Warning: Some spoilers ahead for Season 2 of Carnival Row.
The second and final season of Carnival Row begins 9 months after the events of season 1. Carnival Row is now fenced in and the fey aren’t allowed to leave without special permission. Philo (Orlando Bloom) has been stuck there himself after being discovered to be half-fey himself. Many of the fey are sick and dying due to the poor living conditions on the row. Also, some of them are executed after being falsely accused of attacking the bigoted grand chancellor. But there will be an election soon for a new grand chancellor. Philo is considering running since he is eligible to because his father was the former grand chancellor.
Imogen and Agreus have fled the Burg after their relationship was discovered by Imogen’s brother, Ezra. They have been at sea for months because Imogen is scared that if they go on land they will be in danger because of their relationship. But they get attacked and kidnapped by a revolutionary new nation called the New Dawn. This nation is made up of revolutionary communists ruled by a puck woman. They do not take kindly to Agreus who is a wealthy snob, and in turn, he does not take kindly to them. Imogen on the other hand is tempted to stay there by the fact that relationships between fey and humans are not forbidden there.
The police ask Philo for help solving the murder of a body discovered in a clock tower. They believe that the killer must have been a pix to be able to fly and dump the body there. Vignette (Cara Delevigne) rejoins the fey gang called The Black Raven which is fighting back against the Burgian oppression of the fey. Philo thinks this a bad idea because it will endanger the fey, especially Vignette. He is torn between the Burgian police and the fey. They fight and break up.
Vignette grows close to her best friend and ex, Tourmaline, again. In the end, she chooses Tourmaline over the Black Raven and even Philo. Apparently, she is still in love with Tourmaline. I’m all for sapphic love (as a sapphic woman myself). But this seemed a bit contrived. After all, their former relationship was mentioned in Season 1, but there was no hint of romance between them other than that. Instead, the plot focuses on Vignette and Philo’s romance, which was a lot more explicit.
I really did see Vignette and Tourmaline as more likely friends than lovers. Sure, there was a moment towards the end of the season when it did look to me like they were about to kiss. But they only actually kiss once in the show, when they are getting married during the epilogue. If they insist on pushing Vignette and Tourmaline as a couple, at least let them kiss before their wedding. I know the fey have no compunctions about kissing before marriage, considering Vignette’s relationship with Philo. So it seemed like the showrunners only put Vignette and Tourmaline together to appear progressive. However, it was already canon that Vignette is pansexual whether or not she was with Tourmaline or Philo, https://illinoiseagle.com/2021/09/25/top-11-canonically-bisexual-tv-characters/, so just let her be with Philo!
I also didn’t like the New Dawn plot. It seemed too much like they were trying to tie in real historical events into a show that is very fantastical. Also, it seemed like in the show this communist country was supposed to represent Russia, so maybe the Pact (which the New Dawn is at war with) was supposed to represent Ukraine. Except that the Pact is very anti-fey which doesn’t make them seem as sympathetic as Ukraine. It seemed like the showrunners were trying very hard to be more political by showing that a lot of the cops were anti-fey and that Philo regretted being a policeman. I actually thought this was a step in the right direction, but then they side-stepped this by emphasizing the good police officers.
One thing I did appreciate was that show, was that it was at least concluded. Too many TV shows these days end without a proper conclusion and I was happy to see that this one was not one of them. Although Vignette and Philo did not end up together, there were other parts of the conclusion that I did enjoy. But I will not spoil the rest of it. Also, I just have to throw out there how much I loved Imogen’s costumes. I lusted after every single outfit for how gorgeous they were. This season wasn’t as good as the first one, but I think if you liked Season 1, you’ll want to watch this concluding episode of the series.
Carnival Row. Cara Delevigne, Orlando Bloom, Tamzin Merchant, David Gyasi, Simon McBurney, Carla Crome, Arty Froushan. Amazon Studios. Amazon Prime Video.
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