Eight episodes seems to have become the de facto length for most tv shows now. I find that a little curious as its something that may have benefitted Game of Thrones years ago, as it stuck to HBOs preference for ten-episode seasons and eight might have been a better sweet spot for the show. Well, that ship has sailed off into the West with Anya Stark so I mention that just in passing.
Carnival Row, then, completes its first season of eight episodes whilst a second season is already being set for production. While its always nice to be enjoying a new series in the knowledge that more is to come, that does carry the caveat that very often these multi-season shows have deliberate story arcs and a regrettable tendency to fall back to cliffhanger endings each season finale. It was something new and fun back in the days of Babylon 5, but it has become increasingly irritating as JMS’s serial epic has since been so widely adopted as a model for genre television.
Thankfully Carnival Row, while teasing future plot-points as its first season draws to a close, nonetheless manages to wrap up most of its current storyline. I was a little disappointed in how some parts of this story was wrapped up perhaps a little bit too neatly, but perhaps thats the price to pay to still keep it self-contained enough. I suppose its a natural problem for initial seasons that they have to introduce the world and its characters, particularly one so outlandish as this, as well as having a satisfying beginning, middle and end.
On the whole it was a pretty good series and promised much for future installments. I hope that a second season will benefit from the experience of this first season and perhaps take the opportunity of more risks and left-field storytelling. I did think that the best of this season was its world-building and establishing its mythology, and that the murder mystery that formed the backbone of its actual storyline turned out more predictable than I’d hoped. More surprises next year, please.