Amazon’s Carnival Row
Season 1, Episode 6: “Unaccompanied Fae”
Directed by Andy Goddard
Written by Stephanie K. Smith
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Grieve No More” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The World to Come” – click here
In relation to the vaguely Victorian setting that’s part of the wonderfully anachronistic steampunk vibe throughout Carnival Row, “Unaccompanied Fae” is an interesting title. In Victorian Era England, unaccompanied women who were out in the evening were usually considered by so-called proper society as ladies of the night. The assumption being, any woman who wasn’t with her husband, or a male family member / friend, and on the street once the sun went down, was selling herself. Easy to see parallels here.
Inspector Philo (Orlando Bloom) goes to see the bloody state left by the Darkasher at Dr. Morange’s home. He doesn’t tell the others what he’s learned. We hear Dombey go on about what the doctor did off the books: removing brands for prisoners, and helping “Pix looking to pass.” This hits close to home, knowing Morange sheared Philo’s wings. The Inspector is being pressured by his own people to find leads in the case.
Vignette (Carla Delevingne) continues running things on the route for the Black Raven, staying with her best friend / sometimes lover Tourmaline (Karla Crome). Elsewhere, Runyan (Simon McBurney) is without his kobolds. He notices a poster for their old show, Tale of the Darkasher. At the same time, some faun are in the streets lashing themselves like flagellants and calling to “the Hidden One.”
Morange was a friend of Imogen (Tamzin Merchant) and Ezra’s (Andrew Gower) father. The whole Burgue is talking about the murders. Portia (Maeve Dermody) has other things to deal with, like a tenant unimpressed by her relationship with Philo. She’s a widow, so the Burgue’s uptight Victorian environment deems her “some kind of harlot.” Notice more of the Victorian Era likeness in Carnival Row— a still young lady like Mrs. Fyfe is considered an “old widow” at her age. It gets Portia thinking of a potential future with Philo. Except he’s reluctant, because of his past. He tells her Aisling was his mother, that he’s “half–fae.” Portia quickly throws him out.
Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford) didn’t actually care for her father. She puts on an act for everybody paying their respects. A hiding Jonah (Arty Froushan), taken with Ms. Longerbane, hears her break character. Sophie doesn’t quite follow her father’s beliefs, even if she continues supporting the party line. She thinks Critch is “a good slur, as far as slurs go,” but doesn’t like to use it, whereas Jonah uses the word quite easily. Sophie reveals she knows her father didn’t kidnap Jonah, leading Piety (Indira Varma) and Absalom’s (Jared Harris) son to further question his mother’s involvement.
On the street, Vignette runs numbers for the Black Raven. She comes across a poster for an exposition called The Treasures of Tirnanoc. She flies her way up into the building, to have an up close gawk. It all brings back memories of the library in Anoun with Philo. There’s even the old history book, from which she read her lover legends. It breaks her heart to see everything stolen by colonialists. She ends up getting the attention of the police because she makes an emotional scene.
At Bleakness Keep, Philo visits Darius (Ariyon Bakare). His old friend has known a long time about his fae heritage. He mentions telling Portia, and Darius isn’t surprised it backfired, knowing what it’s like to deal with dual lives, especially for someone in a decent societal position like Rycroft. This likewise puts Darius in jeopardy, should anything fuck up the Inspector’s job, which is the only thing keeping him alive. The rest of the coppers are discovering Philo’s hiding things.
A faun is whipped by an angry Burguishman in the road. One of the other Puyoc points out to the new recruit that they must learn: “They will never accept us.” Violence at the hands of ignorant Burguish only serves to crystallise the fanatical faun in their beliefs.
Imogen introduces Agreus (David Gyasi) to another piece of high society in the Burgue. They deal with snickers and whispers. She gets a great kick out of his wit when he verbally bitchslaps a bougie dickhead. Later, Agreus embarrasses the guy again at an auction, buying up a painting called The Rising by Augustus Hope.
Philo finds Runyan down and out after his kobolds have been deported. The Inspector wants to know more about Aisling’s past. Runyan says she suddenly changed, in the early 1800s. He suspected she left for the Crossing to have a child. She had “a benefactor“— the departed Mr. Spurnrose.
All this while, Constable Berwick follows closely. Dombey talks to Portia, and she tells him Philo is “a half–blood.” The coppers feel betrayed, also hearing about his mother, Aisling. They’re sure Rycroft is to blame for the killings, covering up his personal fae history. Oh! Shit! The whole force is sent out to search. They arrest Philo on suspicion of murder. He’s beaten by his own men then taken to be put in a cell.
Some have said there’s bloat in the story / its plots. Father Gore couldn’t disagree more. Carnival Row is juggling MANY balls. That doesn’t mean it isn’t doing a swell job! There are many characters. But at the core are ideas of difference, of immigration, and many other topics / themes that come out well, in unique ways. There’s a lot being said, if only we’re willing to dig in, specifically re: the steampunk aspects and use of the Victorian Era as a setting for the series.
Plus, with the latest Philo situation things are really heating up.
“The World to Come” is next.