Carnival Row: Season 1, Episode 2 “Aisling” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Piety (Indira Varma) speaking to Haruspex.
80.88% (2)

As a formerly famous pixie is found brutally murdered, Philo finds himself a new case as Vignette decides the Spurnrose household isn’t for her.


Network
Amazon Prime
Director(s) Thor Freudenthal
Writer(s) René Echevarria
Air Date 8/30/2019
Introduced This Episode
Aisling Erika Starkova
Afissa Tracey Wilkinson
Absalom Jared Harris
Jonah Arty Froushan
Piety Indira Varma
Haruspex Alice Krige
Sylvanus Wil Johnson
Tourmaline Karla Crome
Dahlia Chlie Pirrie

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Recap

A Missing Son: Absalom, Jonah, Piety, Haruspex

While introduced in the premiere, the political aspect of the show, and the Breakspear family, don’t become a big deal until episode 2. That is when we begin to see Piety isn’t just Absalom’s wife but has some ambitions of her own. Many of which are steeped in the belief that this witch, known as Haruspex, has seen great things for not just her husband but her child. The problem is, Jonah lacks ambition. He’d rather live off the family name, spend time and many with whores, so she has to set things in motion.

So, what better way to try to jumpstart things than make it seem your son is kidnapped? With that, Absalom, who is politically moderate, is tasked with taking out his competition who, if gone, may mean absolute power. Also, when their son is rescued, one could only hope that fear would make him a bit less reckless. Especially since his kidnapping happened on Carnival Row. A place that is political suicide, if you are seen there too frequently.

A Dead Pix: Aisling, Philo, Sylvanus

At the end of episode one, we see a middle-aged looking Pixie deal with what looks like a monster. In this episode, we see what said monster left and it’s a lot. But, unlike with Unseelie Jack, the pixie, identified as Aisling, is dead and not just assaulted. However, determining what happened and getting information is hard since the coroner, like many in government, aren’t pro doing much, if anything, which deal with the fae.

Luckily for Philo, Sylvanus, a butcher in the row, formerly did coronary work which gives Philo options. Leading to him learning Aisling’s age, learning she was once pregnant, and with running into a former acquaintance of hers, we learn that Aisling fell from grace a bit. Making her yet another sad case for Philo who seems to be the sole cop willing to investigate what happens to local fae.

It’s Hard To Move Forward When You Keep Looking Back: Philo, Vignette, Ezra, Imogen, Tourmaline, Agreus, Dahlia

The struggle which many characters have is that they are so used to the way things are or were, it makes moving on difficult. Case in point, Ezra and Imogen may not be broke, but their fortune seemingly is dwindling. Which is a very humbling experience for them. Imogen especially since her nose is up in the air. Plus, after Vignette runs away, after Ezra tries to rape her, though he claims she tried to steal, the idea a man, Philo, could pay her out with 50 Guilders seems insulting.

Yet, they are in the struggle so what can be done? Well, taking note of Agreus, who so badly wants to be accepted into high society, Imogen decides to no longer trust her brother to handle the affairs of the family. For while it isn’t exactly clear how Agreus makes his money, it is a fact he has enough to spare and could likely use a business partner.

Dahlia (Chlie Pirrie) speaking to Vignette.

But, while Imogen and Ezra are focused on financial matters, Vignette’s issues are that of the heart and finding stability. Hence her running to Tourmaline, and the Tetterby Hotel to hide out, lick her wounds, and plan her next step. Which, at the advisement of Tourmaline, is to join the Black Ravens, rather than go into sex work. For while Vignette can, she seems more geared and pro dealing with a crime organization, even if their leader is someone a bit coarse like Dahlia.

Review

Highlights

The Black Ravens

With it seeming we firmly will focus on the Burgue, it is nice to get a sense of community from the different groups of fae. Well, at least in terms of the pixies. I don’t know if faun aren’t much for interactions but considering how Imogen and Ezra’s maid Afissa treats Agreus, maybe their people are in it for themselves. Never mind Agreus seemingly not even employing his own kind to give them a life better than that of Carnival Row.

But, getting back to the Black Ravens, while Carnival Row has sex workers, and a slight underground vibe, I’m hoping Dahlia and her crew may take things further. After all, we’re in a major city that has murder and prostitutes. So where are the drugs, killers for hire, and trafficking? Plus, as of now, Dahlia is one of the more interesting women we’ve met on this show. Never mind Vignette could use someone who challenges her. Maybe makes use of her time as a Sparrow hawk and whatever she may have done during or before the war to survive.

Low Point

There Are Too Many Characters

The first few episodes are usually a rush of people that have to be noted, but this feels like a lot. To the point there is a need to question as a viewer, and with these recaps, who really needs to be noted? Should I mention all of Philo’s co-workers? What about each pixie in the Tetterby Hotel? Are people like Sylvanus worth noting or should they be brushed over like Aisling’s friend? I must admit, I’m a bit overwhelmed.

On The Fence

Absalom And The Politics Of The City

Absalam (Jared Harris) looking exasperated.

There is just not much of a draw to the politics of the city. For one, it isn’t like there are whispers and we’re seeing the wheeling and dealing of politics. We’re honed in on Absalom and his family and as devious as Piety seems, there is this vibe of desperation which doesn’t ask for your attention but repels it. Add in no fae are part of parliament and it makes you wonder if the main point of government being introduced might be solely to establish the people pulling the strings.

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If not, in a Game of Thrones way, make it clear that not everything on the show is directly connected but one person’s decision, either immediately, or in time, could affect another.

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