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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: “Arabella” Review - AVClub

AVClub: The last episode was nearly all exposition, placing developments on a long line of gunpowder so that the right ignition could set them all on fire. The resulting explosion in “Arabella” more than makes up for that boring set-up episode, with magic raining down fresh horrors on our cast of characters. “Now there is more magic in England than either you or I can understand,” Strange tells Childermass, and indeed magic seems to have a will of its own these days, unleashed by the Gentleman and scurrying unchecked through England. Arabella’s moss-oak doppelgänger wanders the snowy countryside in a black dress, Charlotte Riley’s face a creeping blank slate as she looks uncomprehendingly on a man who finds her in the snow. That, combined with her unsteady walk, makes the moss-oak creature effectively eerie, especially as we see the real Arabella inside her home nearby. In a show that’s often over-packed with plot that has to be gotten to quickly, it’s nice to see some time devoted to a particularly creepy development. The Brontë-like setting, with open English countryside, thick snow, and ghosts about, gives these scenes a properly chilling quality, like we’ve stepped into the pages of a British ghost story.

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