Is the Carnival Row Darkasher monster more Lovecraft Cthulhu “God” or horror beast?

Carnival Row beast Dark Asher monster

The opening episodes of Amazon Prime’s period fantasy thriller spectacular, Carnival Row, teased the presence of a Dark God or horror monster running amok in The Burgue, but when you do finally get to see it in all its gory glory it’s easy to be reminded of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu (spoilers ahead). However, the Darkasher, as it turns out to be known, is sort of neither of these in all actuality, but there are definitely some stylistic leanings in the direction of both.

What is the Darkasher “God” monster beneath the city?

You won’t get too far into Carnival Row before you get your first glimpse of the killer Dark God beneath the city, as it’s referred to towards the end of the opening episode. However, it takes a long time to find out what it actually is and even then it’s a bit on the involved side of the movie monster spectrum.

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As you progress through the show you’ll find out that the savage beast is actually a powerful Darkasher created by joining various dead creatures together. You don’t find out exactly what creatures are joined together, but whatever the mix is, it does end up looking a lot like Cthulhu with its bulk and tentacled mouth.

However, it’s actually an empty shell of a creature that sees with the eyes of its creator, who controls it, and cannot be killed by any means while its master still lives. As a result, the Darkasher in Carnival Row Series 1 is essentially being used to do the bidding of its master without any sinister intentions or godly capabilities of its own.

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From the more details sequences in the later episodes in the series it looks like the creature is part man, part octopus, part horse, part deer and part lizard. Although, in all fairness, it could well be any number of other creatures, real and mythical, from the look of the cadaver tables you see in the final episode.

It’s clearly a series that Amazon Prime Video has put a lot into and you can follow the official Carnival Row Twitter page at https://twitter.com/CarnivalRow. We’ll also be getting a second series (hopefully some time in 2022 with all of the disruptions with the COVID-19 pandemic), but we think Season 1 might be the final outing for the monster.

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The magic used to create and control the Darkasher is described by the Haruspex witch as being beyond her, so clearly there are some dark arts in Carnival Row that take a lot to fuel. In this case it turns out that Piety Absolom is the person responsible for the monster in her bid to safeguard the prophecy of greatness for her son.

However, Vignette manages to free herself and save Philo from imminent death at the hands of the monster and gets to Piety just in time. She kills her and the magic controlling the Darkasher fades, killing the beast at the same time, but it’s a bitter sweet ending with Piety’s son Jonah taking control of the city and instigating a ghetto for the Fae community.

How does the Carnival Row monster connect to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu?

The visual links with Cthulhu are definitely there, but the wider lore is very different to H. P. Lovecraft’s legendary cosmic entity. It look like the Amazon Prime Video series has lent a little of the look of Cthulhu in terms of its tentacled head and earlier references to the Dark God beneath, but that’s as far as it goes.

Cthulhu is an enormous immortal entity with slender wings and no horns, not an empty shell controlled by its creator. However, the nod to Lovecraft’s work looks very cool in the series, especially with its own embellishments and the creation of a unique Carnival Row universe and back story that lends from our own history and mythology to deliver a very cool monster.

The Darkasher may not have been the godly water beast that it first looked like it was going to be, but the end result fits nicely for the series and future direction. It’s going to be very interesting to see how they’re going to top this in series 2, but there’s bound to be at least a few monstrous undercurrents to look forward to.

You can check out Series 1 of Carnival Row on Amazon Prime at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S47J47H.

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