September 26, 2021

 If you’re looking for something different to binge during the pandemic, and you enjoy dark fantasy with a touch of Lovecraftian horror, then Amazon Prime’s Carnival Row might be the show for you.

Orlando Bloom stars as the show’s lead, playing Rycroft Philostrate, a human detective tasked with investigating a string of brutal murders caused by a terrifying monster, taking place in a fictitious Victorian city known as the Burgue.

Rycroft’s determination to solve the mystery of the murders leads him down an unexpected path to piece together a puzzle of a dark secret of his own past. Cara Delevinge joins as the supporting lead, playing a young pixie named Vignette Stonemoss, who’s trying to find her place in the city, only to end up crossing paths with Rycroft once again after attempting to forget her history with him. Together, they must rebuild their damaged relationship to survive a corrupt city where anyone or anything can get away with murder.

The plot weaves together a compelling mystery, while also integrating politics and the human population dominating and inflicting acts of discrimination on the other races that dwell in the Burgue, such as pixies, fawns, and other species forcing them into poverty. Many of the races have taken refuge in a secluded area of the city known as Carnival Row, where they can live a more humanized life compared to most of the city where they are treated like animals. 

My main complaint is that there are multiple storylines and characters, which makes the plot seem a little bloated and it took a while for some of these storylines to pick up steam. However, the pacing finally picked up and the show truly shines in it’s last few episodes, taking the audience through multiple twists and turns and leads to a satisfying conclusion adding a great set-up for the next season.

The main monster is a brilliant design and truly reminisces the work of an H.P. Lovecraft novel. The show takes the Stranger Things approach by teasing the monster’s design little throughout the course of the show and finally revealing it’s full form in the climax, which isn’t a bad thing. Bloom’s performance as Rycroft is believable and exhilarating, he captures the character’s complex nature in a very profound way, making this my favorite performance that he’s ever done.

Delevingne also delivers a phenomenal job as Vignette adding great chemistry with Bloom’s Rycroft making their struggling relationship a true captivator. The dark city of the Burgue comes to life with the show’s great cinematography, set design and eerie soundtrack making the city feel like it’s own character. Each frame is beautifully shot and complemented with great special effects adding full immersion for the audience. 

Although some of the storylines had a slow start. For the most part, all the characters are well realized and well portrayed, making me care and sympathize for these characters and their relationships. Overall, this is a great show, it’s very different and it might not be to everyone’s liking. However, Amazon took a risk in producing a show like this and it seems to have paid since another season is on it’s way and I couldn’t be more excited and I urged people to try out this series. 

Overall score: 8/10

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