“At the end of the day, a man’s no better than the pain he’s caused the people he loves and what he’s willing to do to set it right.”
To their dismay, circumstance continues to push Philo and Vignette together while Imogen’s plan to use Agreus for his wealth doesn’t go according to plan.
Wasting no time at all, “The Joining of Unlike Things” brings the beastly killer right to the forefront. Within the first five minutes, the killer butchers an orphanage headmaster and Philo finds himself facing the creature in the sewer, firing several ineffective shotgun rounds into it, before the thing disappears. Having no familiarity with the beast, Philo contacts Mima Sawsaan who suggests the beast may be a Darkasher; a golem made from the flesh of different creatures—the Frankenstein monster of the Fae world, so to speak. Unable to fully grasp this concept, Philo turns to Haruspex, asking the witch to create a Darkasher in the hopes of discovering if the Mima’s words were truth or balderdash.
Though Philo’s investigation into the Darkasher deepens the narrative mystery, it’s the complexities of his relationship with Vignette that, like the episodes before it, remains the beating heart of “Joining”. While Philo is doing constable things, Vignette is getting in deeper with the Black Raven. She may have had reservations on the first night, watching as Dahlia tossed a member to her death for squealing to the cops; but when Vignette finds herself in Dahlia’s cross hairs, those reservations have graduated into the category of “what the hell was I thinking?”. Forced to find another mole in the Black Raven network lest her own wings get clipped, Vignette is tasked with killing Hamlyn (Dejan Bucin, You Are Wanted, Baptiste), this world’s version of a confidential informant. Vignette’s hesitation to kill him nearly gets her killed, though Philo arrives in time to (quite literally) save her neck. But it’s the conversation afterwards—one that expands upon their earlier moment where he admits to being caught between two worlds—that becomes the most memorable moment of “Joining”. Without preamble, Philo admits to how wrong he was to lie to her, even return the heart braid Vignette gifted him all those years ago, apologizing for ever taking it. That act is tantamount to Philo surrendering his Fae life and any sliver of hope he may have had to reunite with her, however undeserving he felt to have her love. His actions soon after, taking Portia out as a way to show her he cares for her, is Philo’s way of convincing himself he’s ready to move on even when his heart’s clearly not ready for it. The choice to move forward when he’s miles from being over Vignette will only cause more heartache in the end. As to Vignette, she feels that heartache when, after showing proof of her success to Dahlia, she ends up crying in Tourmaline’s arms. Though her near-death experience could absolutely be a contributing factor to her emotional distress, it’s more than likely that, like Philo, she’s not yet ready to say goodbye to the love that’s remained burning within her for all these years.
Whereas Philo and Vignette’s hope for a happy ending seem far away, Imogen’s own story is looking a bit more on the up-and-up. After her first tea date with Agreus goes sideways, with the Puck believing she’s using him as nothing more than a subject for gossip. He eventually discovers the truth of her predicament and when he confronts her on it Imogen, in a surprising display of candor, tells him everything. Her honesty draws Agreus’s respect and he suggests that, now knowing her needs, there is a good chance the pair can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. Though it sounds like a business proposition, something tells me these two will, sooner or later, find themselves in a partnership that is decidedly more personal.
Returning to the present and furthering the mystery behind this Darkasher killer, “The Joining of Unlike Things” is a solid end for the first half of Carnival Row’s freshman campaign. Philo and Vignette look to move on with their lives (though clearly they aren’t ready), Imogen’s narrative gets a bit spicier now that she’s invited Agreus through the front door, and even the Breakspear family drama (more on that below) becomes more than just a droll waste of storytelling. The pieces are in place for the second half of the season to take us to the end but, make no mistake, there are still a few surprises waiting for us on the way there.
Fae, Hope, and Love
- Out of all the players involved in the Breakspear/Longerbane rivalry, who would’ve thought that Piety would be the one to watch out for (her turn as Ellaria Sand in Game of Thrones notwithstanding)? Not only does she kidnap her own son, she also kills her husband’s biggest rival and then frames Longerbane for the entire affair. Of course, her hubris may be her downfall as her son Jonah remembers the measured click-clack of her heels during his captivity. Whether there’s enough here to maintain my interest will depend on how important this arc is to the larger narrative.
- How long will Philo and Vignette go before they admit to themselves they aren’t over one another? While both of them have plenty to keep them busy outside of their relationship, there’s no denying the connection there remains strong, even if it’s become frayed with anger, shame, and resentment. It may not be as simple as ‘kiss and make up’ but both need time, not just to process all that’s happened between them but that they’re each other’s true North.