Does the Carnival Row Season 2 finale work as a series finale?

Carnival Row -- Courtesy of Julie Vrabelova/Prime Video
Carnival Row -- Courtesy of Julie Vrabelova/Prime Video /

The Carnival Row Season 2 finale became the series finale. Did it work for the ending of the fantastical series? Did the whole second season work?

Caution: This post contains spoilers for the Carnival Row series finale.

Long before Amazon announced that Carnival Row Season 2 would be the last, there were rumors. With the series taking so long, at one point we feared that the series had been canceled partway through filming. Jamie Harris even shared that he and other actors worried the same thing.

Then Amazon announced the premiere date, along with the news that it was the final season after all. It turns out that there were extensive rewrites to make it work, but did that Season 2 finale become a series finale?

Carnival Row Season 2 felt a little rushed

If I’m honest, it did feel like the final season was rushed. That likely came from the fact that it wasn’t originally going to be the final season. It felt a little like The Man in the High Castle Season 4, which introduced a big rebellion plot only for it to go nowhere. New Dawn was the same as the rebellion in High Castle in the sense that it brought up the seeds of revolution but failed at the very end.

Too many big characters were killed too early on. Just look at the deaths of Sophie and Jonah. One of them dying, like Jonah, could have worked. Sophie was playing a much more intricate part that looked interesting in the second season, only to have that completely disappear. Plus, there was the social commentary that as a woman, she had less power, even though she was the leader of the Opposition.

The ending was a little anticlimactic. With the end of the Sparas, the fight for a revolution just ended. That didn’t seem to fit Leonora’s dreams. It doesn’t make sense that New Dawn would call for a cease fire after that. Leonora said to Agreus that the seeds of revolution had been sewn, but it didn’t really look like there was anyone willing to take on the leadership role. Killing herself added to the anticlimactic element of the story.

And as much as I love seeing Vignette and Tourmaline together at the end, that felt rushed and somewhere out of the left field. There were never hints that Vignette loved Tourmaline in that way. It was always about Vignette and Philo. Maybe that was linked to the rewrites and change of showrunner, but it felt forced into the story and made little sense.

While there were elements that made it work as a series finale with some sense of hope on The Row, it was rather disappointing considering how much I loved the first season and the first five episodes of Season 2.

Next. Carnival Row Season 2 finale ending explained. dark

Carnival Row is now streaming in full on Prime Video.