Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Review: Chapter 6: The Black Tower

Strange 6Norrell takes his revenge on Strange – who finally learns some truths that might best have remained hidden…

This penultimate episode begins with Strange in a bad place mentally and emotionally, and proceeds to put him through the wringer. Bertie Carvel displays rare hints of Strange’s pre-magic carefree attitude as he realises that the way madness lies is exactly what he needs… and proceeds to meet The Gentleman properly. He’s not a man to be put off his stride, and when he discovers the truth about Arabella, it’s enough to push him very close to the edge, with his new friendship with Flora, a former groupie of Lord Byron (there’s not really any other word that best sums that relationship up!) giving him any form of stability. Norrell, however, is becoming increasingly worried, and his efforts to remove Strange’s book from the public provide some much needed humour at the start of the episode. Stephen and Vinculus have their own problems with the Gentleman to deal with…

Some excellent effects moments – the Eternal Night and the birds in particular – help to sell the high drama as the groundwork is finally laid for the confrontations at the heart of the story, and we realise that there is nothing that Strange will not do for his wife…

Verdict: A sumptuous portrayal of a very human drama. 8/10

Paul Simpson

 

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