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‘Carnival Row’: ‘Grieve No More’ and ‘Unaccompanied Fae’ – Review

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Carnival Row is a new fantasy series starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevinge. All episodes now available on Amazon Prime.

Episodes viewed: S1X05 ‘Grieve No More’ & S1X06 ‘Unaccompanied Fae’

No spoilers.

Episode 5 is an episode that deals with the revelations, and fall-out, from the previous episodes. While pursuing the stories of the main characters we see the introduction and rise of others.

Its another “talky” episode, which is engrossing on a narrative level as we see the power politics at play across the various sectors of society.

HIGH SOCIETY

The Breakspear’s have an awkward breakfast and we see Jonah’s tense reaction to his parents (especially knowing what we know from the previous episode).

Naked and covered with ash I scaled Mount Carpe. On my hands and knees I climbed to consult the Augurs before I married your father. And they told me he would be a great man, and that his son would be greater.

Imogen Spurnrose has an equally tense run in with her brother as she reveals that she may have a benefactor who could save their business (and their lifestyle). Of course, WE know who that benefactor is, and what follows is an afternoon-tea-in-the-drawing-room scene what is full of unspoken racism and crispy dialogue. And what surprises me is that I found Agreus a little unpleasant – aren’t we supposed to root for him? – the characters really are developing beyond usual stereotypes.

LONGERBANE

There is also a cracking scene in the parliament where Jonah is in the observer’s gallery being told to watch the master politician (his father) in action. Chancellor Absalom Breakspear is about to hold the room in his hands – but doesn’t account for the fire that Longerbane’s daughter is about to bring.

A great tide of anger is rising in this city. Its good people have had enough!

QUILL

In a short introduction we meet Quill, an impoverished faun who joins a food line and is given a book “The Cyphers” to read. We don’t learn much about it, but by the end of the episode he has read it, has liked it, and has returned for more.

THE MARTYR

The show continues to evoke an unsettling atmosphere through wonderful costumes and sets. The composition of the shots in the parliament, and the costumes, are impressive. We also see the iconography of the “Martyr” – the crucifix-like statues we see a few times in this episode. Unlike Christ, the Martyr doesn’t have outstretched arms, and is instead shirtless, hanging by the neck, hands bound behind the back.

The world of Carnival Row can be very unsettling at times.

THE INVESTIGATION

Before the episode is over there is another brutal murder which provides a visceral thrill as well as a hint of a darker conspiracy at work, alongside a shocking dream (memory) from Philo.

He’s trying to connect the dots between the killing of the fae Aisling at the sewage outlet at the start of episode two, and that of Headmaster Finch at Philo’s old foundling home. Two key points emerge in his investigation – firstly, that the process of creating a reanimated monster is possible, but that monster doesn’t have independent thought – and a final emotional revelation that I personally didn’t see coming but will leave you keen to skip onto the next episode.

“UNACCOMPANIED FAE”

If you haven’t spotted it already, Carnival Row is full of monsters and monstrous acts. This episode starts with a pre-credits scene with Philo and the police in the room of the latest victim, who lies disembowelled on their living room table.

The episode continues to show the other monsters.

RISE OF LONGERBANE

The scene between Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford) and Jonah Breakspear (Arty Froushan) is fantastic – the writing, the performances, the music, the staging, the cinematography are excellent. Sophie Longerbane is wonderful. I’m particularly terrified of her.

The disparate strands of the narrative start to pull together, often in surprising ways. It’s a pleasure to see some of the deliberate plotting and character stories begin to connect.

REVELATIONS

Philo, haunted by the revelations his investigation, shares information with Portia. When he explains this to Darius in jail we realise our inspector he has much to lose. And his police colleagues are getting suspicious.

UNSETTLING

The feeling of unsettling dread appears again as Quill and the rest of the fauns are walking through the streets, chanting and self-flagellating. Quill tries to intervene when a human punches one of them but the leader Cabal stops him:

All is as the hidden one wills it. Watch and learn. This is the truth. They will never accept us. They will never understand us. We can make no peace with the ignorant.

This won’t end well.

THE TREASURES OF TIRNANOC

Vignette stumbles across a new exhibit in the museum “The Treasures of Tirnanoc” (the poster announces “no unaccompanied fae permitted”). She sneaks in and is horrified to see relics of her home and her immediate past on display. Her horrific realisation made more potent by brief flashbacks to episode 3.

Both Vignette and Philo are in a terrible situation again and the suspicions of a conspiracy going back years are cemented. And we still don’t know who is behind it all.

This is a gripping, emotional and in some cases horrific episode. Only two episodes left, and I don’t want it to end.

Teacher of Drama. And Media. Director of non-professional drama/musicals. Writer. Contributor to ReelAnarchy.com. Husband. Father. Ginger.

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