Carnival Row‘s trailers promised a Victorian world of magical beings dealing with a deadly mystery, all set against a classic love story of regret and second chances. Yet, the show was much more than that. It also hearkened back to Greek tragedy while offering modern day political commentary in a timely-yet-timeless tale that combined prophecy and dark arts with political intrigue and family betrayal. With only eight episodes and so much going on thoughout, there were some elements and characters we wish could have been explored in greater depth.
Here are the four things we hope to see more of next season.
Major spoilers for season one of Carnival Row ahead.
Introduce More Magical Beings
While trolls, cobalts (those adorable little actors), and centaurs were spotted populating the background of the Burgue throughout the first season, the only magical beings who were prominently involved in the story were pixies and “Pucks,” an offensive term for fauns like Agreus. Yet we saw just how wild and weird this place can be in the season’s third episode, a flashback to when Philo and Vignette first met.
It was there we saw The Pact turn their soldiers into werewolves—which we unknowingly saw in the show’s opening scene—using a serum that didn’t require a full moon for a transformation. It was twisted in the best way, just like the freakish undead hybrid Dark Asher Piety created. With the entire history of mythical creatures at their disposal, and with a world where new monsters can be made from corpses with dark magic, the show should expand its roster of important magical beings. It would add new wrinkles to Carnival Row, allowing its characters to either face new enemies or to make important new allies, all while adding ever-growing elements of danger. Could we see vampires and ghosts? Minotaurs and chimeras? And who doesn’t love an all new monster?
Visit Places Beyond the Burgue
The Republic of the Burgue might look like a steampunk aficionado’s dream come true, but its dark, gritty streets and polluted air were inescapable, and the show barely hinted at what the world beyond its shores is really like. While we saw the pixies’ snowy former homeland in various states of war and carnage, there must be some places where the sun shines. What is life like there? What other species call it home? Do they get along with humans?
With Imogen and Agreus on a ship leaving the Burgue behind, it looks like we will get to see at least one other city next season, a place where their relationship might not be so scandalous. Why don’t all the Fae live there then? What makes the Burgue attractive to them despite their second and third class status? Hopefully we get a chance to explore those places, not only out of interest but to give the Burgue greater context.
Carnival Row might be named for one neighborhood in one city, but it doesn’t have to stay there all the time.
Embracing the Possibilities of Magic (Especially the Dark Arts)
As much as we love some good old-fashioned political intrigue and hidden family secrets coming to life, we were obsessed with every scene featuring the Fae witch doctor Haruspex. She was a prophet who knew how to create a Dark Asher, and then she managed to exist between the world of the living and the dead after she was killed. What other skills and abilities did she have that we never got to see? Who else could use them in a city where all of the magical beings are now being kept prisoner?
Combined with Piety’s giant monstrosity culled from numerous creatures, there are evil, dark, fascinating things lurking below the surface of “the Row.” It’s no surprise the latter half of the season, which made them a more prominent part of the story, was such a tremendous success, as it ramped up both the intrigue and possibilities for what could happen. There’s an important way to keep the story grounded and emotional without sacrificing the fantasy elements, so the show shouldn’t worry about going bigger and wilder with its use of magic.
More of Philo and Vignette Together
Even a story of monsters and magic will stay grounded and accessible if it focuses on its characters, and Carnival Row was at its best when it brought together its two main characters, Orlando Bloom’s Philo and Cara Delevingne’s Vignette. Each was broken yet brave, vulnerable yet strong, and their relationship was the heart of the story. Their first scene together in the premiere, when she flew into his room and put a knife to his neck, was powerful and moving even though we didn’t know much about their past and love for one another. By the time she was begging the guards not to take him away it was heartbreaking.
They also play against one another perfectly. Philo tries to remain stoic and even-keeled, while Vignette wears her emotions on her sleeve, but together they are both free and at ease. While season one was about them finding their way back to one another, we hope season two is more about them being together, even under horrible circumstances. Because while we’re not happy to see the Fae imprisoned by a scared human government, we were happy to see Philo join Vignette behind those walls.
No matter how terrible the world gets, even a world of magic and wonder, it connects when we can connect with the characters. And nothing is more eternal than a love story.
Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.
Featured Image: Amazon/Legendary