Carnival Row is a new fantasy series starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevinge. All episodes now available on Amazon Prime.
Episodes viewed: S1X07 ‘The World to Come” & S1X08 ‘The Gloaming”
“The World to Come” picks up from where the previous episode left off – and Philo and Vignette are brought together again, albeit in very different circumstances.
But for most of this episode we see many of the other story strands come together.
As the connection between Imogen Spurnrose and Mr Atreus gets closer, Ezra Spurnrose decides to take negotiations into his own hands. The social disapproval of their link to Atreus is bearing heavily on his mind.
Runyan Millworthy (Simon McBurney) is a great character who has skirted around the story so far. Even though his connection to Aisling twenty years previously is crucial to Philo’s investigation, you do wonder what his function is. It is in this episode where it becomes apparent that he has worth in the town after all. It will be very interesting to see where his story goes after this.
There are two sex scenes in this episode. It is worrying how long it takes these two to remove their many layers of clothing. Must have been a real bind for real Victorians in a hurry.
There is a key moment in the episode Philo could use information which would remove some of his problems. His decision on that information is crucial and this could be the point that pivots us all onto the stories in the next season.
Philo realises something about the Darkasher creature that has been killing in town – a revelation that he may be the next victim. And Quill, being groomed by the cult, is given a test of his loyalty before being sent on his first real “mission”.
Philo is transported to a secret location to come face to face with a very important man. Hidden motivations are being dug up, and it is clear that there may be a twist or two before the show is over.
The final episode is entitled “The Gloaming” – which Haruspex reveals is a moment between heaven and hell. It is clear that everyone in and around Carnival Row is caught between their own heaven and hell.
It is obviously difficult to review the final episode without spoilers so I’ll be brief.
The Breakspear storyline is explained, the many motivations and murky plots becoming clear. There are still some surprises and a twist you will see coming – and another you may not.
It takes a servant to illuminate Atreus about the dangers that may be in store, and when the puck has a showdown with Imogen their decision will shape their future.
As is expected on a season finale, the last ten minutes of the episode really sets us up for the continuing story in season 2 and beyond.
The tension between Atreus and the Spurnroses hasn’t lessened and the “relationship” between Breakspear and Longerbane promises an uneasy alliance.
There is a brutal attack in the final episode which provides a huge shock – then a revelation about two characters that will make you wince.
The Darkasher is finally seen in all its glory in some very effective scenes, and the murder mystery element of the story is satisfied.
Every character is changed, not all for the better, and a new authoritarian dictate which will impact everyone in Carnival Row.
Part way through this episode, after a couple of effective twists, I was mostly content with how the reveals were playing out. I was slightly disappointed that the mysterious horror beneath their feet that was promised by the serial killer in episode 1 was dealt with so easily. Perhaps it comes down to the power that a “mysterious evil” has on your imagination, and the slightly disappointing reality when it is necessarily explained.
I would have preferred if there was still an evil lurking there.
That being said, there IS another evil brewing in The Burgue, and while not under our feet, it was right under our noses.
Fully Formed Noirish Fantasy World
“Carnival Row” succeeded in creating a fully formed fantasy world in just a few episodes. The characters are multi-layered, and have definite arcs, most of which are quite satisfying.
I loved how the show dealt with many “real life” issues, which complainers may moan about. Yet without these issues “Carnival Row” would have had a lot less weight, and been pure fantasy, other-worldly. And when that happens, I disconnect. Instead I’m invested. When you get angry at hearing a character denigrate another by calling them “Critch” then the show is doing something right.
Some characters leave in this episode, and rightly so, because stakes are high. Yet I feel that at least one of them should have escaped to return again.
I like these characters – even the confused, misled and yes, even the truly evil ones. And I want to know where they go next.
If you haven’t already, give “Carnival Row” a shot. It’s worth your time.
And if you like it, you can rest in the knowledge that season 2 has already been commissioned.
Read my non-spoiler review of Episode 1 and 2
Read my non-spoiler review of Episode 3 and 4
Read my non-spoiler review of Episode 5 and 6