‘Carnival Row’ explores refugee struggles in Amazon’s fantasy drama

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star in Amazon’s new series “Carnival Row.” The series takes place in a fictional Victorian world where fairytale creatures are very real and very hunted. The series begins with Delevingne’s character a faerie named Vignette flees her homeland while being chased by a group of soldiers occupying her country. Once Vignette arrives in the Burgue as a refugee, she discovers that her lost love Philo (Orlando Bloom) is not as dead as she thought he was.

Philo is a high-ranking detective and finds himself embroiled in a sinister investigation when he discovers a mysterious monster is murdering both man and fae. When he reunites with Vignette, he’s faced with admitting that he tricked her into thinking he was dead in an effort to protect her. From here the series bounces around Vignette and Philo’s relationship, the murder investigation and the arrival of a fae neighbor in an uppity human neighborhood.

Given that “Carnival Row” takes place in a fantasy world, readers might want to give themselves a moment to catch up on what’s going on in the story. The fae in the series primarily occupy a neighborhood called Carnival Row, and the inhabitants often reflect on a time when human/fae ties were less strained during the war and how they miss their homes. During the war, the Burgue allied themselves with the fae against a group called the Pact that wanted to eliminate the fae from their rich lands. Once the Buruge pulled out of the war, conditions on the fae land went to hell.

The refugee dynamic and the rampant racism against the fae throughout the series reflects contemporary struggles with refugees and immigration. Bloom shines as the conflicted detective who wants to save both the humans and the fae from an unknown threat. Tamzin Merchant also provides a notable performance as Imogen Spurnrose, a wealthy woman who makes a deal with an oddly wealthy fae to get her family out of debt.

“Carnival Row” has one season available on Amazon. Viewers might also enjoy Amazon’s “Good Omens,” a series about a devil and an angel teaming up to save the world from Armageddon.