WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Amazon's Carnival Row, streaming now.
Carnival Row is Amazon's neo-noir fantasy series dealing with humans coexisting in a world filled with mythical creatures called the Fae. The latter consists of faeries, fauns (known as the Puck), centaurs as well as other creatures brought about by science and magic and struggling to live together in the Republic of Burgue, a nation that took them in as refugees.
Running from the Pact, a war-hungry nation that plundered the mystical land known as Tirnanoc, these beings are seen as the lower class in Burgue, with detective Philo (Orlando Bloom) investigating murders connecting both them and humans to his past. As the eight episodes go on, Philo's ex-girlfriend Vignette (Cara Delevingne) comes to the nation as well, only to get kidnapped as part of a murder-conspiracy meant to kill Philo. By the Season 1 finale, "The Gloaming," a series of dark truths are revealed about Philo's history, the show's murderous beast and the crooked politicians reshaping the future of the Burgue.
THE DARKASHER FALLS
Philo spends most of the season investigating humans and faeries killed by a Lovecraftian monster known as the Darkasher. He soon discovers its victims, including his newly-revealed Pix mother, Aisling, are being murdered to remove proof he's the long-lost son and half-blood of the nation's chancellor, Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris). Philo connects the dots in the finale and realizes the Darkasher is being summoned by Absalom's wife, Piety (Indira Varma), as she doesn't want Philo ever encroaching on her husband's empire.
Piety kidnaps Vignette and is about to sacrifice her, as the Darkasher needs body parts to continue doing her bidding, but thanks to the seer-woman, the Haruspex (Alice Krige), Philo finds the woman and confronts her monster. Just when the beast is about to kill him, though, Vignette, breaks free and mortally wounds Piety, thus killing the creature, as the Darkasher is tethered to Piety's life-force.
With the Haruspex gone after translating this message from limbo, the only people who know of this conspiracy are Philo and Vignette, now looking to rekindle their love after he left her following a foreign war. But they're still confused because Philo never wanted his father's empire, and only found out about him later on when Absolom kidnapped him and told him of a forbidden romance with Aisling. Interestingly, Absalom was also killed by Piety, leaving the case seemingly closed.
A CRUEL EMPIRE RISES
Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford), the daughter of Absalom's political rival, Ritter (Ronan Vibert), turns out to be the mastermind behind everything. She sent Piety a letter revealing Absalom had a bastard, knowing it'd push her over the edge and into using dark magic. Sophie faked the letter being from Aisling, which is why Piety began taking out everyone connected to Philo, as she wanted to create a path to a new political empire shaped by a unique union.
The finale reveals Absalom's son with Piety, Jonah (Arty Froushan), might actually have been Ritter's due to an affair, and with all this knowledge Sophie played Piety, having her eliminate both political rivals and everyone who could lay claim to Absalom's seat (as children inherit their parents' political position until elections). Sophie takes over the opposition and Jonah succeeds his dad. When they meet, Jonah tries to break off the romance they started earlier in the season, as he knows now that they're siblings.
However, Sophie reminds him her letter gave them power like never before and it's time to purge the past as they both hated their families. She convinces Jonah to start a new world order and remove the Fae from society by placing them in concentration camps in the ghetto known as Carnival Row, as they'd be the only obstacle to dictatorial rule. Jonah betrays his dad's philosophies and, with Sophie beside him, a new political era begins as the Fae are corralled, with some already being murdered in broad daylight. Vignette is placed in the camp but rather than flee, Philo stays with her, embracing his half-blood heritage.
THE HUNTS BEGIN
The Burgue army is already hunting the Puck cult known as the Cabal, as the latter tried to kill politicians early on in the season. They didn't like being treated poorly because they were immigrants (which the upper-class calls the "Critch"), so Sophie and Jonah believe it's time to cleanse their nation and the Row of such resistance. However, other creatures are soon up for execution, including the man-wolf Darius (Ariyon Bakare), an old war friend kept alive due to Philo's advice after they served together.
Now, they're all expendable, with the wealthy Puck known as Agreus (David Gyasi) running away with the socialite, Imogen (Tamzin Merchant). They hated each other as Imogen and her brother, Ezra (Andrew Gower), were xenophobic, but it's soon revealed their ancestors, the Spurnroses, actually had a soft spot for Fae folk. This leads to an affair between Agreus and Imogen, and the finale sees Ezra confronting them in bed, trying to kill the Puck. After beating down the bigot, though, the couple flee, as Agreus has no rights here.
They sail away on the Puck's luxury liner, but Ezra tracks them on his own ship, as he wants to kill Agreus for exposing the family to ridicule from high society. Imogen's changed her ways, embracing her love for Agreus, but Ezra has nothing but hatred on his mind as his inheritance has run dry and Imogen made him the laughing stock of the social scene.
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.