For today’s post, I have decided it was time to share my thoughts on the much anticipated second, and final season, of the Prime fantasy series Carnival Row. Now, I was a huge fan of this show when I first watched season one upon its premiere, but was so sad that we had to wait over three years to get the follow-up, as it ended in a cliffhanger of sorts. I will begin by saying I do not know if any of my views are unpopular opinions or hot takes, but they are my honest thoughts. I did adore most of the season, but I had my issues, all will be addressed here. Oh, and there will be major spoilers ahead, be warned if you have not finished the series!
When the first episodes of the season dropped, I was elated at the way the show picked up. I loved how it delved into the character development over the course of the months that it skipped to show us what it was like trapped on the Row. We also got to see Imogen and Agreus on their adventures after months at sea. I loved the complex dynamic of being stranded in a war zone. They also have major bonus points for having Joanne Whalley join the cast as a leader of a Creature rebellion! Philo and Vignette seemed to be on a solid footing in their relationship at the beginning of the season, which made me elated!
Over the course of the season, we got to see Vignette gain a greater footing as a member and eventual leader of the Black Raven. Philo struggled with his juggling of missing being a cop and wanting to support the Fae folk. This led to the obvious drama within their relationship, and even to them breaking up. Now, I fully understood having relationship dramas, but figured like with Imogen and Agreus, it would end up with them resolving their issues as they won battles against the terrorist group looking to take over the Burge.
I was captivated by the whole season, up until the very end of the final episode. While the defeat of the monster of the season was well done, the rest of Philo and Vignette’s story was not. The show lost me when it insisted on keeping Philo and Vignette apart in order to have her paired off with Tourmaline and him all alone! Now, this is not an issue with her and Tourmaline as a couple, since they did hint at a history, and even Tourmaline having residual feelings in the first season. However, my issue is that there was literally no build-up to them still wanting to be together romantically until the very end when they get married via a Pixie Handfasting in the final scenes! The Pixie Handfasting was actually quite sweet and I would have liked it had the development seemed natural.
It was made clear that the feelings on Vignette’s part were fully put to bed as being in the past, and her only loving Tourmaline as a best friend, as soon as Philo came into her life. This ending seemed like a strange and forced choice since they had an obvious and solid love story that began with star-crossed lovers, to fall into. So, I hate that choice not just as a shipper of Philo and Vignette, but also as a lover of a good love story, where this one was not, again because it had no build up. I will also note that they had built a bond between Tourmaline and Darius. I really wish they would have chosen to have them get together instead of Tourmaline pushing him away due to her love of Vignette. Killing him off to save Tourmaline was also a sad way to end an already tragic character arc! I would have loved to see Darius survive the show, even if not with Tourmaline.
I would have been fine with the ending if they had chosen to do one of two things. One, they could have built the story as a love triangle between the three from the beginning, leaving us to debate who Vignette’s endgame lover would be. Or two, they could have simply killed Philo off and had her and Tourmaline reconcile after she had mourned her loss. What they chose instead was a half-baked attempt at either trying to look progressive without being so, or trying to have a last-minute plot twist to add drama. It failed on both counts. I would have even been okay had they ended up in some sort of three-person relationship, as it was already acknowledged that Pixies in this series could bond with multiple partners to form a marriage of sorts with more than two people.
So, I have gone over my thoughts on where the series failed and succeeded in its final season. I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts. Did you enjoy the ending? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top post is a promo for the second season. I found the image on https://twitter.com/CarnivalRow.
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- Carnival Row (2019)