Carnival Row Season 2 Episode 1 Recap – what happened after the Row’s lockdown?

February 17, 2023 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
Lori C. 1
Amazon Prime, Streaming Service, Weekly TV
View all


In the season premiere, we catch up with many characters and see the impact of the Row’s lockdown both in and outside the ghetto.

We recap the Prime Video series Carnival Row Season 2 Episode 1, “Fight or Flight,” which contains spoilers.

In the season premiere, we catch up with many characters and see the impact of the Row’s lockdown both in and outside the ghetto. Both Philo (Orlando Bloom) and Vignette (Cara Delevingne) are trying to help their fellow Fae-folk in their respective way; Jonah (Arty Froushan) is having trouble with managing his new-found power, Tourmaline (Karla Crome) is having terrifying visions, while lovers Agreus (David Gyasi) and Imogen (Tamzin Merchant) seem to find trouble far away from The Burgue. It’s a strong opener setting the scene and the stakes for what’s to come. 

Carnival Row Season 2 Episode 1 Recap

Episode one opens with Philo (Orlando Bloom) and Vignette (Cara Delevingne), each engaged in a dangerous mission.

Philo gets involved in an underground fight against trolls for a yet-to-be-revealed important favor from the ringleader Faun, Boz Ghaidos (Stewart Scudamore); while Vignette and two Black Ravens, Kaine (Jay Ali) and Phaedra (Eve Ponsonby), sneak out of the Row to rob medicine from a supply train.

It’s painfully apparent that young chancellor Jonah Breakspear’s (Arty Froushan) lockdown of the Row is causing immense suffering among the mythical residents. Barbed wire covers the whole area and stops the Pix from flying, which leads to many of them falling ill with an incurable ailment.

One of the afflicted is Oona (Anna Koval), a Black Raven and Kaine’s beloved. While the medicine Vignette stole from the train helps ease the suffering, there’s barely enough of it to last a week. 

Vignette’s excellent train robbery earned her the privilege of being honored by the other Black Ravens in a ritual involving them branding her. However, the plan was done without the Ravens’ aggressive leader, Dahlia’s (Chloe Pirrie) knowledge or approval. When Dahlia finds out what Vignette got up to, she’s less than pleased and even threatens to chop her wings off. 

How is the ghetto affecting Burgue’s society?

Jonah’s implementation of the critch ghetto also harms The Burgue’s economy. As Fae folk are no longer allowed outside the Row, factories and businesses lose their cheap labor, and the wealthy class loses their house servants, meaning party members are whispering against the young chancellor’s leadership skills. 

The new chancellor’s first appearance in the episode is at the brutal and public execution of five Pucks he accused of murdering his parents. Of course, those Fauns were innocent as charged, and the chancellor knew it, but still chose to decapitate them after his incestuous lover and leader of the opposition, Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford), convinced him he needed to show strength.

Poor Jonah is still not the sharpest tool in the shed; he’s allowing himself to be manipulated by Sophie while resisting his former teacher and current advisor, Runyon Millworthy’s (Simon McBurney) desperate pleas to at least visit the Row and see for himself the damage of his brutal policies. 

Philo plans to reveal his lineage

Desperate to end the Row lockdown and remove Jonah from power, Philo decides to out himself as the late chancellor Absalom Breakspear’s half-blood son. Philo hopes the reveal will destroy Jonah’s political career, but he’s painfully aware he’s also putting his own life at risk considering how much hatred is brewing against the Fae.

When Millworthy visits Philo inside the Row, he reluctantly agrees to help by sneaking him inside a banquet honoring the arrival of the new Pact ambassador to The Burgue. 

Tourmaline’s visions

As Carnival Row is now locked down with everyone in it, the Tetterby Hotel, where Tourmaline, the courtesan Fae, worked, is also closed for business. All the patrons were human, after all. Season 2 finds Tourmaline living off her savings and aimlessly trying to make sense of her new reality.

After walking past an apothecary that used to belong to the witch, Aoife Tsigani, she becomes plagued by a series of terrifying visions. She keeps seeing the old witch who forces purple smoke down her throat. Tourmaline then has a vision of a man being attacked before waking up to the horrific sight of a disemboweled cat. It appears she was the one who did the disemboweling while in a trance.

To make matters worse, Tourmaline’s vision proves to be true when Philo is called to a crime scene. While he’s no longer an inspector and most of his old colleagues irrationally hate him for being half-Fae, Philo still has one friend left in the force – Constable Berwick (Waj Ali).

It’s revealed that the dead man was a soldier stationed on the same train Vignette robbed, putting the suspicion for the brutal homicide firmly on the Black Ravens. While Bewick wants Philo’s help to solve the crime, Sergeant Dombey strongly disagrees and sends him back to the Row. 

Carnival Row Season 2 Episode 1 Ending Explained

At the end of the episode, we catch up with the star-crossed lovers Imogen Spurnrose and Agreus Astrayon.

Last season, the two managed to sail off right before the enforcement of the ghetto in a bid to escape Imogen’s Faun-hating brother, Ezra (Andrew Gower). Imogen has horrible nightmares of her sibling finding them and killing her, while the wealthy Puck is frustrated at her refusal to set ashore.

Their clothes haven’t seen a tailor in quite some time, and Agreus would like to spoil his girlfriend and live within the confines of polite society. On the other hand, she genuinely enjoys the freedom of living on a boat with her love, away from the strict societal norms she grew up with.

We don’t see much of their honeymoon bliss as a mysterious airship catches up with their boat and signals for them to follow. To ensure the passengers got the message, the airship dropped a few warning bombs into the water. Who is operating the airship? Why are they capturing Agreus’s boat?  

What did you think of Carnival Row Season 2 Episode 1? Comment below.

More Stories

Find where to watch this and more with our Discovery Tool

Explore Now
View all

1 thought on “Carnival Row Season 2 Episode 1 Recap – what happened after the Row’s lockdown?

  • March 4, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    Plot twists are overdone in the whole series. The creativity is based on WW2 imagery. Might have had more insight to stage it as the next war. WW3. Exciting scenes. Beginning to like Imogen, but her husband is getting simply annoying. He’s going to end up the new leader as the Winn’s in charge us going to get killed..I have visions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.