Friday, August 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'Carnival Row' - Philo Begins a New Investigation While Vignette Searches for Purpose in 'Aisling'

Amazon's Carnival Row - Episode 1.02 "Aisling"

Philo investigates the murder of a mysterious fae. Tourmaline introduces Vignette to a new group of faeries. Imogen tries to have Agreus removed from the neighborhood. Jonah disappears.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's Carnival Row.

"Aisling" was written by René Echevarria and directed by Thor Freudenthal

Philo solves one murder only to be handed another. Aisling's death matches the rise of anti-fae and pix sentiment growing throughout the Borgue. It just also happens to be more vicious than any of the previous murders Philo has handled. As such, he sees it as essential to get an autopsy. He just doesn't have the support of the police department. Instead, he has to outsource the job. He continues to come across as someone who understands and respects the cultures of other communities. That makes him present as a good man at the heart of the series. He stands in sharp contrast to many of the other main characters who have such hatred towards the creatures who don't look like them. Of course, the leader of the Black Raven insists that humans are simply jealous of the magically abilities afforded to others. The fae have the ability to fly. And yet, that is condemned as an action that cannot be tolerated in this world. Instead, the fae have to be restricted through corsets to ensure that they fall in line. That was a uniform that Vignette hated. But she doesn't spend much time as a servant for Ezra and Imogen Spurnrose. She runs out of there quickly after Ezra tries to rape her in exchange for forgiving her debt. That's absolutely horrifying. But it also comes as a character-defining action for him. He doesn't finance ships to rescue fae from the Pact in their home world because he is an altruistic man who believes in the protection of life. Instead, he just does it because he sees money to be made. He desperately needs that right now. He's not dissuaded by the sinking of his ship. He just sees it as bad luck. He will try again hoping that it can once again be the cure for the family's financial woes. Of course, it's unlikely to have that effect. Imogen understands that as well even though she feels blindsided by this reveal. However, this comes across as the most disposable corner of the show so far. With Vignette's debt being paid off and her no longer serving as a servant, there really isn't an immediate need to check in on these characters. They are off in their own little corner of this world. One full of elitist mentalities and the need to scorn new neighbor Agreus simply because he's a puck. That fits into the overall story the show is telling about immigrants and their cultural experiences. However, it remains fairly one-note. The same also extends to the political aspects of this world. Piety wants her husband to believe that his political rival has abducted their son just to fuel his rage at the system fighting against him. That is insanely manipulative. It's her using her own son as a pawn in order to leverage a precarious system. Even the loyal Haruspex questions the tactics her longtime friend is willing to use in this brewing conflict. But again, it's a ton of rising action without the sense that it all connects in a meaningful way. With Philo and Vignette, it's clear that their stories are intertwined. That comes mostly from the fact that two episodes so far feature concluding beats where they threaten each other while almost kissing. That mostly suggests to the audience that romantic chemistry still exists between them despite their insistences that they are ready and able to move on from this drama. They wish to point out the many ways in which the other has compromised their values. And yet, that is also presented as simply necessary in order to survive in this world. There aren't many job opportunities offered to Vignette. So, she has to join the Black Raven in order to make a difference and feel empowered. It's just unfortunate the show has to risk sexual assault just in order to prove that point for Vignette. Again, she has already endured quite a lot of suffering. That may be too much misery to take especially with more on the horizon with Philo hunting this mysterious creature that lurks beneath the city.