What is Carnival Row Even About?

Cara Delevingne’s new show could be the next Game of Thrones.

Mikael Jansson

Could it be Cara Delevingne of all people who fills that Daenerys-shaped hole in your heart? Well, maybe. The model-turned-actress is set to costar in Amazon’s Carnival Row with Lord of the Rings veteran Orlando Bloom when it debuts later this year. While shifting through the glut of potential Game of Thrones replacement series seemingly every prestige TV outlet is racing to unleash on the world, this one somehow slipped past us. Perhaps because unlike Thrones, Carnival Row will take place in a vaguely futuristic city (albeit with Victorian-era touches, in a steampunk sort of way), and instead of ongoing wars and battle scenes, it will instead take on the form of a neo-noir mystery. Still, there’s not only enough that appears to be in the show’s DNA (including magical creatures and scheming members of a ruling upper class) to hook Thrones fans, but a few familiar faces from the Thrones cast will appear as well (in addition to veterans of the Outlander, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Misfits franchises). Though, Amazon execs decidedly don’t want you to compare it directly to anything else. They insist it’s completely fresh and new. “There has never been a series like Carnival Row before,” one told Deadline.

Amazon Prime has yet to unleash promo material for the show, but it wrapped filming in the Czech Republic all the way back in 2018 and is set to premiere sometime later this year. Here, everything we know about the ambitious series.

Essentially, it’s a fantasy series about the tensions of an immigration crisis.

It all takes place in the “neo-Victorian” city of Burgue, a city dominated by humans, but tensions emerge when magical creatures like elves and faeries start fleeing to the city as refugees once war breaks out in their homeland. As seems to be unfortunately natural to humans, they don’t react too kindly to the outsiders. To make matters worse, a bunch of the newly arrived faeries end up murdered, including at least one faerie showgirl in the part of the city known as the titular “Carnival Row.” Most of the humans don’t really seem to care until a lone detective decides to take up the case. Bloom plays that detective, named Rycroft Philostrate, while Delevingne plays a faerie known as Vignette Stonemoss. Naturally, she’s also dealing with secrets from her own past as well. Oh, and in case you doubt Delevingne’s competency in a fantasy role, then you probably missed her great Gollum impression.

Like Game of Thrones, it’s also inspired by the fact that its creator wasn’t quite satisfied with the neat and happy ending of Lord of the Rings. He wondered what would happen if a place like Middle Earth had developed into an industrial age.

The idea has been kicked around since 2005, and Guillermo del Toro was once onboard.

Carnival Row began life as a movie script and was included on the 2005 edition of the Blacklist of the best un-produced scripts in Hollywood. It was eventually retrofitted into a TV drama, and Guillermo del Toro was keen to come on board as a producer and co-writer but had to drop out due to scheduling.

Original screenwriter Travis Beacham, though, is still on board. He previously collaborated with del Toro on the script for Pacific Rim. He’s joined by René Echevarria, a television veteran who created The 4400 and has worked on Terra Nova, Star Trek, Teen Wolf, and other shows.

Game of Thrones actress Indira Varma has a Cersei-esque role.

We may never know for certain whether or not Ellaria Sand somehow survived her imprisonment in the dungeons of the Red Keep, but the woman who played her has not been chained up. Indira Varma plays Piety Breakspear, who is described as “the regal and cunning matriarch of the powerful family that rules the city of the Burgue.”

She will not be the only face from Westeros (or, technically, Essos) that will appear in Burgue either. Ian Hanmore, who played Pyat Pree, that devilish little warlock in Quarth in Thrones‘ second season, will appear here as Master Thorne. Mark Lewis Jones, who played Shagga on Thrones (he was the leader of the Stone Crows in season 1, don’t worry about it too much), will play Captain Flute. Oh, and Andrew Bicknell, who played one of those mysterious and nameless lords who showed up in the very last episode to name Bran king, will play Magister Hood in one episode of the series as well. At least this time he has a proper character name. There’s also a fair amount of make-up and visual effects crew from Thrones who will contribute to the series as well.

Oh, and Tamzin Merchant, the actress who was originally cast as Daenerys in Throne‘s ill-fated original pilot episode, also has a major role.

Some of the other major characters offer insights.

Merchant (Salem) and Andrew Gower (Outlander) play brother and sister Imogen and Ezra Spurnrose. They hail from a wealthy family that’s falling on tough times, so they enter a business deal with a “Puck” who has moved across the street. And, in a bit of a taboo move, Imogen may or may not be falling in love with that Puck.

Though, his character has also been described as a faun, it certainly seems like David Gyasi will be playing Imogen’s mystical love interest. His character has mysterious wealth, and he moved into a ritzy human neighborhood, upending social mores in the process.

Misfits vet Karla Crome plays another faerie with a gift for poetry who is forced to work in a brothel to survive.

Alice Krige, best known as the Borg Queen from Star Trek, plays a witch named Haruspex who prophesies doom for the city. There’re also various characters who represent varying viewpoints amongst the city’s police force.

We may have already seen Cara’s faerie ears.

PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 27: Cara Delevingne (ear detail) attends the Christian Dior show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019 on February 27, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis

Back in February of last year, when the show was still reportedly shooting, Delevingne took time off to sit front row at Dior Haute Couture, and showed up with some eye-popping ears. We can only assume they were part of her look for Row, though we can’t be sure.

Related: The Next Game of Thrones?: 8 Replacement Shows Graded by Sex, Politics, and Dragons