How is Lady Pole? – Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Ep 2 – Review

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What is going on in England with the magicians and all the people around them?!  Poor Lady Pole, she is really suffering, and the magicians are attempting to assert their power which is turning into quite the magical conflict.

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I read the book by Susanna Clarke years ago, I wish I could remember more of it.  I feel like I’m missing details.  Maybe it is part of the challenge of making a long and detailed book into a TV show, miniseries, or movie, there is only so much that can be included. The screenwriters must work very hard to keep the story true to the book while deciding which details must stay and which must go.  I think my issue is following all the characters, who is connected to whom and how and why.  I have definitely taken advantage of the BBCAmerica and BBCOne sites to remind myself who everyone is. Be careful with the BBCOne site if you don’t want to see any spoilers, the show is a few weeks ahead of us in the UK.

This episode began showing us the Port of Brest in France with the French officers looking through a spyglass and commenting on the English navy.  It seems as though the navy has grown by leaps and bounds, there are more ships than the English navy could build, the French are very confused.  Apparently Mr Norrell’s efforts to help England win the war against France are working.


In the meantime, Jonathan Strange has been trying to understand his own powers and how they work, he is still unsure about how he is doing everything.  As the episode continues we see that Mr Strange may actually be more powerful than Mr Norrell.  The problem here is that he has no access to books about magic as Mr Norrell has been greedily collecting all the books from all the collections in England.  Jonathan Strange has one book, ‘The History of the Raven KIng’.  Mr Norrell agrees to teach Strange about magic. Jonathan Strange keeps asking about the Raven King and magic.  Mr Norrell refuses to discuss the Raven King.  Lord Pole requests more help from the magicians to improve England’s chances in the war.  There is a wonderfully dramatic and beautiful scene where Jonathan Strange turns the sand into horses, and the beautiful sand horses gallop down the beach and into the sea.  Mr Norrell is clearly disconcerted to see what Strange is able to do.  I think that we will see that Mr Norrell will “cut off his nose despite his face” due to his obsession with collecting all the magical books.

While all the magical drama is happening, poor Lady Pole is slowly going crazy with exhaustion and confusion.  Mr Norrell’s bargain with The Gentleman was that he would get half of her life.  Mr Norrell’s mistake was assuming that The Gentleman would take the second half of her life.  That is not the case, he is taking her every night.  He is making her dance all night long at his creepy faerie ball.  She is trying to talk about what is happening to her, but she can’t, every time she tries to speak about it, random facts and words come out of her mouth.  She is just so confused, I feel sorry for her and how she has been manipulated.  When Mr Norrell is called in to undo what he did to Lady Pole, he knows what he did but looks at her then tells Lord Pole “Magic cannot cure madness”.  He cannot help Lady Pole.  Cannot or will not?  He does go home and summons The Gentleman and asks him to reverse the bargain because Lady Pole is suffering so much.  Of course he refuses the request and The Gentleman tries to make a bargain with Mr Norrell to teach him magic. Mr Norrell declines, but I wonder if he will change his decision down the line.

Another person has been drawn into The Gentleman’s disturbing dance with Lady Pole every night.  The butler, Steven Black, he is being called to the attic room every night, at least now Lady Pole has one person in the house who knows what is happening to her every night.

Programme Name: Strange & Norrell - TX: n/a - Episode: Ep2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Stephen Black (ARIYON BAKARE), Lady Pole (ALICE ENGLERT) - (C) JSMN Ltd - Photographer: Matt Squire

How much more dangerous and out of control will things get as the show continues?  I expect we should prepare ourselves to see a lot more chaos.



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Alyson Bailey