The universe of Prime Video's Carnival Row is dense in lore, politics and the complexities intrinsic to clashing social groups. The fantasy show, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, came out in 2019. It takes place in a city called the Burgue, where an influx of humanlike beings named fae (including faeries and faun) are cast to the margins of society in what's ultimately a story about life in the shadow of xenophobia. Carnival Row refers to a section of town inhabited predominantly by fae.
Season 1 introduced Burgue detective Rycroft Philostrate (Bloom) and Fae refugee Vignette Stonemoss. They'd met and fallen in love seven years earlier during a war that brought Rycroft (who goes by Philo) to Vignette's homeland, Tirnanoc, as a soldier. They reunite as Philo is investigating a series of murders that'll ultimately reveal a secret about his past. All the while, anti-fae sentiment continues to rise.
The first two episodes of season 2 land on Prime Video on Feb. 17. Here's what you need to remember about Carnival Row season 1.
Power struggle in the Burgue
In the Burgue, the political machinations are complicated and seedy. Blackmail, lies, affairs and murder all come together to place Jonah Breakspear (son of Chancellor Absalom Breaskspear) and Sophie Longerbane (daughter of a political rival) in top positions of power after both their fathers are killed by their mother. Yes, they're half siblings. Also, they're romantically involved. Jonah and Sophie adopt a joint hard-line anti-fae stance, with ultimate aspirations of controlling the Burgue.
Imogen and Agreus' taboo romance
Season 1 included the story of Agreus, a wealthy faun (a fae with ramlike horns, known derogatorily as a "puck") moving into an affluent section of Burgue. His neighbors, siblings Imogen and Ezra Spurnrose, are having financial issues and want to manipulate Agreus into a business partnership in return for an introduction into high society. Agreus and Imogen fall in love. Ezra catches them in bed and Agreus attacks him. At the end of the season, Agreus and Imogen run off on a ship, but Ezra isn't going to let them be.
Philo learns a secret
Season 1 makes two main revelations about Philo. One, he's actually half faerie (or pix, as the anti-fae say). His mother had his underdeveloped wings shorn in hopes he'd pass as a human and have more opportunities in life. Two, Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris) is his biological father. Breakspear, as previously mentioned, is the chancellor of the Burgue at the start of the season.
It turns out the murders that Philo's been investigating all season aren't random. They're connected to him. Piety Breakspear, wife of Absalom and mother of Jonah, was told of a prophecy saying the son of the chancellor would be successful and powerful. The problem is, it probably refers to Philo. So, Piety sets off on a bona fide murder spree using dark magic to clear the way for Jonah.
Vignette and the Black Raven
In season 1, Vignette gets involved with a secret vigilante group of her fellow faeries, called the Black Raven. She gets more entrenched with the group, and even gets sent to carry out a murder.
Philo and Vignette patch things up
When Philo and Vignette reunite in Burgue, the meeting isn't exactly happy. Back in Tirnanoc, Philo asked a friend of Vignette's to tell her he'd died, wanting to spare her what was to come if they tried to have a relationship. When Vignette finds out Philo is alive, she's pissed. As the season progresses, they keep crossing paths, saving each other from various ill fates, and they finally get back together. Just as they've decided to run away from the Burgue.
Carnival Row, sequestered
At the end of the season, as Philo and Vignette are about to blow town, police show up at Carnival Row. Jonah, as chancellor, has issued an order to cut off access to and from Carnival Row, trapping the fae inside. In a crucial moment, Philo literally decides which side he's on. He decides to own up to his Faerie side and stay with Vignette in the newly segregated Carnival Row.