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SYFY WIRE Carnival Row

Carnival Row Discussion: 'Unaccompanied Fae' reopens Vignette's wounds

By Alyssa Fikse & Jessica Toomer

Carnival Row is wild, y'all. This is a show that has crazy creatures and big emotions, and everyone is playing it 100% serious. We're obsessed. In the sixth episode of the season, "Unaccompanied Fae," sets many things into motion, some painful and some even more painful. Despite doing her best to build a new life in The Burgue, Vignette gets a stunning reminder of the life she left behind and her world that has been destroyed. 

As we get closer and closer to finding our killer, expect some of our most insane theories to come to the surface. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer and we're here to help you tell your dark ashers from your pucks.

Spoilers for Season 1, Episode 6 of Carnival Row within.

Carnival Row

Dark Times For Fae

Jessica: Well, this episode started off fairly sunny — it was a smog-covered sun dimmed by the death and poverty that marinates on Carnival Row, but still, sun. We got a lazy morning makeout between Tourmaline and Vignette and a pitch for a new show that I would never not stan. I’m sure Amazon wants to keep this series going for a while if it does well but please, someone, pick up “A Whore’s Revenge.” You’d be doing God’s work. 

Alyssa: I would be more on board with these two locking lips if I didn’t get the sense that Vignette was using Tourmaline as a temporary bandage before she gets back with Philo. Tourmaline, I’ve been there, girl, and it is NO FUN. Not that Vignette doesn’t deserve something nice right now, but I worry that it’s at Tourmaline’s expense in the long run. But Vignette Goes Through It(TM) in this episode. While she’s running her gambling ring, she happens to see that there’s a new exhibit: The Treasures of Tirnanoc. Despite the sign barring “unaccompanied fae” from the entrance, our girl breaks in because she doesn’t give a sh*t about the rules. Unfortunately, what’s inside sends her into an emotional tailspin. The garb of her people, natural wonders from her homeland, and the sacred sexy book that brought her and Philo together. Yep, someone unsealed her library.

Jessica: And I demand to know who! Philo wouldn't, would he? Who else could’ve known about that place? Is that how he amassed his fortune? These are the questions that plagued me this episode — not Philo’s lineage or Sophie’s endgame. Watching our sweet baby fae bawl her eyes out as a bunch of rich white ladies treated her most sacred texts like some karma sutra book cut me to my core. Clip my wings, cut off my rattail, but don't make me witness Cara Delevigne breaking down over a bunch of dusty novels. I can’t take it. 

Alyssa: It was a heartbreaker. I don’t think that Philo is responsible for this, though. His sense of honor is too rigid and his love for Vignette too all-consuming. Someone probably uncovered it by accident while sifting through the rubble of Tirnanoc and decided to exploit it for their own personal gain. That’s some colonizer bullsh*t right there. But yeah, Vignette is in a bad way and she understandably lashed out at those tittering biddies, but that, unfortunately, got her a one-way ticket to the Constabulary. Do you think she’s tight enough with the Ravens that they’ll help spring her from the clink? I’m not so sure that they won’t let her rot. 

Jessica: I don’t trust the Ravens as far as I can throw them — and that’s not very far because I have zero upper body strength and those floor-length dreads they wear look heavy. As much as I love Vignette’s spunk, it gets her into too much trouble. There was no critical thinking behind her decision to enter that museum and she let her emotions get the better of her when she discovered what was inside. Even worse, she stayed behind to spook some old ladies. I understand the all-consuming rage — I had a roommate who stole my Carrie Fisher memoir when I was midway through and I threatened to break my lease if she didn’t return it. I was hours away from dropping a bloody horse head in her bed. But what was Vignette trying to accomplish here? Honestly, it’s a question I constantly ask when it comes to this character’s arc. 


Beneficial Partnerships

Alyssa: First of all, I can’t imagine any court in the land not siding with you when Carrie Fisher is involved. Second of all, you’re right. They really need to focus up Vignette’s arc beyond her lashing out at things without really thinking it through. Honestly, they’re doing a better job with Imogen. It pains me to say that, but it’s true. She got a fancy new dress from Agreus and some bad news from Ezra: their family doctor was the latest person murdered. Jess, this news got my theory senses running wild. My latest theory is that the Spurnroses' father is also Philo’s mystery dad. I could be off-base, but I’ve been a little confused as to how Ezra and Imogen tie into the greater plot, and this could be it. Sure, they’ve fleshed out The Burgish gentry, but could they be Philo’s family? I just don’t know!

Jessica: What a delicious comeuppance for the Spurnrose twins. I’d love for their dear-old-dad to have fathered a half breed but even if he didn’t, I think their father’s ties with the doctor and his progressive past are reason enough for Imogen’s storyline to exist. Perhaps, through her friendship with Agreus and through her discovery of her father’s affinity for fae-folk, she’ll evolve into a less bigoted idiot? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, we’re being treated to charity auctions where these Burguish snobs trade thorny barbs over champagne and Hoof Man embarrasses his enemies by snapping up expensive paintings. I’m liking this more than I should. 

Alyssa: Yeah, this partnership is so deliciously twisted. I mean, buying me velvet gowns and taking down my gauche enemies would be the way to my heart, and I think Imogen’s too. She may claim that these machinations are just to keep the family afloat, but I think she’s definitely starting to enjoy Agreus’ company. Maybe she’ll come around to progressive politics, but I’m hoping that she doesn’t see Agreus as some sort of exception instead of acknowledging her own prejudice. That would make me feel rather icky. 

Jessica: Speaking of icky, can we discuss this weird religious cult that’s marching down the row, whipping their backs as a way to evangelize other fae? Because I got bad vibes from the dude in charge. All these references to the holy martyr are going to play out somehow in the end but I think it’s safe to say a rebellion is brewing in The Burgue and the humans aren’t ready for it. 

Alyssa: Woof. Yeah, that former guard for the Breakspears has certainly gotten himself mixed up in something BAD. The Burgue feels like it’s one or two steps at most from devolving into utter chaos and I don’t think that this cult is going to help matters at all. We also need to talk about Jonah and Sophie in this episode. After Jonah blew off his dad to go and meet Sophie, she immediately saw through his “I’m just here to pay my respects” cover, because what person would come to pay their respects to their alleged kidnapper? Still, Jonah pays her back quid pro quo, calling out the fact that her anti-fae rhetoric was just a matter of self-preservation. While I’m glad that she doesn’t really believe the hatefulness that she spouts, I was pretty disappointed to see her exploit an insecure populace for her own survival.

Jessica: Look, nothing gets me hotter than a tense argument over my father’s casket but I’d have rather seen this confrontation end with a bit of bump and grind next to that corpse than find out Sophie’s playing both sides. On the one hand, bravo b*tch. On the other, if she’s doing this for purely selfish reasons, that’s pretty darn sh*tty. I mean, her childhood probably warped her sense of morality to an unredeemable degree but she seems connected to her critch maid, so much so that she takes offense to the slur when Jonah uses it. Either she’s woefully incapable of self-reflection or she’s got a plan. God, I hope she has a plan. I want to like Sophie, dammit!


Mysteries Revealed

Alyssa: Someone needs to have a plan because Philo certainly doesn’t. He’s lying to his superiors about the connections that he’s gleaned between these murders, which I get, but certainly puts him on shaky ground. Another wrong move is telling Portia the truth about his parentage. I know we’ve been pushing Philo to be more open with the women in his life, but he definitely misread this situation. Not only does Portia recoil at his touch and kick him out, but she also narcs on him to Constable Muttonchops. I’m not sure what that guy’s whole deal is beyond the fact that he hates Philo, but I don’t trust him one bit. 

Jessica: Philo picked the wrong side-chick and he’s suffering the consequences. While the police are gunning for him now that his fae heritage has been revealed and they assume he’s the murderer, he’s chatting it up with the traveling stage manager, still mourning his deported troupe of kobalds. Philo discovers his mother sought refuge with a Burguish benefactor while she was pregnant and, what do you know, it was Father Spurnrose. When Philo goes to the house to investigate further he’s snatched up by the po-po before he can learn who his dear old dad was. As much as I love your theory, Alyssa, I don’t think the watchmaker is his father. From that quick chat with the maid, it sounded like Spurnrose just considered Aisling a friend and wanted to help her. That the real father is someone much more powerful which leads me back to my original theory that it’s the Chancellor. I doubt the Chancellor knows of Philo’s existence but I’d bet my own a** that Piety does, at least she knows something, and she’s trying to keep it quiet to protect the family’s reputation and her son’s inheritance. 

Alyssa: I’m not writing off Spurnrose the Elder just yet. While I could see the Chancellor as the father, he doesn’t give off the murder mastermind vibe to me. Is he spending all of his spare time building evil monsters in the sewers? I just don’t know. As for Piety, I’m not sure if I can see her connected to yet another plot. That would be kind of lazy at this point, right? We’re seeing so much of her other scheming, including gaining some knowledge of her favorite witch’s inevitable death-by-golem, that it would feel dishonest for the show to be keeping this kind of relevant knowledge from viewers at this point. No matter who the killer is, Philo overplayed his hand and he is headed to jail on the suspicion of murder. Are he and Vignette going to have their reunion in a prison cell? Romantic.

Jessica: Yeah, I’m scratching my head to discover how Philo worms his way out from behind bars now that the power of the police force is no longer on his side. For the first time in his life, he's being recognized for who he truly is. That either brings a great sense of relief and freedom, or it just furthers his identity crisis. Either way, it’s not going to be easy working against his brothers in arms to solve these killings. At this point, because so much of the plot is being taken up by Philo’s search for his parentage and his investigation into the murders, I’m questioning why Vignette was positioned as a main character and why their love story was so heavily teased. Other than one episode, we haven’t seen much in the way of romance and Vignette feels on the fringe at the moment as Philo deals with his own baggage. Maybe the final episodes will wrap things up, but moving forward I’d like to see more cohesion amongst these plot threads. 


What’s Next

Alyssa: Something tells me that Sargeant Berwick, pure of heart and mustache, is ultimately going to align with Philo and help break him and possibly Vignette out of the Constabulary. I could be pinning too much of my hopes and dreams on one man with limited power, but I’ve pinned my hopes on less in the past. We’ve only got two episodes left, but Carnival Row has already been renewed for a second season, so there will be plenty of mysteries left unsolved in the end. I will say that despite all of the death occurring on the Row, most of our mains are still breathing, so I am worried that someone is going to kick the bucket soon. If anything happens to Darius or Tourmaline, I’m going to riot. 

Jessica: Pin your hopes where you must, Alyssa. These are dark times. I’m sure Philo will break out somehow — who else is going to catch this Dark Asher and its creator, certainly not Jonah. I’d like to see more of Sophie, only because she’s still such an enigma and she’s positioning herself to be a powerful player in the game. Hoof Man and Fancy B*tch need to get it on, and quick, lest this sexual tension combusts and bring down the whole damn city. And please, please, can we not break Tourmaline’s heart this season. Give us this one small mercy!

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