WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Amazon's Carnival Row, streaming now.
Amazon's Carnival Row is a story that's eerily relevant to society today, as it waxes philosophical about division and xenophobia regarding immigrants. This comes in the shape of the Fae -- magical folk such as faeries and fauns -- who are seeking refuge in the Republic of the Burgue, only to be treated as lower-class citizens by mankind.
However, when it comes to the series' most hateful enemy and the biggest villain out of them all, the show has one gaping flaw. That's because, this entity, the war-hungry nation known as the Pact, for some odd reason, isn't shown much, which leaves us wanting to see more of their quest to eradicate the Fae.
We hear a lot about the nation during the course of the series, but the Pact is merely a shadow looming. Not much is gleaned, other than the country went to war over Tirnanoc (the Fae's homeland), looking to kill the mythical beings and drain the land of its resources, all while the Burgue fought alongside the Fae.
The Burgue, while it does have its selfish issues, has stood against the Pact for years, with Orlando Bloom's Philo but one of the soldiers sticking up for the creatures. The Pact is mentioned often but in Episode 3, "Kingdoms of the Moon," we get more insight via a lengthy flashback of how Philo met Vignette (Cara Delevingne), his faerie lover, years ago and fought for the Fae. It's here the Pact pops up against the Burgue's legion in one of the most brutal action scenes Carnival Row has to offer.
In a brief but prominent sequence, the Pact sends a legion on a raid, with airships, bombers and snipers taking out Philo's squad in a small village. It's like G.I. Joe's Cobra militia hitting a prehistoric village because soldiers with knives and guns are no match for the might of the Pact. Their soldiers are masked, keeping the steampunk-Victorian era vibe of the show intact and maintaining a sense of mystery. You can see why the Burgue is in a state of disarray, because the Pact destroys the site in a matter of minutes, with most of the Fae being killed alongside Philo's men. To make it worse, we don't even hear them speak; they simply kill like machines. Luckily, Philo escapes, but knowing Vignette's safely off with a contingent of her own, he abandons her as he feels mankind will keep drawing the Pact to these creatures.
All this exclusion achieves, though, is to whet our appetites and reinforce why the writers made a big mistake excluding the Pact. They have a scary disposition and, in a few minutes, they cut an intimidating and genocidal presence. More insight into the nation was needed so we could emotionally connect to them, although we do feel this country was kept deliberately obscure for Season 2 where it looks like they'll have a bigger role to play now that the Burgue has turned on the Fae. Nonetheless, the Pact is that elephant in the room being constantly talked about, and something you want to see more of -- its various squadrons, the government and the generals leading their military.
All we know from an official map distributed online is that the Pact, like the Burgue, is on the continent of Mesogea. A pact was formed between two countries, Quivira and Cibola, and this unified nation began a crusade of war and conquest. Oddly enough, none of this is explained in the TV series and, again, it would have added a hint of nuance to the villains.
The fact that they're a mix of military and magic is all the more intriguing, as they have chemical formulas extracted from rituals that turn soldiers into wolves, so clearly they can weaponize folks like no other nation can. Diving behind this scene would have been pretty engaging. Hopefully Season 2 brings them into the fold more because, as awesome as the Darkasher was, the Pact is a force to be reckoned with and deserves a lot more screen time.
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.