“When you’ve lived with a secret as long as I have, you’d be amazed what you can hide. Still, there’s always the shame. Fear of being discovered.”
Philo’s investigation on headmaster Finch’s murder leads him to relive memories that sparks a shocking revelation, Imogen moves forward with her arrangement with Agreus to unexpected results, and Chancellor Breakspear finds a new adversary in Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford, Free Rein, Once Upon A Time).
With no real leads into the murders of Aisling and headmaster Finch, Philo returns to Haruspex to find proof that a creature such as the Darkasher can exist. Not only does she offer him the proof (creating a smaller Darkasher at his behest), she shares the uneasy fact that, so long as its master lives, a Darkasher cannot die. Philo continued investigation at the orphanage triggers memories of his stay at the there as a boy. Though the memories lead him to gathering evidence on the victims—according to Finch’s lover, Dr. Morange (Gregory Gudgeon, Genius, Interlude in Prague), Finch and Aisling were quite close twenty years past—Philo’s discovery of his own distant memories makes “Grieve No More” such a powerful episode.
When, in “Kingdoms of the Moon”, Philo opened up to Vignette about his wing shearing as a baby, the thought of such an act was heartbreaking. “Grieve No More” goes one step further, showing the heinous act perpetrated on Philo as the angelic voice of Aisling sounds in the background. Philo’s inability to shake her voice from his head becomes even more significant when he works through the gossamer strands of recollection as a boy, waking from sleep and the voice of a seraphim carrying on through his window.
Not only was Aisling there when baby Philo had his wings taken, as his mother, she was the one that brought him to that point. It’s a visceral revelation, so powerful that it nearly makes the remaining narrative arcs feel insignificant by comparison. Now knowing his heritage (at least part of it) and the continual weight of carrying his half-fae secret, where will Philo turn to as the whirlwind of emotions fly recklessly within his heart and mind?
Though Philo’s story far outweighs everything else by its sheer impact to Carnival Row’s protagonist, “Grieve No More” is not without a few more tricks. Imogen carries through with her end of the deal, inviting Agreus over for tea along with the Pembrokes and Guilfolyes. It goes about as well as one would expect when prejudiced and self-involved high society pissants are involved. The pressure of becoming talked about by her peers spurs Imogen—who earlier, displayed an impressive strength of character overriding her brother’s rejection of the idea—takes something away from her earlier stand. Surprisingly enough, Ezra saves the day, his support righting a ship that was destined to crash and burn against the rocks. Though he feels shame for having to depend on a Puck’s charity, Imogen understands that this is something they must do if destitution is to be avoided. Reaffirming her commitment to the deal, Imogen again displays a curiosity towards Agreus that suggests her interests in the Puck go beyond their mutually beneficial arrangement.
The second narrative arc is Absalom’s newest adversary in Parliament; Sophie Longerbane. Her brief scene in the previous episode suggested her character would be more than just a bit player and her address to Parliament (she takes her father’s seat due to his death) emphasizes that she may be more formidable foe than her father ever was. Shockingly (he says sarcastically) Sophie’s power and command catches the eye of Jonah Breakspear. Considering nothing we’ve seen of Jonah suggests he’s the sharpest or most composed and disciplined individual, it’s only a matter of time before Sophie has him at her beck and call. And considering that her motives don’t seem as if they’re as pure as she’d like the Parliament hounds to believe, this will become a major issue for the Breakspear clan.
An important trait of a good show is that it gets better as the story unfolds. Considering the very average premiere, Carnival Row has continued to raise the bar, with both its narrative and character arcs. From an emotional perspective, “Grieve No More” is right there with “Kingdoms of the Moon”, even with Vignette’s reduced role. Orlando Bloom showcases his ability to tap into an emotional goldmine even without the equally strong Cara Delevingne to play off of. Watching him remember the day where he was forever scarred is a moment that will stay with you and, try as you might, will never fully go away. Even the Darkasher’s return to murder (this time, Dr. Morange), cannot take the spotlight from Philo’s painful journey.
Fae, Hope, and Love
- Conjecture time: is it possible that the person behind the Darkasher is Philo’s dad? Aisling gave him away to the orphanage, had Morange (possibly) perform his wing shearing, and had some type of relationship with Finch for years…could this be revenge for taking his son and disfiguring him so? But if Philo is half-fae, his father would be human. Would a man go to these lengths to gain revenge for his son being taken? Hmmm…or it could be something else entirely.
- Her bigoted yet honeyed words aside, I do not trust Sophie one bit. There’s a good chance she’s taken such a strong anti-Fae stance as a way to gain vengeance on Absalom for killing her father. Add to this Jonah’s infatuation with her and the Parliament’s reaction to her speech, Sophie seems to have quickly gained the upper hand. While that type of cunning is a powerful tool, it’s decidedly unlikable.
- On the opposite end of the likability scale from Sophie is Ms. Imogen Spurnrose. Her pompous high society attitude garnered my instant dislike early on. But these last few episodes have shown a different side of her, one that I am extremely curious to see play out. Make no mistake, the haughtiness is still there but underneath all that pomp and circumstance is a strong woman who, in time, may finally break out of the confines of her societal upbringing.
- As impressive as this episode was, it wasn’t without its issues. Their handling of the social issues regarding the hardships the Fae face while running parallel to similar circumstances in our world, comes across as too simplistic and heavy-handed. It’s a point of deficiency most entertainment vehicles suffer from when shining a light on real world issues. Rarely is the time taken to honestly speak on the issues and it’s usually infused into the fictional world with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop. Due to the vibrancy of the main characters, the wonderful acting, and a world that still holds a lot of interesting secrets, this issue hasn’t ruined the show for me as it would have been were Carnival Row was of a lesser quality.
Carnival Row – “Grieve No More”
8.75 out of 10