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SYFY WIRE Carnival Row

Carnival Row Discussion: 'The Joining of Unlike Things' shows the folly of just about everyone

By Alyssa Fikse & Jessica Toomer

There comes a point in every season of television when the seemingly disparate threads begin to tighten in focus. In "The Joining of Unlike Things," Carnival Row's fourth episode, we're careening towards that plot point collision as Philo and Vignette's worlds get a bit more complicated. Everyone is making terrible decisions, bless them, but we're still hoping these desperate creatures can work it out.

As Philo continues to unravel the murder mystery, each new discovery brings the killings closer and closer to home. Sh*t is getting real, y'all, and we can't wait to see where it all ends up. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we're here to guide you through each new bit of critch magic and human bigotry.

Spoilers for Season 1, Episode 4 of Carnival Row within.


The Monster Strikes 

Jessica: Whew, where to begin with this episode? I guess we’ll start with the gruesome murder at the orphanage. A poor boy gets up in the middle of the night to take a leak and witnesses his kindly headmaster get ripped to pieces by the mysterious sewer monster, so of course, Philo arrives to do some detecting. At this point, we know the creature likes livers and leaving a mess, but I have a feeling it’s gonna take more than that to crack the case.

Alyssa: Somebody get that poor orphan boy into therapy because witnessing your headmaster’s bloody demise will leave a mark on the soul! And while I expected that the case would take a dark turn, I didn’t expect the weirdness that was coming. After the murdered headmaster had an autopsy — he, of course, was awarded an official one because human man — Philo begins to suspect that the creature is something called a dark asher. Basically, someone built this monster from spare parts, Frankenstein-style. 

Jessica: A “golem of flesh fashioned from the limbs of the dead” is not the new fae creature I was hoping for but it does seem to be pretty invincible, which is bad news for Philo. The half-breed goes looking for answers and winds up at the shop of a dark sorceress — the same one helping Piety pull off her kidnapping scheme — and things get… weird. Like drug-induced hallucinations, magical handjobs, and semen-draining weird. 

Alyssa: J*ZZ MAGIC. Carnival Row has thrown some crazy stuff at us so far, but requiring the literal “seed of life” to create his own weird fish dark asher was a lot. And didn’t seem entirely consensual. I sincerely hope we never see that again. Still, I guess Philo is going to get some sort of super fish sidekick now, so, cool. Anyway, I am seriously waiting to find out where Philo gets his money because he is just throwing coin around, freeing fae and buying Frankenfish and that seems to be beyond a constable’s salary, you know?

Jessica: His money purse is as deep as Mary Poppins' carpet bag which leads me to believe he’s into some less-than-savory sh*t. I mean, as shocked as he was about that old lady pouring his j*zz on a dead rat like it was alfredo sauce on pasta, he got over it pretty quick so maybe this dalliance with the dark side of the Row isn’t his first? The more I learn about Philo through his interactions with people of The Burgue, the less I feel like we really know him. 

Carnival Row

Political Machinations

Alyssa: And seriously, the people of The Burgue are into some unsavory sh*t for real. First up, Ezra and Imogen are trying to save the family fortune in very different ways. Ezra, the weak-willed rapist, is just certain that the bank will give them a loan because seriously, the banks can always help you in your time of need! Imogen is taking a much more venomous route, but you can tell that she’s the thinker in the family, even if her ideas are horrendous. Pretending to be “painting the foyer,” Imogen has Agreus over (through the servant's entrance) for tea, once again bringing Fancy B*tch and Hoof Man together for more sexually charged arguments.

Jessica: Except Hoof Man has to go through the back door of Fancy B*tch’s house which royally pisses him off. He knows a game is afoot, but he thinks Imogen just wants to add him to her Burn Book and gossip about him with her Plastics. I squealed with glee when Agreus dressed Imogen down over sugar lumps and fine china. The brat needed to be brought down a peg. 

Alyssa: Agreus is the bus running over Imogen’s Regina George, that’s for damn sure. However, these two eventually realize that they can help each other, her giving him an in with the snobbish high society that for some reason he wants to join and him providing her with the funding that she desperately needs. Something tells me he will be buying more than fresh flowers and fancy dresses, but I am still a bit at a loss of what keeps bringing these two together. Yeah, there is definitely a mutually beneficial aspect to their relationship, but at what cost?

Jessica: I’m just not sure what Agreus gets from their relationship. He doesn’t seem the type to care what others think. He’s certainly got thick-enough skin to make it in high-society without a large friend group. Unless, and this is me just spitballing here, he’s got the hots for Imogen? It’s a strange thought because she is the absolute worst, but maybe he cares less about fitting in and more about spending time with her? He’s just lucky she’s dirt-poor at the moment and doesn’t have much choice in friends. Hoof Man deserves better but alas, love is blind and all that sh*t. 

Alyssa: Speaking of being blind to reality, Absolom Breakspear might be the dumbest person on this entire show. While his wife is scheming behind his back to take control of the government while also faking their son’s kidnapping, Absolom is having an absolute breakdown in a very public way. He took the fae witch’s lies as truth (again, stupid), and now he’s paying the price. Again, I am not sure what Piety is trying to gain with all of this scheming. There has got to be an easier way to get a political foothold than murder and kidnapping.

Jessica: Especially when it’s kidnapping her own damn son. Piety is a piece of work in the best way. I cackled when she turned on the waterworks after poisoning that poor politician Absolom beat to a pulp — though he turned out to be a sexist pig as well. As convincing an actress as Piety is, I have doubts she can keep up this charade, especially now that Jonah is safely home and the clackety-clack of mommy’s heels is bringing back bad memories. 

Alyssa: Yeah, I think Jonah went from one type of problem to another. I can’t be too sad that Piety poisoned Longerbane because like you said, he was an abusive misogynist and was literally keeping his daughter locked up in a castle. Sophie seems like she could be important, even if it is very odd pacing-wise to bring in another important character halfway through the season. Oh, Carnival Row. You crazy. Maybe she and Jonah can unite through their mutual hatred of their terrible parents. 


Working With The Ravens

Jessica: Well, with daddy dead the world is literally her oyster. Sophie’s living the high-life right now, all things considered, but poor Vignette, not so much. The Black Ravens are the kind of disorganized rebel group I’d have the misfortune of joining only to realize too late they don’t have their sh*t together. They’ve got more leaks than that damn ship Vignette barely escaped, and I have a feeling our little fae badass is in deep trouble now that she’s aligned herself with them. 

Alyssa: Vignette and Philo need to learn that intense conversations about their tragic love need to happen indoors, not in the middle of the street in full sight of Raven spies. C’mon, guys. This is Survival In An Iron Fist Regime 101. No matter how angry Vignette is or how tortured Philo is, these two just can’t seem to stay away from each other, and that is having major ramifications. To be fair to the Ravens, I would probably think the new girl chatting up a cop was the cricket as well.

Jessica: She’s lucky a little wing-tugging is all they did to her. Unfortunately for the real cricket who’s been tipping Philo off for unknown reasons, Vignette’s life means more to him than bringing the Ravens down so Philo tells Tourmaline who the snitch is and Vignette uses her wiles to seduce him before throwing him off a building. Not the way I’d deliver his wings as proof of my loyalty, especially since the assassination attempt nearly ended with her getting her head cut off by a giant pair of shears. Thank God Philo seems to be stalking Tourmaline in his free time, but this murder is just another dark spot in their shared history. Will it bring them closer together or prove they should keep their distance?

Alyssa: Well, by the well-trod laws of storytelling, now that Philo has returned her charm and decided to give it the old college try with Portia (poor, poor Portia), Vignette is definitely going to soften towards him and they’re going to rekindle their sh*t again. Mark my words, these two will be doing it again sooner rather than later. Their sexy whispered apologies did not sound like the words of people who are over by any means. Either way, Vignette delivered the wing and is back in Dahlia’s good graces, even getting a new job, which will probably mean more trouble. The poor girl is more than a little shellshocked, showing up bloody and nearly catatonic on Tourmaline’s porch. These two women need a spa day, for real. Vignette keeps getting the brunt of the Burgue’s cruelty and Tourmaline is just there to offer emotional support while her own broken heart is slowly bleeding out just out of view. They make me sad! Justice for these fae kweens!


What’s Next

Jessica: Oddly enough, I’m most excited for more Hoof Man and Fancy B*tch drama. There’s a tension there that’s feeding my soul and I feel like Agreus could be good for Imogen in many ways, as long as he’s not used to "cure" her of her racism. Let Imogen figure out her own garbage moral center first, then have them hook up. I’m also curious to see if Philo’s golem sidekick will be born next episode. I mean, Carnival Row has no problem testing the limits of rational thought but I just can’t imagine how Orlando Bloom is going to pull off a cop-buddy drama with a mole-rat-fish as his rookie partner. 

Alyssa: Listen, Carnival Row has proven that they’re not afraid to get weird, so seriously, let’s get weird. Get that golem out in the world. Have some fae on human hookups. Bring back the dancing goblin circus because I want to see my hero lil' Fike again. I think at this point, I’m most excited to see what goes down with the Brakespears. Is Jonah just going to accept that his mom kidnapped him for political gain or is he going to play it cool while scheming against the chief schemer? There is a lot of room for family strife here and I’m ready for it. What I’m not ready for is the inevitable trampling of Portia and Tourmaline in Vignette and Philo’s love dance back to each other. I know it’s coming, you know it’s coming, and these ladies deserve better.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors', and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.