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TV Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Series 1 Episode 7: 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell'

The future of English magic hangs in the balance as the bewitching Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell concludes. Liam Dooley reviews.

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Image: BBC/JSMN Ltd/Matt Squire
Image: BBC/JSMN Ltd/Matt Squire

As the TV adaption of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell draws to a close, we are still left feeling spell-bound by what is probably one of the best BBC original dramas in quite some time. According to Strange, the death of the enchanter brings to an end all of the enchantments they have placed upon world, but the same can't be said about the end of this programme. There has been a certain charm throughout the entire series and, although the show is now over, the very same sensation still lingers. The names Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell are not ones to be forgotten in a hurry and this week's finale is a shining example of just how brilliant the TV adaption of their story has continually proven to be.

At the end of the last week's episode, we were lead to believe that Jonathan Strange would return to make an attempt at Mr. Norrell's life, but what we were given was so much better! Their reconciliation in the face of adversity produced much more of a rounded feeling to the final episode; highlighting just how far the two have come since the beginning of the series. To see them treating one another as equals, rather than through their usual master-student dichotomy, was so satisfying. It was an extremely touching moment when Norrell promised Jonathan that should anything happen to him, he would spend the rest of his life doing whatever he could to save Arabella. The propriety and fearfulness that made Norrell's character so unlikeable was discarded, as he finally accepted responsibility for causing all that had gone wrong. It was wonderful to see the two getting along again, which was a good thing too since they're now both trapped in a peculiar state of limbo together!
Line of the Week: "We have channelled all of English magic into a butler... and he shot him!" - Mr. Norrell

Yet Jonathan wouldn't let that stop him from talking to Arabella one last time. Throughout the series, their story has been one of love, suffering and sacrifice and it would seem that Jonathan took the last bullet. The 'talking-from-the-afterlife' scene perfectly epitomised the tragedy that they have befallen. They're lovers destined to never be together again, but Jonathan preferred to be suspended in the odd state of nothingness than for Arabella to be trapped in Lost Hope forever. At least he could produce this final moment together in which he could tell her that he does not suffer and that she should live her life not as a widow, but as someone who is happy. I guess that in the end upheld his promise to bring her back to life no matter what, it is just a shame that it's most likely cost him his.

The show's ending could not have been more perfect. The return to York and to a view of the Minster was a nice touch, that was used to remind us where it all began. With Segundus' initial question of "why is there no more magic done in England" still ringing in our ears, we look upon the scene of what is to be the future of English magic after all that has occurred. Childermass promises that all who wish to be a magician may become one now that the doors have been opened. He assigns the Society of Magicians their first task of deciphering the Raven King's new prophecy now printed onto Vinculus' body, in the hope that it will have the answer to the fates of themselves, as well as of Strange and Norrell. Our protagonists may not be lost forever and this scene reminds us that the story of English magic does not end here.

All in all, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has been a fantastic series from start to finish. There has not been one dull moment in all seven episodes and everybody involved in its production deserves to be praised. Eddie Marsan (Mr. Norrell) and Bertie Carvel (Jonathan Strange) did a fantastic job in their lead roles, but there is no less applause to be had the rest of the cast, for no character was without their shining moments. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is truly a magical experience and it is one that I hope never to forget. Now that the show is over I will most definitely get to reading the book and in the words of the brilliant Mr. Norrell: "One is never lonely when one has a book."

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1 Comment

JoyousMN Posted on Saturday 18 Jan 2020

I loved the book, and also loved what the BBC did with the TV adaptation. I hope it gets the viewership it deserves!


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