Carnival Row focuses on Rycroft Philsotrate – known more affectionately as Philo – a former soldier turned inspector investigating a series of unexplained murders committed by a Jack the Ripper-esque monster, all while wrestling with his unresolved feelings for Vignette Stonemoss, a recent faery immigrant to the Burgue. Vignette struggles to find purpose in her new home, bouncing from household servant to a member of the growing faery resistance movement. Meanwhile, Chancellor Absalom Breakspear, the ranking official in the Burgue’s parliamentary system, finds himself at the center of an ongoing attack on his reign. A pair of socialites down on their luck after losing much of their fortune are forced to confront their own prejudices and expectations when the new tenant at their neighboring property is a well-to-do faun named Agreus. Agreus, a truly bright light in the season, wants to find acceptance in a society that rejects him at every turn.
Carnival Row, Amazon Prime’s newest addition to its original tellings, completely creates a world of its own. But while this eight-part season full of original mythology set in a steam punk fantasy land, there were some issues in its execution. So many storylines are introduced that you rarely feel like each is shown the proper amount of attention that it deserves. The synopsis above barely even scratches the surface of this deeply interconnected storyline. The characters tended to fall flat on most occasions because the audience just doesn’t have enough time to connect with them as individuals.
I adored the deliberate use of an incredibly diverse cast. The different races being showcased at every term highlighted that particular, ever-present human trait: identify and target the different. In this society where race is no longer the issue, the issue became those we saw as less than human, the fae. The humans of Carnival Row all unite in resentment to the influx of faery creatures in their city.
With most loose ends tied up in the season finale, I am curious to see the direction Carnival Row will take moving forward. I hope that the importance of The Pact and what they represent will start to take shape as it was just briefly mentioned in the beginning of the season. I am also hoping to see more of Runyan Millworthy and his tiny performing creatures as they were some of my favorites aspects of the season as well.