he will NOT let the matter drop. He now knows what Norrell did. He knows he used Dark Magic to bring back the Lady Pole from death.

Strange has returned from the war in the wake of Lady Pole's shooting of Childermass and the scandal that is growing around it. To keep things secret, the Lady Pole is shipped to an asylum where she is the only resident.

The arrival of King George V on the scene adds a whole new layer of color to this world. The two magicians have been called in to cure the King of his madness. Norrell believes that 'magic cannot cure madness' but Strange is a little more open on the subject. How might have world history gone if King George V wasn't batshit crazy? No USA for one thing.

Finally we get more information about our oft mentioned boogeyman, the Raven King. The Thistle Headed Man, who I call the Fairy Gentleman is all messed up in the Raven King's evil business. He is part of a chain of events that Norrell started and no one can stop. Except for maybe Strange of course. Sometimes when there is a lot of magic about, a good man can rise to match an evil and defeat it.

The battle here is one between the OLD ways of Magic and the NEW magic that Norrell claims he supports. Then while trying to cure the King of his madness, Strange transports him to the Fairy Kingdom where King's life is threatened by The Silver Headed Man's servant, the poor doomed Steven. Worse still, The Fairy Gentleman now knows of Strange and he is NOT amused by the Magician messing with his 'matters'. Now Strange and especially his wife (who the Fairy Gentleman covets) are in mortal danger.

This is dense storytelling. I can see how it would alienate people. I for one, however, continued to be thrilled by the quality of every part of this production. I am content with following this story to it's conclusion regardless of my questions. This is very deliberate storytelling. I love the interplay between characters and their rich, dense, conversations. I can't get enough of all this detail.

After pulling himself into the Fairy Kingdom, Strange becomes more convinced that OLD magic has many benefits that they can use for good. Norrell will not hear of it and by the end of this episode the two have never been further apart.


Simon B said...

I must admit that, after the relatively dull first episode, this series has really grown on me. It's only a couple of days until the last episode and it will be interesting to see how the storylines work out. I suspect Strange will become the reborn Raven KIng and return ancient magic to the world...

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

For good or ill. I hope there is a cool magical battle between him ad Norrell at the end. I am really into this one. Two episodes behind so no spoilers as I catch up.