Review: “Carnival Row’s” Second Season Is A Mess

March 24, 2023

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email: [email protected]

After a nearly four-year wait, season two of Prime Video’s “Carnival Row,” created by Travis Beacham and Rene Echevarria, recently premiered. I was thrilled when I heard the news because season one was fantastic.


“Carnival Row” features a Victorian fantasy world filled with mythological immigrant creatures whose rich homelands were invaded by the empires of man. This growing immigrant population struggles to coexist with humans in the grimiest section of the city, forbidden to live, love, or fly with freedom. But even in darkness, hope lives, as a human detective, Rycroft Philostrate, and a refugee faerie named Vignette Stonemoss rekindle a dangerous affair despite an increasingly-intolerant society. Vignette harbors a secret that endangers Philo’s standing during his most important case yet: a string of gruesome murders threatening the uneasy peace of the Row. As Philo investigates, he reveals an unimaginable monster.


In the first season, we were introduced to both the human and the fae characters, with Orlando Bloom’s half-human half-pix character Rycroft Philostrate, “Philo,” a cop hiding who he really is due to speciesism, and his love Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne), a tough fighter, leading the cast.



The world is filled with chaos, strife, and war as the fae are moved into the slums of the Burg, echoing what happened to the Jews before they were sent to camps. While we watch characters evolve, much of the story is, in its way, a police drama filled with murder and mystery.


As for its second season, the series becomes more of a political drama. Yes, we see more of our favorite characters, but plot points branch off and begin, then stop without resolution. And important characters like Vignette become terribly unlikable. What’s worse is that the characters are all wishy-washy, unable to choose sides, and go back and forth about their truths and positions. It’s obnoxious.


The season finale ends with almost every main character getting a happy ending. In the harsh and dangerous world that has been created over two seasons, that shouldn’t happen. It’s just too convenient and unbelievable. And honestly, a bit lazy on the writers’ part.


There’s no way to get around it, season two is just sloppy and terribly written, but I guess that’s what you get when you have 18, yes, 18 different writers penning different episodes. It feels like the writers were so rushed to finish the script that they just threw it together, and it feels like they no longer care about the story. They turned a great series into something half-baked. They had nearly four years to write the script. So, what the hell? They could have done so much better. They truly failed both the characters and the fans.


While watching it, I wondered if they were setting up a third season, but I haven’t heard if that will happen. When the second season was initially announced, it was said that it would be the final season, and at this point, I hope it is. I don’t see any way for the series to be salvaged after it was turned into a complete shit show.


The first season was brilliant, but season two killed my love for the series, which is very sad. I forced myself to watch the final two episodes to complete it. The fans and the characters deserved better.


If, after hearing all this, you still want to watch “Carnival Row,” you can find it streaming on Prime Video.



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