Sunday, September 1, 2019

REVIEW: 'Carnival Row' - Philo's Colleagues Turn Against Him Because of the Lies He's Told in 'The World to Come'

Amazon's Carnival Row - Episode 1.07 "The World to Come"

Because he withheld evidence from his fellow detectives, Philo is accused of being the man behind the string of murders and is thrown in jail. There, he finds some unexpected help from Vignette. Elsewhere, Ezra takes exception to Imogen's relationship with Agreus. Sophie offers Jonah a deal. 

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.

"The World to Come" was directed by Jon Amiel with story by René Echevarria & teleplay by Peter Cameron

This is the hour that begins to offer some explanation for why Jared Harris was interested in playing this role. Does it do a solid enough job with that explanation? Of course, it doesn't. It shouldn't take until the penultimate episode for the audience to understand why a multiple Emmy-nominated actor was interested in the part. That should be more evident at this point. The drama even positioned Absalom Breakspear with importance. He is the Chancellor of the Burgue. He wields complete control over the government. The show has somewhat explored how the conversations happening in parliament don't always reflect in the actions taken by the police on the ground. There is some hateful and destruction rhetoric in this world that the Chancellor has mostly aspired to rise above. He hasn't really done anything to calm tensions. He was previously teased as being better at playing the political game than anyone else in Parliament. That hasn't actually been seen in action though. In fact, almost everyone else in that corner of the world has outsmarted him in some regard. His wife, Piety, fooled him into believing this his political rival had abducted their son. And then, Sophie Longerbane joined their ranks with the sensibility that she will be just as loud and disruptive as her father. Now, it's clear that Sophie is trying to play a much larger game. She believes that the most effective power moves happen during times of chaos. That certainly defines the current political moment in the Burgue. She is trying to open Jonah's eyes to what is possible in this world. And yet, he is woefully naive and way behind on everything that is going on. It doesn't mean anything that Runyan becomes one of his new tutors. That doesn't feel like an action that will immediately create some significant moment in the season finale. That's what makes so much of this ultimate reveal fall flat. There should be so much tension and drama that comes out of Absalom being revealed as Philo's father who may have killed using the Darkasher because he couldn't risk the truth coming out. However, was that actually a concern that he had to be worried about? Again, there hasn't been a whole lot of clarity or nuance with this particular character. The show was mostly looking for a shocking twist and made this happen simply because Absalom was the only one who could reasonably be revealed as Philo's father. That was the mystery the season was developing. And yet, it's just simply better when it is focusing on the internal conflicts amongst the characters. Philo is immediately vilified by his colleagues in the police simply because they see him as yet another despicable creature who lied to them. They somehow believe that if Philo is capable of lying than he is also capable of murder. That's a huge stretch. And yet, it's the way that police work is done at this particular time. It's a corrupt institution full of rampant abuse. Dombey actively wants to kill anyone who threatens mankind's standing in the world. Man always has to be atop society making the policies that impact the lives of everyone else. Again, there is something of inherent interest and value with the themes the season has been dealing with. And yet, it's mostly done in the most generic way possible. Philo understands his importance in the murders and how his father is trying to find him. That meant Absalom has a lot to lose. But it also seems inevitable that he will fail in this venture. That's not very exciting. It's actually pretty drab and boring. This hour has an extended sex scene between Imogen and Agreus. But it's difficult to care about any of that because it seemed like the direction it was always headed in no matter how forceful and blunt it was. That's really apparent and sucks a lot of tension out of the proceedings right when things should be increasing in uncertainty. Vignette is once again confined to being the woman Philo can rely on in his time of need. She was personally devastated by the destruction of her culture with the sacred texts of the fae being gawked at by the people in the Burgue. And yet, that has to be secondary to whatever is going on with Philo because he's the clear lead and Vignette is simply supporting him on his journey. He may embrace his identity as a half blood but that's about it for character development this season.