A Fantasy Police Procedural
We begin episode 2 of Carnival Row in the middle of the night, with policemen scrambling to find Vignette who flies over the city; the sound of their whistles echoing in the night.
As the Inspector heads out and sucks on his morning cigarette, the gruesome remains of the dead pixie from the night before send him right to the scene of the crime. Sensing this only happened a few hours back, he realizes Jack wasn’t the one who did this and sends the men down the sewers to track who’s really responsible. Rycroft heads to Aisling’s flat to find some clues soon after, instead finding one of her old friends hiding in the closet. He laments the police’s apathy toward pixie deaths but Rycroft, with a steely determination, tells them they’ll find who’s really responsible.
Meanwhile, the Councillor finds out his son Jonas has been abducted and vows to hang who’s responsible for this once he figures out who it is. For now though, they wait for the ransom to come through.
Rycroft continues his uphill battle against the police when he heads back to the station, struggling to find a coroner who will look at the dead pixie to find a cause of death. Getting nowhere he heads off to The Row to have a different coroner, off the record of course, look at the body. It’s here he learns she’s missing a liver, which may have been ripped out by someone or something.
Meanwhile, Vignette fights off an unwelcome advance from Ezra before flying to the Fae House with Tourmaline. She tells her friend about a group called the Black Raven she might be interested in meeting. Agreeing, the Fae sets to work in putting the meeting in place. When she arrives, she meets Dahlia who sets the ground rules straight away.
With no sign of Jonas, Absalom has no choice but to call on the help of an old witch. Sacrificing a dog for the cause, the witch reads the entrails and sees that the person who has Jonas is known to him, allegedly Ritter Longsbane, Absalom’s antagonistic politician friend. However, the truth about Jonas is revealed as it’s not actually Longerbane who took him – it was actually his own Mother.
Rycroft heads off to Vignette’s residence soon after, right in the midst of Imogen learning her household is all out of money. The Inspector asks some questions regarding Vignette before leaving Ezra to his financial fate. Imogen decides to take matters into her own hands and invites Agreus round for tea the following day, her true intentions still unknown for now.
At the coroner’s, a Mima arrives to anoint the dead Aisling, telling Rycroft that something sinister and evil took her. It’s here he reveals what the Basilisk told him previously about the dark Gods and magic. Whilst pondering the truth of the matter, Vignette arrives at the station with a mission for the Ravens, using Tourmaline to distract the guards before making haste with a flag. As the officers chase after her, she comes face to face with Rycroft who lets her go, for fear of revealing his past affairs with her.
Unlike the first episode, Carnival Row really doubles down on its plot here, progressing things nicely as the crime mystery gets into full swing. Of course, the show itself still adopts all the usual tropes you’d expect from this genre, including the investigative segments and the interviews with various residents who may know more than they’re letting on. All of this is pretty standard fare for this genre but Carnival Row has just enough of an edge to make this feel unique thanks to its fantasy world and setting.
With plenty of questions left unanswered, Carnival Row finally begins to flex its wings and deliver a compelling narrative woven around the dead fae. With sinister forces lurking in the shadows, Carnival Row sets its foundations nicely to capitalize and grow into a pacier fantasy thriller from here, but whether it will or not remains to be seen.