Amazon’s Carnival Row
Season 1, Episode 5: “Grieve No More”
Directed by Andy Goddard
Written by Ian Deitchman & Kristin Robinson
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Joining of Unlike Things” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Unaccompanied Fae” – click here
Runyan Millworthy (Simon McBurney) does a puppet show inspired by the crimes that have befallen the Fae, just as street performers did centuries ago. It’s a beautiful, eerie performance, including Aisling Querelle’s own voice on the phonograph. His show doesn’t particularly go over well with the coppers, though.
Of note is how there’s a Victorian England-type setting, as well as certain earlier and newer elements. Carnival Row could definitely be classified in the steampunk genre.
Inspector Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) is back to see the haruspex, Aioffe (Alice Krige). She shows him the dead things, cobbled together as one horrific creature. Philo says the thing he saw “had intelligence,” but Aioffe tells him a Darkasher has no intelligence itself, though “sometimes its eyes and its master‘s eyes can become as one and the same.” Who else in the Burgue could conjure such a beast? Aioffe says it’d have to be someone powerful.
Another interesting bit: a Darkasher can’t be killed until its master is killed, too.
Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant) attempts to convince Ezra (Andrew Gower) they ought to entertain Agreus Astrayon (David Gyasi) funding another ship. Ezra worries of “a scandal.” His sister’s not going to let what they have disappear, so she’s already arranged a get-together to bring Agreus into their social circle.
Obviously Jonah Breakspear (Arty Froushan) suspects his mother Piety (Indira Varma) had something to do with his kidnapping. He says nothing. Piety and Absalom want him out of “the public eye” for a while. This situation is going to boil over eventually.
And what exactly is Piety after? Power for herself?
We get more world-building in this episode. The Puyoc have a bread line, where they help feed their kind. They also spread the word of their religion via a text, the Cyphers, handing out small books for new faces to study. This obviously bumps up against Burguish spirituality. The Burguish worship the Martyr— an obvious parallel to Jesus Christ, which you can see most glaringly in their version of the crucifix, a hanged man. Lots of talk of “native born” and so on in the Burgue, which Runyan must deal with when the coppers give him trouble over his kobold theatre troupe. He discovers his kobolds have been taken off to the docks, headed for a place called Ignota. He races down to the docks only to see the Janus is already too far out at sea and headed for Ignota. No way for him to get his little friends back now.
Philo’s had enough trouble with the police and he’s one of them. He goes back to the foundling home, asking whether the headmaster knew Ms. Querelle. He has a look around the place he once called home, where he and Darius (Ariyon Bakare) met. His initials remain carved into the bed where he slept there, the back of his head still sporting a scar he got from jumping on it.
“Surely sacrifices have to be made
in order to create a more inclusive society”
An interesting piece of Carnival Row involves the Burgue’s sociopolitical divide. Ultimately, race doesn’t mean as much as class. Agreus is mistaken for ‘the help’ at the Spurnrose home by another bourgeois black man. Of course rich whites are the same, automatically assuming Mr. Astrayon is a servant. He has to navigate the awkward “fine company” while generalisations are tossed around like crumpets. Imogen can’t handle the whispers and looks, asking Agreus to leave. But then Ezra gets home, trying to lend his hand to making things less uncomfortable, even if he’s an asshole, too.
In Parliament, Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford) taking the place of her dead father. She tells everyone she hopes to honour both her parents’ memory. She talks of her mother, whose forefathers came to the Burgue, where prejudice made things difficult. Yet she believes it’s a good place. She mentions the fae— as hateful as her father, igniting new passion in her racist followers.
Philo questions Master Thorne at the foundling home, wondering if he’s committed a “sin of omission” by not telling him the entire truth. Thorne explains former headmaster Costin Finch frequented Carnival Row to pay for “fae companionship.” Later, at the Tetterey Hotel, Philo looks for more about Finch, and it seems the headmaster actually liked men, using the sex worker fae to cover his tracks.
He goes back to Dr. Morange (Gregory Gudgeon)— Finch’s secret gay lover. They had to hide their true identity, like many of the fae. Morange tells Philo that Finch knew Aisling and had “seen her perform a dozen times.” They hadn’t seen each other in a couple decades. There’s more to Dr. Morange than his secret love: he was also the doctor who received a tiny newborn Philo many years ago, the one who removed Rycroft’s wings.
“Maybe it’s time I stop hiding”
A big uh oh: Dr. Morange is receiving a house call, but not from a patient.
The Darkasher has come to kill him. Thus the plot thickens. With new info we’ve seen in this episode, given the links between Finch and Morange, as well as Aisling and Finch, who’s systematically killing these connected individuals? More importantly, why? Someone conjured that Darkasher for a specific purpose.
Also, we know Aisling was around a long time. We see Philo has a deep memory of her songs. Was she his fae mother? Oh, yes! This also means the case is becoming incredibly personal for the Inspector, whose connection to the fae was already strong enough without a fae mother. All the threads are spooling together.
Another outstanding chapter in the series. There’s enough plot(s) to fill several seasons, so it’s wonderful Carnival Row is already renewed for Season 2. Philo’s latest revelations are going to make the last three episodes intense.
“Unaccompanied Fae” is next.