Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Carnival Row’ takes place in a world where humanity exists alongside mythical creatures. Human empires have expanded their wars to the lands of the faes, which has led to tremendous loss of life and mass exodus. When the story begins, the fae folk have immigrated to various human nations in search of peace, including the Republic of The Burgue, where the narrative is mainly set.
The Sparas is a race of fae that ‘Carnival Row’ introduces in its second and final season. Much about the species is shrouded in mystery, but the show does reveal certain aspects of their lives in their homeland. Here is what you need to know about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Sparas: A Shapeshifting Fae Species
In both seasons of ‘Carnival Row,’ there is a murder mystery at the center of the narrative. In season 2, a human military engineer is killed, and his body is suspended several meters above ground with the flywire used above Carnival Row to make it look like the faeries have done it. Later, Dahlia and Bolero, leaders of the faerie gang known as the Black Ravens, are killed, and their heads and wings are found mounted on the walls encompassing Carnival Row. The faes blame the police, as just a few weeks before, they mounted the heads of faun religious zealots executed for allegedly murdering the former Chancellor and his wife.
Although Philo (Orlando Bloom) is no longer an inspector, he begins investigating the murders at the request of his erstwhile colleague, Constable Berwick. In season 2 episode 5, it is revealed that the killer is a Sparas, a shapeshifting species of the fae. As Jonah Breakspear orders the execution of Vignette, the Sparas swoops down from the sky and kills most of the humans there, including Jonah, whom it wraps around with its bat-like wings and kills with its protruding bones and teeth.
In episode 6, the narrative shifts to seven years earlier, when Philo and Darius are still stationed in the continent of Tirnanoc, and the forces of The Burgue are retreating toward its colonies in the continent. While fleeing from their Pact pursuers in the Vitris Valley, Philo convinces an injured Darius to leave him behind. As he begins fighting the enemies with the last few rounds of bullets he has, a nightmarish creature suddenly appears out of nowhere and begins killing the remaining pact soldiers. It soon finds Philo, but it leaves him alone after sniffing him. The creature transforms into a white-haired woman and observes that Philo is half-faerie. As she cleans her bloodied hands in the water of a stream, she tells Philo to leave.
After returning to the camp, Philo shows his superior officers the tooth he has brought back. The Sparas are supposed to be extinct for centuries. The Citris Valley just might be what is left of their kind. Philo tries to convince Lieutenant Quintrell to let him go and speak to the Sparas to cover The Burgue forces as they retreat from the approaching Pact army. But Quintrell dismisses the idea and orders him to fire everything they have on the valley to stop the enemies. Philo reluctantly follows orders and watches as burning and dying Sparas take the air.
Even among the fae folk, the Sparas inspire fear. When Tourmaline learns that a Sparas is behind the deaths, she starts to panic, as her vision has shown that it will come for her. Interestingly, the Sparas we meet in Tirnanoc doesn’t want to cause harm to the other fae folk. This is why she lets Philo go. But the Sparas in The Burgue clearly has different objectives.
Berwick correctly observes that everything the Sparas has done caused discord in the already tumultuous Burgue society. So, whatever group the Sparas is working with likely wants a political upheaval in The Burgue, likely to force a change in the status quo. There is only one organization in season 2 that seeks to recreate the world: New Dawn, the socialist revolutionary group led by the enigmatic Leonora.