The fantasy genre is having a major moment right now and Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring with the allegorical, fantasy crime thriller, Carnival Row.
The eight-episode series stars Cara Delevingne as refugee faerie Vignette Stonemoss and Orlando Bloom as Rycroft Philostrate, a human detective. In the process of dealing with the quickly unraveling coexistence of their species and a string of brutal murders, they also try to hide their love from a disapproving world.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the series, but because unlike many fantasy series, it wasn’t based on a book, we couldn’t skip ahead to familiarise ourselves with the characters or the complex, fictional world that they live in outside of the show.
When viewers first meet Vignette, we know her as a faerie who was forced to flee from her war-torn country to the relative safety of the Burgue where she meets Philo. Or rather, they are reunited. They first met during the war in Vignette’s home country and fell in love before Vignette’s heart is broken when she believes Philo has died. Her heart is put through the wringer once again when she discovers in the Burgue that he had not died after all. When they are reunited, the same complications exist. People don’t approve of humans and faeries being together.
Vignette, as we come to know her in season 1, is defined by what and who she loves and what and who she has lost. In an interview with Digital Spy, Delevingne revealed what she did to develop and understand her character. “The little connections, and especially with someone who’s been hurt constantly their entire life and heartbroken and had so much taken away, you get a thick skin, and she definitely has that,” she said. “But most people get a hardened heart, and I know that’s one thing she doesn’t have. Usually, hurt people hurt people, and she doesn’t. She tries to live with compassion and forgiveness and love. That’s the most endearing quality about her.”
Philo isn’t the only love we are introduced to from Vignette’s past. Season 1 hints at a past romance or closeness with her faerie friend Tourmaline (Karla Crome). In a flashback, we see that through time and the war, Vignette and Tourmaline’s displacement has changed them. Vignette has been reunited with Philo and it’s implied that Tourmaline wishes that wasn’t the case. “It never ended,” Vignette explained. “It just...changed.”
Delevingne believes that for viewers to fully understand her character, both relationships should be pursued in the plot. “Her and Tourmaline have that kind of relationship where it’s like, they’ve been best friends forever. Whether they’ve had sex or not, or loved each other or not, doesn’t take away from the fact that they are each other’s best friends,” Delevingne told Entertainment Weekly. “So that to me is always going to be stronger than someone you love.”
Because season 1 had so much to introduce us to, Delevingne even found her own character was a bit of a mystery to her at times. She revealed to EW that not much of Vignette’s backstory was explained even to her. “Because this whole season, the first season, is mostly about Philo and his past. So I kind of had to make it up, or discover it myself,” she said.
Already renewed for a second season, there is plenty to explore in Vignette’s backstory, her character, and what her future will hold. Delevingne does believe that there are plenty of opportunities to explore the depth of her character in season 2. “I want the audience to learn more about her past, learn more about what makes her who she is, what she’s lost, what she’s gone through,” she told EW. “But also, I think, just her trajectory and where she’s going will be interesting enough.”
Carnival Row is out on Amazon Prime Video now