The latest season is mostly about sneaky power plays in a beautifully crafted world.
After four years of waiting, the second season of carnival line there then. Although the hype surrounding this series may have died down a bit, there’s a lot to enjoy this season, especially visually. Having the world created is like a fairy tale and at the same time full of Victorian steampunk elements. Many issues from the previous season seem to have been fixed, but still will be. carnival line never lives up to its potential.
Rycroft has fully admitted that he belongs to the mythical beings, the Fae, and now lives in isolation with all the other non-humans of The Burgue on Carnival Row. Due to repression and various social tensions, this neighborhood has become a closed ghetto. Tensions between the Fae and humans are rising here.
Where the first season still focused on Rycroft’s detective work, the new episodes mostly play power games. Especially in the first half, this works as a strong allegory, with opportunistic politicians unhesitatingly joining the populist waves to strengthen their own position. How the state is more and more immersed in fascism here is very well resolved.
The dynamic between the new Chancellor, Jonah Breakspear, trying to increase his power and the powerlessness of everyone trapped on Carnival Row due to their heritage is extremely exciting. Meanwhile, Jonah’s adviser, Runyan, secretly tries to improve the situation for everyone who falls victim to this power struggle. At times, the series proves capable of extremely witty and subtle political drama.
Political intrigue may be the strong point of the new season, many of the other stories are extremely messy. Too often, creators seem to choose not to let situations play out, but to turn everything around with major plot twists. Sometimes this promotes tension, but much more often it ensures that the characters don’t get a chance to grow.
Vignette in particular has barely grown this season. She always seems to believe new things or join new groups, because the creators want to put her in as many action scenes as possible. The result, however, is that little remains of the strong character of the first season. There seems to be a huge emphasis on the show, with lots of explosions and violence, so the stories about love and trust from the first season are completely washed out. As a result, the characters threaten to become more and more empty shells.
Still, the creators of carnival line to have found the light, literally. While the first season was often too poorly lit visually, so that the surroundings were often difficult to see, in the second season you can fully enjoy the beautiful sets. The camera moves regularly in long shots through the streets of El Burgue. These shots are not only very beautiful but also bring this fantasy world to life.
Unfortunately, these beautiful images are sometimes interspersed with shots that are too obvious for a green screen. Considering the amount of money invested in this series, it’s surprising how poorly some of the visual effects are executed in the end result. For a series that still has to rely heavily on these technical means, all too often there are visibly flawed or poorly developed shots.
Amazon has decided to go offline carnival line so there won’t be a third season. An interesting world has been created in the series in which the danger of populism and racism is shown without a pedantic tone. However, the series has wanted to develop too many ideas at the same time from the beginning, which has never fully benefited the whole. In the final episodes, when all the loose ends are tied up in bizarre ways, the idea that this series could have been so much more lingers.
carnival line can be seen in first video.