‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ Episode 3 review: ‘The Education of a Magician’

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The magic continues in the third chapter of BBC One’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

In ‘The Education of a Magician’ tensions continue to tighten like a belt sucked agonisingly into the next notch along, those ever so polite animosities escalate, and a magician does indeed learn a thing or two of the consequences of the resurgence of British magic.

Arabella Strange struggles to help Lady Pole to little avail, while Lady Pole weaves a tapestry of her struggles in her terrible land of dreams. Mr. Norrell, who is very not nice to her indeed, does his very best to keep her isolated: after all, it’s so easy in their time to chalk a woman’s inconvenient knowledge up to madness – you know how it is, am I right gentlemen, and all that. I’d probably have wanted to shoot him too.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 3 Lady Pole (ALICE ENGLERT)

Meanwhile, Jonathan hangs out among Wellington and company in Portugal, decidedly out of his element. Lord Wellington is ever so characteristic of a very certain type of management that’s far too familiar to many: just get that forest moved, says Welly, regardless of whether or not it’s actually possible.

With his books thoroughly cannon-blasted and so far from home, it’s no wonder that Mr. Strange is stressed. That and, you know, the whole raising the dead thing has understandably taken its toll. It’s heartwarming to see him come home to his wife.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 3

The Gentleman, his magnificent eyebrows, and spectacular manicure continue to be menacingly creepy, having now set his sights not only on Steven, but also on drawing Arabella into his world, and showing Steven the uncomfortable truth of his birth.

What is it with Marc Warren and playing manipulative villainous types with serious issues around women, though? I’m sure he’s a very nice man when he’s not pretending, but gosh, is he good at being creepy.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 2 The Gentleman (MARC WARREN)

And my goodness, this show is gorgeously shot, from the grey and palpable cobwebbed damp of England to the dust-choked sun of Portugal, to the sterile nothing of Lady Pole’s little prison. It’s so pretty, in that way that very sad things sometimes are, and that compels me to see what happens next.


Aired at 9pm on Sunday 31 May 2015 on BBC One.

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