Carnival Row – Season 1 Episode 4 Recap & Review

An Ultimatum

Episode 4 of Carnival Row begins with Rycroft called to the scene of another crime – this time the Headmaster who meets a similar grisly demise. Following the clues, Rycroft heads underground where he comes face to face with a monstrous creature.

After successfully stealing the flag, Vignette is congratulated by the Black Raven and told to shadow Oona. It’s here she learns the group has a spy among them. When no one steps forward to admit their wrong-doing, Dahlia promises hell to pay for whoever the “little cricket” is. While Imogen continues to scheme with plans involving Argeus, her rouse comes back to bite her as he catches wind of what she’s doing and promises hell to pay. However, he soon learns that her request wasn’t for sport after all, as his prying eyes and ears learn that her brother is desperate for a loan.

Rycroft continues to pry further into the missing liver issue, finding information about how to create a Darkasher; a beast fashioned from the limbs of the dead. In The Row, Vignette and Rycroft come face to face, prompting the latter to follow the fae and explain himself. Unfortunately their conversation is fleeting, as Rycroft continues his investigation by visiting a witch, where he’s forced to give up his seed in order for the creature to be created.

Pushed to breaking point, Absalom snaps in court and confronts Longerbane about Jonas, unbeknownst to him that he isn’t the one who has kidnapped his son. Continuing to wrap him around her finger, Absalom is convinced by Piety to arrest Longerbane and force a confession out of him. After visiting his house personally, Absalom has him arrested.

Unfortunately, Vignette’s talk with the Inspector brings her in the firing line with Dahlia, who’s convinced she’s the spy. However, she manages to save herself by the skin of her wings, promising to find the one who’s really talking. Dahlia gives her until midnight to find out before it’s too late, leaving Vignette no choice but to try and find out who’s talking.

Desperate times call for desperate measures; Tourmaline speaks to Rycroft and tells him what’s happened with Vignette. Cursing under his breath, he doesn’t get long to act on the news as he, and the other policemen at the station, learn where Jonas is being held, courtesy of Piety’s tip-off. However, after he’s brought to safety he recognizes the echoing heel slaps on the ground, potentially piecing together the truth that his own Mother is the one who took him away.

Meanwhile, Agreus heads back to Imogen’s house to apologize, and it’s here he confronts her about the tea. Imogen tells him the real reason why he invited him in – money in exchange for acceptance into the upper-class society. Caught between a rock and a hard place, she obliges to try and help him, subsequently letting him in the front door.

Vignette finds herself caught in a difficult position as she confronts the spy, only to be saved at the last minute by Rycroft. Shooting the fae in the chest, she drags his dead body back to Dahlia where she’s given a promotion and a promise not to grow too close to the Inspector. In the aftermath of the death, Rycroft has a change of heart and decides to double down on his attention with Portia, agreeing to take her out for dinner while Vignette struggles with the ramifications of killing one of her kind.

The cold open to the episode works surprisingly well here to help sell the effect of the murder. For the most part, Carnival Row follows all the usual tropes you’d expect here, with plenty of crime drama peppered throughout the episode to keep things moving at a consistent pace. With more dark magic coming into the fold and a little more urgency toward just who’s behind the killings, the second half of the series will hopefully pick things up for a more exciting sprint to the finish.


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