In the series finale of Carnival Row, Philo and Vignette contend with Leonora (Joanne Whalley) and the members of her revolutionary movement “New Dawn,” which aims to dismantle the political system of The Burgue by sowing enmity between humankind and the fae. Although she is eventually cornered and subsequently dies by suicide, Leonora exposes plenty of the darkness that lies at the heart of The Borgue; darkness that Philo is forced to live with even after the events of the story have concluded.
Showrunner Erik Oleson says that the final shot of the series represents this sense of loss that Philo feels after the fight with New Dawn, this idea that he is supposed to move on despite all of the harrowing experiences he endured. “f you look at the final shot, which is a shot of Orlando on one side of The Burgue, it’s sunny and kind of beautiful,” Oleson told Decider. “On the other side of his head is storm clouds and it’s gray. So, I wouldn’t say that it’s happily ever after.” Oleson went on to explain that there is still a lot of work to be done in The Burgue, and plenty of social and political upheaval is still yet to come.
This is what Orlando Bloom means when he says that there is no going back for Philo. He’s aware of the injustice within the city and knows that it still needs fixing despite their victory. It’s an ending that is somewhat bleak, somewhat hopeful, and (for Bloom at least) very true to the character of Philo.