Saturday, August 31, 2019

REVIEW: 'Carnival Row' - Philo Discovers a Huge and Meaningful Connection Between the Victims in 'Grieve No More'

Amazon's Carnival Row - Episode 1.05 "Grieve No More"

Philo consults a Haruspex in an effort to find clues about the killer. Vignette grows closer with her newfound family. Upon Jonah's return home, his parents cast a more watchful eye over him as a new player makes a splash in Parliament. Imogen brings Agreus into her circle.

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.

"Grieve No More" was written by Ian Deitchman & Kristin Robinson and directed by Andy Goddard

This hour builds to a huge revelation about Philo's lineage. The two victims in the case he is investigating happen to be important to his lineage. He deduces that not based on any concrete evidence but the sheer fact that a connection must exist between the two victims and that he has heard Aisling's song before. The series previously established that Philo was a half-blood. He is a man twisted and torn up inside. He struggles letting people in because he has no idea who he even is. He felt abandoned as a child. He grew up in this orphanage with no real sense of belonging. This religion didn't stick with him. It doesn't offer him the clarity that it clearly brings to others in this world. It offered no sense of understanding for who he is and why he was raised this way. And now, he may never get those answers. The two people who could have explained it are now dead. Their secrets are buried alongside them. Sure, Philo receives the clarity from Haruspex that it is possible to raise two dead animals back to life. He is now forever linked to the creature that has been created. He may not choose to carry that responsibility but it is still true. It's mostly just information he needs in order to better serve as a detective on this case. He is seeking answers. He gets some clarity regarding his personal life. But that is only bound to send him further spiraling into turmoil. Plus, it's clear this episode lingers just a bit too much in order to make that final moment land. Philo spends most of this hour trying to remember this important connection. It's not until the very end that everything suddenly dawns on him. It comes at the precise moment in which the monster has taken another victim. This time it happens to be the coroner, who was also in a secret relationship with the orphanage headmaster. This show teases LGBTQ+ relationships but doesn't really seem to have the complexity of understanding what those visuals actually mean especially for a fantasy world. Right now, it mostly just presents it as being shunned in this society and necessary to be kept a secret. And yet, it's not something that Philo has to carry because the man who could provide him insight is also killed. That's unfortunate and plays into some tragic stereotypes for gay characters in the medium. There should be more personal agency. But it still doesn't feel like things are amounting to much. This is the hour where everything about Philo's personal journey should be coming into focus. But instead, it plays as more mysteries mounting that may never provide easy answers. He doesn't make any progress on his central investigation. He's hunting a beast that is clearly controlled by someone in this world. But it's hard to think of anyone who had this information and knew that it would torment Philo. It's mostly just strained storytelling at this point. Plus, all the other storylines happening at the moment seem defined by rising action. At this point in the season, the various elements should be coming together in an explosive way. Instead, the show is more intrigued by Jonah being in awe of Sophie after she stands in opposition to his father just like hers did previously. And then, there is the melodrama that comes from high society and the pressure Imogen feels to make Agreus accepted even though she can barely tolerate him. None of it quite gels in a way that makes it feel like it will add up to something important. The audience may feel something when Runyan's cobalts are taken away from him after he was left waiting at the police station for too long. But it's hard to muster up any reaction to that moment because he hasn't exactly been a well-defined character by this point. His journey from lackluster sideshow man to successful entertainer hasn't been well documented. It's basically just whatever the plot needs in order to illustrate some point. And yet, that isn't exactly an earned moment either. So right now, the show is really struggling to make it seem that any of this is worth the time the audience has already invested.