Carnival Row: The Big Twist Behind the Darkasher, Explained

Carnival Row Orlando Bloom

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Amazon's Carnival Row, streaming now.

Amazon's Carnival Row began with a Jack the Ripper-style aesthetic in the fictional Republic of Burgue, a Victorian-era nation where mythical creatures known as the Fae form an uneasy co-existence with mankind. However, as both faeries and humans alike are found gutted, a detective named Philo (Orlando Bloom) dives deep into the case and realizes that the killer is a demonic beast.

As he goes down this supernatural rabbit hole, he discovers it's called the Darkasher but with each and every murder hitting closer to home, the monster's tied to Philo in ways he never imagined. By the time the show's big twist rolls around, Philo's entire life, as well as the country, is changed drastically when the puppet master is unveiled.

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Some humans have been killing members of the Fae community because of sightings of a creature haunting the sewers and capital at night. When Philo puts an end to this case, though, the Darkasher surfaces and strikes by gutting the faerie known as Aisling, a former Pixie singer. Philo encounters the beast underground and it boasts a frightening octopus-like head and a humanoid body. The Lovecraftian-influenced monster escapes, but Philo now knows dark magic is at work and throws all his energy into investigating the seedy occult underworld.

Sadly, as Philo scours around, the beast murders his former headmaster and the doctor who clipped his wings when he was a baby (since Philo was a half-blood born to a faerie mother). This confirms everyone connected to his upbringing is being taken off the board, and when he visits the all-seer known as the Haruspex, Philo learns told that the Darkasher is being controlled by Piety (Indira Varma) in a major political conspiracy.

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Philo never met Piety, but she's the wife of Absolom (Jared Harris), the chancellor of the country who's trying to push pro-Fae laws. The Haruspex briefly trained her as a witch, and Piety has been using the monster to gut victims. By repurposing their body parts, she reconstitutes the beast, since the ritual does need sacrifices to sustain the monster. Philo is even more shocked at why Piety does all of this and its connection to her husband. As Philo leans, Absolom is his father, and Aisling is his mother.

He's the product of their forbidden romance years ago and when a mysterious letter is sent to Piety -- blackmailing her -- from Aisling, she decides their political life can't be stunted. Piety has aspirations for her son, Jonah, to replace his father and she decides to kill Aisling and everyone associated with Philo's birth so he could never have a claim to the chancellor's role as Absolom's eldest child.

This turns out to be quite a debacle since Piety kills the Haruspex and then lures Philo in for the last murder needed to tie up loose ends. Luckily, Philo's lover Vignette escapes Piety's captivity and murders her, thus ending the life of the Darkasher since it was connected to its master's life essence. However, the Darkasher and Piety were tools of the nefarious seductress, Sophie (Caroline Ford). She originally wrote and sent the letter to Piety after uncovering details of Absolom's trysts from her own father and his political rival, Ritter.

Knowing Piety would kill Ritter and silence Absolom so Jonah could ascend, Sophie played both families, even kindling a romance with Jonah. What makes it all the more twisted is Jonah is actually Sophie's brother, since Piety had him during an affair with Ritter. But to Sophie, their incestuous relationship is simply a Game of Thrones-esque move to consolidate power and create a new house to rule Burgue -- one that wants all magical creatures dead and humanity to prosper. They both hated their families and now is the time for a new era, but they don't know Philo could still destroy their aspirations if he pubicly spills the truth.

Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, David Gyasi, Tamzin Merchant, Andrew Gower, Karla Crome, Artemas Froushan, Carolien Ford, Indira Varma, Jared Harris and Simon McBurney, is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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