Carnival Row – Pilot Review


This has been one of the most intriguing series that has come out this year. Amazon Prime is definitely upping its game with its newest additions. This along with Good Omens has made quite an impact to their perception and bottom line in 2019. Whilst to any casual observer, this could appear to be just another fantasy or Sci-Fi series that teleports you to another realm with fantastical tales and mythical beasts that don’t hold too much importance in regards to your own life. The opening sequence and introductory scene gives you a taste of what’s to come, both in tone and content, but also introduces you to the quality of cinematography that you can expect to be maintained throughout the season. This first scene induces images conjured up from Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke with the upside-down smile torn into the corpse’s face.

GIF by Mia for TGON

GIF Source: Mia for The Game of Nerds

We will have already garnered that our two protagonists are the characters played by Delevingne and Bloom (Vignette & Philo) – we see that they’re both fighting for the same cause, just in different roles. Bloom’s character Rycroft Philostrate, which is shortened to ‘Philo’ is a human Chief Inspector for the Police. Whilst Delevingne plays a fae woman Vignette Stonemoss. It’s made abundantly clear that humans are considered the far superior race, and the fae are and always will be seen as less-than. The discriminated against and struggling race. Philo takes an interest in a case that none of the other human policemen deem worthy. A murderer who’s targeting fae women and has successfully killed several, but has left a few victims behind, few of which trust the human police enough to converse with them. We can immediately garner that crimes against the fae are barely thought of let alone investigated by law enforcement. It’s difficult not to draw comparisons between the fate and subjugation of the fae presented in this series and the commonly discriminated-against people on our own troubled planet. The difference in treatment, privileges, opportunities – that people for no reason other than the colour of their skin, their ethnicity, gender identity/ sexuality are treated unimaginably different and receive hostility instead of decency in most interactions they have with those who would be considered privileged. Knowing this prejudice is already inherently present, and that Philo, uniquely doesn’t view the fae as anything other than equal – his reaction when the victim tells him that the culprit wore “a uniform” holds some severe significance.

GIF made by Mia for TGON

GIF Source: Mia for The Game of Nerds

Our introduction to the majority of the characters cast in this web of stories that interlink is done artfully and with near-perfect timing. We meet a brother and sister whose parents were very wealthy, but after their death and some poor investments made by the son – have fallen upon hard times. This is the family who employs Vignette, the siblings are very obviously among those who view the fae as little more than servants – and upon meeting the mysterious new owner of the house across the street from them – realizing it was purchased by an unusually wealthy fae, immediately remove themselves from his presence. Many big names grace our screens in this series – with Jared Harris portraying the Chancellor Absalom Breakspear, who is the lenient side of the political chambers, fighting for reasonable rights for the fae. His nemesis in the chambers brings subtly challenges his families extra-curricular habits by commenting on the laws against consorting with “Pix harlots” [Fae prostitutes] which the Chancellor’s son is known to frequent. Despite his parents frequent warnings not to go near Carnival Lane where such establishments are in existence, we see him welcomed back into the doors as a regular, indulging in pleasures with Vignette’s friend Tourmaline. After which, when he steps outside for a cigarette – he’s taken, kidnapped by several men.

GIF made by Mia for TGON

GIF Source: Mia for The Game of Nerds

Vignette leaving in the middle of the night and confronting Philo about his betrayal, letting her believe that he had died, with “Nothing but grief for seven years.” Followed by and leaving us on a more mysterious moment. Although we are in a fantasy setting with fae, winged creatures, we don’t see any beasts or ‘animals’ linked to the supernatural, until this last scene. A fae woman is brutally attacked by what appears to be a very large violent beast. Thought Bubble: Could we call this monstrous monster a metaphor or physical embodiment of intersectionality? All of the ways in which certain groups/minorities are discriminated against. (racism, sexism, ageism) – and a combination of these factors combine, overlap/intersect in the experiences of marginalized groups. As this monster is only attacking Fae, at least, so far.

So far the series is captivating, with exceptional visual effects [CGI] and some compelling stories, with characters whose lives overlap quite intriguingly. On top of this it seems to have heaping’s of social commentary with a range of sociological/ cultural issues being tackled or at least being brought to light. We’re looking forward to seeing where this goes and how next week’s installment progresses.

Themes/ social commentary

  • Injustice
  • Immigration [What’s happening at the American borders in 2019] + a commentary on the treatment of foreign perceived immigrants or illegals.*
  • Racism & Discrimination
  • Spreading of polemic
  • Totalitarian structures in society



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