|» » Carnivále|
The final battle between Good and Evil is looming, and Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin are on a collision course that could determine the fate of the world.
Carnivále follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on Ben Hawkins, a mysterious 18-year-old fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and Brother Justin, the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who will ultimately cross his path. The series takes place at a time of worldwide unrest, with evil on the rise around the globe and the Great Depression wreaking economic and social havoc here at home.
Among the cast regulars are: Nick Stahl ("In the Bedroom") as Ben Hawkins and Clancy Brown ("The Shawshank Redemption") as Brother Justin, as well as Michael J. Anderson ("Twin Peaks") as Samson, who runs the show for Management; Clea DuVall (HBO's "The Laramie Project") as Sofie, the tarot card reader; Tim DeKay ("Swordfish") as Jones, Samson's right-hand man and the rousty manager; Adrienne Barbeau ("Escape from New York") as Ruthie, the snake charmer; Debra Christofferson ("Seraglio") as Lila, the carnival's bearded lady; Brian Turk ("American Pie 2") as Gabriel, the strong man; John Carroll Lynch ("Gothika") as Varlyn Stroud, a prison inmate enlisted in Brother Justin's cause; Amy Madigan (OscarŪ nominee for "Twice in a Lifetime") as Brother Justin's loyal sister Iris; John Savage ("The Deer Hunter") as Scudder, Ben's elusive father; and Ralph Waite ("The Waltons") as Rev. Balthus. The carnival's burlesque family includes emcee father Stumpy, played by Toby Huss ("King of the Hill"); mother Rita Sue, played by Cynthia Ettinger ("Thirteen"); and daughter Libby, played by Carla Gallo ("Undeclared").
Carnivále is created by Daniel Knauf; executive producers, Howard Klein and Daniel Knauf; co-executive producers, Dan Hassid, David Knoller, Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin and William Schmidt; consulting producer, Tracy Torme; consultant, John McLaughlin; producer, Bernie Caulfield.
|"There's more to you than just plantin' and plowin', Huck."
Directed by: Rodrigo Garcia
On a bankrupt family farm in the middle of dustbowl Oklahoma, a traveling carnival encounters Ben Hawkins, a young man desperately trying to hold off a bulldozer from the bank-at least long enough for him to finish burying his mother. Seeing that Ben is on his last legs, members of the Carnivále wearily grab shovels and give the woman a half-decent burial.
But just as the hymns are sung and the bulldozer plows into the Hawkins home, sirens are heard, and the chain around Ben's ankle suggests he is what they're after. Samson, the diminutive boss of the troupe, orders the crew to grab Ben, who has passed out with exhaustion, and make some dust.
Later, Samson tells Jonesy, the boss of the roustabouts, that he has discussed the Carnivále's new stowaway with Management, the mysterious owner of the show. "You know what he said?" Samson asks, shaking his head. "He was expected." The mystery only deepens when the mentalist Lodz touches Ben asleep and is overwhelmed by the boy's devastating and powerful visions.
When Ben comes to, he seems unnerved by the people that have saved him: Lila, the bearded lady, the strong man Gabriel, Gecko, the lizard man; the Siamese twins Caledonia and Alexandria. He also clashes with Jonesy, a weary cynic who ridicules Ben as "a huck."
Meanwhile, half a country away, a minister named Brother Justin Crowe attends to his flock, including a down-and-out Okie who has stolen from the collection plate. But when the woman begins vomiting a stream of silver dollars, it becomes clear that something profound is happening to Brother Justin. Later, he has a powerful vision outside Chin's, a local house of ill-repute. At the Carnivále, Samson (at Management's behest) tries to convince Ben to join the outfit fulltime. But despite his lack of options, the taciturn Ben is repulsed by the idea. The only person he seems to be able to talk to at all is the young fortune teller Sophie. But when she finally gets him to sit for a Tarot reading, the cards-evoking the past, transformation and a hidden talent-draw Ben into memories of his terrible, terrible secret.
Running far from Sophie's bus, he finds himself in front of a local girl confined to a wagon, a sweet kid who loves the Ferris Wheel and whose legs are crippled by a painful condition. Resigned, he kneels down and places his hands on her shins...
He doesn't look back as he runs after the caravan and pulls himself up on the departing truck. He doesn't see the little girl stand up and skip away. He knows what he has done for her. And he knows there will be a price to pay.
"The boy's a remarkable find. He should prove to be most valuable."
Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
First Brother Justin and then Ben enter a nighttime diner and sit at the counter, silent and staring straight ahead. Then the two men from Ben's previous dreams enter and share a table, one decked out in evening clothes and the other dressed in his WWI uniform. Ben and Justin watch the men start into their steak dinners, and as they clink their glasses in a toast, all the windows of the diner shatter and Ben and Justin both wake with a start from their shared nightmare.
In the morning, Jonesy gives Ben the job of cleaning out the baggage trailer, prompting snickers and stifled laughter from the rousties. Ben finds the trailer sitting dilapidated and forlorn under a gnarled tree and starts going through the dusty contents. Finding an old suitcase, Ben opens it to reveal a carefully wrapped tuxedo and top hat, the same as the man was wearing in his dream. Ben also notices a faded photograph, which he is shocked to see depicts his mother as a young woman on one side and on the back the mysterious letters HS & Flow. Ben pockets the photo and leaves the mystery-filled trailer, only to be accosted by Samson angry at Ben for not working with the other Rousties. When Ben tells of his job at the baggage trailer, Samson reveals that the trailer doesn't exist- it's an old carny gag. When Ben shows Samson the photo to prove he was in the trailer, Samson realizes that there's more to the boy than he had thought.
Other unusual things are happening at the Carnivále as well. Apollonia, Sophie's comatose mother, refuses to "speak" to her until she brings Ben back in to finish his tarot reading, something he is unwilling to do. Lodz tells Samson of seeing Scudder in Ben's dreams and presses Samson to talk to Management to have the Carnivále head south.
The well-scrubbed, respectable members of Brother Justin's congregation are put-off by the migrant Okies that have started attending services at the church. Brother Justin, prompted by his visions, meets with Carroll Templeton, the well-to-do owner of Chin's, and asks that he hand over the property so Justin can start a church for the migrants. Templeton laughs in his face, saying that Chin's is not for sale. In a self-righteous rage, Justin grabs him and forces a shocked and frightened Templeton into a vision in which Justin shows him the true nature of his sins.
At night, Ben's vivid nightmare comes to him yet again; the WWI trench, the two men from the diner, a hungry and violent bear...Ben wakes abruptly to the sight of Apollonia walking towards him. She takes his hand and tells him, "You're the one", after which she collapses in his arms, comatose once again. Apollonia's cries of alarm wake the whole outfit and they rush to the scene, grabbing the old woman away from Ben. After a tussle in which Ben is roughed up by Gabriel, Samson breaks it up and tells the assembled group that Ben did not do anything and there has been a change of plans; the Carnivále will head south in the morning. Lodz smiles mysteriously to himself as he retreats to his trailer.
While Ruthie helps Ben with his cuts and bruises, he shows her the picture of his mother. She recognizes her as Flora, Hack Scudder's sweetie, then she gives him an old photo of Scudder who worked the geek show in the Carnival, who Ben recognizes as the man from his dreams.
Brother Justin has made Carroll Templeton see the light. As Justin enters Chin's to visualize it as his new church, Templeton drives out to a deserted road and shoots himself in the head. After telling Iris the news that Chin's is now a House of God, Justin retreats to his bedroom where he flagellates himself with holy fervor.
"There's rules. You give life, you gotta take it from somewhere else. Could be an acre of wheat. Could be Walter's old bird dog, Jim. Could be that little girl you brought in here."
Directed by: Rodrigo Garcia
As the carnival caravan drives through the town of Tipton, a dusty wind lashes a gaunt group of townspeople carrying a pine coffin --an ominous start.
Things only get bleaker for the carnies as they start the set-up. After Samson sends Jonesy and Ben back to town for provisions, Lyle Donovan, an old sport, pays the carnival a visit. He's become the sheriff after moving here to tend to his sick mother. He tells Samson there will be no carnival in Tipton. He won't allow his people who barely have a "pocket to turn out," to be shook down.
On the way to town, Jonesy informs Ben that everything is falling apart: Now it's town by town, it's catch-as-catch can, that ain't hardly nothing since you showed up." As Ben absorbs the stricken scene in town, he is amazed to see the truck that appears in the photo he found of his mother."Big Sky Farms" is painted on the side. But as he crosses over to investigate, Ben is loudly identified by the mother of the girl he healed in Milfoy, and is soon swarmed by townspeople desperate for more miracles.
Across the country in Mintern, Brother Justin's transformation of Chin's from house of ill repute to house of worship is joyously underway as the migrants sing hymnals and carpenters work. But the renovations have also caught the eye of the City Council, and it's not long before two of them inform Brother Justin that they're demolishing the block-and his new ministry-and want him to move to a new spot on the outskirts of town. Outraged that the hateful men would deny God's will, Brother Justin reacts angrily, much to the detriment of one of the Councilmen.
Upon their return, Jonesy immediately tells Samson of Ben's effect on the poor folk of Tipton, and hatches a plan to save the carnival's nut. The Carnivále act will be rechristened as an old-time tent revival show, with Ben as the headliner.
With the backing of the local reverend-who is receiving 50 % of the gate-and to the outrage of Sheriff Lyle, the carnies put on a spirited and successful evangelical performance. All dressed up in a tuxedo, a sweaty and reluctant Ben "heals" Ruthie in the first show.
In between revival shows, Ben gets Sophie to drive him out to the house of Mrs. Donovan, whom, he has learned, is the owner of the Big Sky Farms truck from his photograph. Dying from "A shovelful of dust in her lungs," Mrs. Donovan has been expecting Ben, who she knows intimately from her dreams. She tells him she was a close friend of Scudder, the man from Ben's own visions, and she knows that Ben, too, has "the gift." She explains to Ben that there are rules "There's rules. You give life, you gotta take it from somewhere else." He is eager to learn more, but the conversation is suddenly interrupted when Sheriff Lyle-Mrs. Donovan's son, throws him out.
Arguing with Sophie, Ben is late for the next show, and the tent now swollen with hundreds of the ailing believers. As his stand-in prepares to heal a disguised Dora Mae Dreyfus, Sheriff Lyle bursts in, cradling his near-dead mother and demanding the healer save her. Ben arrives, and, desperate to learn what she knows, prepares to take his chances and lay his hands on her. With the entire crowd tensely watching, Mrs. Donovan stops him. Realizing that she is close to the end, Ben asks her where Scudder went when he left her. Her last breath leaving her, Mrs. Donovan rasps: "Babylon."
As the Carnivále packs up, Ben's risky ad-libbing has landed him on latrine duty. "No more headlining for you, kid," Samson says, before climbing in the truck and giving Jonesy directions for their destination. "It's gonna take us awful close to Babylon," Jonesy says. "No it's gonna take us to Babylon," replies Samson. When he realizes where Samson is taking them, it dawns on the shocked Jones: Bad as things are, they are going to get much worse.
"You think you can hide from what you are? You can't even hide from yourself."
Directed by: Peter Medak
With rousties setting up in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, Samson gets himself slicked up to pay a visit to town, Sophie argues with her mother about her own plans for a diversion and Lodz summons ben to show him something about Scudder.
Members of the Carnivále are jittery being so close to the notorious town of Babylon: "I hear they strung up three rousties back in '32, just to see "em dangle" says Libby breathlessly. But Stumpy is dismissive: "Babylon don't even exist. That's just a tale carnies tell around a bottle." Realizing that the crew is becoming increasingly edgy, Jonesy tells Samson that he fears a revolt, and even suggests talking to Management himself about the decision to veer off the circuit. Samson's response is icy:"That's not gonna happen."
In Mintern, Brother Justin gets an unexpected visit from his mentor and former guardian Reverend Balthus, who has serious news. Justin's congregation has written to the Bishop complaining about his work with the migrants. He must hand over his new mission to someone else, or face disciplinary action. Justin is stunned, but also resolute: "God spoke to me," he says, shaking his head. "...as he spoke to Abraham and Isiah and Moses."
As Samson dallies with a prostitute named Jolene, Sophie plays the role of a stranded widow to attract the attention of a young man in town, and whiles away the afternoon enjoying his attention. But their amusements quickly turn to concern, as they suddenly become aware of a terrible force moving over the horizon-a Black Blizzard.
On Lodz and Ben's mysterious journey the ferocious sandstorm has also caught with them as howling winds surround and rock their truck, Ben decides to try to sleep it out, but has barely closed his eyes when he hears Lodz walk out into the violent blast of dust. Chasing after him, he is choked, and has nearly drowned in dust when he blunders into an abandoned cabin. Inside, while the "Black Blizzard" rages on, Lodz find an opportunity to probe into Ben's abilities and his past.
Lashing out, Ben screams for him to stop. And immediately the violent storm ceases. "You did that," Lodz tells him, and when Ben says "No..." the winds immediately start again. Lodz replies "you did that too", "Only God can make the weather stop" yells Ben. Further testing Ben, Lodz sears a hot poker from the fire into Ben's face, and within moments, the boy has healed. "You have the gift..." utters a now convinced Lodz. "Let me help you..."
In town, Sophie's playacting has gone farther than ever before, as she and the young man Harlan become lovers on the floor of his closed cafe. As the storm finally passes, she leaves to attend to Apollonia, who is furious with her.
Jonesy, exhausted and frustrated from taking care of the huddled and mutinous Carnivále crew, decides to take matters up with Management. Hat in hand, he enters the trailer, calling out to see if Managaement is okay. When he finally steps inside and gingerly pulls back the curtain at one end, he can hardly believe what he sees. The trailer is empty.
In the quiet of the rectory, in Mintern, Iris wakes her brother in the middle of the night. "There's been a fire," she says. "In the ministry."
As Brother Justin tours the smoldering remains of his mission, he turns to his sister to ask about the children, and sees the row of bodies under a tarp. Turning his face to the heavens with a roar of silent devastation, he falls to his knees at their feet.
"...And on her forehead, a name was written, a mystery. 'Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth..."
Directed by: Tim Hunter
As the caravan bounces along a dusty hill, Samson and Jonesy pull up next to a lone traveler, walking toward them. The man, Stangler, tells them they're almost to Babylon, Tx. "You the carnival?" he asks, eyeing the trucks. "Been waiting for you folks for a long time." Samson and Jones are bewildered, as the man tips his hat and walks off, toward 50 miles of nothing.
Setting up, the rousties and troupers are more agitated than ever; they want to know what they're doing in a tapped out mining town that is legendary for terrorizing carnies. More than one worker is threatening to bolt, and Jonesy pressures Samson for information, but Management isn't offering any.
Sophie and Apollonia are still arguing over Sophie's recent assignation with a married stranger. "And he didn't knock me up," the daughter says defensively. "That only happens in dime novels."
Still, Sophie later asks Libby how a person knows when she's pregnant.
In an effort to calm the riled up crew, Samson offers to take everyone out for a night on the town. But when the dolled-up troupers arrive at the local saloon, it is rundown and empty, and behind the bar is Stangler. "Never made it out of town, huh?" Samson asks. "Never do," Stangler says solemnly.
Everyone does their best to have a good time, and the atmosphere becomes pretty festive with the help of some music and plenty of whiskey. Sophie and Libby arrive from the empty movie theatre and join the dancing. A blowsy and sheepish Jones is rebuffed by Sophie when he tries to cut in.
Dora Mae asks the bartender where everyone is. "They don't drink much," Stangler says. "Anyway, it's better when they don't come in."
Alone to the side, Ben drinks ferociously, and, swaying, wanders off. When he awakes, he is in the pitch dark. Sparking his lighter, he sees that he is in some kind of mine shaft; he follows his way through a creaking passageway, but finds the end caved in.
The next night, the Carnivāle is ready, but, no one has seen a living soul in town and, as Jonesy observes, "the money ain't exactly rollin' in." Just then, the neighing and breathing of horses is heard, and in the dark, a long line of men with lanterns can be seen. But as the sullen men file in to the midway on a windy night, the carnies can see that they're not the typical crowd.-"a queer bunch of muckers," as Dora Mae says.
Following a Tarot reading, Apollonia tells Sophie to ask her customer if she's ever heard of a man named Scudder. "Yeah, I knew him," the miner says, surprised. "Worked the Babylon. Killed old Carl Butridge. That was the last we saw of him."
Samson doesn't like what he sees with this strange bunch as they move joylessly through the carnival's attractions. A large crowd has gathered in for the cootch show, but he warns Stumpy. "Somethin's not right," Samson says. "No blow-off tonight. They keep the panties on-that's an order!"
Still in the shaft, Ben is becoming increasingly frantic when he bumps into a miner rushing through. The mysterious man is Scudder. "Hold up!" Ben screams. "I know who you are!" But Ben not only loses sight of him, he discovers the body of a man with a pickaxe in his chest. He sinks to the floor of the shaft, darkness engulfing him as he breaks down.
Up under the cootch tent, the night is crackling with weird energy. Rita Sue decides to overrule Samson on the blow-off, they've worked tougher crowds than this, she says. And Jonesy is hitting the bottle again, as he operates the Ferris Wheel. When a scuffle with a couple of burly miners gets him in the middle of a fight, Samson tells him to get the hell out, and he staggers off into the night.
Dora Mae narrowly escapes the out of control audience as they mob the stage during the blow-off. The tent is pulled down, and the girl is badly shaken up.
Ben, meanwhile, has pulled himself together. By the flickering flame of his lighter, he reads letters written on the mine supports. TAVATARA, they say, and he writes the word on his arm with charcoal. Then, borrowing the dead man's lantern, he heads off again.
A drunken Jonesy wanders outside the midway. There he is stopped cold by a staggering sight: hanging from a tree is the body of Dora Mae Dreifuss. As he carries her back to her family and sets her down, the Carnivāle gathers. On her forehead a word is crudely carved: HARLOT.
"...Bad things happen in this world. Mama says things are better in the next..."
Directed by: Rodrigo Garcia
As the carnival shuts down in the terrible moments following Dora Mae's murder, a foreboding pall falls over the troupe. Inside the Cootch tent, Stumpy Dreifuss lays next to his daughter, keeping vigil in anguished silence, while his wife screams hysterically searching for their other daughter, Libby.
Confronting the miners' supervisor, Samson tells him he's got till morning to bring them someone to hold accountable for Dora Mae's killing. The man laughs him off: "I got 500 men. How am I supposed to find out who killed your whore?" Samson tells him he doesn't give a damn if it's the right one or not, but that someone was going to "stand tall in front of the wagon."
When Samson tells Jonesy that Management wants a headcount to make sure everyone's okay, Jonesy explodes and tells him to quit spinning fairy tales, that there ain't no damn management. Samson is left sputtering, trying to explain the unexplainable.
Ben, meanwhile, still wanders in the surreal mineshaft. Spotting men lying on the ground ahead, he ducks under a beam and is rocked by an explosion. When he gets up, he finds himself in foxhole, surrounded by bodies and wearing a WWI uniform. Amid the gunfire and shell explosions, he hears strange, guttural sounds and discovers a huge beast devouring a corpse. He picks up a rifle and draws a bead on the animal-a bear? In a red hat?-just as another man, wearing a Russian uniform takes aim at him. Ben's rifle jams and the Russian turns and fires on the bear, but is himself mauled by the enraged creature.
Running, an astonished Ben encounters a younger-looking Lodz. "Have you seen my bear?" Lodz asks. There is another explosion, and Ben awakes, back in Babylon and next to the older, blind Lodz. "So. You're awake," he says. "What did you see?" But Ben still wants nothing to do with him.
In a timeless ritual, the carnies clean up Dora Mae and prepare her for burial. The men, armed to the teeth, are headed to town. "We ain't comin' back empty-handed," Samson says. "Everybody clear on that?" But when they arrive in Babylon, they see there will be no justice: there is not a living soul in town, anywhere. Jonesy is furious at the entire situation; Samson feels he is losing control of the agitated carnies.
A thousand miles away, an anguished Brother Justin sits in his burned-out mission, rocking and reading scripture and begging his God for answers. Hours or days later, he finally rises. "...led by the spirit into the wilderness," he says, and setting down his Bible and pulling off his collar, he begins to walk.
The Carnivále buries Dora Mae. Walking back to camp, arm-in-arm with Sophie, Jonesy seems about to tell her what he told Samson-that he is leaving Carnivále to join another outfit--when he spots Stangler again walking up his hill. "Samson!" he yells. "There's still one man left in Babylon!"
Stangler is brought out in front of the entire group and an ancient wagon is circled around him three times. The confused townsman is told to pick a number, from one to six, and a bullet is loaded in a revolver. Shaken, Stangler takes the number three, and three bullets are loaded in the revolver. He tries to explain: "If one's taken, it's better it was her," he says. "She weren't no good girl." As Stumpy attacks him in a rage, Stangler goes on: "You gotta understand we ain't got no women in Babylon. Be right nice to have someone to dance with...I'll watch over her as best I can..."
Samson levels the pistol at him and Spangler begs him to at least take him over the hill to do it. "If I die here, I stay here. Just like everyone else since Scudder left." But Samson squeezes the trigger. The chamber is empty. Another attempt brings the same result. Samson pulls the trigger a third time...click. Spangler has survived carnie justice.
The carnies are incensed and Rita Sue makes an impassioned plea to fire again, but Samson is final. "If we break the code, we ain't got nothin' left." Still, the mob is unconvinced, and Samson seems closer than ever to losing control. Looking at his boss, Jonesy finishes it: "We're packing up. Management wants us on the road by dawn."
Around a hobo fire, Brother Justin pulls from a bottle as fellow travelers tell stories of loss. "What about you, friend?" one asks Justin. Lost your job? Your girlfriend? Your dog? The preacher doesn't look up. "I lost my God."
The traveler, it turns out, is no tramp, but radio personality Tommy Dolan, whose travels form the basis of the program "True Tales from the Road." Dolan relates Justin's heartbreaking tale of intolerance and loss to tens of thousands of rapt listeners. "What kind of world is this, friends?" he asks on his show. "And what of Brother Justin? Where are you, Brother Justin?"
Just before the Carnivále takes to the road, Samson stops in for a whiskey from a surprised and appreciative Stangler. Samson asks him what he knows about Henry Scudder. The bartender explains that the miners of Babylon were planning to lynch the outsider Scudder after he murdered one of their own with a pick axe. But on the way, a massive cave-in killed the entire company.
"And the next night, they came back." Stangler says "Every one of them."
Samson thanks him for the whiskey and shoots him dead. But on the way out of town, a window catches his eye. Standing in it, a naked Dora Mae is looking out at him, just staring, until, with Samson looking on in horror, an arm reaches around and pulls her back...back into the shadows of Babylon.
"...In Russia, there's a saying: "Pray to God. But row for shore..."
Directed by: Alison MacLean
Brother Justin stands on the rail of a bridge, arms outstretched. A voice tries to talk him down: "No matter how bad you think it is, ain't nothin's happened to you that hasn't happened to someone else," a policeman says. Justin cocks his head and sails off of the rail..
At the Carnivále, Stumpy remains inconsolable about the death of his daughter, Dora Mae, while Libby and her mother continue to clash. "I'm sick of this place," Libby says, and Stumpy realizes that he, too, is ready to light out.
Ruthie takes Ben out hunting for snakes for her newly revived act-"There's something about watching a woman handle a snake that gets a man downright percolated'," she says. The two become closer as Ruthie tries to get to know Ben better. "You don't like to be touched, do you?" she asks. "Not much touchin' going on in my family," he replies. Along the way, Ben learns that, years ago, Hack Scudder helped Ruthie recover from a deadly snakebite.
In Mintern, the radio personality Tommy Dolan visits Iris and tells her about meeting Justin on the road. Since Dolan's radio account of Justin's story, donations and sympathy have been pouring in to the Dignity ministry, but the town remains as hostile as ever to the cause. Dolan tells a suspicious Iris that he can help, and proceeds to use a live radio interview to shame councilman Val Templeton into action.
Rita Sue, afraid the family will end up on the breadline, is dead set against Stumpy's plan to move the family off to Hollywood. But Libby is full of movie star ideas and is thrilled at the chance to finally get away. Sophie offers to read Libby's cards for insight to send her off with some knowledge.
Still trying to insinuate himself into Ben's life, Lodz goads him by telling him that Ruthie and Scudder were bedmates. Ben flies into a rage, confronts Ruthie and ends up fighting with her son Gabriel who in the fight badly breaks his arm.
Sophie reads Libby's cards, which, she says, promise fame. After the relieved girl leaves, Sophie turns to her mother. "You're wrong. She's not going to dance the cootch the rest of her life."
Rita Sue is making good money holding down the cootch tent by herself, but wants to spend some time alone with Stumpy, so refuses any "gentleman callers" for the night. Libby, unable to return to the family tent, heads off to bunk with Sophie. As they fall asleep, exchanging dreams, Libby learns that Sophie doesn't even know her own birthday--her mother "took sick" immediately after she was born. Libby presses her to join the escape from the carnival. "This ain't no kind of life," she says.
Now delirious, Brother Justin awakes by the river with a grotesquely broken leg and sees two children watching him nearby. "I need help," he yells, but the strange children hold back. "You're a bad man, they sent you to kill us," the girl says in English in a heavily Russian accent.
Tommy Dolan spends some time with a grateful Iris celebrating what he did on the radio, and the two even share a bit of wine. As she lets down her guard, she asks him if she can tell him a story. Two children, a boy and a girl where traveling by rail with their mother when a bridge collapsed, plunging their train into a river. Only the children survive. "They were pursued. A man was sent to kill them. The girl fought to protect her brother. And the day came when the boy had to protect his sister."
Still stranded by the river, Brother Justin attempts to convince the boy who has been watching him to help. Growing more hostile, he threatens the boy in Russian, and struggles violently with his sister. As Justin begins to strangle the girl, the boy shouts-and Justin is immediately thrown back. Slowly, by an unseen force, his head turns and turns, until his neck is snapped.
Then, in a flash, Brother Justin is back on the rail of the bridge preparing to jump. His rescuers pull him back. In a moment of realization he mutters "I killed him."
At the Carnivále, Ben has apologized to Ruthie. He walks away into a field with Gabriel. Wading into a pond, he tells the strongman that he has to trust him. "You can't tell nobody about this. Nobody," Ben says. He places his hands on Gabriel's arm and the broken bone is mended. Around them, dozens of dead fish begin rising to the surface.
Rita Sue has drawn the line, and is convinced that Stumpy won't have the fortitude to set off without her. "You can't leave me," she says. "You don't even know how to begin to leave me," but a changed Stumpy has wavered not at all. Sophie has decided to join them, packing hurriedly over her mother's objections. With the excited crew shouting "California here we come," the three are in the car to leave the carnival at last, as Stumpy catches sight of a composed-looking Rita Sue in the rearview mirror. There is a dreadful pause.
"I think tomorrow'd be better, baby" he says to his disbelieving daughter. "Tomorrow." Dejected they unload the car.
In the middle of the night at the Crowe home, a phone rings, and Iris races to anwswer. "Alexi?" she says breathlessly. "You always knew what was inside me," comes her brother's answer--just before the line goes dead.
"...Pain is an unavoidable side-effect..."
Directed by: Scott Winant
Shells are flying and weary medics attempt to help an array of maimed and screaming soldiers, one of whom has lost his legs and an arm...until Ben finally wakes up from this terrible dream. Pulling the sheets off his body, he sees that his arm and legs, too, have become bloody stumps...until, he finally wakes from his dream of waking.
"They're getting worse, aren't they? The dreams." says Lod, who is squatting nearby. But Ben stomps away from his offer of breakfast. Rita Sue finds Stumpy sitting alone in the car, drinking a morning beer and listening to the radio. She tries to entice Stumpy into a little "picnic" but the still grieving father says he can't. Rita Sue is hurt. "Don't you miss me?" she asks.
Sophie delights Jonesy by bringing over a couple of baseball gloves, and the two enjoy a catch and conversation, as in happier days. But when the conversation turns to Sophie's mother, Jonesy fails to defend Sophie's new friend Libby, and the pleasant afternoon turns ugly.
Samson collars Ben and sends him on a mission: he's to recruit a freak with claws for hands, known in the area as "Scorpion Boy." Samson gives Ben directions and fifteen dollars to bribe the boy's parents if necessary.
Brother Justin, meanwhile, is in a mental institution, receiving round after round of radical-and painful-therapies, involving icy submersions, insulin injections and rubber tubes.
Interviewed by a doctor in a padded cell, Justin answers his questions. "I've always been what I am," he says. "The left hand of God." Asked what that means, Justin says, "It means I am no longer his servant." As the doctor takes notes about Justin's various psychoses, Justin, who is several feet away tells him he misspelled "excitation."
"I broke a man's neck. I willed it and it was so," Justin says. "Why don't you try that with me?" the doctor asks. "Perhaps I already have," is Justin's reply. Later, as the psychiatrist walks away, he distractedly corrects a misspelling of "excitation" in his notes.
Bouncing along country roads in the truck, Ben asks a sharp-dressed man the way to the town he's looking for. Glancing at the Carny logo on Ben's truck, the man offers a set of complex directions, and Ben sets off.
At the carnival, Stumpy listens to Jonesy's complaints about women. "What you need is to get your candle waxed," Stumpy says, and tries to talk him into paying a visit to Rita Sue. Jonesy is surprised and refuses, but Stumpy pushes. "You could help me out." he says. "I need a relief pitcher here."
Nearby, Rita Sue notices Libby and Sophie dancing and laughing as Libby practices her routine, and hatches a idea of her own-to get Sophie to join the cootch tent. "Why don't you work the bally?" she asks, after sending Libby for a Nehi. " I'm not asking you to strip, just get em worked up while Felix turns the tip."
Sophie refuses. "I got a job," she says. Anyway "Momma'd blow a gasket." When Libby returns, she knows immediately what her mother has been up to and is furious.
Ben has tracked down the freak -not a Scorpion Boy, it turns out, but a Lobster Gal. But as he enters the foul-smelling shack where she lives, the girl is already signing a contract with the sharp-dressed man who sent Ben on the goose chase. The man, Phineas Boffo, is an old colleague of Samson's and offers his hand. "We freak finders gotta stick together," he says. Angry at being outsmarted, Ben takes his hand, and terrible visions of Crusaders and torture appear. When Ben looks down, he has Boffo's lodge ring in his hand, and he drives off, with the man yelling after him to give the ring back.
Rita Sue rejects Stumpy's suggestion about Jonesy. "I don't roll with trade," she says. But Stumpy persists. "Why would you want to do something like that to us?" But Stumpy persists. "It's just another trick, he says."
Sophie argues with Appollonia over Rita Sue's offer and her association with Libby. "At least she knows who her father is," Sophie says. Her mother slaps her, without moving, and Sophie slaps her back. Before long she is back at Rita Sue's tent.
At the mental institution, Justin seems have a strange effect on the other inmates and on the staff. With a glance, he causes a nurse to change the radio station, and the sound of Tommy Dolan fills the room. "Where are you, Brother Justin," he calls out to his audience. "Where are you?"
Ben is filling the truck's tank when he is approached by a man offering to sell a chair. The man is stranded with his dispossessed family, and they don't have money for a new tire. The gas station proprietor yells at the man, but Ben offers some of Samson's money to pay for the repair. As Ben pulls off, a piece of paper on a weathered bulletin board catches the Okie's eye. Ben's face is on the poster, along with the words: Wanted for Murder. The man quickly tears the sheet down.
Sophie's bally debut is a disaster, as a shocked Jonesy ends up beating an over- affectionate audience member. Ben returns to the carnival and informs Samson that "some weasel beat me to the punch." Samson laughs: "Sounds like the kid's got your number, Phin," he calls to his old friend. Phineas Boffo emerges from the cook's tent and angrily demands his ring back. Ben hands the ring over to Samson, who returns it, but not before clocking its insignia.
Outside the Dreifuss's tent, Jonesy is torn over keeping the appointment Stumpy set up for him with Rita Sue. Eventually she comes out to get him. He's nervous and tries to back out, but Rita Sue is all business. Gently removing his clothes, she's startled by the look of Jonesy's scarred knee. He is shaking as she touches it, then kisses it, and soon he is crying. Touched, Rita Sue kisses his lips and they embrace with increasing passion.
Samson walks up to Management's trailer, and, thinking her hears voices, steps inside. Lodz is inside talking and laughing, and mentions Scudder. Stunned, Samson looks over to the curtain separating Management, and a growling voice rasps, "Samson, leave us."
Standing alone outside, Samson looks at the trailer, and then at object he has been nervously rolling in his hand, an old watch fob. a medal of some sort. On its front is, the same emblem that was emblazoned on Boffo's lodge ring. On the back, the initials: H.S.
"...You must listen to what your dreams tell you. They will guide you..."
Directed by: Jack Bender
While most of the carnival crew sleeps, an exhausted-looking Ben sits and smokes. Sophie, walking back to her trailer, hears screaming and banging from inside. She breaks open the locked door to find her mother being sexually attacked by a large tattooed man. Apollonia screams over and over for him to stop...
Suddenly, Sophie is back outside the trailer and when she enters, there is no sign of any attack, but her mother, now mute again, is crying. "Who was that man?" Sophie asks. "Yes, I saw." Begging her mother to stop screaming in her head, Sophie holds her.
When morning comes, Lodz is disturbed at Ben's self-imposed insomnia. "The boy doesn't sleep, he doesn't dream. He doesn't dream, he can't be reached."
Uncomfortable with Lodz's suddenly chummy relationship with Management, Samson has also begun the day in a foul mood. Gathering together some of the crew, he sends them out for bizarre items-a turtle shell, frying chickens, a skull. Jonesy realizes that Samson's planning a "fireball show," and when he sees the kitty, he understands why: the Carnivále is down to a handful of coins. "Get the word out," Samson tells everyone. "Trim the chumps for all they're worth."
Samson pulls out the watch fob with the templar emblem on it and asks Ben if it means anything to him. Showing him the initials on the back, he tries to give the item to the boy, saying it belonged to his father. Samson tells him to come by the tent later after lunch as he would like to chat. Later, he presses Ben to tell him what happened when Ben touched Boffo's ring with the same symbol on it, and asks him why Lodz, Apollonia and Management are so interested in him. Ben demurs, but Samson won't let it drop: "We didn't pick you up that day by chance," he says. He pulls out a photo album and finds the picture of Ben's mother. "I lied to ya," Samson says. "I said I didn't know her, this your mama?(pointing to a picture) Furthermore, I reckon Hank Scudder is your daddy."
Ben says his father ran off and that he doesn't care two cents for him. He asks about Management. "I'm not at liberty to say," Samson says. "But he's a good man, which is more than I can say for your friend the professor."
Ben's "friend", meanwhile, continues to try to convince him to use his powers, to listen to his dreams.
Meanwhile, Iris is again seeking Tommy Dolan's help, this time appearing herself on his radio show to try to reach Brother Justin. And indeed, her voice does reach him on the radio inside the mental institution. Justin, who seems increasingly composed, continues to exert control over the other patients. His doctor, looking somewhat disheveled, watches Justin intently and seems to write notes continuously in his file. After the radio show, Iris and Tommy talk, and he attempts to kiss her, but she runs off, upset.
Sophie asks Jonesy to go for a walk, and as they talk, Sophie tells him she's worried that Apollonia is going crazy. "Last night I saw some things she used to be able to keep from me," Sophie says. "Now she can't." Strolling back to the camp, it is clear that Jonesy has made her feel better. She leans up to kiss him, briefly, on the lips.
That night, the fireball show is in full swing and anything goes as the carnival tries to squeeze every nickel out of the crowd-anything from fake attractions like the Turtle-Baby and the Man-Eating Chicken to picking pockets. Lodz uses his seeing abilities to produce a compelling "mentalist" show, telling the stories behind objects offered by the audience. Samson, looking for information and a bit of revenge, hands up Scudder's watch fob.
Lodz is immediately consumed in violent convulsions, and grotesque images of crusaders, heads on spikes and amputations appear to him. As he jerks on the floor he chants "in hoc signo vinces" and Ben mouths the words in English: "By this sign we conquer," he says.
When the action finally halts, Samson grabs Ben. "Where in the hell did you learn Latin?" he asks the oblivious farmboy. And then, frustrated, Samson warns him. "The way things are shaping up around here, you're going to have to trust someone. Either me, or that one in there," gesturing to the mentalist's tent.
In the cootch tent, Jonesy's attempt to call things off with Rita Sue seems to be working out well-until a goodbye kiss turns serious. Ruthie, drawn to a worn-out looking Ben, offers a kiss in the quiet of her trailer after her snake show, but he ends up running off.
In the California evening, a nattily dressed Brother Justin is discharged by his doctor, who continues to write manically in a file, even as he tells his patient about his great progress. As the two walk out of the hospital, the doctor finally hands Justin the folder he has been writing in. Justin opens the file to the first page: "Acts of Redemption, by Brother Justin Crowe," the title page says. Next he sees, "Chapter One: Pain is an unavoidable side effect." Smiling, Justin walks off into the quiet night.
Sitting and smoking in the dark, Sophie greets Samson, who wonders why she is still up. "I can't go in there," she says. She tells him the story of Apollonia's rape. "She told you that?" Samson asks, seeming incredulous. "I saw it in my head," Sophie answers. "She sees things that no one else does. The present. The past. It's all the same to her." And then after a long pause, Sophie adds, "And I'm starting to see them, too."
In Management's trailer, Lodz discusses the day's events. "At least we know why we're having so much trouble with young Hawkins," he says. A gutteral voice answers: "We should have known it from Babylon."
Samson counts up the money from a pile of pilfered wallets as Lodz emerges from the trailer. "Well played, little man" he says, handing Samson back the carefully wrapped fob. "Guess we're movin on?" Samson sks. "Fireball shows, they leave us no choice," Lodz replies.
A few yards away, Ben struggles to fend off sleep. But as the night grows long, his fight slackens, and, finally, his eyes slip closed.
"...Everyone has bad dreams. It's the times we live in. It's hard to feel safe..."
Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
Iris Crowe is asleep in her room when a hand suddenly shoots out, covering her mouth. Terrified, she looks up and sees that Justin, has returned.
In the conversation later, he confronts her with their past. "You've kept things from me," he says angrily. "Do you know how I've suffered?" But Iris coolly responds that he needed time to develop his gifts. "You have a destiny," she says. "And now is your time to fulfill it."
Back at the carnival, Ben is still fighting sleep as he woozily helps Ruthie with her snake act. Jonesy and Rita Sue continue to feel the electricity of their affair. While the two make the shower stall shake with their activities, Libby happens across them and is upset by her mother's infidelity. Later, when Rita Sue returns to her tent, Stumpy makes an abortive effort to embrace her, and the two lay awake uneasily.
The next morning, Ben is nearly sick with fatigue when he sees in front of him a heavily muscled man with a giant tattoo of a tree. With a start, he wakes, realizing that he has fallen asleep. Sophie sits next to him and asks him to tell her about the night that her mother Apollonia mysteriously came to him. Did she say anything? "It didn't make any sense," Ben replies. "'You're the one.' She said, 'You're the one.'"
Samson's status has taken another hit, as he is forced to move out of Management's trailer. Spotting Sophie later, he tells her that management isn't happy that she and her mother haven't been able to perform lately. When Sophie seems surprised that Samson is still carrying out Management's orders, the slighted Samson flies off the handle.
In Mintern, Tommy Dolan pays a visit to Iris, only to be greeted at the door by Brother Justin. Over coffee, Dolan explains how his listeners responded to Justin's story and tells him he wants to get him on the radio. But Brother Justin is cool to the idea and seems mistrustful of the radio man. Iris invites Tommy Dolan to church. "I thought you wanted a story she replies."
Samson tells Ben that he's seen something in town and wants to go on a little drive. After nearly wrecking the car by falling asleep behind the wheel, Ben drives into Loving, New Mexico, where Samson shows him the Benevolent Order of Templars, a lodge with the same emblem as Scudder's watch fob. Under the guise of wanting to join the Order, the two carnies find the lodge's "commodore", and Samson asks him if he's heard of his "cousin", Henry Scudder.
The Templars, a placid and banal looking group of men playing gin rummy, say they've never heard of him. Trying to learn more, Samson asks how to join the Order, but the commodore says that anyone who's a baptized Christian can get in with a two-dollar entry fee. Samson is frustrated, certain that they're hiding something. The two leave, passing obliviously by a painting where a man with a tree tattoo strides through a field- very much like the man of Ben's dreams.
Sophie and Jones are also in the border town, which has begun a small festival. When Sophie becomes sick from something she ate, Jones heads off to find her a drink. Looking up from her misery, Sophie sees one of the Templars. "Every prophet in her house," he says. Then Jonesy returns and the man is suddenly gone.
Driving back with Ben, Samson expresses his frustration with their investigation of the Templars. Ben asks him if Scudder gave him the watch fob, and Samson says he won it from him in a stud poker game, back before Management came. The carnival, he says, had been owned by an outfit back East, and Management bought it just after Scudder left. "He's been looking for him ever since," Samson says. "Something happened between them in the old country. Somethin' bad. Badder than you can imagine. Badder than anyone can imagine."
Sophie, meanwhile, is trying to keep the Tarot operation going. Giving a reading, she struggles with her mother over what to reveal to her customer. Finally, she sees a vision of the woman holding the body of her dead daughter, and the she learns the grim future. "Not my Sally," she wails. "Not my little girl." Sophie is devastated by the horror of the vision and the struggle, and screams at Apollonia. "Mother, goddammit this is not what we do! You're breaking the rules."
As the carnival wraps up for the night, Stumpy and some of the rousties decide to go to town to "get liquefied." On his way, Jones sees Apollonia sitting, motionless, outside alone. Inside the trailer, Sophie is blasting the Victrola in an attempt to drown out her mother's voice, and Jonesy tries to comfort her. "You're scared, but you ain't crazy Soph," he says, and gently kisses her. Their kissing grows more fervent, until Jonesy stops. "I don't want to ruin this," he says. "I messed things up before; I ain't going to let it happen this time."
Sophie, angry and crying, throws him out. After feeding Ruthie's snakes, Gabriel finds Ben passed out and shaking in the bathtub. He brings the boy to Ruthie, who wraps him up in bed. Ben resists, saying he can't take the dreams. "I'm always running and they're always chasing me," he says. "It's always Scudder, even before I met him. He's trying to kill me every time I close my eyes." Ruthie comforts him, and as she holds him, they kiss passionately.
Later, the lovers are disturbed by Lila pounding on the trailer door. She lures Ruthie away, saying the snakes have escaped, and Lodz sneaks into the trailer. Laying a hand on Ben, he sees the boy's dreams: men with sticks chasing Ben through a cornfield.the giant man with the tattoos..Then, in the dream, Ben falls, and when he looks up, he has transformed into Scudder. "He's mine," Scudder says.
Drinking and pontificating in town, Stumpy, Jonesy and the rousties make progress with their liquification. Uncomfortable talking about Stumpy's marital woes, Jonesy leaves his friend behind. But Stumpy says he's going to stay. "I'm not numb yet." When he does get numb he ends up in a fight, and when eventually wakes up from his beating in the room of a woman from the bar. Soon, Stumpy has not only solved his immediate carnal needs, he has found himself a new dancer for the cootch show.
Across the country at the Methodist church in Mintern, Reverend Balthus begins his sermon, with Iris and Tommy Dolan watching from the back row. When Justin walks in the crowd becomes hushed. Balthus and Justin embrace. But the reverend is soon surprised, as a confident Justin addresses the congregation with a fire and brimstone sermon. "Evil exists, it is written in the book of man with the blood drawn from Lucifer's veins, he says." "It is part of who you are, part of who I am, who we are. The evil in you is the root of our sins" Walking down the aisle he reels off some of the sins of individuals in the pews. He tells the church members that they can be saved not by prayer and bible study, but by blood and fire. Increasingly, his words are greeted with "Amen" from the crowd.
Marching up to an astonished Reverend Balthus, Justin demands to be baptized. As the shaken father begins to make the sign of the cross with holy water on Justin's forehead, the water turns to blood but only Balthus sees it. "Finish it!" Justin commands. The congregants still seem unsure of how to respond to the commotion, until Iris rises up. "Baptise me," she says "So that I may be reborn." Soon, other parishioners are rising, and calls of "Baptise me!" fill the room.
In Management's trailer, Lodz reports to his unseen master, "He spoke to me directly. He knows we've got the boy."
"Of course he knows," the guttural voice responds from behind the curtain. "But we'll find him. And then. the blood will flow."
"...Somethin's buildin' kid. I can feel it..."
Directed by: John Patterson
Brother Justin stands in front of his altar, handing out the Eucharist, but instead of the holy wafer, he places a razor blade on each worshiper's tongue. "Body of Christ," he says, as blood drips from their mouths and they swallow. Ben Hawkins reaches the front of the line, but when Justin offers the blade, he seizes the minister's arm. "Body of Christ," Justin says as the two struggle. "No, it ain't," Ben says..
And then, Ben awakes. Ruthie comes in and says it's almost sundown; the exhausted boy has slept all day. When she reaches out to him, he pulls back. "I never should have come in here," he says. "It's a sin. Don't touch me!" He leaves, with Ruthie upset and crying.
In Management's trailer, Lodz finishes laying out a plan. "We both know it's the only way to reach the boy," he says to the unseen person behind the curtain. Lodz tell Lia they must go to town on business.
Nearby, Libby and Sophie are passing the time drinking the local mescal. They talk about magic and Sophie's mother, and a certain sexual tension develops between them. As their hands touch around the bottle, Sophie has a vision of the two of them in bed together, marred by a bloody gash across her hand. "Have the last sip," Libby offers. But when Sophie thinks she sees the mescal's worm wiggling, she says she's going to be sick.
In town, Ben is encounters the fiesta of El Dia de Los Muertos. "What are they celebratin'?" he asks a barkeeper
"The return of the souls," the man replies.
Outside, a little boy bumps into Ben, looking scared. He is painted with a tree, much like the tattooed man in Ben's dreams. The little boy takes off, as a group of farmers with machetes chases after him. Soon, Hawkins is surrounded by wailing children, whom he mistakes for beggars. "They are weeping," a woman tells him. "For your loss." Looking sorrowful, she hands him a special bread. "Even the dead must eat."
Ben wanders into the town's church and finds himself in the confessional. Emotional, he recounts his sins, though he's never confessed before. Finally, he chokes out. "My mother..I let her die."
The priest replies, "Your mother chose to die," and as Ben looks closer, he realizes that the priest is Scudder. He jumps up, but the box next to his is empty.
In Mintern, Balthus tells Iris about seeing the blood on Justin's forehead during the baptism and says he's worried that Brother Justin has come under the influence of something dangerous. Balthus says that the Bible talks of demons entering a person, and he suggests a catholic style exorcism. As Iris tells him that he's crazy, Justin comes in the front door and overhears.
At the carnival, Lila irritates the carnies with a new air of authority and tells the group around the breakfast table that "things are changing with Samson sleeping in the truck." Sophie accuses her mother of putting the disturbing mescal vision in her mind. She asks her about the "so-called rape" that led to her conception.
Rita Sue, meanwhile, is highly critical of the new cootch dancer. And right after she and Jones share a starry-eyed moment, she bumps into Sophie, who thanks her for setting her straight about what a good guy Jonesy is. She tells Rita Sue how she made advances to Jones, but that he wanted to take it slow.
"He already hurt me once," Sophie says. "You've been around. Can I trust him?" Rita Sue tells her she can.
Trust is also on Ben's mind. He decides to take a chance with Samson, but when he tells him that he sees Scudder everywhere, in dreams and in daylight, he is disappointed by Samson's lack on information. "All I know is, it was no accident we picked you up in Milfay," he says.
Sophie tells Jones she wants to try their romance again, and Jones seems emotionally torn by the opportunity. But it is clear as Sophie walks away that there is something undeniable between them.
In a coffee shop, Tommy Dolan talks to Reverend Balthus, filling him in on Brother Justin's stay in the asylum. The radio man also says that he dug up an unsubmitted police report that notes a car matching Justin's parked at the ministry the night of the fire there. Balthus gets up to leave, but Tommy reminds him of the baptism they both saw in the church. "Something strange is happening here," Dolan says. "You saw something too."
Soon Balthus is asking Iris about the asylum and the night of the fire. He warns that Tommy Dolan will likely bring the police into the matter, and that the reverend will have no choice but go to the bishop with the whole mess.
Jonesy tells Rita Sue that he owes it to himself to try it with Sophie. "She's the one for me," he says. Rita Sue is upset and tries to talk him out of it, but Jonesy is firm. "Please, Rita Sue, you gave something to me," he says. "But it's goin' nowhere. It's over, You're still the yellow gimp you always were" Rita Sue lashes out viciously as he walks away.
In town with Lila, Lodes finds his way to a shack selling exotic animals. Walking past cages of monkeys, poison lizards and leopards, he asks the proprietor for "una culebra" and the man produces a writhing black snake.
Rita Sue continues to feud with the new dancer, Catalina, and undermines her stage debut. Afterward, when Catalina tries to pull Stumpy aside for some private time, he demurs, saying he's now being pulled by two strong women. Catalina drags him to Sophie's tent to get some spiritual direction. But Stumpy's reading has a nasty surprise-Rita Sue has a lover that has been visting her often. Stumpy then leaves. And when he demands to know who it is, Sophie's eyes tear up and kicks him out. "You're a liar," she says to her mother.
Over at Ruthie's trailer, there is a knock, and her mended dresses are left in a bag. But when she opens the parcel and is immediate attacked by the snake. Fatally bitten she sinks to the floor.
In Mintern, Iris talks to Brother Justin about Tommy Dolan's accusations, but he is unimpressed. She presses him, saying he'll be ruined by a one-sided radio broadcast and that Dolan has stirred up Reverend Balthus. "We have nothing to hide," Justin tells her. "Yes. we do," Iris says, looking long at her brother. Realizing what she is saying, Justin is shocked and trembling. "I did it for you," she says. Now that they have Templeton's check and money for a new church, nothing will be able to stop them. Justin shakes with emotion, and suddenly grabs Iris by the throat-and kisses her passionately. He throws her to the couch as she looks up at him expectantly.
By the time Gabriel finds Ruthie, she is almost gone. "Get Ben," she says. Ben puts her in the truck and drives off as far and as fast as he can. Finally pulling over, he sets her down and lays his hands on her. "Please," he says. "Come on..." But Ruthie does not move. Close to tears he leans in. "Please..."
"...Nothin good has happened since you got here. Not for us. Not for you..."
Directed by: Rodrigo Garcia
Gabriel waits in swirling mist for Ben, who finally pulls up in the truck. Ben tells him to put Ruthie in bed and not to let anyone in-even Samson, and Gabriel sits on the steps of the trailer in vigil.
Lodz is waiting with Lila in their trailer. Eventually there is a knock at the door and Ben enters, saying he needs help. Ruthie is dead. "I tried to do what I did before, but nothing happened. You tell me what I gotta do."
A smug looking Lodz says he can't help, but he knows someone who can. Inside Management's trailer, the raspy voice addresses Ben. "You have the gift," it says. "To restore life, you must take a life...You must choose the life you take, that is the way of our kind."
Ben is taken aback. "I can help you Ben Hawkins, I can give you the answers you seek. I am someone who understands." Management says that he knows Ben has made the choice before.
But Ben insists the choice is not his to make. "If that is true my friend, then why is such a choice possible?" Management asks. "Why are you not like other men? ...It is your place, Ben Hawkins, it cannot be escaped."
Over in the Dreifuss tent, Stumpy waits for Rita Sue to awaken, holding a revolver. When she awakens Stumpy tells her. "You and me, it ain't workin'." Finally talking things through, the two decide to give up their peccadilloes.
Sophie and her Mother are having their usual strained conversation. "I don't care mother," Sophie says. "I've made up my mind. I'm leaving tonight." She heads outside and tells Jonsey she wants to see him that night, after the show shuts down.
Meanwhile, a Texas Ranger with a wanted poster of Ben is talking to Samson; Samson and Jonsey tell the official that Ben had been with their outfit, but that he took a powder in Babylon. Jones heads off to tell Ben to hide.
In Mintern, Tommy Dolan pays a visit to the Crowes, and is bewildered to find that he was expected. Dolan says he wants to help Justin, and Justin tells him he wants to use the radio to get out his message. They strike a deal.
Samson asks Ben about meeting The Man. "He says we're alike," Ben says, and tells him that Management said he can help him help somebody. "But theres a price," Samson guesses. He warns Ben that Management doesn't care about people, and tells Ben that he had better not harm anyone in his carnival.
Apollonia beckons Lodz to her trailer and he places a hand on her brow. "How long have you known?" he asks, seeming legitimately shocked.
Sophie watches Libby dance, and flirts with her. She tells Libby she is the only one she can trust. Then she asks her to meet her later someplace quiet.
Ben stumbles into town, and in a bar sees an old drunk coughing and mumbling to himself. With great effort he attempts to strangle the man in an alley, to take this man's life for Ruthie's, but finds he cannot do it. He wanders into a cemetery lit by candles for the dead, and sinks to the ground.
Slowly, he pulls out he pocket knife, and taking a breath, cuts his own throat. But as the blood runs out of him, a hand comes out to soothe him and a voice is heard. "It doesn't work that way. You are meant for greater things." The voice says. And over a flurry of visions, he adds, "This is who you are." Ben looks up and sees Scudder, dressed in his tuxedo. "You must make a choice. I'm sorry," Scudder says. Now healed, Ben spells out in blood the word he has seen in the visions, in the mine, in his dreams: Tavatar. He rubs out the "T".
In church, Balthus and Justin finally confront each other. "There is a demon within you," Balthus says. But Justin calmly rejects him, and says instead that there is demon inside Balthus. "All men have sinned against God at least once," he says, holding Balthus and bringing him into a vision. Together they walk in the night, as both wait to see what Balthus' sin is. What they witness is a flashback to Balthus rescuing the young Justin and Iris from the riverbank after the train accident of their youth.
"My greatest evil was saving your life?" Balthus asks. Justin reels in utter shock and horror. "This cannot be...." He picks up a heavy candlestick and begs Balthus to "do the thing you must do, now before it is too late...if you have ever loved me." Balthus raises the bludgeon over his head preparing to strike Justin dead, reciting scripture, but cannot do it. As Balthus runs from the church, Justin lifts his head yelling, "Norman!," his eyes now transformed into black orbs.
As Lodz and Management wait for Ben to return, Management compliments his lackey on his loyal service. "I have a gift for you," he says. "Come closer."
Libby, meanwhile, is all dolled up and goes looking for Sophie. They share a cigarette, and after some small talk, are soon kissing.
Later, Jones arrives for his rendezvous with Sophie, only to be surprised with the discovery of the two women in fligrante. "This is what it feels like to be betrayed by someone you love," Sophie says to them both and runs back to her trailer.
Ben sits with Ruthie's dead body and touches her face, choked up. Walking out of her trailer he tells Gabriel he's sorry.
Brother Justin addresses a packed congregation, now in front of a radio microphone. Snap, snap, snap go his fingers. "The clock is ticking, brothers and sisters, counting down to Armageddon."
With a silent scream, Apollonia grabs Sophie and causes the doors of the trailer to lock. Then she knocks over a kerosene lamp and ignites their room. "What are you doing?" Sophie screams.
On the radio, Brother Justin begins his litany of the evils of modern man: the savage blasphemy of Darwin, false prophets, Hollywood, godless politicians.
At the carnival, Ben faces Management having made his choice. "You're wrong," he says. "I ain't like you. God takes what's his, man don't take it back" But God had nothing to do with Ruthie's fate, Management says-- it was Professor Lodz. Lodz, stunned, denies it. "Why are you doing this," he asks terrified.
"Look him in the eyes," Management says, and Ben sees that Lodz's sight has been restored. Enraged, he grabs Lodz by the neck and strangles him.
"I open my eyes and see a blood sky," Justin says. "Rise up my brothers and sister and take your place at my side."
The carnies struggle to fight the fire in Apollonia's trailer, finally a desperate Jonesy pours water over himself and dives into bus. His friends look on in horror.
"Take a good look, you son of a bitch," Ben says, as Lodz breathes his last breath and his eyes glass back over to white. "It appears we are of like nature after all," observes Management.
"And together brothers and sisters we will build a shining temple," Brother Justin tells his radio flock. "A kingdom that will last thousands and thousands of years."
And with a gasp, Ruthie jolts awake.
"Run you coward, run as your father did."
Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
The words of Brother Justin's homily ring out over California's airwaves as a furious Ben strangles Lodz. "As God tested Job, so too have we been tested, brothers and sisters," Justin says to his radio listeners. And, at the moment Ben squeezes the life out of Lodz, Ruthie springs awake from her comatose state.
Staring in disbelief at his own hands, Ben accuses Management of engineering Ruthie's attack and killing Lodz. "Lodz was a traitor," the voice behind the curtain says. "He meant nothing to me." Ben is shaken, and turns to leave the terrible scene in the trailer when a decrepit hand shoots out from behind the curtain and grabs him.
Immediately, he has entered a vision: He stands alone in a vast, silent desert. A warning horn sounds, followed by a flash and a tremendous nuclear explosion. Devastation spreads as far as the eye can see. And there, braced against the waves of dust and debris he sees another figure crouching: Brother Justin.
Back in the trailer Management explains the vision. "A weapon," he says. "A false sun wrought by the hands of men." To stop it, Ben must destroy the preacher he sees in his dreams, find Scudder and bring him to Management. "What is he to you?" Ben asks. "He is to me what the preacher is to you," the voice replies. Management then explains that his own name is Lucius Belyakov, and that he is the Russian soldier Ben has seen mauled in his foxhole dream.
The information is too much for Ben and he takes off. "You can't run from this--millions will die!" Belyakov calls out, in futility. "Run you coward, run as your father did!"
Across the yard, the rest of the troupe is fiercely fighting the fire in Apollonia's bus, but the blaze is out of control. Jonesy barrels out of the inferno with Sophie, who screams for her mother. "She's gone, Sofie..." Samson says, but the girl knows better. "No, she's not, she's screaming," she says of the voice in her head. "Mother stop it...just die!" And suddenly, her expression changes. The silence, and its significance, overwhelms her, and she collapses.
Management enlists Samson to dispose of Lodz's body, and forces him to call the sheriff and let him know that the fugitive Ben Hawkins died in the bus fire. Apollonia's remains are produced as proof. He also demands that Samson again serve as a liaison to Ben. "The boy mustn't set foot in this trailer again," Management says. "He...tempts me."
At home after his sermon, Brother Justin falls asleep in a chair and dreams of a twisted and barren tree on a hill. He is met by a man with an elaborate tree tattoo-"the Usher"-who bleeds a strange color when cut. Awakening, he shares a long look with a half-dressed Iris before heading out into the dark, and an assignation in Chinatown.
Soon after, Justin is called to the bedside of Reverend Balthus, who has had a stroke on his way to district office of the church. Pulling Justin aside, Bishop McNaughton shows him a letter, in which Balthus accuses Justin of demonic possession. Later, alone with his paralyzed, onetime father figure, Justin murmurs smoothly that, "It should never have come to this."
Driving home from the hospital, Justin sees the tree from his dream and tells Iris to pull over. He climbs to the tree and gazes over an empty valley. "Here I will build my temple," he says.
Justin's congregation is humming along smoothly. Donations are rolling in, his schedule includes lunches with Congressman, and a new radio deal with William Randolph Hearst is pending. But radioman Tommy Dolan pulls Justin aside to warn him that people are looking into the deadly fire at his orphanage. A car like Justin's was seen leaving the scene, he says, and though he knows there was no malfeasance, "People hold their prophets to high standards--even in California."
Justin tells him to conduct a full investigation, no matter what it leads to. Iris, noticing the private conversation, is perturbed.
At the Carnivále, relations are frosty between the devastated Sofie and Jonesy, who has been checking in on her recuperation. When Sofie tries to apologize for her antics the night of the fire, he cuts her off. "I'm sorry, you're sorry, the whole goddamn world is sorry," he says, sounding truly regretful. "It don't mean a goddamned thing."
Ben now understands what he needs to do, and returns to the Templar Hall where he and Samson had been stonewalled. He breaks in, but as he searches files, is surprised by Mooney, who tries to brain him with a pool cue. Ben gets the better of him, and demands to know where Scudder is. Mooney denies knowing anything, but as Ben becomes more vicious, he relents. Scudder had been there 12 years ago, Mooney says; he gave "the sign" and was welcomed by the hall. Scudder became friendly with the chaplain, Kerrigan, but ended up fleeing after stealing "gospels" from the library. "If you find Scudder, for God's sakes don't tell him you talked to me," Mooney begs. "He ain't human."
Walking out, Ben notices a painting of a bestial looking man with a tree tattoo; the picture is signed by the old chaplain. "What happened to Kerrigan?" he asks the gasping Mooney, who tells him that the man is institutionalized in Alamogordo.
Brother Justin is about to deliver another of his sermons when he is confronted by a nervous little man who says he is looking for "the Usher." Reaching out his hand in introduction, the man slashes Justin's palm, but seems shocked at the result. Justin becomes enraged and grabs him, and suddenly the two stand inside Justin's vision, beside his tree. "You bleed like a man," the terrified man tells a black-eyed Brother Justin. "It means he's still alive." According to the Book of Matthias, the man says, Justin must kill Henry Scudder. "Then you'll be the prophet. The usher," the man says.
As Justin's sermon goes out on the airwaves, the radio engineer mentions that the signal seems to be transmitting far beyond the equipment's capacity. Many miles away, as a prison guard listens to the program, Varlyn Stroud, an inmate, listens as well. But as Justin preaches, Stroud hears a raspy command. "Varlyn Stroud," the voice says. "Follow me..."
Returning home to his room, Justin seems to be debating something, and eventually tries Iris's door. She has locked herself in.
He retires, undressing and combing his hair. But his comb sticks, and, yanking, he pulls a piece of flesh from his scalp. Inspecting his head, another piece comes off. And another, and another, until his face is coming off in chunks in his hand. Finally shredding the mask of his skin from his head, he sees another head beneath. "Who are you," he shrieks at the ghoulish sight.
Smiling back at him from the mirror is a bloody face. The face of Ben Hawkins.
"You must walk your own path..."
Directed by: Jack Bender
"Though I am alone, I feel you with me." The words of Brother Justin again fill the airwaves. But for one distant listener, the prisoner Varlyn Stroud, the message is something different. "Varlyn Stroud, I need you," he hears in the radio broadcast that rings through the cellblock. The prison guard, too, is drawn in. In a trance, he hands his keys to Stroud and leans his head back. The prisoner deftly produces a shiv and slits the guard's throat. Walking out of confinement, Stroud hears his orders, "Find Henry Scudder..."
Ben Hawkins arrives at the institution that holds Father Kerrigan, but seems unclear how to proceed. Drifting upstairs he finds a chapel; up front, a supplicant priest is deep in prayer. As the murmurs of a Latin chant are heard, a statue of the baby Jesus tilts his head to look at Ben. "Are you Ben Hawkins?" a voice behind him says. Turning, he finds a nurse. "Father Kerrigan will see you now." Asking how she knew his name, he is informed that he is on the authorized visitor list. "It's a very short list, just your name and one other." Let me guess, Ben offers: Henry Scudder.
Kerrigan's room is filled with hundreds of drawings and paintings--all representations of the tattooed man. Sitting on the floor, Kerrigan mutters and compulsively crosses himself over and over again. Ben pulls down a drawing. "Who is he," he asks, trying to get the man to listen to him. "What did Scudder do to you?" Grabbing the man, he is thrust into a vision of a ritual. He sees a maniacal Scudder biting the head from a huge snake and drawing signs on the ground in blood.
After the vision, Kerrigan is more at peace. Ben asks to take one of the drawings and leaves.
At the Carnivále, life is slowly returning to normal, though Sophie is still missing. Ruthie sees that an old boyfriend, Skeeter Lewis, has joined the rousties, and makes a date to meet him later. And Lila, moping in Lodz's trailer, accidentally finds his wallet and soon realizes that he did not bring his stake with him, wherever he went.
Hundreds of miles away, Justin breaks ground on his new temple and dedicates it to the child martyrs of the Dignity Ministry. Tommy Dolan continues his investigation of that tragedy, learning that only "Miss Iris" was in the dormitory when the fire broke out.
In Oklahoma, Varlyn Stroud is fast on Scudder's trail. He locates the abandoned Hawkins farm, and soon finds his way to the Donovan place in Tipton, where he finds a postcard from Scudder postmarked "Babylon." He has also acquired a gun and a badge, murdering Lyle Donovan in the process.
Driving home, Ben is somewhat dazed, and finds himself reciting words-a poem?-he heard from Father Kerrigan. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere he thinks he sees an image of the tattooed man. But it is Sophie who appears, walking barefoot, as though in a trance, alongside the road. Ben reaches out to hold her, and she slaps him, but eventually gives in to his healing embrace. When she returns to her senses, she says that she no longer belongs with the troupe, that she can't make her way.
Back at the camp, Samson tells her that she can stay in Lodz's trailer.
Later, Samson tells Ben that the poem Kerrigan was muttering was written by Charles Ingram; Management says that they have to head to Ingram, Texas to "find an old lady." Most importantly, he says that Management wants to see him. "When I gave him that picture, he got all stewed up," he says.
"You've seen the usher? The tattooed man?" an obviously upset Management asks Ben. The man is "Lord of Shadows...the usher of destruction," he says. "It means the end times aren't near, they are upon us. You'll never be prepared in time. We are lost."
Ben begs Management to let him heal him, and the decrepit figure is tempted. "You know what's at stake," Ben says, reaching out a hand. "No! Get back," says the voice. "My time has passed. It's your battle now, Ben Hawkins."
Outside, a dolled-up Ruthie waits for her date, but when Samson asks her about it, he is mystified. Skeeter Lewis, he says, has been dead for five years.
As the sun rises, the tents come down, and Sofie looks out at the world that has been hers. Walking over, she joins the workers loading the truck. Soon Carnivále is rolling toward Texas.
Brother Justin is finishing a long night of his own in Chinatown. As a woman crawls off of his back, he walks, gingerly, to the mirror. The woman helps him slide out of his robe to see his reflection, and her handiwork. Covering his body is a massive tattoo. The gnarled and bare limbs of a tree. Brother Justin is the tattooed man.
"In a single coast to coast broadcast, I will speak to more souls than Our Lord did in his entire lifetime..."
Directed by: John Patterson
After nearly a week in tiny Ingram, Tex., the night is quiet in the Carnivále camp, until Sofie wakes up, believing she smells smoke. Ben helps her look, but there is no sign of any fire.
The next day, Ben asks Sofie to read his Tarot cards, but she dismisses the idea, says she has no ability and angrily tells him to burn the deck. She has been having trouble sleeping and doesn't believe that the smoke she smelled was a dream.
Ben has difficulties of his own. Despite pressure from Samson and Management, he has been unable to find any clues in a week of driving around the roads of Ingram. "Kerrigan didn't give me a road map," he says. Samson understands, but knows that unease is mounting. "Watch your back," he warns.
In Mintern, a huge encampment has grown around the future home of the Temple of Jericho. Tommy Dolan complains that many of the supplicants are only there for a hot meal. "Then they will be fed," Justin says expansively. "They've come because they were called, Mr. Dolan. I need them all."
Later, as Justin addresses his radio congregation, Iris glances at his notes for the sermon and discovers only a page of grotesque doodles, dismembered eyeballs and female genitalia.
On the road, the tracker Varlyn Stroud has found his way to Babylon. With a Babylon Mining Company accounting book in his hand, he compares names against the names on a memorial to those who perished in the cave-in of '21. Crossing off the names of the dead in the ledger, he is left with just one: Henry Scudder. Still dressed as a cop, he heads to the telegraph office to wire Brother Justin that he is heading for New Mexico.
At the Carnivále, things are not right in Ruthie's world. She awakes one morning to see Lodz outside her curtain, but finds no one there when she rises. Her snakes have been skittish lately, biting and killing each other. Then, during a performance, one of her them wraps itself around her neck and tries to strangle her; she is saved when Gabriel arrives. "Kill it, kill it," she screams, and her son batters the snake to a bloody pulp.
Ben accedes to Sofie's wishes and burns her Tarot cards. But as he stares into the fire, he sees one that stops him in his tracks. Sitting in the middle is a card with an image of the Tattooed Man, on a Tarot marked "Le Passeur." He pulls it from the blaze and shows it to Sofie, but she says it's not a true Tarot card. "I've seen 'em all a thousand times," she says. "That's not one of them."
At the cooch tent, Stumpy has Rita Sue and Libby working overtime with the johnnies. He's also pulling out all of the fundraising stops, including blow-off shows for kids. Later, when a rough character shows up to collect money from Stumpy, he tries to pass him off as an old friend, but Rita Sue is suspicious, and Libby overhears the man threatening Stumpy.
Reverend Balthus, still incapacitated by stroke, is wheeled into Justin's home. "Welcome home, Norman," Justin enthuses, and he is soon spooning babyfood in his old mentor's mouth while tormenting him with his plans for the future.
Justin's cohort Tommy Dolan continues his investigation of the fire at the Dignity Ministry. A waitress who saw Justin's car leave the scene is unwilling to talk, but Tommy wins her over with a heartbreaking story. He learns that the person driving the car was slumped down. "Could it have been a woman?" Tommy asks. "Might have been," the witness says.
Driving the ranch roads around Ingram, Ben is stopped by a tree in the road and discovers a nightmarish camp. Positioned throughout are strange and decrepit artifacts-mangled mannequins, parcels of insects, literature about artificial human eyes. Searching, he trips a crude alarm and is quickly set upon by stooped men, howling like monkeys. One is firing rusty bolts from a slingshot. Ben fights, but is soon overcome as more men arrive.
Hanging upside down, Ben is visciously flogged, while two tattered women go through his possessions. Finally, the moonshine-swilling leader calls out, "Leave some for the worms," and tells the man beating Ben to go bury him.
Justin continues his psychological torture of Balthus, inducing the toothsome maid Celeste to service him while the paralyzed reverend watches. "I will show you things," he purrs. "Wonderful, terrible things."
At the strange camp, Ben's captor finishes burying him alive as the others divide his paltry belongings. But when the leader sees Scudder's Templar watch fob, he leaps up and scrambles desperately to the burial spot. Frantically digging Ben out, they find him still alive. "This yours?" the man asks, holding out the fob. "We've been waiting for you."
Back at the Carnivále, Ruthie again sees Lodz and follows him back to his trailer. But when she opens the door, she sees only Sofie, asleep. Ruthie tucks her in and leaves, not noticing the knob of the radio as it slowly rotates to tune in Justin's sermon. As his voice is heard in the night, Sofie's eyes slowly open.
"Always room for kin at the table."
Directed by: Steve Shill
Still bound, Ben is led by his captors, but the brutal treatment has eased. Only Lee still feels compelled to abuse him. "We shoulda left him in the ground," he snarls, but the others seem terrified that "she" will see.
Reaching a decrepit old house, the men approach a more senior man on the porch and show him the watch fob they have taken from Ben. "She wants to see you first, Lee," he says. As Ben waits, surrounded by filth and the stench of cats, he hears Lee's screams from upstairs. Soon, his tormentor comes down, crying and clutching his mouth.
Next it's Ben's turn, and he is thrown into a room and locked in. Turning in the dark and sordid quarters, he sees ghoulish pictures on the wall, including a photo of a lynched man; an old lady faces away from him. As he approaches, she grabs Ben's arm, overwhelming him with surprising strength. Ben sees that the woman's eyes are scarred and skinned over. "Why'd you make me wait so long," she coos.
The old hag introduces herself. "I'm your grandma," she says. She tells Ben that the men downstairs are his cousins and that they want him dead, but she is clearly entranced by him, petting and embracing her grandson.
At Carnivále, Samson warns Stumpy that there are to be no more tittie shows before sunset, but Rita's husband still seems bent on every moneymaking approach he can come up with, and it is wearing on the family.
The rousties complain bitterly about working with "a split tail," and when Jonesy finally hears enough, he grabs a shovel and tells Sofie to dig the latrine. With Sofie toiling in the sun, the men make bets on how long she'll go before collapsing.
Ruthie continues to see visions-- this time a figure in black-- and, like Sofie, believes she smells smoke when no one else does.
In Mintern, Justin dresses, merrily humming a hymn. Bumping into Iris, he mentions that their new maid Celeste is "not working out," and when Iris enters the young woman's room, she finds her naked, crazy-eyed, scratched and bloody on the floor, crying.
Later, discussing the fire at the Dignity Ministry, Justin is dismissive of Tommy Dolan's concerns about Iris. "I need more than just the word of two women," he says.
Back in Texas, Sofie's digging is taking a toll, and Samson tries to talk her out of it, but the girl seems determined to start a new life. "I'm not here to prove anything," she says. "It beats curlin' up and dying, which is what I'd have to do if I went back to reading those goddamn cards."
Across the camp, Lila gathers a group of men, showing them Lodz' abandoned stake. She thinks Samson did Lodz in, she says, and is looking for help.
The tracker Varlyn Stroud has made his way to the Templar Hall where Ben learned of Father Kerrigan. Gaining entrance using his badge, he is not inside long before he strides out to make a collect call to Justin. "Scudder's got a boy after him," Stroud says, as the Templar Hall explodes behind him. Justin orders him to follow the boy.
Ben's grandmother leads him on a tour of the family graveyard, explaining his history as she goes. His grandfather, she says, was a powerful grand dragon and one of the founders of the Klan. "Died before his time, bless his soul, they all did," she says, and Ben realizes that all of his uncles died on the same day as his grandfather.
Later at the house, the old lady tells Ben she has a surprise for him and roots in a drawer for something. Ben, waiting, comes across a plaster mask. It is, his grandmother explains, Henry's death mask. Ben is outraged that she hadn't told him sooner that Scudder was dead. Looking at the mask, the eyes suddenly blink and Ben drops it in surprise.
"You broke it!" the old lady screeches, laying her hands on the knife she had been looking for. She tells Ben to close his eyes for the surprise as she draws back the blade. Then, she simply hands it to him. "You'll need this where you're going," she says.
As Ben clasps the gift, Brother Justin has a vision a thousand miles away: Ben is plunging the knife into his chest. Collapsing in the middle of his sermon, he murmurs to Iris: "He means to kill me..."
Convalescing later, Justin refuses details to Iris, and she becomes incensed that he is keeping secrets from her. "I will not be sacrificed," she says. Late that night she drives off into the country to burn some clothes, tailed by Tommy Dolan.
Ben asks the men he now knows as cousins why they keep their grandmother locked up. "That woman up there," replies one, "she's crazier than a shithouse rat." The night Ben's father was born, the man explains, she took a boning knife and killed all of Henry's brothers as well as her own husband. When she was done, she clawed her own eyes out.
As Ben leaves his "family," he sees the reason for Lee's earlier screams: his mouth has been sewn shut. Making his way back to the carnival, Ben tells Management that Scudder is dead, but Management dismisses the notion, infuriating Ben.
Nearby, Sofie and Jonesy have a heart-to-heart, and Jonesy learns the reason for her need to start a new life that has nothing to do with her mother. "She tried to kill me, Jonesy, Sofie says. "She set the fire; she was holding me...she wanted me to die. What did I do to make her hate me so much?"
"We both know, wherever it is you're headed, it's likely gonna be a one-way trip..."
Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
The night is still as Ben wanders through camp; everywhere there is black ash. Venturing into Management's trailer, he tentatively pulls back the curtain, and a tattooed Brother Justin leaps out - and Ben is jolted awake.
Arriving at their destination in Oklahoma, the rousties set up, and all talk is of the upcoming "fight of the century" between the Joe Louis and Max Baer. A confident Stumpy tells the crew to put everything they got on the German.
At breakfast, Ruthie sees Apollonia sitting across from Sofie, and finally works up the nerve to talk to the girl about it. "I ain't crazy," she tells her, and explains that she sees dead people all over, ever since she was bitten by the snake. "You told me once you thought your momma had one foot in this world and one foot in the other," she remembers. Now, Ruthie feels the same.
In Mintern, Brother Justin's ministry is more sprawling than ever, with the road backed up for miles with the devoted. Dolan arrives as Justin and Iris look over the blueprints for his temple, and Justin asks Iris to excuse them. Dolan explains that he has been following Iris and witnessed her burning her clothes. "She did it Justin. She burned down the mission. She killed those kids." Balthus looks on.
Staring out the window at a group of children at play, Justin responds. "I always said I'd follow the truth, no matter where it led," he says.
Ben finds his way to the house of Evander Geddes, the man who made the death mask of Scudder which Ben found at his grandmother's home. Sitting down to hot cider, Geddes is loquacious. "Hack Scudder. We had quite a time in the old days," he recalls. When Ben asks, impatiently, about the mask, the man laughs. "It wasn't a death mask I made for Henry. He's very much alive."
The mask was a gift for his blind mother, Geddes says, "Even a hard heart has soft spot for mom..." Ben, suddenly growing woozy, urges Geddes to find an address for Scudder, but the smiling man seems more interested in Ben's face. He examines it lovingly as Ben passes out on the couch.
When he awakes, he is in Geddes' workshop, strapped to a table and surrounded by dozens of masks of children's faces. "My objective is to capture the soul," Geddes says, approaching the table with a ghoulish cherub mask strapped to his face. Ben struggles, but is injected with a paralytic. Soon, Geddes is slathering plaster over his faces(face), covering his nose, smothering him...
With a start, Ben awakes, back on the couch in the sitting room. He interrogates his host, but there is no evidence of foul play, and the man placidly denies all as he paints the face of a china doll.
Ben drives away from the house, and as he leaves, Geddes rises and turns on his radio. Brother Justin's voice speaks of "a world of pain and despair."
In the Crowe household, Justin confronts his sister. "Why are you doing this? I've given you everything," Iris says. "You needed martyrs. I gave them to you."
Justin appears to be wrestling with his decision. "If you want me to do this, you're going to have to ask," Iris says, coldly. "Go ahead, Justin, ask me: Ask me to turn myself in."
A thousand miles away, the Carnivále has an uninvited visitor: Justin's minion Varlyn Stroud, who is making the rounds inquiring after a boy named Scudder.
Rita Sue asks Stumpy how much money he's lost, and after some goading, he admits that he is in for over $400. His wife is horrified, but pulls together every dollar she has saved for him to pay his debts. "I oughta have my head examined," she says.
That night, the Louis fight proves to be one of the most lopsided in history, and Max Baer is knocked out. Stumpy fesses up to betting on the fight, but claims he backed the winner.
Striking out with Jonesy, Stroud tries to shake some information out of Samson, smiling badgering and insulting him. Samson is unfazed, and unimpressed by the policeman act, and suggests Stroud look at The Daily Bros. Show. Stroud reacts menacingly.
Later, when the midway is closed, Stroud comes face to face with Ben, and the two share a smoke outside the gate. Ben denies working at the carnival but the tracker seems suspicious.
Seeing Ben, Sofie tells him that she has given in and wants to try to read his cards.
The first is the Two of Wands. "A lord looking over his dominion as he turns away," she says. "Ashes, agony, disfigurment." As she speaks, Ben has a flickering vision of Scudder in his top hat and tails.
The second card is The Lovers. This time it is Sofie who has the vision, of the two of them kissing passionately in the wake of a bomb blast. "The Lovers. Attraction. Passions. Trials conquered," she says.
The last card is The Moon. Immediately, Ben sees a wolf and a screaming man with a disfigured face. "Don't you want to know what it means?" she asks as Ben leaves. "I think I know," he says.
Alone in the trailer, Sofie hears a voice behind her. "You were always the one who read the cards," it says. Turning, she sees her mother, veiled in black.
Late at night, Samson and Ben look at a picture of Damascus, New Mexico, the location of Ben's visions. "Reckin that's where Scudder is?" he asks. "I'll tell the man."
In Mintern, Iris gives her statement to Tommy Dolan, describing the details of her arson. Tommy is rattled. "Why?" he asks her. "I fell under a shadow," she says, looking at Justin.
Rising calmly, Justin kisses his sister's cheek. "You are forgiven," he says, and leaves.
Later, Justin receives a special delivery package and inside finds the plaster mask of Ben's face. Putting it over his own face, he is jolted when the eyes pop open, and Justin is suddenly seeing the world through Ben's eyes. He watches the Carnivále pack up for the road to Damascus until Ben looks into a mirror, and the two adversaries are connected. Jerking the mask from his face, Justin flings it. Ben's mirror shatters, and the broken likeness of his face oozes blood onto Justin's floor.
"Damn, if that ain't a lucky thing you came by."
Directed by: Tucker gates
Asleep in Lodz's trailer, Sofie rolls over to find a ghoulish bed partner: Inches from her face, Apollonia stares at her, her eyes wide with horror. Sofie jumps up and goes outside. The caravan is lining up to leave town.
Sofie takes a seat in Ben's truck, and as the Carnivále pulls away into the dark, she implores him to run away with her. "I can't," Ben tells her. "There's something I need to do, and it's that way."
Asked what he has to do, Ben explains that he has to find his pa. "If I met my father, I'd kill him dead, Sofie says. "He raped my ma. That's why she hates me." Ben tells her affectionately that no one could hate her.
In Mintern, Justin sits beside Norman Balthus, wrestling with himself over Iris's fate. "I am a man of God," he says out loud as though trying to convince himself. "I am a man of God." Finally he seems to have come to a decision. "Only through sacrifice comes redemption...she must learn."
He kisses the paralyzed Balthus as he leaves. After, his old mentor slowly turns his head and stares at the door.
Upstairs in her room, Iris prays passionately to save herself. "Please do remember me," she begs, kneeling in a pile of broken glass.
As the sun comes up, the Carnivále pulls up on a strange parade in the road: some beaten down trucks, an elephant, a fat lady in a cart and a hard-done-by string of freaks and attractions. "Them sons of bitches burned us out," one of them says. "The Daily brothers, for the insurance, sure as hell," says another.
Samson's old friend, the "wild man" Charlie Lewis explains that they are all that is left of The Daily Bros. Amusementorium, following a fire. Samson decides to make camp and feed the desperate-looking crew.
Sofie, looking in the rearview, sees the figure of a child in the road, away from everyone. "Sweetie, you lost?" she asks. But as the little girl turns,. Sofie sees that she is no ordinary kid. "Every prophet in her house," she says in a supernatural voice. Sofie is stunned. "...mother?" she says, horrified, and runs back to the truck, shaking.
Later, Sofie again talks to Ben, telling him she's leaving and urging him to come with her. "You don't belong here, no more than I do," she says.
All seems perfect in bright and sunny Mintern, as Tommy Dolan tells Justin that everything is ready for his big tent sermon. "And the authorities?" Brother Justin asks. "I've contacted the county prosecutor, he'll be there," Dolan says.
Dolan promises that they'll get Iris a top lawyer and that she'll never see the inside of a courtroom. "They don't hang women in California," he says. Justin seems pleased.
The Carnivále troupers and the remnants of the Daily Bros. party it up in a much-needed break, with hooch, marijuana, gossip and dancing to pass the night. When Burly gets abusive to Libby, Jonesy intercedes and ends up punching the roustie out.
Still in the truck, Ben asks Sofie if she'd like to join the party, but the girl says she feels "safer here." She and Ben dance outside in the dark, and in the quiet afterwards, they kiss. During the embrace, however, Sofie has vision of the Usher raping her mother. "Mother!" she screams. "She's right there!" Ben holds her face, and suddenly the vision is gone. "What did you do," Sofie says, looking at his hands. Embracing, the two kiss passionately.
Giving away their clothes to celebrate Stumpy's boxing winnings, Rita Sue finally gets her husband to admit that he lost her savings. Stumpy, completely broken, walks back to the tent. Inside, everyone is flirting and whooping it up, and even Jonesy is dancing, with Libby. The sight enrages Stumpy and he ends up punching Jones.
As the two slug it out, Ben and Sofie grow increasingly intimate in the truck. "First time I saw you I knew you were different," she says. "You ain't really going to leave, are you?" Ben asks.
Soon, the two are kissing and making love, and in a climactic moment, a clap of thunder and bolt of lightning launch a deluge. Jonesy and Stumpy fight and struggle in the mud outside the tent as a crowd cheers. Finally, with Stumpy defeated, Rita Sue steps up. "I'm just defending my family's honor," Stumpy says. "That's a good one," Rita Sue replies.
With the storm bearing down, Jonesy finds Sofie and Ben in the truck, and Ben leaves to help batten down the camp.
A huge tent glows in the field of Justin's ministry. Iris is now composed. Accompanied by The Battle Hymn of the Republic, the prosecutor and police join the crowd of worshippers. "I have an important announcement to make," Justin says, explaining that he has made it his holy mission to bring justice to the murdered children of the Dignity Ministry. Now, he says, a confession has been signed. The killer is "not a stranger, but one of our own."
Iris prays as Tommy Dolan takes the pulpit and Justin stands at her side. "On the evening of September 8, 1934," Dolan reads. "I entered the dignity ministry, poured gasoline on the floor and set fire to the orphanage..." As the crowd grows restive and cops swarm the lectern, Tommy struggles to set the record straight. "No, he yells...it was Iris...," but looking down, he sees his own signature on the confession. "You set me up," he yells, as he is hauled away.
Somewhere between Ingram and Damascus, Sofie stands in pouring rain, turning round and round as the radio plays. And as Justin's voice suddenly rings out, the rain stops as if turned off at the source. Sofie turns to the sound of the radio. "The instant you yield, God's plan for salvation is thrown into gear..." Justin's voice says.
Lila, expecting Charlie for a romantic visit, instead finds a dripping Ruthie at her door. Looking up, Ruthie has Lodz's milk-white eyes, and when she speaks, her voice is not her own: "Where's the boy?" Then she collapses.
When day breaks after the long night, Samson strikes a deal for the Scorpion Lady to join their show. Her husband, a poor-man's "he-she" comes along in the deal. "By the way, who told you Ray and Dil burned us down," she asks Samson after an agreement is reached. "There was a bald-headed fella nosing around. Had a badge, but he weren't a cop."
Samson rushes to discuss the news with Ben, who decides to head out to Damascus alone and try to beat Stroud to Scudder. On his way out, he asks Samson why he believes the woman and learns that they were married for nine years.
Kissing the sleeping Sofie goodbye, Ben hits the road. But watching from a bluff is Stroud himself. "Didn't I tell you boys the best way to follow somebody is to get ahead of them," he exults, but his conversation partners, it turns out, are the Daily Brothers, who have long since had their throats slit and are "stinkin' up the Dodge."
Later, as what's left of Daily Brothers show moves on down the road, the Carnivále rolls out in the other direction. And, sitting under a tree and watching them leave, is Sofie.
Some people are meant for this life, and some ain't.
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Brother Justin is fitted for new suit, with Iris assisting. In a mirror, Justin catches the image of the Colossus Ferris wheel. Iris points out that there is an open seam in Justin's trousers. "That's how we fit a corpse," the tailor replies. "It's a funeral suit." The room darkens, and Iris's face is now a death mask; reaching down, she picks up a dagger and plunges it into Justin's crotch...
Justin wakes up from the dream shouting. Calming down, he notices the ambulance that pulls away from the house just as Bishop McNaughton arrives. "Our new maid," Iris tells the Bishop. "Bad case of nerves."
Over breakfast, McNaughton explains the reason for his visit. Members of the supervisory committee are disturbed by Justin's ideology and would like him to submit his radio sermons to them in advance. After a long moment, Justin agrees that it's a splendid idea.
Up in his room, Norman Balthus summons all of his will to make it out to the Bishop but collapses on the floor. Iris helps him back into bed, explaining that Justin is too busy to worry about the two of them, but that she'll "do anything not to be left behind."
Far away, on the road to Damascus, Ben eyes a Tarot card on the seat next to him: Le Lune, the moon. Entering town, he begins seeing the vision of the man with the shredded face, screaming. Then, Scudder appears, in evening clothes and slips into a slaughterhouse. Although Ben can find no trace of him, through a crack in the door he sees two letters from a sign: HS. Opening the door, he sees that the sign promotes the Hotel Astoria.
At the Carnivále, Jones is upset by the departure of Sofie, and the troupers debate how she will live outside. Libby and Rita Sue continue to snipe at each other. Pinning up the laundry, Sabina describes married life with Samson and informs her that "not everything on him is small."
The desk clerk tells Ben that Henry Scudder used to live at the Hotel Astoria, but that he snuck out owing eight weeks' rent. "A freak," is the man's assessment. "Nothing but a freak." Without a better idea, Ben decides to look at Scudder's old room and finds three shopworn prostitutes there. "Buyin' or lookin'," one asks lazily, but Ben's vision is now overwhelming him. He sees a man with rubber gloves stick his face in hydrochloric acid several times. Then screaming in pain, the man douses his face with vinegar.
Recognizing the man, Ben turns to the door and suddenly is face-to-face with Varlyn Stroud. Stroud grabs him, but Ben is able to twist away, and Stroud drives his hand into a mirror.
Striding back to the desk, he grabs the phone from the double-crossing desk clerk and heads into a room where a man faces away from him. The clerk yells and calls the police, but Ben slams the door on him.
"Henry Scudder," he says to the back of the man's head. "Who?" the man replies, as he turns and reveals his horribly scarred face. "You're him," Ben says calmly.
As Stroud begins breaking down the door with an axe, Ben confronts the mutilated man and tells him that he is his son. Placing his hands on the man's face, his scars begin to heal, and Scudder's face is revealed. At that moment, the desk clerk and Stroud find themselves suddenly gasping desperately for breath; in a circle around the hotel men have been knocked to their knees in agony. Half a continent away, Brother Justin vomits violently.
Later in Mintern, a huge, cheering crowd greets Brother Justin in the revival tent. He begins his sermon with the approved script, but is only a few lines into it when he stops and rips it loudly in front of the microphone. "That is the sermon that other men would have me deliver," he tells his followers, as well as the supervisory committee that has gathered around the radio to listen. "I now realize that you are not here to hear the words of other men. You are here for me. So that I am not alone in the garden."
Shredding his script, he rails against the church leaders, calling them arrogant, "fat, filthy pawns of the merchant regime." Tossing the pieces in the air, he fairly roars. "Where Jesus had twelve at his side, I will have 12,000!" he says. "You will hear the voice of one man...And that is the sound that they will fear!"
Alone in a field near the Carnivále, Libby and Jones make love on a blanket, and Libby tries to give Jonesy treatment unlike the service she provides "the johnnies." Across the camp, Samson and Sabina also seem to be renewing their acquaintance.
Ben brings Scudder to Management's trailer and the father tells his son that he is glad they had a few hours together. Ben says there will be plenty more, but Scudder is unconvinced. Taking a breath, he approaches the curtain and speaks to his enemy. "Belyakov," he says. "I'm not part of this. I never was...I just want to live my life in peace."
But Belyakov grabs him, causing him to writhe in pain. "Alexi, Alexi," Scudder says. "No!. He is the boy's opposite. And he has a man looking for me. And he's not dead."
A horribly mutilated Belyakov springs from the platform and attacks Scudder, and the two struggle as objects fly in the trailer. Ben yells at him to stop, and as Scudder reaches an arm out to him, Ben reaches for the dagger and plunges it into Belyakov. Again and again he stabs him.
Across the camp, Samson learns that Management ordered Sabina to keep Samson from interfering. "What have you done?" he asks, horrified.
In Management's trailer is his answer: Belyakov, on the floor, bleeds a pool of blue blood. With a gasp, he reaches up and grabs Ben's throat.
He just had to put the pieces in place.
Directed by: Timothy Hunter
Dying on the floor, Belyakov grabs Ben by the throat, and the two are transported to the site of the tree. A suddenly younger Belyakov intones: "Behold, the Usher, a dark heart dwells where the branches meet. Anointed dagger, plunge thee deep." And stabbing the dagger into a fork in the tree, he releases blue blood from the branch.
Belyakov places his hand on Ben's head, and the young man screams. Across the country, Justin gasps in a fit, twisting his Bible in his hands and falling to his knees. As Balthus looks on, gurgling in an attempt to speak, and Iris and the maid stare in horror, Justin rears up, his eyes completely black, and collapses.
"Accept your fate," Belyakov says to Ben, his last words before dying. The pool of blue blood draws back into the knife, and Ben realizes that Scudder has disappeared.
Wandering through the carnival, Scudder makes it to the parked cars before collapsing. There, he is greeted by Varlyn Stroud. "You led me on a merry chase," Stroud says. "I got a friend who's just dying to meet you." And with that, he plunges a syringe into Scudder's neck.
Searching, Ben runs into Samson. "Something bad happened," he says. "Something terrible bad."
In town in Damascus, Jones and Libby are singing, stumbling drunk and embracing in the street. "Hey, I got an idea," Jonesy says, and the two are off.
Iris takes care of Justin, who wakes in his bedroom with a start from his fit and won't allow her to undress him. Afterward, the maid pulls Iris aside. "Did you see? The devil in him; I saw the devil in him," the woman says. But Iris chides her. "You know Justin is a man of God."
A burly man named Bud gets rough with Stumpy trying to collect his gambling debt, but Rita Sue is straight with him. "If you want to slap him around, have at it," she says. "But if you want your dough, you best come talk to me." The two come to a payment arrangement.
Samson is completely stunned by the scene in Management's trailer. "Goddamn Scudder, he finally did it," he says. But Ben explains that it was in fact him. He tells Samson that Belyakov had orchestrated the entire thing, that he was never searching for Scudder, he was just keeping tabs on him. He brought them all together in the trailer because he knew that Ben could never kill him, except to save his father.
"He had to die," Ben says. "And he had to be sure that I was the one that killed him." He explains to Samson that Management was a prophet, and that he died so that Ben, a prince, could rise. "Everything he was, everything he knew, everything he believed he gave to me," Ben says, in order to stop the Usher-Alexi Belyakov, Management's son.
Samson, shocked and upset, declares it all "bullshit."
Later, Ben goes looking for Sofie and is stunned to find out that she has left.
From a gas station on the road, Stroud reports to an agitated Justin that he has managed to find Scudder and that he will be in Mintern in two or three days. Stroud's hand, injured in his fight with Ben, is in bad shape.
Alone, Ben spreads his arms and listens. A buzzing noise?-points him in a certain direction. "West," he mutters. "West."
He tells Samson that they have to head west, but the man is not interested. "You're so powerful, you bring him back," he says. Ben presses him, but Samson, holding Management's empty shroud, wants to know where the body is. Ben tells him Management "ascended."
Samson is irate. Holding the shroud with its Christ-like image, he lashes out. "You killed him...look at what you killed. Don't you see what he was?"
But Ben is resolute. "I know what he was, cause that's what I am," he says. Samson is unmoved. "I'll tell you what, Prince. I'll give you all the help you want, as soon as you bring him back."
In Mintern, Justin convinces Templeton that he has more than enough supporters to get him elected to Congress. He tells the man that he is planning a sermon on the mount for a new America, and he would like Templeton to be a keynote speaker at the candlelight sermon. Pointing out to a valley full of his followers, Justin makes his pitch. "Over 17,000 souls. We provide them with food...blankets...medicine...Who do you suppose they'll vote for, come November."
Rita Sue is furious when she learns that Jonesy and Libby have been married, and the couple seem a little sheepish themselves. But as Libby packs up to move out of her parents' tent, she has more disturbing news: she's quitting the cooch.
Samson discovers that Ruthie is not working and finds her holed up in her trailer. She tells him that she has discovered that she has had "the sight" ever since her snake bite, and tells him that she even saw Scudder the other night being hustled into a car. Samson's ears perk up when he hears this. Samson explains to her that Scudder isn't dead, and that he really was on the midway and tells her he needs to know exactly what she saw.
Over a "family" dinner, Rita Sue and Jonesy argue over Libby's future until she finally puts and end to the discussion. "You can't tell me what to do, and you can't neither," she says. "I'm going to dance the cooch, but no blow off and no tricks. And that's the way it's going to be."
Justin talks to Smith about his fit and shows him that the tree tattoo on his body has now burned into a scar. "Your enemy has received his boon," Smith says. "But what concerns me more is this business you told me about the dagger." He explains that if his enemy has the dagger in his possession "along with his boon, he not only has the strength, but the means to destroy you."
He also asks that Justin call him when Scudder arrives, saying that he has unfinished business with him.
At the Carnivále, the colossus Ferris wheel comes apart in a huge disaster and broken bodies litter the ground. In the chaos, Ben goes to help, and finds a mother and son. The boy is dead, and the mother, trapped, is muttering, over and over: "Please, God, take me and not my son Please God..." Ben takes a long look, then gently touches the mother's cheek. She grows quiet, and her son rises, calling for his momma.
Later, with the injured off to the hospital, the troupe hastens to make a run for the state line before a mob shows up. Samson, rushing around, comes across the mythic Baggage trailer. "What the hell..." he mumbles, entering.
Inside are relics of Belyakov. Samson walks among them and stops at his death shroud, staring into the image of his face before leaving. He walks out and finds Ben. "Sorry about your friend, it was the best I could do," Ben says, and Samson, looking behind him, sees that the trailer is gone. "I'll help you, but it's going to have to be a different deal," Samson says. "No secrets and no lies."
He tells Ben about Scudder and Stroud, and Ben is disturbed. "He's got a car and a full day's lead on us. We haven't even started and we're already lost." But Samson bets him that it's not over yet.
In his house at the Temple of Jericho, Justin is morose, looking through the broken death mask that had offered him a vision of his enemy, but he sees nothing. Limping up the stairs, he takes solace looking lasciviously at his new maid. And as she rises from her work, we see the face of the woman he covets: It's Sofie.
Everything's impossible. Til it ain't.
Directed by: Rodrigo Garcia
Clutching his throat, Justin runs fearfully through a cornfield, when he looks up and sees a spider's web. The center of the web glows in the shape of a five-pointed star, and then turns into a Ferris wheel...and Justin jerks awake in his chair.
Later, Iris hears him talking to Balthus about his dreams, which, he says, are like those he had as a child. "The carnival hides my enemy, even as he draws closer," he tells his onetime mentor. "He means to destroy us."
Arriving in Wyoming, the Carnivále begins setting up camp for the night. Jones, scrounging among the wreckage of the Colossus, finds a clue: a wooden dowel where a metal pin should be. Someone has made a tragic error in judgment.
Ben wants to know why the caravan has stopped, and Samson tells him that the troupe needs rest, at least until morning. "I know you got the eagers," he says. "And I ain't gonna lose that bet."
Jones confronts Burly about the offending dowel, and the two end up in a fistfight, punctuated by Burly's slurring of Libby's reputation. Jonesy himself is finding that life with an adult entertainer has its conflicts and argues with Libby about her state of dress. It is while watching him snore away that Libby sees someone outside their tent.
Suddenly, a group of men are on them, grabbing and handcuffing Jones. Soon they are miles from the camp. "You don't know me, do you, carnie trash," one man says as he beats Jones. "You're the man that killed my wife with that goddamned Ferris Wheel." Brandishing a tar brush, he brutally slaps boiling tar over Jones and shoves the burning brush in his mouth. He demands that Libby watch: "I want her to see this so she can go back and tell those freaks what happens when you come in an wreck decent folk."
Back at camp, Ben has a dream: In the Cheyenne Motor Courts , Varlyn Stroud pumps morphine into a shaking and disoriented Scudder. Seeing an image of Ben in a mirror, he pulls his gun, but Ben is not there. Waking up from the dream, Ben is sweaty and has a bloody nose-and is disturbed to see his blood is now blue. Finding Cheyenne on a map, he sees that the town is only a couple of hours away, and he determines to try to get the jump on Stroud.
Ruthie, too, has been active in the night. Walking in a trancelike state, with Lodz's milky white eyes, she picks up a lipstick and writes on a mirror. In the morning, Lila, who seems curiously drawn to Ruthie, brings her Lodz's favorite breakfast. Ruthie pushes her out before seeing the message written on her mirror: "Sofie is in the Omega," it says. The note is signed "L."
In Mintern, Justin discusses the bible with Norman. "Once you get past the striking repetition, itâs really quite banal," he tells him. He can't control his laughter. "Blessed are the meek. Can you imagine?"
Sofie has gotten a lesson on Justin's Spartan nature from Iris. "You serve at my brother's pleasure," she says. But Justin is captivated by his new maid. Holding her hand after she pours the coffee, he seems quite lost. After Sofie has gone, Balthus, in his semi-paralyzed state, snorts in derision, and when Justin turns to him, his eyes are black. Norman struggles, groans and spits out a bloody molar.
In the valley of the Temple of Jericho, Justin's faithful have lined up to register to vote. "You vote Democrat now," a volunteer says, slipping a registrant a campaign button and a dime. "You vote for Val."
Iris, who has been looking for Eleanor, finally finds her in her tent, shivering and terrified. "I saw the devil," she says. "Brother Justin's eyes were as black as pitch." Declaring her exhausted, Iris takes the old woman on a picnic and convinces her that she is mistaken. Slowly, Eleanor comes around, "What I saw was like a bad dream," she says. But later, when Eleanor laughingly says she looks forward to joking with Brother Justin about her mistake, Iris can take no more chances. She bashes Eleanor with the oar from their boat.
By the side of the road in Wyoming, Clayton Jones is more dead than alive. Blackened and burnt, he is hog tied to a post, and when a devastated Libby tries to remove a speck, she takes off more flesh than tar. Vultures circle the pair as Libby cries. "I'll stop dancing...just don't die."
Driving for Cheyenne, Ben sees the vultures and soon spots Libby. "Jonesy's dying!" she shrieks and begs to get him to a hospital. It's quickly clear, however, that he won't make it to Cheyenne.
Glancing at the carrion birds, Ben drives far off of the road and instructs Libby to shut all the windows, drive like hell and wait for him back at the road. "Something's going to happen here," he tells a stunned Libby. "I don't got time to explain it. But I can't risk you getting hurt. It's the only chance he's got."
Ben squats beside the near dead Jones and puts his head down. Jonesy, barely awake, looks out and sees a vision of himself in all of his splendor from his days in the Major Leagues. "One strike away, Bill" he tells his manager. "I'm bringing it home..." Ben places his hands on Jones charred body.
In Mintern, the faithful have gathered, and Val Templeton offers political brimstone, assailing the President as an "agent of international shylocks." Justin follows with his own vitriol: "blessed are the migrants, the okies, the road-ites, for they are the true Americans!" he says. Norman, watching from the front row, sees an opportunity. Grabbing a revolver from a policeman's holster, he fires a shot at Justin.
The bullet misses, and Balthus is beset by angry parishioners. They swarm and beat him until Justin bellows for them to stop. "Do not touch this man," he says, holding Balthus in his arms. After a long silence, a "praise the lord" is heard, and the crowd erupts. Sofie, watching, is clearly moved, and finds herself applauding as well.
Standing on a Wyoming plain, Jonesy is whole again. "Hawkins?" he asks, confused, and looks down at the tar peeling off his body. Pulling off pieces, he looks around at a ring of dead birds. "You did this...it's impossible...Who are you?"
Soon, Jones realizes that not only is he alive, his knee is completely healed. Whooping and jumping, he joins Ben to find Libby.
Iris visits a recuperating Balthus in his room. "I was proud of what you did today," she tells him. "Such courage. Only you and I know...We will choose our time, Norman, and we will expose him."
Downstairs, Justin is reading in his robe when Sofie enters. "You took him in your arms. How could you forgive him?" she asks. Soothingly telling her that it is "grace that make us great," Justin asks her to sit beside him. "Sofie, I want you to forgive everyone that's ever harmed you in the past."
When Sofie says she can't, Justin offers to help. He kneels and as Sofie kneels, he takes her hands in his. Faces just inches apart, he begins, "Let us pray..."
You are safe here. What's past is past.
Directed by: Todd Field
A naked Lodz crawls, reptile-like through the sleeping Carnivále camp, slithering into his old trailer. Inside, Lila lies asleep and is soon writhing in ecstasy. After her climax, she comes to her senses and warily looks under her covers and sees Ruthie looking up with Lodz's milky white eyes. "There's my buttercup," Ruthie says and the two are soon kissing passionately.
Relaxing with a smoke afterwards, Ruthie/Lodz and Lila talk. "It was the boy Ben Hawkins, he's the one who took me from you," he says through Ruthie. Against Lila's wishes, Lodz takes his leave but tells his lover that he will be seeing her soon. Ruthie, now back in her own body, wants to know how she got in Lila's bed.
Ben is anxious to get back on the road after dropping off Libby and Jones at the carnival. But Jonesy has other ideas. He tells Libby that he is going with Ben and that she should tell her parents that he got liquored up and thrown in jail. Dreading what her mother will say, Libby begs him for a different story, but Jones refuses and makes her promise not to say a word about what happened.
Ben bluntly informs Jones that he doesn't need any company, but Jonesy won't move. "You gonna sit here all night?" he asks, and Ben relents. The pair arrive at the Motor Courts in Cheyenne and Jones arms himself with a pistol. Bribing the desk clerk, they gain entrance to Stroud's room, but he and Scudder are gone.
Jones grows increasingly frustrated as they search the filthy room for clues. Then, Ben sees a newspaper with Brother Justin's picture. "That's the one I gotta stop," he says.
It's the middle of the night when Stroud makes it to Justin's house in Mintern. After an irate Iris leaves, Stroud falls to his knees in front of his master, crying and pressing his cheek to Justin's hand.
With the sun coming up Stroud, Justin and Wilfred Smith make their way to a barn where Scudder is bound and hooded. "This is your prophet?" the preacher asks derisively. "Hardly seems worth it. Foul my hands with the blood of this pathetic creature to receive the boon of an idiot."
Picking up a hand scythe, Justin prepares to slash the life from Scudder, when Smith shouts his objection. His mind must be clear and not drugged during the passage, Smith says, or "the results would be disastrous....madness...death."
Justin roars in fury, but they decide to wait. Stroud puts Scudder in a straight jacket and returns the hood. "You be a good little piglet and sober up," he says. "So we can slaughter you proper."
Smith is badly shaken by Brother Justin's outburst, as he and Justin discuss the best method of obtaining the boon from Scudder. "You'll remember your promise?" Smith asks him afterward, but Justin has no intention of giving him time alone with Hack Scudder. "I could never allow you to take such a risk," he says. "You're far too valuable to me, Wilfred."
Back at the Carnivále, Rita Sue has been lied to too much to believe Libby's story. The two argue violently and trade insults. Later, Rita Sue shares a laugh with Lila over the new story that Libby has concocted. "Hawkins a holy man-that's a rib tickler," Lila says hearing of Jonesy's tarring. But she is clearly rattled by the account.
Later, Samson finds Libby for a talk. Rita Sue has been talking about Jonesy and Hawkins. "She thinks you're crazy," he says. But "I know about Hawkins." Libby is extremely upset with herself for revealing the secret, but Samson tells her that Jonesy won't be mad if she doesn't tell anybody else.
The clerk from Cheyenne soon arrives with a delivery for Samson: the newspaper that Ben found, with Brother Justin's picture circled. It's not long before Samson is telling the troupers that it's time to shake some dust.
In Mintern, Iris and Balthus are hatching a conspiracy, worked out with scrawled notes and whispers. "He won't be that lucky next time, but we must work together..." Iris says. When Justin walks in on them, there is tension in the air, but he breaks it with false cheeriness. "You two go right back catching up on things," he says.
Later, as Iris tidies up the revival tent she has a heart-to-heart with Sofie, who explains that her mother was "Roma" - a gypsy. Pressing, Iris asks about her life growing up. Sofie talks about the carnival, and about her "proper home" before that in St. Paul. Suddenly, facts line up, and Iris finds herself in a memory-vision, watching a scene from her own days in St. Paul. She sees Justin forcing himself on Sofie's mother and is terribly shaken by the memory.
Varlyn Stroud has assembled some like-minded former inmates to serve as a security force in camp. Justin dubs the group, which now watches all roads and gates, the "Knights of Jericho." Iris is offended by the goon squad.
At dinner, small talk is pained between an obviously distracted Iris and her brother. Finally, Justin lets out a snort. "Did you really think a dried up old spinster and a pathetic delusional cripple could harm me?" he asks, as though the betrayal is a minor irritation.
Justin calls in Sofie and informs her that she is to take over the care of Brother Balthus. Iris excuses herself, but as she heads to her room she is accosted by a randy Stroud, who pins and kisses her. "You disgust me," she says, to which he replies. "Good, that's one thing we have in common." Twisting away, she runs to her room."
Wifred Smith breaks the lock on Scudder's door and begins questioning him about a missing manuscript. Scudder dismisses his questions. "I hope you're still smiling when the Usher begins tearing your soul apart," Smith says. He offers Scudder a deal: if he gives him the information he seeks, he will bash Scudder's head in with a hammer, allowing Scudder to beat the Usher and keep his soul.
Scudder agrees, and gives Smith the location of the manuscript. But Smith reneges. "Sorry, but we'll have to give the devil his due," he says. Enraged, Scudder explodes in a fit. The straight jacket flies off of him, his eyes turn black and he attacks Smith, ripping his organs from his body one by one.
When Stroud arrives to check on Scudder, he finds Smith in his place. Hearing his own car start up, he runs outside, but the car is too far away to get off a decent shot.
Scudder, still black-eyed and crazed, convinces the gate guards to allow him to pass, but as he reaches the open road, the face of Brother Justin appears in his rearview mirror. With a swift blow, Justin slices Scudder's head off of his shoulders. Holding the head by the hair he howls into the rainy night.
Miles away, Ben has stopped for a drink. But glancing up from the pump, he sees a shock in the water: his father's head bobs and bubbles, the mouth open in a silent scream. Ben rushes back to the car. By nightfall, they have reached the gates of Justin's teeming Canaan.
He gathered them together in a place called Armageddon.
Directed by: Dan Lerner
In the shadow of a prison work crew breaking rocks, Stumpy and Samson discuss the carnival's next move, and Stumpy doesn't like the sound of it. The destination, Samson says, is New Canaan, a big Christian camp out in California. "What are me and Rita Sue supposed to do," Stumpy gripes, "Act out bible stories?"
Lila, too, is agitated and willing to confront her boss. "Hawkins killed Lodz, and you covered it up," she tells Samson.
Ben and Jones have managed to fit in with the thousands of migrants entering the camp in New Canaan, which is, as Ben says, battened down tighter than a work farm with armed guards. Jonesy is leaving to bring back the rest of the Carnivále, and he tries to get Ben to promise he won't act alone. The boy refuses: "If I get a chance at 'im, I'm taking it," he says.
Up at the big house, Justin is visited by Val Templeton and his campaign manager, who complain that their opponent is trying to sabotage their political push. An effort is underway to nullify the registrations of the migrants in camp. When Justin seems unconcerned Templeton interjects, and the guests soon find themselves sinking slowly to their knees in prayer. "That's right," Justin says to the kneeling men, "Faith, gentlemen."
Sofie tells Balthus that she is to be baptized by Brother Justin at noon. "I wish you could be there, Reverend," she says. "Maybe it would help you," but Norman turns away.
Ben bluffs his way past the house guards with an armload of wood, and after dumping it off, uncovers a hatchet and Scudder's dagger. Creeping into the silent house, he comes across Balthus, who after a moment, signals upstairs with his eyes.
Ben makes his way through the creaky house, moving upstairs and into Justin's empty office. Finding a piece of the broken mirror, he holds it up and sees a fleeting black figure behind him.
Justin's bedroom is empty, however, and Iris comes up behind Ben, asking what he's doing there. Skeptical of his firewood story, Iris suggests that Ben venture down to the pond to be baptized. Before he leaves, she takes his hatchet-and lays it gently across Justin's pillow.
Waiting in line for baptism, Ben sees Sofie as she reaches Justin. "Sofie, are you in need of a savior," Justin asks. "I am," she replys. But as her head is submerged, she catches sight of Ben. The moment is cut short, however, when the body of Eleanor floats into the proceeding and ends the baptism for the afternoon.
Later, Ben pulls her aside in camp. "It was you," Sofie says, surprised, and the two embrace. "This ain't a good place for you Sof," Ben says to her, but she insists that Brother Justin has saved her.
Ben explains that Justin's not who she thinks he is, that he is Alexi Belyakov and that he intends to kill Ben. But Sofie refuses to believe him.
Back in Nevada, Lila is working to agitate the troupe against Samson, but Rita Sue is more concerned about her own situation. Forced off-stage during their stay in New Canaan, the hooch purveyors will have a hard time paying their violent shylock. Rita Sue tells Samson she needs compensation. "We been through a lot," she says emotionally. "You was the one who took us to Babylon. You owe this family something."
But Samson has nothing to give. "You go into the camp, you go in without us," Rita Sue warns. "You do what you gotta do," he tells her. Rita Sue tells the family that they're pulling up anchor, but Libby informs her that she's staying with her husband. "What husband?" Rita Sue asks, launching a new fight between the two.
At the house in New Canaan, Iris is at work on a scrapbook when Sofie comes in, emotional. She tells Iris about the discovery of Eleanor's body, saying that Brother Justin deemed it a suicide. "He is a good man," Sofie says, seeming upset and a little confused.
Upstairs Justin is dressing when he spots the hatchet on his bed. He picks it up, and it burns in his hand. Calling to Iris, the two have a heated discussion in Russian, which is overheard by Sofie.
Back on the road, Lila continues her complaints about Samson's management, and Rita Sue is soon crying in agreement. The atmosphere changes suddenly, however, when they meet Jones on the highway. Watching Libby embrace her husband in the headlights of the caravan, Stumpy talks to his wife. "You know baby, you're going to have to get over him one of these days."
Jonesy tells Samson that Ben is at the camp and that Justin has himself his own army. "If Hawkins makes a move by himself, he'll get killed for sure."
Later, Jonesy and Samson meet with Iris in the revival tent to make their pitch. They typically charge admission for their show, Samson says, but "sometimes you just have to put the lord first." Iris, excited for the opportunity to provide some fun for the children offers the men an honorarium. "You got yourself a carnival, Miss Crowe," Samson tells her.
But back at the carnival camp, the latest stop outside the circuit seems to be the last straw. When Samson returns, Lila tells him he's not in charge anymore. "Don't work that way," he says. "Management calls the shots."
This time, Lila insists on addressing Management directly, and Samson does nothing to stop her. Sauntering into the trailer, she finds it empty. "There is no Management," she tells the crew, and Samson is forced to explain that Management passed on in Damascus. Suddenly restive, the troupe is clearly verging on abandoning their leader and Ben. "What did Hawkins ever do for us?" they ask.
Libby presses Jonesy to "show them," but Jones tries to hold to his promise not to tell Ben's secret. Only when all seems lost does he finally give in. "You want to know what Hawkins did for me?" he asks, slowly removing his brace. His answer comes as he sprints away and the group watches in awe. Showing his knee, Jones tells the whole story. "He ain't just some kid from Milfay."
Dusting the Crowe household, Sofie looks at the old pictures of Justin, Norman and Iris. She opens a drawer and finds the broken death mask of Scudder inside. Suddenly Justin is behind her. "That's mine," he says.
Sofie is shaken. "What are you doing with this?" she asks. Justin says it was sent to him anonymously. Then, after a long look, he speaks. "Wait. You know him, don't you?" Turning gentle, he asks her where he is, but Sofie shakes her head. Justin apologizes. "If you see him, tell him he is safe here. Tell him I pray for him all the time, that this is where he belongs," Justin says.
Later, at an uncomfortable Crowe family dinner, Justin tells Sofie to stop feeding Norman, that he can take care of himself. Afterward, Iris spoons food into Balthus' mouth, explaining at the same time that Sofie is the daughter of "that fortune-teller Justin became so obsessed with in St. Paul."
An electrical storm flashes in the sky as Ben sneaks past the guards and works his way up to the porch where Justin and Sofie sit. "I feel that you haven't quite surrendered to the call," Justin purrs to Sofie, with flashes of lightning lighting his face. "What is it you want," she asks. "I want you to be happy," he replies and is soon kissing her. Sofie pulls away and Justin grabs her; at the same moment Ben rises and prepares to plunge his knife.
Suddenly Ben is grabbed by Jonesy, who tells him that the time is not right, that to act would be suicide. Looking around, Ben sees mounted guards circling as Sofie rushes inside.
In the morning, Justin nicks himself shaving and sees the blue blood: he has his boon. But feeling drawn to the window, he parts the curtains and looks out uncomfortably. "Isn't it lovely," Iris asks behind him. "Remember who we used to love it so as children." As Justin looks uncomfortably out over his domain, the tents of the Carnivále have begun to rise.
When it comes to livin', dying is the easy part.
Directed by: Scott Winant
Sofie carries laundry out to the line and stops in her tracks when she sees the Carnivále set up in the valley. Glancing over her shoulder at the house, she sees her mother Apollonia in the window, dressed in a funeral veil. "No..."she moans.
Rushing to the house, she enters the room upstairs, but finds Brother Justin dressing, his cassock open to reveal his tree tattoo. Justin asks Sofie to cut an irritating thread from his collar, and hands her a straight razor. Trembling over his exposed throat, she slices the thread. But as she turns to leave Justin speaks, "You really should have knocked..." and the door to his room slams shut in front of her.
Samson and Jones work hard to convince Ben that a suicide mission to take out Justin is not the answer. "The dumbest thing is dyin' when you ain't gotta," Samson says. "Dyin' just because you're piss-poor at livin'." Leaving the trailer, the troupe stands around watching Ben in awe, and Rita Sue tells him that they were wrong about him.
Brother Justin interrogates Sofie: "He's out there with them isn't he--the boy Ben," he demands, but Sofie professes ignorance. "Why do you continue to deceive yourself, " he asks, and roaring at her as his eyes turn black, he tells her it's time to choose. "Go to hell!" Sofie yells, but Justin is nonplussed. "Go? Why? I plan on bringing it here."
Samson suggests to Ben that he can win away Justin's flock by healing the sick. "I can't just conjure up a healing from scratch," Ben says. "It don't work that way. All I do is move life."
The idea settles in to Samson. "So you heal someone..." And Ben finishes: "...I gotta hurt someone else."
The Carnivále crew hatches a plan. Jones will trap Justin in the Ferris Wheel and Ben will "commence to healin'" person after person. Ben sees that the plan is to siphon life away from Justin. "Tap him dry," he says, nodding.
Valyn Stroud hauls a bound Sofie away to a remote cabin, even as Libby confronts Jonesy about still being sweet on her. But Jonesy, moved by his affection for Libby convinces her that he's happy. "I always know where I stand with you," he says lovingly.
Feeding Norman, Iris does some soul-searching. "I thought I was in service to God," she says of her youth. "I wish I had made better decisions. The children and Eleanor, sins like that are black sins, beyond redemption." But she does not seem upset. "When I die, I'm going to hell," she says dreamily. "I'm very, very fortunate. My brother will be there to embrace me."
Her reverie is interrupted when a group of freaks, led by Samson, rings the doorbell. The motley crew has just accepted its honorarium from Iris when Justin arrives. Startled by the unexpected guests, he questions Samson about Sofie, but Samson plays dumb, and offers the Crowes a pair of tickets to ride the Colossus. Justin seems eager, but Iris demurs, citing her fear of heights.
Back at the camp, Jonesy, Ben and Samson try to figure out what has become of Sofie. Ben suggests looking for her "once the shouting's over." But the others are not sure; Sofie is a part of the family. "What if she's dead?" Jonesy asks aloud. "If she's dead, then God help them all in this valley," Ben says. "Every single last one of 'em."
But Sofie is alive, screaming for help from her cabin prison. Finally sinking to her knees, she looks up to see a series of visions: of Justin paying an unwelcome visit on her mother, of men with tree tattoos, the Templar saying "every prophet in her house," of Libby, Ben, and Lodz; of Justin's kiss on the porch and the fire that almost killed her in her mother's trailer.
Then the black figure of her mother is in the cabin, walking toward her. Sofie scrambles away, but a hand reaches out to her face. When the veil is lifted, Sofie sees not her mother, but her own face, with the black eyes of the demon. "This...is...your...house," the figure says.
When the night finally comes, Samson apologizes to Rita Sue about the cooch tent being dark, and Rita Sue agrees that they can't leave Ben high and dry. Still, she says, her family is scared about the shylock. Samson gives her the honorarium. "That's the nut," he says. "Two-hundred and fifty bucks. We got to take care of our own."
At the house, Stroud is unhappy about Justin's trip to the carnival. "It's a goddamned set-up," he says. Justin agrees, but says he has to go. "I must ride the Ferris Wheel. It's the only way," he says. Removing his scythe from a drawer, he contemplates the night. "Pain is an unavoidable side effect," he says.
Smoking alone, Ben watches the house and remember's Sofie's words. "People in these towns are asleep," she said. "We wake 'em up."
Samson talks Justin into disarming his guards, and Justin soon pressures Iris to climb aboard the Colossus. With the Crowes onboard, the signal goes out, and Stumpy begins drumming up business for the healer, Benjamin St. John.
Ben halts the music and gets right to business. "Which ones of you need healing?" he asks the crowd. He finds a young boy who is deaf and places his hands on his ears; suddenly Brother Justin gasps and clasps his head. Next Ben cures an old man, leaving Justin gasping on the wheel. As Iris cries for help, Ben touches a woman with TB, and Justin writhes and pulls open his cassock to reveal his tree tattoo.
Stroud rushes forward to stop the Ferris Wheel, but Jones pulls off the controls. "Be still!" Justin shouts, his eyes black, and the Colossus grinds to a halt. Climbing from the wheel he tells Stroud to "take care of the girl."
Samson runs for Ben. "The whole thing's gone in the crapper, kid!" he yells. "Run!" But Justin has arrived at the tent. In the midst of healing Norman Balthus, Ben stops Justin in his tracks, but a demonic Justin slashes his scythe into members of the crowd, regathering his strength as the bodies are impaled.
Balthus intercedes: "The power of Christ compels you!" he says to Justin, but his onetime son runs his blade through. "Holy evil has come," he says..
Ben runs into a nearby cornfield, as lightning flashes and he recalls his past visions of being chased by the tattooed man. Falling down, he pulls his dagger from a boot, but Justin is there and slashes Ben's arm. Ben escapes and, finding a scarecrow, takes its place on the cross. He jumps down on Justin and plunges in his blade, but Justin counters, slashing Ben across the belly. "Look at you, boy, such a sad mess," he says to a prostrate Ben.
"Sofie..." Ben gasps as Justin prepares to finish him off. "Yes, she's waiting for you," replies Justin.
A scene flashes in front of Ben, of the dagger being thrust into the fork of the tree. "My kingdom come," Justin begins, raising his scythe, but Ben stabs his dagger into the crux of the tree tattoo on Justin's chest. With Justin gasping on the ground, Ben pushes the blade in further. "Plunge thee deep," he says and collapses on his adversary, as the tree explodes into flames in the distance.
Jones, meanwhile, has spotted Stroud leaving and jumps on the back of his truck. Arriving at the cabin where Sofie is held captive, Stroud draws his gun and prepares to enter, and Jones knocks him out with a log. Jonesy finds Sofie inside and frees her. They are close to their escape when Jones realizes that he has forgotten the keys. When he emerges from the cabin, he faces Sofie, her eyes black and pointed a .45 at his chest. "Sofie?" he says. "Don't..."
But Sofie shoots him. Jones slides to the ground, and she picks up the keys and leaves.
With the sun coming up, the Carnivále members search the cornfield and find Justin and Ben in a heap. Checking closer, Samson finds Ben is still breathing. "He's alive!" he says and a group carries Ben out.
Libby refuses to leave without Jones, but Stumpy convinces her that things are going to get very dangerous in New Canaan. "I'll bet old Jonesy's waiting for us out on the road," he says. Sobbing, Libby and Rita Sue load themselves in the truck. Samson, too, is loathe to leave. "Anything?" he asks one of the rousties of Jones. When the answer is no, he drops his head. "Drive."
The troupe has shaken some dust when Sofie arrives at the cornfield. She places her hands on Justin's body. Immediately, stalks of corn wither and fall away, row after row, acre after acre. Miles away, Ben's unconscious body bounces in Management's bed as the trailer heads down the highway.
Michael J. Anderson
John Carroll Lynch
"One More Look, Behind the Curtain "
Carnivále creator Dan Knauf looks back at the first season and offers a sneak preview of season two.
HBO: Let's get right to it: where will the show go in season two?
DANIEL KNAUF: Well, I think in episode 8, we saw a real change, as far as the show accelerating, picking up steam. Now we will pick up episode one of the second season at the moment we left off in episode one.
DANIEL KNAUF: There's a lot going on in season two, a lot.
HBO: So you think I mean it, it you expect to sort of pick up at that at that accelerated pace?
DANIEL KNAUF: Oh yeah, and it's going to accelerate from there. We've laid all our groundwork now. Everybody knows who Brother Justin is, and so we've got all our back-story in there. Now we can start really moving forward.
HBO: When we first talked before the season began, you said that the theme of season one was alienation. Now that you can talk more about the storylines, can you elaborate?
DANIEL KNAUF: Alienation and self-discovery probably would be my amended version of the first season. Two people who have been disconnected from humanity for some reason but have found out why and what they are.
HBO: What will some of the themes be going forward?
DANIEL KNAUF: This season is going to be about gathering power. On both stories, now that they know who they are. Very early in the season there's going to be a reveal-- why do you have these powers? And what is your destiny and what do you need to do with these powers? It's about Justin building a power base; on Ben's side, it's more a matter of, of passing an awful lot of tests.
HBO: What about the other characters? How has someone like Sophie evolved over the first season?
DANIEL KNAUF: Oh no. I can't tell you what Sofie's status is. [LAUGHTER]
But as far as like all the other characters go, everybody has a role and in the A story. There are also B and C stories, as far as the inter- relationships between the carnies and the freaks. You know similar to like the, the Jones-Rita-Sue thing. And the Jones-Rita-Sue thing feeds into what you know happens with Jones in the second season.
We're gonna see quite a bit of conflict within the carnival.
DANIEL KNAUF: As far as people choosing sides, people losing faith and people fighting to keep their faith. I know this sounds hideously vague, but I don't want to blow any surprises.
HBO: Did you did you have to sort of sit down and map out a strategy as far as season one's finale? To strike that balance between satisfying people at some level, but also not tying up every loose end?
DANIEL KNAUF: Yeah. I think it was a delicate balancing act because there were a lot of questions raised in the first season and we owed the audience some answers. But at the same time, to answer everything at that point, let's just close the book and put it back on the shelf, because we know what's gonna happen.
DANIEL KNAUF: So you do want to leave some things open for the big storytelling. But you don't want to have people feeling like, oh my god; all this show does is raise questions.
HBO: If you listen to interviews or read the message boards, it seems the main question fans wanted answered by the end of the season was who was good and who was evil. Did you think that that question is answered in the first season?
DANIEL KNAUF: I'm a little close to it, but frankly I was surprised that that question even went on past the first episode.
To me, the battle lines are fairly clearly delineated, even in the first episode. But in this kind of complex storytelling, nobody is going to be presented as a twirling-mustached bad guy. If you watch like interviews with mass murderers, they seem like ordinary guys. They don't seem particularly creepy. The fact is, if you're gonna be a successful predator, you're gonna have to present a pretty nice face to the public.
DANIEL KNAUF: On the other side, a guy in a white hat doesn't present that much interest to me. There's gotta be the temptation. Everything's a choice. Free will is such a huge part of this, and not all the choices are gonna be the right ones.
You could sit down and say, okay, Ben's a healer. And he lays his hands on little girl's legs, and the crops are just collateral damage. But then again you could look at it a different way. You could say that Ben is really good at destroying things and the collateral effect is you know this little girl's walking around now.
DANIEL KNAUF: And to me that's the real question about Ben. Is he a healer? Or is he an assassin? Or both?
HBO: During our live chat following the finale, Nick Stahl said the only thing he'd change about his character is he'd like Ben to get some more action with the ladies. Is there any hope for him?
DANIEL KNAUF: Action? I'll make no comment.[LAUGHTER]
HBO: Not that kind of action.
DANIEL KNAUF: The problem is that the car chase is only going about twenty-two miles an hour. But you know hey, they're old cars. [LAUGHTER]
You know the Ben Hawkins character is going to become more and more activated. He knows what he's supposed to do now. The man that goes into Management's trailer at the end of episode 12, he's been set off on a task. Now it's not necessarily gonna be something that he wants to do. And it's not something that he feels good about doing all the time. But he has to do it. He's compelled to do it. Again, free choice is always a factor in there. He could walk away from it. You know he could be tempted away from it. But time will tell to see if he stays the course.
HBO: So Carnivále has been renewed for another season. What do what you think the fans' role has been in terms of getting the getting the show picked up?
DANIEL KNAUF: They've been critical. I mean these people have been so passionate. I read virtually every posting there is. When I look at those postings, I don't read, "Hey dude, bitching episode." [LAUGHTER] That's not the kind of postings we get. I mean this is like a big part of their lives. And to me, that's insanely satisfying. And I think that HBO felt the same way. These folks know that passion is something that's only going to grow, and so here comes the second season.
HBO: Were you surprised at the intensity of the fan interest?
DANIEL KNAUF: Well, first of all yes. I mean you'd have to be deranged or the most insufferable egotist in the world to not be surprised, you know what I mean?
DANIEL KNAUF: But I was deeply gratified. Sometimes I would read things where people would say, "I know what he really meant when he named somebody this. And if you take the letters and it creates an anagram of that." And I'd think, boy I'm smart. [LAUGHTER]
We would sit here and we'd put together these dream sequences and they'd just be, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. There'd be three frames of a shot that give a little something away, and we'd be thinking, "This is so fast that hardly anybody's gonna see it." But we forgot about things like Tivo. People will watch these things frame-by-frame, and they'll post them on the Internet, frame-by-frame.
HBO: What can those fans expect from the next season?
DANIEL KNAUF: It's gonna be something that nobody's expecting. We're just gonna try to continue to blow minds, you know. And take people to places they've never been before.
"Pushing the Envelope"
The director of Carnivāle's pilot talks about this cast, putting magic on film and why grown-up shows don't always end with a hug.
We are taking one of the most difficult times in American history - and I think it's a time that because of its poverty, because of, the weather, the mixture of the old and the new, the modern and the pre-modern, it's a very fertile ground for prophets, both good and evil.
HBO: You've directed a number of Carnivále episodes for the first season. What do you think are the main themes of the show?
RODRIGO GARCIA: Obviously one of the main themes is the conflict between good and evil... Another extremely interesting theme is the theme of identity. Both leads -- Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin -- they're haunted by their powers, by their dreams. They dream of each other, although they don't know each other. So I think the theme of not knowing who you are -- trying to figure out what your place is, what your destiny is, is certainly one of the strongest themes in the series. The concept of good and evil, of course, that's a very vast concept that can be approached from many ways. But what interested me was the conflict of these two people who don't know who they themselves are.
HBO: In a battle of good and evil, is it difficult to pace the series, to know when it ends?
RODRIGO GARCIA: I think the more it moves towards our world, the more it will ask to end. Because you know, the more contemporary it becomes, the more I think it might lose some of its mystique. Right now it's set in the Thirties, which is a very difficult time. And it's close enough to feel familiar to us and yet far enough where we can float the magic in there and it still seems--if not plausible-- it certainly suspends disbelief.
HBO: The period almost plays a role in itself in the show.
RODRIGO GARCIA: It plays a great role. Because, obviously, we are taking one of the most difficult times in American history - and I think it's a time that because of its poverty, because of, the weather, the mixture of the old and the new, the modern and the pre-modern, it's a very fertile ground for prophets, both good and evil.
The radio exists and people can begin to communicate and ideas travel. But it's also primitive enough that that things can be misunderstood. There's still a marriage of new science and superstition. And I think that, together with the great poverty, it makes a very good period to tell the tale of two American prophets
HBO: It's interesting how many epic struggles are going on historically in the period...
RODRIGO GARCIA: Right, it's the period between the two World Wars -- you know, arguably the most fascinating cultural period, certainly in European history. There's the hangover from the first World War. And then in Europe, the birth and development of Fascism.
And, you know, I would be hard pressed to really form a connection between the world we live in and the world of Carnivále. But as it has turned out -- perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not - it is a world of two fundamentalist ideas, good and evil, that clash.
HBO: What about the supernatural elements of the show? Do you have an approach for special effect versus psychological effects?
RODRIGO GARCIA: That's always the tricky thing. How you introduce into a world that is basically based on a real world--the world of the Thirties, which is not that far back--how do we introduce the magic? My own approach, is to try to introduce it as naturally as possible. Not going to the magic world with big effects, with big music, with big digital things. But just to let the magic happen just as if it were just another dramatic element in a scene.
But sometimes the magic that happens is big and we have to rely on digital things. We try to integrate it into the world so that at least every character in Carnival believes in that magic. Every character leads a very daily existence but every one accepts that other world of the unknown, of the magical, of secret powers. And hopefully if the characters can take it for granted, hopefully our audience will take it for granted also.
You know, no one in the carnival marvels at the supernatural. They accept it, and hopefully that will eventually include the audience.
HBO: And do you find it tricky to not get hung up on the freakish side of the carnies? Can you get the audience to care about the characters as people?
RODRIGO GARCIA: It's not difficult at all because I think the audience gets used to everything. You know, the wonder of a bearded woman lasts for all of one scene. Or take, for example, the character of Sophie, she reads cards. She's communicating telepathically with her mother who is catatonic and it's the mother who reads the cards. Well, that's all very well and good. But once that's established, it does not sustain you episode to episode to episode.
What sustains you is the drama of a young woman trapped inside a bus in a traveling carnival, penniless, having to take care of this invalid mother. So again, it's not the gimmick. It's not whether a person is little, whether the giant is giant, whether the twins are conjoined at the hip. You know, soon enough they become a person just like any other. And if you don't deal with their daily problems, with their frustrations and aspirations, they can become a bore.
RODRIGO GARCIA: Just like anyone who is not a freak.
HBO: What would say is the aspect of this program that you find the most intriguing as a director?
RODRIGO GARCIA: I think the cast that has been put together is really quite terrific. I mean, the cast is huge. There are close to twenty series regulars. And as a director world of it is fantastic. I think Dan Knauf did an excellent job of creating this very peculiar world. It's part comic book, part Grapes of Wrath. I think he did a great job with that. And it's certainly a very interesting world to move in as a director.
But I would be lying if I didn't say that the greatest pleasure is to be in that world with the cast that we have. Because, again, the magic, it's all very much fun. The freakish aspect of it is very much fun, and the carnival, and the period - it's all very interesting. But week to week to week, if we're not engaged in the problems -- real, grand and petty -- of these characters -- we get used to everything.
HBO: Does the story get reshaped as the cast and as you get a hold of it?
RODRIGO GARCIA: I think the grand lines of the story are not reshaped. The actors play the characters that have been written for them. But at the same time, who they are and how they play them influences the writers. It goes in both directions. You know, there are a couple of characters who were not conceived originally to appear in every episode. But they have sort of imposed themselves and now they appear regularly.
HBO: The casting directors mentioned that there were a couple of people who just impressed everyone so much that you couldn't resist bringing them back into the show.
RODRIGO GARCIA: I think, like in every show, you usually plan for a set of characters to be regulars and others to appear in only certain episodes. But I think all the characters here live together in this small carnival. You know, they all live under the same roof, as it were. So they're all fascinating and closely intertwined. There they live in this traveling tent. Because the characters are so interesting it's very hard to keep them out of the episodes. You know, almost everyone is there in every episode.
HBO: You've worked quite a bit with HBO. Can you draw any kind of comparison between this and Six Feet Under, or one of the other shows that you've done a lot of work on?
RODRIGO GARCIA: I think all HBO shows do share some qualities. HBO encourages the people who make them to take many, many chances. I know that is something that some networks claim that they want to do. But when you're on cable, you have much more freedom with adult subject matter, with adult situations, with language.
I've worked on, on Six Feet, on Sopranos and on Carnivále. And I would say that they all share that HBO desire to push the envelope as far as possible. You know, I don't think there's a recipe for an HBO series, except that desire to push and push and push. Oz is like that and The Wire. I haven't worked on those but I've seen them. I think that's what those series share. You know, it's: How can we push some more? How we can not make it a formula?
HBO: It's interesting to me because most people mention language and nudity and things like that. But for the most part, there is very little of it on those shows.
RODRIGO GARCIA: There's very little of it. Right, I don't mean sexual situations. I just mean adult situations.
I mean taking adult problems and adult situations to real levels. Dramatizing ideas, dramatizing problems to the point where we see things can not always work out. There is not always growth. There's no hug. There's seldom hugging and often there is no learning.
RODRIGO GARCIA: Some characters learn. You know, some characters learn, other characters do not learn. There is no desire to teach a lesson. There is no desire to illuminate the audience. There is the desire to, to show real human conflict with all its ups and downs, all its good, and all its pitfalls. So when I say adult situations I don't mean necessarily sex or strong language or violence. I just mean adult situations that reflect adult life. Full of progress and lack of progress, growth and lack of growth, achievements and terrible frustration and big contradictions.
Carnivāle's historical consultant talks about keeping it real.
I really love it. I mean the production people call me and say: When was the screw top bottle invented? Can cotton candy be white? Did bacon ever come in a jar?
HBO: History plays a big part in Carnivále. The writers talk about a sense of uncertainty, a sense of peril. What do you think are the themes from the thirties that shaped the show?
MARY COREY: The thing about the Depression is you have twin peaks of terrible-ness going on. At the same time that this almost Job-like ecological disaster - the dust storms and the black blizzards - is going on, people are also just being destroyed economically and losing farms and, and losing savings and losing jobs. So you have a world in tremendous chaos, a world that's often turned upside down.
This is not something that we rolled up our sleeves and said, Hey, let's make this represent this on the show. Cause it's a smarter show than that. But I think in a certain way the eerie surreal-ness of the carnival is really mirrored in the culture, in reality. You know, the doctors are selling shoes and people who are otherwise white collar guys are riding the rails, just looking for work anywhere. And people are getting into cars and going to California, desperate, because they think that that's a place that hasn't been hit by the Depression. And then getting turned around at the border.
So you have a world that's in a kind of emotional chaos, where people are de-centered and ripped off of their moorings. And I think that the show -visually and intellectually and narratively - really mirrors that. Reality is ripped from its moorings in a certain way.
HBO: Have you planted historical signposts in this show?
MARY COREY: One of the reasons that I like the show so much is it's not all this and then this. I mean, yes, there're pictures of Roosevelt, you know. I made sure that there were pictures of Roosevelt in lots of shots, because that was real. And there're posters from the NRA and the different New Deal things that show up in shots. But again, it's not highlighted, you know. It's not a history show.
MARY COREY: And I think that's one of the things that's going to make it so successful is that it's really of the period rather than about the period. Sometimes the writers would have some character write, "Well, we're in a Depression." And one of my notes would always be, people in a Depression don't go around saying that.
MARY COREY: I mean, these things are brought up once in a while. You know, it's very, very nuanced.
HBO: When do you come into the story process?
MARY COREY: I started working on the show at the beginning push. So a year ago May, we started meeting. I started meeting with the writers and the original show runner that long ago in conceptual meetings.
At that stage, you're not talking about how many people were in soup lines and that kind of thing. The creators were much more interested in over-arching ideas. And so from the very get-go, you know, I went to early script meetings as they were breaking down the stories.
MARY COREY: So I worked on that for six months and then I saw each script in draft and I gave notes. And then I usually see it again maybe once, maybe twice. I don't work on the set, although I try to go at least two or three times during the shooting. And, you know, once I actually did something on the set-- moved some Tarot cards into the proper position. [LAUGHS] But I mean, basically I'm not a, a hands -on historian on the set. As the process goes on I work with costumes sometimes, I work with production - you know, the art director will call me. The prop master. There were people that never called me, and there were people that called me all the time.
MARY COREY: There were people that, before they started to write their episode, we would be talking on the phone all the time. And there were other people that would wait until I gave notes. Working with writers, you know, you have to be sensitive to their style. You can't expect them to want to do what you say. And because the show has a supernatural element, of course I didn't want to be saying, "Well, you can't say that."
MARY COREY: Sometimes, I would sort of be the pooperdinkal who was raining on the parade. But, you know, they could say, Well, shut up. Because this is fiction. And that was fine with me, you know.
HBO: Do you have to play cop to the occasional, historical transgression?
MARY COREY: Oh certainly, although the transgressions are subtle. It isn't like they're a bunch of dummies. They're really smart people.
With a lot of scenes, it didn't seem like it was a historical problem. It seemed more like I was commenting on the writing or the script. But sometimes I would catch something about how somebody would behave. Because behavior is historical. You know: How angry would a woman be if somebody tried to kiss her? Or what would a girl actually say that to someone in that context? And also language. In first drafts you sometime see stuff where people are saying things like, "Well, he's, he's got a lot of baggage that he brings along with him."
MARY COREY: The thing is, being a historian is not about walking around and going, Al Capone died in 1928 and this war ended on this moment. And, you know, I'm not like a dictionary of historical fact. I know how to find stuff. And I can research. But it's much more about really getting the context right. And that's almost a cadence issue. It's almost like being a musician. You know, you're steeped in the period and you've read a lot of fiction from the period. Because I'm a cultural historian.
HBO: What does that mean, practically on the show?
MARY COREY: It means you've read a lot, and you've read a lot of magazines from the period, and you've listened to a lot of music, you know. Your ear picks up on something that doesn't sound right: homey don't play that in 1934.
HBO: That's really interesting. I was going to ask you about keeping the language accurate. But behavior for a time period takes it even further.
MARY COREY: I remember Adrienne Barbeau was really wonderful about wanting to know about behavoir. One day when I was out on the set, she asked me questions about body language.
HBO: What other Thirties tips did you pass along?
MARY COREY: One of the things: When you really look at the Thirties' films and listen to Thirties' radio, people just talked really, really fast. I don't know why.
Behavior is historical. You know: How angry would somebody be if somebody tried to kiss them? Or what would a girl actually say that to someone in that context?
MARY COREY: There were certain ways of talking, body language things. And those things are very important. And then, you know, Dan is a big fan of slang and carny lingo.
HBO: Did you help with that?
MARY COREY: Slang was very important in the Thirties and in fact, it, you know, divided people. Hoboes had a certain slang and carnys had a certain slang. And it's almost like Sixties' slang, where people talked about things being far out and groovy and boss and bitchin'-it's all meant to say: "We're different from you. We know something is going on in here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mrs. Jones?"
That's part of the social work that lingo and argot does; that's why teenagers have language. It makes them be in a club that other people can't be in. But at the same time, in domestic conversation it would be very unlikely that someone would use snappy slang to tell their husband to have a piece of cornbread. So we had debates over things like that.
MARY COREY: And some times Dan would overrule me and say, Come on, you know, you have to break some eggs to make an omelet.
It was a great job. I loved it. I mean, the production people would call and say, when was the screw top bottle invented? You know, can cotton candy be white? Did bacon ever come in a jar? [LAUGHTER] When was the Ferris wheel invented?
And those things are fun, too. I mean, in the past a real historian wouldn't have even done that work. They would just have a researcher that would do that. But with computers, I can do both sides of it. I can both talk about larger context, what was really happening in the world and the feeling and context of the world. And I can also very easily research-- you know, when did mustard gas get used in World War I?
HBO: How historically accurate would you say Carnivále is?
MARY COREY: I think it's always excellent, except when the supernatural is so powerful that it really doesn't matter. You know, in a show where glass shatters and eyeballs bleed, leeway is available.
But in terms of what the carnival was like, and what their lives were like, and what they wore, and what they ate, and how they slept, and their cars and all the material culture, it's impeccable.
HBO: Are there certain things that are hard to keep historically honest?
MARY COREY: Well, I guess I would say that the hardest thing, it's not a matter of keeping it. It's of knowing.
HBO: Can you tell us a little about your background?
MARY COREY: I am a 20th Century-ist. I teach post-World War II at UCLA, but my specialty is Vietnam era. I wrote a book that's a textual analysis of The New Yorker magazine, between 1945 and 1955 called The World Through a Monocle, The New Yorker at Mid-Century.
I've worked on a lot of non-fiction shows - I'm on the Board of The Living Century - this series about people over a hundred. And I've worked on documentaries about Kent State and other Sixties' events. And then I worked with two of the writers on Carnivále - the two creators of the The Education of Max Bickford. I was the historical consultant on that show, which was right up my alley. It was a show about an American Studies professor. And I am one.
Before all that I worked in publishing and I worked as a TV writer and did some screenwriting. You know, not with great success. So I got my Ph.D. and got out of show business. [LAUGHES]
HBO: Well, not entirely...
MARY COREY: Well, no. But it came and found me. So that's different.
"Beyond the Standard Fare"
Carnivāle's Casting director JOHN PAPSIDERA talks about getting inventive, pursuing movie stars and chasing people down on boardwalks.
Ben was tough to cast, because we wanted somebody that obviously is a hero, but appears to be an anti-hero. And had a certain amount of boy in him, yet enough strength to actually carry a series. Those are a lot of different requirements--it's not like casting a kid in Freaks and Geeks.
HBO: What was your initial reaction when you were approached about Carnivále?.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: It was a mixture of fear and excitement. Because on pure logistical level, I felt like it was a huge challenge.
My casting associate (Wendy O'Brien) and I had done work looking into the freak world on past projects, so we kind of had made some exploratory ventures into those worlds, but this was something very different.
Plus, doing it in a period piece was really interesting. Because it's such a challenge to keep the period quality consistent as well as delving into the world of the carnival.
HBO: What, what was your previous foray into the freak world?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: One was on Bubble Boy, a movie that we did for Disney that had circus show freaks in it. So, we had done some exploration into that, and actually hired people like Lester Green, a sideshow performer who's known as Beetlejuice, and the guy who has the largest foot in the world.
HBO: And is the casting approach different on Carnivále?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I think our approach was different in the sense that nobody wanted to use makeup to create illusions. Part of the realness of Carnivále really depended on the realness of the people that were the sideshow people. Of course, it's very difficult to find conjoined twins, especially that can act and are healthy enough to be able to perform. So that was one concession that we knew we were probably gonna to have to concede to. But beyond that they wanted the people to be as real as possible.
HBO: How do you go about finding people that, that make sense in those roles?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: You try to be inventive. I found one person working in a restaurant. You venture onto the Internet, make calls to circus people. And then, sometimes, you just have to chase down people on the boardwalk.
HBO: The "conjoined" twins on Carnivále were actually in the circus, weren't they?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Yeah, Cirque du Soleil. They performed in O in Vegas for years, but they started in Cirque du Soleil in Canada. They did an aerial act on a rope called circus people call "silks." And they did kind of a mirror act as twin sisters.
HBO: Was there a part on the show that you thought was the toughest from the beginning
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I think finding Brother Justin, and the process of everybody kind of coming around that. It's a tough role.
And I think we got really lucky with convincing Nick to throw his hat in the ring and take on a series. I mean, I've known Nick for years, and he passes on a lot. So, to convince him that this is something unique and that he should open himself up to the world of doing a series, I felt like it was a big coup.
HBO: Do you think that a series on HBO--with the shorter seasons and a certain creative reputation-- is an easier sell to actors?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's no question about it. A regular television show doesn't present the opportunities for actors to continue in a film career; it just doesn't. I mean, you get to do one movie a year, if you're lucky. And the timing's got to be perfect.
HBO: Could you give a bit of an overview of the of the process that you go through, from getting the script to casting the right person?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Well, we read the script; we talk about what kind of characters came up in the new episode, and then my casting associate (Wendy O'Brien) and I talk about ideas, talk about people that we think are right. We try to remember people that we had seen for other episodes that we loved, but that weren't necessarily right for the others. We had a lot of conversations about reminding one another to always push the envelope and not just settle for the standard fare.
I think we were really successful in doing that, going after people that have film careers and that were in the process of doing movies, that we could steal for an episode or two. And convincing them that it wasn't a huge time commitment, that they should be part of this kind of unique series.
HBO: Does anyone jump out, at you as an example of someone you managed to convince?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Yeah, John Hannah, certainly. John Hannah starred in Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and he had just come off starring in a series, MDs.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: He was a little hesitant to go back into the TV world, having just gotten done with starring in a series, and he had a lot of film people at him. But he came in, we had a great meeting with him, and he saw the opportunity in the material and agreed.
And Gabe Mann-- Gabe had just got done starring in the prequel to The Exorcist. Convincing people like that that they should come and be part of the show was great. I felt really proud to be able to do it.
HBO: Let's talk about some of the parts. You mentioned the character Ben. What would you say were the prerequisites for that part?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: It was a really tough. Initially, at the pilot, it was tough because you had a large group of people to get on the same page. There were four or five producers. There was the director, then there's the studio, and the executives, it was a lot of people to get in agreement.
And Ben was tough because you wanted somebody that obviously is a hero, but appears to be an anti-hero. And had a certain amount of boy in him, yet enough strength to actually carry a series. And those are a lot of different requirements--it's not like casting a kid in Freaks and Geeks that is part of an ensemble. He had to be a leading man, yet he had to still have a youthfulness and an innocence about him. And I think, ultimately Nick has an incredible presence and is a great actor, but also has a really haunted quality that we all thought worked perfectly for the period.
HBO: Before you got to Nick, were there a lot of different opinions about what you were looking for?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Yeah, although we probably had the most consensus about Nick. And that's nothing about the other guys that tested for it; he just encapsulated a lot of different qualities in one package.
HBO is very comfortable with the "tip of the iceberg." They don't necessarily know where these characters are going, or what exactly these characters are when they start. And that gives you an amazing opportunity to shape characters.
HBO: What You mentioned that you thought Brother Justin was a, a tough part.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Brother Justin and also Clea's role, Sophie.
Initially Sophie was written as kind of this gypsy girl. And, if you look at that, that's not necessarily what Clea looks like. I think, Dan Knauf had envisioned dark hair and exotic looks, and ultimately we saw a lot of people like that. It was really hard, there was a lot of different thinking on which way to go with Sophie.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: One thing about HBO is that they're very comfortable with the "tip of the iceberg," as we like to call it. They didn't necessarily know where these characters are going, or what exactly these characters are when they start. And that gives you an amazing opportunity to shape characters. But as casting directors it's a very difficult thing, because not everybody has the same idea of what they are, and where those characters are going.
HBO: What about the character of Samson?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: From the very beginning, I remember going into the initial meeting with Dan Knauf and [supervising producer] Dan Hassid, and pulling out Michael's picture and saying, "That's Samson."
JOHN PAPSIDERA: And, I just think he's an incredibly unique guy. A really good actor, but there is a vulnerability and a sensitivity to Michael that you just care about. It's almost like he's this other being. He's just got an amazing soul and an...aura about him. So for me, there was never any other competition.
HBO: What about Jonesy?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: We saw a lot of guys for Jonesy as well. And I think, it ultimately came down to a feel for the period, which I think Tim DeKay is great at doing. And a look that is not so on the nose as pretty boy.
HBO: Is there something about certain performers that you think brings out a, a period quality?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Yeah, I mean, I think there's an indescribable thing that's very American. With Jonesy, we talked a lot about the fact that there's a look to baseball players. You know, you can't really put a lot of football players in a baseball outfit and buy it.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I don't what exactly, but there's something very American about period baseball players. If you look at the photographs of Dorothea Lange. We tried to replicate that image of the Depression-- you have to worry about body types, you have to worry about the feel of people and how people sound.
I mean, some people would come in, and just speaking, had too much of a contemporary feel. And we'd look at one another and kind of go, "Hmm. Feels contemporary." And that's just a gut reaction.
One person sounding like they are from Van Nuys as opposed to the Midwest, can ruin an entire episode, or an entire scene.
HBO: Tell us about casting Adrienne Barbeau. How did that come about?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I think as a casting director, you try and approach stuff as fresh. And I think casting Adrienne plays into that-something you haven't seen. And I think it played into the Tim DeKay casting, to some degree, because there were a few actors that were more known, had done series before, had a persona, and we didn't want it to be baggage.
We didn't want somebody to look at the piece and go, Oh, that's so and so from Eight is Enough. With Adrienne, it felt like it was an entirely new kind of way to view her. She also came in and gave an absolutely fantastic audition. Her Ruthie has a ballsiness and a solidity to her and a strength to her that isn't old, it isn't haggard; there is a sexuality and a vivaciousness to it. It just felt really right.
HBO: Did you deliberately avoid performers who are strongly identified with another project?.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I have to say we did, in some ways. You don't want to be look at someone and think, "Oh, I remember. There they are from the show that got canceled last year, and here they are in this." I think part of the secret of casting is trying to make it as seamless as possible.
HBO: Do you think there's something about this project that makes that even more important?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I do, and I think it has to do with the period quality of it. You have to buy it. If you don't buy the world that this series is set in, you're dead. I think it'll be hard enough for an audience to buy the mythology of what's happening, and the mystery and the magic that occurs within the show. So for them to battle also "There's, Erica Estrada off of ChiPs," it's too much.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: I don't want to sound pretentious. But the more seamless and invisible you can make that tableau of actors, the easier it is to digest the fantastic quality of the material.
HBO: Did you have any casting surprises in this project?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Hmm....not Debra, the Bearded Woman. We knew that Debra would be fantastic as that. Again, that was a role that I think Dan Knauf saw very differently, but ultimately got what Debra brought to the table. A sexuality and a real strong presence.
I think that's always what we try and do, is bring the best actor to the table, because it ultimately gives you the most freedom. Especially in a show like this, to allow where characters go.
That was a huge part of the Amy Maddigan casting. Because the depth of what Amy Maddigan can do, opens up all kinds of writing possibilities.
The other thing is that you never know where these characters are going to end up. Somebody that came in one episode and we thought was going to be gone was Blake Shields.
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Yeah, Osgood. They fell in love with Blake in the episode that he was going to do and suddenly it was: "Well, Blake, we should get Osgood to come back. Or why aren't we using Osgood for this?"
I think it's a tough thing too, to have so many series regulars in such a huge cast, and be able to service all of them in a story line.
HBO: So do you have to be on call to handle shifts like that?
JOHN PAPSIDERA: Wendy O'Brien was, fortunately and unfortunately married to the project, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That's just part and parcel to the demands of a show this big.
Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin
Writing veterans Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin help bring humanity to Carnivāle's far-out denizens.
Ultimately, it all comes down to character, which is something we're really comfortable with. And when we felt we needed some weird shit, and it wasn't popping into our heads, we would just turn to Dan Knauf.
HBO: Can you tell us a little bit about your role on the production?
NICOLE YORKIN: Well, we are technically co-executive producers, and in the field of television, that means that we are writers who also produce our own material.
HBO: Do you remember what you thought when you first were presented with this wild series?
DAWN PRESTWICH: We initially read a script, and that was what got us really interested in the show. We were looking for something interesting to do, and the pilots and shows on network television were just not really interesting to us. Then this script came across our desk, and it was unlike anything we had ever done before.
NICOLE YORKIN: It just seemed wildly inventive, you know. I remember specifically reading the moment where the parishioner starts vomiting the coins.
HBO: In the pilot.
NICOLE YORKIN: And that was the moment that really hooked me, and I thought, well, this is something completely different.
And this is unlike anything we've ever seen on television before.
DAWN PRESTWICH: And it was compelling to us, because it wasn't just dark fantasy, it was about characters-- it was about really interesting characters. The potential of where these characters could go really pulled us in.
Even though we had never written anything like this before--we tend to be very natural drama writers--we felt like this could be something exciting, and we could bring something to it. So we started beating down the door.
HBO: I know you worked on The Education of Max Bickford, and Chicago Hope, and several David E. Kelly shows. It seems like it's a pretty interesting gear shift to get to Carnivāle. Did you have a hard time, making that shift?
NICOLE YORKIN: Well, you know, it's interesting. We actually created Max Bickford, that was our show, and Max Bickford was a show about a history professor. It involved a lot of research, because neither of us were history majors, and neither of us had gone to a women's college. For this show, once we were hired, we started by doing our research. Dan, who is a student of this kind of material, started indoctrinating all of us in science fiction and science fantasy and horror-- and all types of genres that really weren't the type of material that Dawn and I had been working with.
And as staff we started watching movies--everything from Fellini to-what was that movie with Johnny Depp?
DAWN PRESTWICH: From Hell.
NICOLE YORKIN: From Hell. And so we were able to eventually see that writing is writing. And imagination is imagination, and it all comes down ultimately to character, which is something we're really comfortable with. And when we felt we needed some weird shit, and it wasn't popping into our heads, we would just turn to Dan Knauf.
NICOLE YORKIN: He's the king of weird shit, so it was great. I mean there was good synergy that way. There were a lot of strengths in the room, and we all bring it to the page, I think.
HBO: Dan had a pretty strong idea about where the plot was going from the beginning; did he lay it all out for you?
DAWN PRESTWICH: It was interesting, we just sat there for weeks and weeks in a room, all of us, kind of talking about what direction would be interesting. We would dismiss ideas because they would feel like we'd seen them before. It was a real process. And I think that Dan definitely feels that we have gone in the direction he had originally envisioned.
NICOLE YORKIN: But then it's a process.
DAWN PRESTWICH: It's organic, yeah, it became a very organic process.
HBO: Did you have to sit down and sort of discuss the rules for the supernatural characters?
DAWN PRESTWICH: Yes. Yes, we did. We really had a lot of conversation, especially about Brother Justin. And what it was that Brother Justin could do.
DAWN PRESTWICH: And what he couldn't do.
NICOLE YORKIN: And, the same with Ben.
NICOLE YORKIN: What were Ben's talents, and if he were going to do something, what would the cost be.
NICOLE YORKIN: Then, as the series developed-- you know, over about fourteen months--as the show began filming things would change. Things would mutate, and we would have to either develop new rules or we'd have to shift them a little bit.
We'd realize that by writing it one way, we'd pretty much ruined this other arc that we were planning, because we rendered something moot, or we've made one character too powerful. That was the hardest aspect of the show. And it still is. It's determining what everyone can do, how far they can go. We spent a lot of time talking about other supernaturally oriented shows, and why they succeeded, and why they failed.
We also love the wonderful metaphor of Sophie, the young girl living with her mother. Because every woman in the world has their mother in their head.
NICOLE YORKIN: And in terms of failure, we realized that one of the big problems was that you can just shoot your wad really early. You know, you start every episode trying to top yourself in terms of the next big supernatural thing that you do. Eventually we realized that with the kind of show we had, with this good versus evil, we would have people with light sabers by the end of the first season.
NICOLE YORKIN: That was a real challenge too, trying to figure out what our pacing was.
DAWN PRESTWICH: And HBO had very strong ideas about that as well. You know, they didn't want it to be too big too fast.
NICOLE YORKIN: We spent a lot of time talking about what we actually think the ultimate showdown is. And it'll be interesting to see if we end up doing what we all have discussed or if something new comes to us. That's what also happens in the process--you go along and everyone's fairly certain this is where we're going to go, and then all of a sudden someone just says, So what about this? And it's a great, you know, it's a great idea. We've just learned to sort of trust the room and trust that eventually we'll get there. [CHUCKLES]
HBO: Do you remember any of the movies or series that you thought had really handled the that balance of the supernatural well?
DAWN PRESTWICH: I think things like the X-Files handled it well. They were a very different kind of franchise, so we couldn't really compare ourselves to that. Nick Roeg's Don't Look Now. There were more films than TV series.
NICOLE YORKIN: Yeah. It's harder to sustain it.
DAWN PRESTWICH: Yeah. In fact, one of our biggest challenges is just to sustain, to get close solving things, and then bring a new mystery as we go. And trying to handle all the balls we have in the air. [CHUCKLES]
HBO: Dan had said that he initially expected to get further along the story arc in the first season than you eventually did.
DAWN PRESTWICH: I think what ended up happening is that it became clear that what we all really wanted was character development. We wanted to really invest in the characters, because that was the only way we were going to care about what happened to anyone.
DAWN PRESTWICH: It sort of slows everything down, a little bit, but it doesn't make it boring, it just makes it richer, I think.
NICOLE YORKIN: And that is pretty much the HBO way. If you look at shows like Six Feet Under and The Sopranos.
NICOLE YORKIN: And as a result, you have to keep watching in episode after episode, but you really know the characters. And you can be surprised at each episode; there's no pat ending.
HBO: What do you think it's going to take to get people hooked on the show-- what do you think will be the thing that really draws people into Carnivāle?
DAWN PRESTWICH: I think it really goes to the characters and the magic. I think that's the combination. You need characters that you haven't really seen before, but that are totally relatable. And the fact that there is this incredible magic to the show.
NICOLE YORKIN: I'll just add that there is nothing like it on television. You know, it's not a cop show, it's not a lawyer show, and it's not a medical show. And there's not a dead body that's being examined. Maybe people will be hungry for that.
DAWN PRESTWICH: As far as the writing goes for us, it is by far the most unique, most exciting show that we've ever written on. It's also the hardest, but I think it's really worthwhile.
HBO: Why is it the hardest?
NICOLE YORKIN: It really stretches all of your writerly muscles, because there is not your typical franchise. There is not that lawyer franchise, you know, we don't go to court every week, or go into the operating room. So there's an open playing field. Dan has created this template for the most creative type of writing you can imagine; we're able to pretty much do whatever we can think of doing.
And yet, since it is serialized, there are threads that we have to pick up each week, and we can't drop a stitch.
The cootch show actors especially are incredibly brave. Because it's not like they're real strippers. And they just got hired and came in and found themselves stripping in front of forty extras.
HBO: Do you have a favorite moment from the first season?
NICOLE YORKIN: Well, maybe because we're the women writers on the show-- we and Toni Graffia are the women writers-- we feel a certain affinity to some of the women characters. We really have a certain affection for the little troupe of hootchie-cootch dancers.
DAWN PRESTWICH: Yeah, we love them.
NICOLE YORKIN: Yes.
HBO: The Dreifusses are an interesting family.
DAWN PRESTWICH: We have loved writing some of their storylines this season. We also love the wonderful metaphor of the young girl living with her mother that Sophie is. We love that. Because every woman in the world has their mother in their head. [CHUCKLES]
DAWN PRESTWICH: But she literally has her in her head. And it makes her insane. And we love that. But we have so many favorite moments, I can't even pull out just one.
NICOLE YORKIN: I would also say that the cast of this show is an amazing cast to work with.
I mean, they're lovely people, and they're so generous, and they're just a joy to write for.
DAWN PRESTWICH: And they're very brave. The cootch show women especially are incredibly brave. Because it's not like they're real strippers. [CHUCKLES] And they just got hired and came in and found themselves stripping in front of forty extras. And they did it beautifully, and very bravely, and they really make those characters work.
"From Wang-Wang to Bouzouki "
Kevin Edelman & Alexandra Patsavas
Music supervisors Alex Patsavas and Kevin Edelman make sure the sounds of Carnivāle go well beyond the greatest hits.
HBO: What's the process for choosing music on a show like Carnivále?
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: We're given a lot of directives as far as what the creators want to accomplish with the music. And then we might come up with three or four options. Then, getting to the song that's actually picked, it's quite a long process.
KEVIN EDELMAN: We have ideas that we bring in and present. The producers are usually very receptive, and then they also have their own ideas from the beginning about what they would like to accomplish using music. It's kind of a team effort between us and the composer to accomplish that, using songs and underscore.
HBO: With Carnivále, you have this big, sweeping, epic story. How do you get started--did you sit down and try to immerse yourself in it?
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: Well, this has been a really wonderful, unique challenge, because almost all the source music we're using in the show is pre-1934, which is when the story takes place, so we're able to delve into the world of the twenties and the early thirties, and really make ourselves familiar with the more obscure and the more popular songs of the time. From blues and folk and pop and big band, and...
KEVIN EDELMAN:...Ethnic as well. As music supervisors and creative people, it's been a unique opportunity to work in an era that we typically don't get a chance to work in. Television projects-- and film projects, for that matter-aren't usually period pieces. There was a lot of research involved.
This show presents a lot of opportunities for us to stretch musically--everything from the radio pop music of the thirties to Rembetika music from Istanbul
HBO: Could you give us a taste of what some of the music you're talking about? You'd mentioned, ethnic, blues, and jazz...
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: We're using some Cab Calloway; we're using a female crooner of the era, Annette Hanshaw, with a song called You Wouldn't Fool Me, Would You? We're licensing some Rembetika music from Istanbul, which was recorded in the late 20s. Wang-Wang blues by Fletcher Henderson. A lot of jazz. So, we're really being able to use a lot of different things.
KEVIN EDELMAN: We're running the gamut of the music of the era, really, and this show presents a lot of opportunities for us to stretch musically, from everything from the radio pop music of the time to some of this ethnic music that Alex was just mentioning.
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS:...Mildred Bailey...
KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah. A lot of the pop jazz of the time seems to fit the show, but then also the blues and, occasionally, some of the traditional folk music of the era.
HBO: How does the Istanbul music fit?
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: One of the characters has a great interest in international music, and so we've been able to bring that to life with some different music choices.
KEVIN EDELMAN: In some ways each of the characters has its own musical voice. Not specifically, but we tried to help...
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS:...define the character.
KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah, we try to help define the characters with a musical taste or a musical flavor. You know, some of the characters tend to listen more to European classical music, and others might be more inclined to put on a popular jazz record. So it really helps the audience to understand the character a little bit better when they can see a little bit of what makes them tick.
HBO: Could you give us an example of a character that you think is defined by their music?
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: I would say Lodz.
KEVIN EDELMAN: The music that we use in a lot of scenes with Lodz tends to be kind of stately, you know, European classical.
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: And he listens to opera.
HBO: Who plays the pop music?
KEVIN EDELMAN: We also tend to use more of the pop music when the carnival's in the cities. Whereas when the carnival is traveling through the dustbowl, and they are in more remote towns, there might be more blues, more folk, and some more ethnic music playing.
HBO: Does music have a big part in this show, compared to other projects you've worked on?
KEVIN EDELMAN: I think in general, it has a, a bigger role than it would on most television shows. It's a part of what makes it feel authentic.
We try to help define the characters with a musical taste or a musical flavor. It really helps the audience to understand the character when they can see a little bit of what makes them tick.
HBO: Can you think of a music moment in this season that you're especially proud of?
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: I love Love Me or Leave Me. By Ruth Etting.
KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah, that is great. That's actually a defining song that's used in two episodes.
HBO: How is it defining?
KEVIN EDELMAN: It's tied thematically with Brother Justin, and with several other characters. It really worked for the mood and the themes that they were trying to bring out in these characters and in these particular scenes. It's used in a somewhat eerie, nostalgic kind of way, and reprised in that way as well, so it is a very interesting use of a song.
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: It's been really challenging as well as rewarding to find unknown songs. We haven't just gone for the top three songs of every year, pre-'34; we've been able to find the Bouzouki music of by Rita Abadzi or things that are a little less-known and that still really go well in the episodes.
HBO: Do you have to go out of your way to avoid the cliches of '30s music?
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: Absolutely. Of course, some of those are valid, too, in certain situations. You just don't want to turn it into the greatest hits of 1934.
KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah, and it was actually something that the producers had a mandate about.
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: We would certainly use, say, Bing Crosby, who was huge, and was certainly representative of the time.
KEVIN EDELMAN: You can't ignore that there were the radio the pop radio stars at the time, because that would be inauthentic as well. We try to place the music where it felt appropriate to help build characters, and to help define a character's taste in music. With the carnies, for example, it wouldn't be all radio pop music.
ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: Right, cause it does take place in the Dustbowl. So you'd hear certain regional music, for example. That's why this project is so interesting - we've really been able to dig deeper into the catalogs.
"Dressing the Dust Bowl"
Sara Andrews Ingrassia
Carnivále's 'interior decorator' makes 1934 real-from sheet music to stuffed monkeys.
HBO: What's the set decorator's role on the production?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: Well, the production designer is like the architect; he gives the overall feel of the show. The set decorator's kind of like the interior designer. I have creative meetings with Dan Bishop, the designer. And he tells me what direction we're going.
I read the script and break it down and decide how to best develop the character. Sometimes it's not even things that you're necessarily gonna notice on camera.
But it's the overall vibe that you kind of feel. Set decoration also helps the actors become their character.
HBO: Can you give us an example of how you help fill out a character?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: Ruthie, for instance: She's kind of sultry, and she's a snake charmer, and she's kind of sexy. And with any of the Carnivále people you presume that they've been traveling around, they've had kind of a colorful past. So, for somebody like Ruthie, I looked for things that had textures like satins and silks and things that were kind of see-through. She has a lot of drapes and pillows in her trailer. Textures that are kind of sexy. She has a lot of perfume bottles and pictures of places that she might've been, postcards that she's saved.
For a lot of the Carnivále people, we supposed that they're kind of interested in show business. So we would find magazines from the 1930's, Hollywood magazines. So you're always kind of thinking who these people are and what their past would've been like.
Iris and Brother Justin were originally from Russia. So, we kind of used that a little bit when we were thinking about their stuff. Lodz's trailer is more Eastern European-looking. And for Chin's, we had to find a lot of Asian things--there were a lot of Asian people in California at that time, so it wasn't too hard to find some stuff dating from that time period.
A lot of times I'll assign somebody something that they collect--like seashells or ceramic dogs. Are they a dog person or are they a cat person? Or are they not an animal person at all? That gets fun, starting to do those little things--like sheet music on a piano. Who are they, and what is their sheet music?
Everything has to look real just in case they just in case they point a camera somewhere you weren't thinking that they were going to. And if somebody sits at a desk and it's a long scene, you want to give them enough stuff so that if the actor wants to fiddle around and open a drawer, there's something in there.
HBO: Is it hard to keep the show accurate to the period?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: I think one of the interesting things that comes into any period piece is doing the research on it. We had a pretty extensive research library in our art department that we could always go to . And one of the biggest sources that we used was that Sears catalog. You can buy those at flea markets and antique stores, Sears catalogs from any given year, although they're getting pretty hard to get a hold of. We had a Sears catalog from 1934. And so we would look in there whenever we weren't sure about something. We would look it up in the Sears catalog and see, oh yeah, they did make metal Venetian blinds back then.
And after awhile you start knowing exactly what telephones they had, and what the electrical outlets looked like. We had telephone poles going up in Mintern, where Brother Justin lives, and we had to find out like what kind of transformers were up on the poles in the 1930's.
HBO: It sounds a bit overwhelming.
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: There's a lot more to the whole thing than just the creative part of it.
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: Right. Or some character's a heavy smoker. So you gotta find somebody who smokes and tell them to start saving all their cigarette butts for the ashtray.
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: [CHUCKLE] Suppose a character's having a fire. Then, they change the script and the fire's gone out. If the fire's burning, they have to have an effects person who comes makes a fire. But if the fire's burnt out, then we have to build a fire, burn it out, take the logs and make it look like it just burned out. So there's, lots of things that you see on screen, and you say, oh that's a burnt out fire. But it probably took some, guy half the day to make the burned out fire. And occasionally you wind up having to call up someplace and say, hey, do you have any pre-burned logs?
HBO: What was the strangest item you had to find for the show?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: I think the all-time creepiest thing we got was a stuffed monkey, for the scene in the baggage trailer.
It's weird when you're deciding where to go to lunch, but you're standing at the prop house, and you're like "Real quick before we leave, let's get some of these stuffed monkeys."
Set decorating is about making things reflect the real world, and sometimes that's beautiful and sometimes it's not. But usually, usually the most important part is making it look real
HBO: Is there an art form to being able to finding those hard to find items?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: I've been decorating for a long time. And everybody that works for me has been been doing it a long time. And you start to know, off the top of your head. Dan Bishop could say to me: I'm thinking of doing this, do you think that there're any green Victorian sofas out there? And you say to yourself, "This prop house, second floor, third aisle on the right. There're three of them." In order to do this job, you've obviously got to be someone who likes interior design and art decorating. So I basically shop all the time, every day. [CHUCKLE]
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: So you're going from an antique store in Pasadena to the prop houses to Target or K-Mart.
HBO: What can you get at Target?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: We got things like sheets that then we have to take and kind of age a little bit so that they look like they've been used for a long time. The actors are gonna be sleeping in the bed, so you want to know where the sheets came from. We got a lot of old tin plates and cups for the cook's tent, but they tend to be kind of gross. You're not gonna ask an actor to be drinking his coffee out of that cup. So then you go to the Army Surplus Store, and you get some of them, and you take them and you kind of throw them on the ground and step on them a little bit, and then you clean them, so that they're kind of dinged up. They blend in, but they're like nice and clean and sanitary. [CHUCKLE].
On Carnivále I think we used like every Victorian in the city of LA. One of the prop houses wound up finding a source to buy us more because we'd gone through all of our contacts. And we had a guy who made us two thousand feet of the old lights -- twisted wire that was covered with cloth with fake light plugs on it. Even if it doesn't turn on, you want it to be plugged in.
You never know what they're gonna shoot. I can have a script, but on the day they could pick a different camera angle. They're still gonna be saying the same words, but I don't know where they're gonna point the camera in the set. So, everything has to look real just in case they just in case they point it somewhere you weren't thinking that they were going to. And if somebody sits at a desk and it's a long scene, you want to give them enough stuff so that if, if the actor wants to fiddle around and open a drawer there's something in there.
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: You kind of have to be a little psychic too. Usually if I'm out somewhere and some thought occurs to me like, "We might need a frying pan," and then I think, no they didn't, say anything about cooking. But I think okay, well if I had the thought, I better get a frying pan. Cause as soon as I think it, it'll be Friday at midnight, and my phone will ring with them saying, do you know where we could grab a frying pan?
HBO: Where do you get your inspriration?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: I've been to most parts of the country at this point in my life. And to Europe and Mexico. Any time I go to somebody's house I always have to be nosy and ask them if I can look at their house. Because you just get ideas. Set decorating is not is not necessarily interior design. It's not always about making something beautiful.
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: Set decorating is about making things reflect the real world, and sometimes that's beautiful and sometimes it's not. But usually, usually the most important part is making it look real, and, and making somebody feel like that's a real world that they're watching on the screen. And so, I think, "Well, I put my toothbrush in this kind of container, but where does my friend Stephanie keep her toothbrush? So when I'm at her house I look.
I have a little child, but when I'm home visiting my family I always check out my niece's bedroom, because I know for sure at some point I'm gonna be doing a teenage girl's bedroom. And I get fresh ideas about what she's got hanging on her walls, what she's collecting on her desk. I'm always kind of checking out the real world. If I go to the doctor, I check out what they have stuck behind the counter. All this stuff that you may not necessarily notice in your life, but you would really miss it if it wasn't there. Garbage cans and safety lights and security passes.
HBO: Dan Knauf had said that he couldn't believe that you all had been able to realize what he had in his head.
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: I think on Carnivále we created a pretty interesting look, a pretty interesting world. When I have to get something from a set and nobody else is around and I sit down on the sofa, I think this really feels like exactly like I'm in the 1930's.You start to get a little creeped out, and you know the set came out well.
HBO: What's one of the best things about your job?
SARA ANDREWS INGRASSIA: You're in places that people don't necessarily get access to. One day you might be in like an old ballroom. And the next day you might be out in the middle of like the most beautiful field in the hills of Malibu, watching the sun rise while your truck is off-loading. You're just like all over the place, and you're doing something different, all the time.
When you're doing something this ambitious, you've got that healthy fear--oh my god I've got a lot of work to do. But then, when you get it all done, and you're standing there, and you're looking at it, you think wow, this really came out the way I wanted it to. It's really rewarding.
"Master of the Carnival"
Executive producer Howard Klein pays attention to every detail, from the original pitch to music cues.
HBO: How did you first get involved with Carnivāle?
HOWARD KLEIN: Scott Winant introduced me to Dan Knauf. They came in and pitched me the basic premise of Carnivāle. Dan mentioned that the idea was in his head for many years, however, he wasn't sure if it was a movie, a TV show or a mini-series. After a few meetings and conversations, I felt confident we had a fantastic episodic television series that could last for many years.
HBO: Is it unusual for you to get involved with a project when it's as unformed as that?
HOWARD KLEIN: Not at all, it's what I do every day. Many great ideas start as just notions in a writers' head. Sometimes they end up as feature films, or television series or sometimes they're just sketch ideas. Dan started out with a complex world with an intricately woven set of characters. I think I provided the sounding board he needed to help structure and define the show.
HBO: What were some of your other first impressions when Dan started talking about this thing?
HOWARD KLEIN: Well, I thought the guy was crazy [LAUGHTER]. But after our initial set of meetings, I realized that Dan had keyed in to something really special. The originality, the richness, the scope, texture, the epic nature got me positively charged.
HBO: What was the next step after that?
HOWARD KLEIN: We needed to get the "pitch" ready. My job was to prepare the writer the best I could to articulate the concept, the world, the characters, the stories and be able to answer any potential questions that a network might have. I felt that HBO was the logical first place to go, so I set up the meeting with HBO's Chris Albrecht and Carolyn Strauss. They loved the "pitch," and made us an offer to develop it.
HBO: Is this show more demanding than other projects you've worked on?
HOWARD KLEIN: Yes, I've never done anything on such a grand scale as Carnivále. It's a huge show from beginning to end. The Dustbowl is a difficult era to replicate on a weekly basis, but we do our best to capture the conditions and recreate the desperate feeling of hardship.
HBO: As Executive Producer, are you pretty much at the nexus of all the decisions?
HOWARD KLEIN: Yes, but we have a fantastic team of dedicated, experienced, hardworking and passionate professionals who make the show possible. This is a giant sized production, and we could not do it without the expertise of all the Producers and the brilliant exec's at HBO.
HBO: What about when you put on your casting hat? Did you find this a challenging show in that sense?
HOWARD KLEIN: [Laughs] It was very challenging. First of all, for the pilot there were about twenty "lead" roles to cast, along with some smaller roles. As the series went on we had some very interesting and specific types to cast. Our job was to find great actors who had the face of the 1930's. The casting process is always challenging anyway. It is not a very black and white thing. You listen to quite a few auditioners for the same part, and then-boom-- someone walks in and you just say, "Wow, that was incredible, the words just came to life." Needless to say I am incredibly proud of the cast we assembled.
HBO: You had a happy set?
HOWARD KLEIN: Yes, I think we were very fortunate to have a cast and crew that got along amazingly well. I believe everyone connected with the show felt we were involved with something really special. Although the conditions at times were harsh, I know everyone looked forward to coming to work every day on this magical production.
"Never A Dull Scene "
Before he became Carnivále's supervising producer, veteran TV writer William Schmidt was already a fan.
HBO: What's does a supervising producer do on a television show?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Well essentially we're writers who are allowed to produce our own episodes. That means not only do we write the script, but we're involved in casting and editing the final product. It allows us to shape our episodes a little bit in our image.
HBO: How did you get involved with Carnivále?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: I had gone in to Carolyn Strauss at HBO with a series pitch. HBO ended up not buying it. But Carolyn called me up about three weeks later to interview for show runner. And so they sent me over the pilot script and the bible. And from the first page, the script just blew me away. There were five days between getting the script and going into the meeting, and I must have spent, oh man, sixteen hours a day reading it, rereading it. You know, feeling what I think the series should be.
So, I went in there extraordinarily prepared. I think I had eight, single-spaced pages of single-spaced notes.
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: And I didn't get the show runner job, but I got the supervising producer job. And I'll tell you, I've been doing this twenty-one years, and I've won awards and done a lot of nice things. But this is definitely the best material I've ever, ever got to work with.
HBO: What do you like so much about it?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Well the theme of good versus evil, which was also the theme of my series, Prey. But the different variations of it really interest me. I think that good and evil were sort of not talked about for a few years before 9-11. You know, it was sort of like, "Nah, we're too hip to be talking about good and evil."
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: But suddenly with 9-11, everyone started looking around, saying "Yes, there is good and evil." Which I've always believed. Beyond that, just the imagination and talent evident in the pilot script. The characters and the richness of the dialogue--all of it was something I'd never seen before. And man I wanted that job more than anything.
HBO: When you're a writer and you have ownership of an idea, is it hard to turn it over to other writers?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Well you know, that's a really good question. I would say that when I've been on mediocre shows in the past, my ego did say, "Gosh, I don't want to be rewritten by this person, cause I don't think they're a better writer than myself."
But, because I think Dan Knauf is a genius, it's the first show where he takes over, and I can't wait to see what he does with it. I don't think I can ever remember that in my career. I've always been, from the day that I was an arrogant little young pup, a little resentful of anybody rewriting me.
HBO: Not anymore?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Knauf does it better. He's so well grounded in drama. On my first episode, Episode four, he took a good day to rewrite me. And then on my second episode, episode nine, he took two hours. And that was a very proud day.
Dan has such a nice way of including you and making you feel like you're part of his show. It's probably evident from this conversation that we've become very close friends over the last fifteen months. But I think a friendship like that always starts with respect.
HBO: Dan obviously has a very firm grip on where the show is going. Does he just give you the guidelines that you need and let you rip a little bit?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: That's exactly it. He has the mileposts: So-and-so's gonna be here at the end of season two. So and so's gonna be there at the end of season three. But within those guideposts--he has a few for each season--there's a great amount of work to do.
The truth of it is, the American public can take more intelligent shows. But the networks don't give them the credit that HBO does.
HBO: Have there been any big disagreements about where the show is going?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: By big do you mean just atomic or hydrogen explosions....
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: We had some massive, massive debates in the room. When you're dealing with senior staff people like Dawn and Nicole who are the Co-EP's, Ron Moore, a veteran, Toni Graphia a wonderful writer, it never gets personal. And man, when you have people who've had their own series, and have been in this business as long as all of us have, you're gonna have strong opinions.
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: We all got together yesterday for the first time since we shut down in July. And it was a very, very warm feeling, because it was like, "Hey, look what we did." You know, it was very difficult show, and no one had ever done anything like it before, so, you're kind of writing blind sometimes. But for all the long hours and the disagreements and the breakthroughs and the pitfalls, we have something that we're all very proud of.
HBO: What were the aspects of it that were hard?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: I think it was going from themes and thoughts to scenes and plot-lines. It was a lot harder in the first six episodes than it was for the back six. It's sort of like popcorn. We build up a lot in the first six episodes and then everything starts popping. There're no slow moments cause you have to watch every scene.
Just before the season started, I just happened to see all twelve episodes back to back over two days. I was really impressed; it picks up pace just like you'd expect a novel to. By the end it's like, holy mackerel, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom. You know, scene, scene, scene, scene, scene. Oh my god, that happens; oh my god, that happens.
That's why I don't think this could have been done on another network. Because, you have to have people who are into the patience of a really intelligent television show. And, the truth of it is that the American public can take more of this. [CHUCKLE] But the networks don't give them the credit that HBO does.
I think that good and evil were sort of not talked about for few years before 9-11. It was sort of like, "Nah, we're too hip to be talking about good and evil."
HBO: Are there moments in the episodes that you've worked on that really stand out to you?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: There are so many interesting moments in this season. The one thing that I love about the show is the carnival. I've never seen a carnival dramatized in quite this way, with the little moments. In episode nine, for example, the carnival's in such deep trouble financially, that they play what they call a fireball show, which means basically they want to take the chumps for everything they're worth, even if they have to pick pockets or cheat on games or, whatever. When you research these things and then dramatize them, the magic moments are really, really cool.
HBO: Is there a character that you find yourself drawn to?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: I can't say that there's one. I really love them all. As a TV writer-- and I've done something like thirteen shows--almost every script you write gets to the place where it's like, oh man, I just don't want to write that scene. It could be you're going away from writing something exciting to write a necessary family scene and you just feel like it's gonna be boring as sin, and you grit your teeth and do your best. Here there was never any of that. There was never some dull scene that I had to write. There's never a dull character that you just have to get through just to get to the good stuff.
I do have an affinity for Justin. But Sofie and Ben, they're all great.
HBO: It's the writer who's not the atheist who's drawn to Justin.
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Yeah. [CHUCKLE] Exactly. Exactly. I find writing his stuff really, really exciting. Because one of the things we've been trying to do is that if Ben is the good avatar, then he has a lot of evil in him like the rest of us do. If he's the evil avatar, he has a lot of good in him, like the rest of us do. And we're trying to do that with all the characters. Justin is good and he's evil. So there's a question question of free choice and the exigencies of the times and how that turns you more evil or more good. You know--it brings out those little seeds in you that, that are obviously buried deep. But the choices you make dictate who you are.
HBO: You mentioned research; did you find yourself caught up in researching the Depression and the wars and all that kind of thing?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Oh yeah. When I was a kid, my favorite show was The Waltons. I was a poor kid growing up in a crappy little town, so it was no wonder that that's a series I latched onto.
I was already kind of interested in the Depression times. And I'm a nut about reading about the evils of Nazism and the all that. This is a show that you can do as much research on as you want. You could spend seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, and you're not gonna be done.
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: And that's fun for me. One of the things that we're very proud of is dialog that's true to the times. I did a lot of research into the slang of the 1930s. There's a line in episode four where Lila is basically saying that Ben would be easy to get to, and instead of saying that she says, "I knew he'd be a ripe suck." It's like, wow that was a time when people were more literate. And less homogenized. You had very colorful regional expressions.
HBO: It seems like a time when people aspired to cleverness.
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: Verbal cleverness. That's right. And that's not to put down our age, because we're very image-oriented, thanks to television. But yeah, the wordplay of an S.J. Pearlman is infinitely more interesting than Howard Stern's language, in my opinion.
HBO: So if you look back at all of the episodes, what is the theme of season one?
WILLIAM SCHMIDT: At the end of the day I think it is about alienation. You know, and about loneliness. Everybody in this environment, on both sides of the story, from California and in the dustbowl, they ultimately have to fall back on themselves to survive.
And how do you reach out to another human being? Ultimately it's easier sometimes to reach out to a tremendous outsider like the freaks, because they're all outsiders. I wasn't cognizant of it in the writing. But when I watched the episodes back to back to back, I felt like, oh wow, these are lonely people striving desperately to break through their, their inhibitions, to get through to one another.
And you know, the fact is that many of them don't succeed at it, and that some do, but on levels that aren't always dramatized. I mean it's not big hugs and stuff like that. It can be a very nuanced type of stuff between, say, Samson and Jonesy. You know, they don't tell each other their feelings-it's more like, "Hey, have a snort," and they pass the bottle. I love that. Again, it was not planned. I think it just came out of the trueness that we ended up getting to--of the time and the carnival itself. You know, there's a real bittersweet quality to it.
JEFF BEAL's complex and haunting score feels like a natural part of Carnivāle's world. But does it offer clues to the storylines?
HBO: Carnivāle's score isn't your typical supernatural thriller music. What did you set out to do with the score?
JEFF BEAL: I think one thing that I've tried very hard to do is to create almost a three dimensionality to the music. I think it helps tell the story, because obviously the characters are that way, and the acting and so many other elements are on that level. It's not a one-dimensional show.
It's funny, if you look at Amy Madigan's character--I love her performance as Iris--it was really interesting; she didn't have a lot to do in the first few episodes. There were just these few shots of her kind of reacting to Justin. But as I was writing, I finally started finding the center of Justin's world, and all of the sudden, I understood all of her performances. [LAUGHS]
It's the kind of synergy you always hope for between a music and pictures. This show was really fun because it's just visually stunning, you know, on a whole lot of levels-- production design and directing and performance.
HBO: Can you tell us a little about the process of scoring Carnivāle?
JEFF BEAL: Usually, we'll sit down after an episode is fully edited, or close to fully edited, with Howard and the rest of our crew, my music editor, Jenny, and the music supervisors and we'll go through what's called a 'spotting session.' We'll watch the whole episode through and take notes; a lot of times we'll stop and talk about a scene. Quite often the editors will put in temp music, just to kind of give an example of where maybe music should go, and maybe even what emotional tone the music should have.
I used to play a lot of jazz improvisation with groups. And I realized at some point, that scoring was a very similar creative experience for me, in the sense that I'm trying to kind of play along with the actors.
JEFF BEAL: So then I'll go back to my studio and start writing, send out tapes to both HBO and Howard and then get notes back.
HBO: And you find watching the actors influences your work?
JEFF BEAL: Oh definitely. That's one of the things that I get excited about. I used to play a lot of jazz improvisation with groups. And I realized at some point, when I had gotten more into scoring, that it was very much a similar creative experience for me, in the sense that I'm trying to kind of play along with the actors.
I very much believe in the power of performance and trying to enhance and expand on that, but not get in its way.
So yeah I very much get involved with actors and what they're doing, and I try to get a sense of their rhythm.
HBO: Do you think your jazz background influences your work?
JEFF BEAL: Oh, absolutely. The jazz part of my background has served me very well as a film composer.
Just the ability to improvise, and it's also very collaborative art form, you have to be a good listener and you have to be attentive to what other people are doing.
I also love classical music, and obviously 'Carnivāle' is a great show for anybody that loves literate music, because there are so many great opportunities where the grand gesture is what's called for.
HBO: Do the characters on Carnivāle each have their own musical themes?
JEFF BEAL: Yeah, early on I realized that this would be really effective for the show, because it has so many characters. It kind of keeps it straight, in a way.
One thing that's enjoyable about the show is that because there're no commercials, it's paced much more like a movie. And a lot of the characters have long scenes where I was able to develop themes. Obviously in the pilot I was able to get things going for Ben and Justin. But later on, in episode four, "Black Blizzard", Lodz becomes a very important character, and I was able to do something for him. We even created something for Apollonia because I really wanted Clea to have a little something for her to play against while she's in the room with her mom. It just became this kind of fun little leitmotif that represents the conversations that they have.
HBO: What do you try to accomplish with a theme for, say, Justin?
JEFF BEAL: One of the things that's interesting about that character is that he's written in such a way that you kind of get caught up in him. You almost empathize with his own personal seduction and discovery of his powers, and I was really intrigued by that.
Just from a musical point of view--specifically because it deals with this kind of religious zeal-- I wanted the audience to not just be pushed away by him but actually get caught up in what he was doing. So I was very conscious from the first episode on, to make the music about his delusion of grandeur and sense of self-importance.
I was actually really pleased because I read some of the message boards to see where people were registering emotionally with Justin, and I was really happy to see that they hadn't really decided, morally, where he stood.
Carnivāle is very much a mood piece. It's almost like method acting. I try to scare myself and creep myself out while I'm working on this show.
HBO: What about Ben?
JEFF BEAL: One of the first things I spoke with Howard Klein about was the idea that we really wanted to have different music to represent the two different worlds of the two story lines.
So it became clear that Brother Justin's world was kind of this really big construct of almost operatic scales. And religious music--trumpet, organ, voices. An orchestral sound. Very full and realized, whereas when you get over to the carnival side, things are much more deconstructed and kind of mystical.
HBO: These people have different influences in their lives--Brother Justin is from Russia and Lodz is from Eastern Europe. Do you try to get those influences into the score?
JEFF BEAL: Yeah, very much so. I mean part of the fun of writing a score like this is that it's enough to evoke something, without hitting the nail on the head. And we have great music supervisors who are able to really establish the sound of the time. So I'm alluding to that, but the score also has to exist on the very mythic level.
In our modern, kind of clinical, very rational world, we a lot of times don't acknowledge the more mystical side of our experience. And one of the things that's really fun about the show is trying to kind of make that palpable, and have an audience kind of feel that. It also brings up another interesting question: why do we put music in movies? [LAUGHS]
JEFF BEAL: I always feel like there is some emotional reason for having music in there. I think if it doesn't work on that level, it's better off not there. But the emotional content of a show like Carnivāle is very murky a lot of the time. And we're not trying to spell out too much for the audience. Not telling them how to feel, as much as we're just trying to help them, experience the kind of mood that's happening.
HBO: We're going to get the message boards buzzing with this, but you've said that if you listen to the characters' themes, there are even hints about their relationships.
JEFF BEAL: Yeah, and now that I've finished writing up through episode twelve, there are even more. Some of them work as kind of happy coincidences, but some of them were intentional. Some of them won't even be revealed in the first season.
HBO: Can you give us a hint?
JEFF BEAL: Well, the character Management, for example-there are some elements that play in his scenes which also play in the dream sequences, which in a very obtuse way, connect two characters. And, especially in episode twelve, there are some scenes with Lodz and Apollonia that help connect Apollonia to another character in the piece. I don't want to say too much other than that...
HBO: Now that you've got all twelve in the can, can you pick out a couple of moments or scenes that you feel particularly happy with?
JEFF BEAL: I'd say there're definitely a few that stand in my mind. One of my favorites was the beginning of episode three, when there's this long funeral procession that goes into town. It's this two minute montage of just music, basically... and I wrote a little tune for that which eventually became a theme that I used to kind of represent the carnie's world.
And that came back in a pretty prominent way for the scene of Dora Mae's funeral--which was a lot of fun because it was unlike the more spooky parts of the show. It was just a place that needed something really beautiful.
JEFF BEAL: And, of course, we also have these dream sequences, which are a whole other world. A lot of the sounds that I originally wrote for those scenes I was able to use for other elements. It was also really fun to develop the whole sound for Management. Management's a very important character, and yet there's a question as to whether or not there's even something there. So there's this combination of these detuned trumpet phrases, and some low, ambient things, and stuff like that.
And then, one of my favorites still probably would go back to Ben in the pilot, when he helps the woman with the dead baby. You know, that was just a really wonderful, beautiful scene.
HBO: It's interesting how you often refer to other kinds of "sounds" besides music in your score...
JEFF BEAL: Right, well Carnivāle is very much a mood piece. And you know, it's almost like method acting. I try to scare myself and creep myself out while I'm working on this show.
JEFF BEAL: You know what I mean? And sometimes literal musical elements don't work as well as more obtuse musical elements. So that kind of puts you into the whole realm of sound design musical color, musical atmospheres, which I had a lot of fun with developing on the show.
You know, I did the movie Pollack several years ago and before I did that I never really had an analogy for the way I like to work, but it's very much like painting in the sense that you're kind of trying to layer things, and deal with color and composition.
HBO: Have you thought about where you would go in the future of the show?
JEFF BEAL: I hope that we get to do another season because I feel like musically we've kind of set the stage and you know it'd be really fun to see where all this goes, especially the interaction, you know? One of the things I tried to build into this score was this sense that once the worlds of Ben and Justin start to clash, that we can have a musical kind of conversation between those two musics, which I think would be really fun to do.
"Michael J. Anderson"
"If not for the carnival, these people may have found no place in this world at all."
The man who plays Samson, the diminutive onetime strongman at the center of an epic struggle, talks about avatars, prophets and life among freaks.
HBO.COM: Tell us about Samson.
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Well, he runs the carnival. And the Dust Bowl, it was a hard world; it was a tough place to survive. A lot of people didn't, and as a result, the ones that did sometimes had to make some tough choices. Samson makes those tough choices...
He does what he does for the benefit of the people of the carnival. But, there is hardly nothing he won't do that in that pursuit.
HBO.COM: Is Samson a mentor for Ben?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Well, Ben is really caught up in greater powers But he's sort of lost and confused. He doesn't know really who he is, or why he has any of these abilities. And neither does Samson But, because they share that degree of confusion, they're able to piece it out together, sharing and comparing what information they have been able to gather So, he's not so much a mentor that reveals the secret so much as he provides a way to discover the secrets.
HBO.COM: How does Samson deal with other members of the troupe?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: The rest of the carnival is a diverse group with many, many differing value perspectives Samson, a lot of the time, is just juggling things, trying to keep one component from smashing into another Keeping it balanced, in the midst of extreme adversity. But, of course, that's, a strong point for Samson, dealing with adversity. That's probably what puts him in the position that he's in---hat he's one of the few people that can move between all these different paradigms without disturbing his own
HBO.COM: When Ben joins the carnival, you guys were originally on a circuit headed north, then this kid comes along, and all of a sudden you're going south?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Well, I take orders from the secret Management. There's a character in the management trailer who only speaks to Samson. And, a lot of people aren't even sure that he exists; they think it might just be a trick Samson uses to stay in control of the carnival. And when we encounter Ben, we know that he has something to do with good and evil avatars.
HBO.COM: Does the carnival serve as a home for Ben?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Yes, but I'd say it's a very tenuous relationship. We always have the feeling that he's ready to light out and disappear, or just stay in the, in the town where we're set up. He seems always ready to leave. But, then, he never quite does.
HBO.COM: So as a leader of this troupe of misfits, what is the most difficult challenge that you face?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: I think when Samson rose to the position he is in, it was greater than a dream come true for him It was more than he had been led to expect he would ever get out of his life. And so he's determined to stay in that position. So don't you get in his way, there's just very little he would not do, because he sees the alternative as unthinkable.
HBO.COM: And does that feeling hold true for the other characters, the freaks, as well?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Exactly, if it not for the carnival, a lot of these people may have found no place in this world at all So I think they cling to the carnival and to each other. It's a clinging to survival; it's a clinging to life.
HBO.COM: What about your background, what do we know about that?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Samson originally joined a circus, as the strong man--hence the name Samson But now, he's a little older, he's not the circus performer type anymore. The mystical background of Samson is still rather in question; there is evidence to support connections to both sides.
HBO.COM: Let's talk about your relationship with some of the carnies.
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: OK
HBO.COM: Lodz. What's going on, what is going on there? You guys seem to have some kind of a back history.
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: He's got his own agenda At times, it corresponds with Samson's agenda, but more often than not, it very much doesn't.
And, on one hand, Samson is able to deal with him because he has the respect and the control of the carnival. On the other hand, Lodz sees things that no man can see, that Samson could never guess. And he uses those things to his advantage.
He trips Samson up all the time, not just with his secret visions, but, because he's a devious strategist. Samson is no dummy, but he's not a political wiz.
HBO.COM: And what about Jonesy? You guys have a little power struggle.
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Well, I see it as a similar to the relationship between Management and Samson. Management sort of pulled him out of a dire strait and gave him something worthwhile.
Jones is an injured baseball player. He's seen some glory days, but as an injured baseball player, there's not much left for him.
And he was a boozer when Samson picked him up and dusted him off. He gave him another chance; he gave him a place to be useful, and a place to be respected, very much like Samson got from Management. And I think there's probably that same degree of loyalty, a clinging to lifeâan if-not-here-I'm-sunk kind of feeling between Jones and Samson. And Jonesy can get things done, so they're a good team.
HBO.COM: What about Lila?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Lila is, she is flirtatious. She is sneaky. She has a relationship with Lodz which is similar to some of the ones I've described. I mean, it's somewhat erotic; she's elevated by her connection to Lodz. Lodz is elevated by his connection to her. I think that Lila has more options than the rest of the people in the carnival. She could shave the beard and integrate herself, but her wild point of view, her eccentric paradigm won't allow her to live a life a normal life.
HBO.COM: And Gecko?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: Again, he's somebody that's propelled into the life with no choice, but who really loves it and flourishes there. He's one of the few, comedic elements also--he has an amusing point of view, and he is very entertaining in expressing it.
HBO.COM: What has it been like on the set of Carnivále?
MICHAEL J. ANDERSON: It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and everybody has been really great. And I'm looking forward to doing many, many more. The atmosphere...the ambience and the message. I mean-- aside from the good and evil-- just the diversity. It's something that I really feel comfortable and at home with. I love being associated with it.
Carnivāle's Brother Justin talks about the unsettled world of thirties, the battle between Light and Dark and the powers that make his character different from other men.
HBO.COM: Tell us about the premise of Carnivāle from your character's perspective.
CLANCY BROWN: Well, throughout the history of man, there has been a constant struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. God and the Devil have decided to wage this war on Earth - with human proxies. Occasionally, these two avatars of light and darkness meet. And subsequently, a Dark Age or an Age of Enlightenment ensues.
This is the story of the final confrontation, between these two entities, the final battle between God and Satan, for the soul of man. And, well, we are the products of that battle. So, you decide, who won or who lost. Are we creatures of light, or are we creatures of darkness? We'll tell you, in the show. But you have to stick around - for the whole thing. [LAUGHTER]
HBO.COM: Give us some background on your character, Brother Justin.
CLANCY BROWN: Brother Justin is an immigrant. He and his sister, Iris, were taken in by a man of the cloth - Norman Balthus - and raised in the shadow of the church, and the crucifix, and things holy. But he has harbored the knowledge that he is different than other men, because of certain abilities that he has. And he doesn't know why he has them, or what their purpose is. But because of his training, the default position is that it is God - God's will, and God speaking to him.
Instinctively though, as we all do, he knows when his darker side is taking over. And there is definitely a dark impulse in him. And so, that creates some confusion and psychosis, trying to determine what his destiny is.
HBO.COM: And is he aware of his powers?
CLANCY BROWN: He is aware of his powers. He just doesn't know - what their meaning is. You know, he is a metaphor for all of us, in that we do have these dark impulses. We do have the reptilian side of our brain. And that creates in him a need to explain this. He is very much a metaphor for our constant battle --to be good people, or impulsive people, you know?
HBO.COM: How is that applicable, to what's going on in the world in the early thirties?
CLANCY BROWN: Well, it's the time of my father's youth. And my father put it very well once: he said that, for the first time in human history, a father could not with confidence say to his child, "I know what the world is going to be like."
So the undermining of that authority, the authority of the elderly, started then, because the world just began to change at such a pace. It used to be that a son could look at the father, and pretty much know what life was gonna be like as an adult. There was confidence in that, and comfort in that, and frustration also. But for the first time, in the early decades of the century, a previous generation could not guarantee the future of the next generation. And there was going to be a generation of disenfranchised people, that were just gonna blow away in the dust; the dust of the dustbowl. And the next generation is gonna go on, and create something that has never been seen before.
And I know that feeling now, because I look at my daughter, and I just have no idea what the world is gonna look like, when she is my age.
HBO.COM: The story seems to have a lot of ambiguity to it. Does any character really know who he is?
CLANCY BROWN: No. Even to themselves. None of these characters are really what they seem. And none of 'em really know who they are - or the role that they are playing. All of them seem to be aware that they are players in some drama. But, that makes sense, in a way, because it's a carnival. And things are never what they seem, even to the to the denizens of the carnie.
HBO.COM: Let's talk about the scene in the pilot where Eleanor spews the coins out of her mouth. Are you forcing her to do it?
CLANCY BROWN: No. It's this ability that overtakes him, actually. It kinda happens in moments of stress. It happens in moments of fury, really. And, you know, it reaches inside somebody, and causes pain and misery - and truth - to reveal itself. And that's a harsh thing to have happen.
Just imagine, if you were walking along the street, and all of a sudden, you were assailed with everyone's demons, you know? Somebody walking by you, and you know what their dark secret is; the most horrible thing in their experiences. That'll turn your head around a little bit. And especially for somebody like Justin, who is raised in the world of the New Testament and visions of love and light and generosity and humility.
HBO.COM: Well, on the conscious level, what would you say Brother Justin's intentions are?
CLANCY BROWN: Brother Justin's intentions are to spread the good word. He is a trained and talented preacher, a man of God. And that's the path that he has chosen, that's the calling he is hearing.
HBO.COM: We know you can't reveal what's going to happen...
CLANCY BROWN: I am just dying to see what happens next. [LAUGHTER] You know? I know everything that's gonna happen this year. And I just can't wait to see what happens next year. [LAUGHTER] I am just dying to see it.
"Iris wants to see her brother succeed in every way, shape or form, and, and he has an enormous amount of power and charisma."
Her portrayal brings eerie power to the dowdy Iris Crowe. So what makes Brother Justin's devoted sister tick?
HBO.COM: Carnivále includes a lot of supernatural elements. Does your character have any powers?
AMY MADIGAN: I really feel that it's not the time to tell you. Iris's character does not have the powers that the two main characters in this story do, but there are other people who kind of...have an ancillary ability. So, it'll be interesting to kind of see how it develops in that sense...
AMY MADIGAN: Iris is basically going to turn into a superhero next season.[LAUGHS]
HBO.COM: With a cape?
AMY MADIGAN: No, it'll be a much more modest outfit.[LAUGHS] Get a good look at my outfit, this is my little voodoo girl outfit, that I wear at all times. I'm going to take Iris home with me, and bring her out, when I need her. [LAUGHS]
HBO.COM: The series also has a certain ambiguity to it--people are not always what they seem to be. How does this apply to your character?
AMY MADIGAN: I think it's very much like life. If somebody acts on something, are they acting on the truth, or what they...perceive it to be?
I think that that, those lines kind of move to the right or to the left, depending on what you're involved with. As Iris, I love my brother more than anybody or anything in the world, and I would do anything for him, so certainly my perimeters might be a little stretched out as, as opposed to somebody else. But that's who I am with him.
HBO.COM: Does Iris have any goals herself? Or does she just help Justin?
AMY MADIGAN: Iris wants to see her brother succeed in every way, shape or form, and, and he has an enormous amount of power and charisma. We're in America, so boy, you can go as far as you want, can't you? Iris wants it for him--certainly she's going to be a part of it, but she believes that he is here for a real reason. Not just to be the good guy on the side, but to take command, take control, take charge, lead hundreds of thousands of people in the way of God.
HBO.COM: How about the other storyline, the carnies. Do you see Iris interacting with the carnival?
AMY MADIGAN: Well, not yet. I'm looking forward to learning the trapeze, and also being involved in a little juggling, possibly next year. No, no, no... [LAUGHS]. But the two stories kind of make some strange sense with each other. I think our characters are finally going to kind of come together, in some way, which I'm really looking forward to. It could be Armageddon, or a love fest.
HBO.COM: How would you describe your experience on the set of Carnivále?
AMY MADIGAN: Ah, it's an enormous undertaking, because it is a period piece, and there's so much going on, there are so many stories. But everybody's quite involved with it, and it's pretty extraordinary casting, and a really unbelievable bunch of writers. I think you'll like the show if you have some sensibility of the spooky side of things. It's very strange, it's very real, it's opera, it's great fun, it's bloody...it's all those things that you're looking for. [LAUGHS] Good sex... [LAUGHS] and ah...you'll just have to tune in and see.
Carnivále: The Complete First Season DVD (2003)
A sweeping epic that is both challenging and highly accessible, this one-hour HBO drama series focuses on the primordial conflict of good vs. evil, as played out against a pair of vivid and unusual backdrops: a traveling carnival working the American Dustbowl circuit, and an evangelical ministry in California.
Behind the Scenes featurette detailing how set and costume designers collaborated to acheive the look of the Dustbowl in the 1930s
Three audio commentaries with creator Dan Knauf, executive producer Howard Klein, and directors Rodrigo Garcia and Jeremy Podeswa
Run Time: 720 min
Carnivále: The Complete Second Season DVD (2005)
As the final war between Good and Evil looms two powerful avatars divided by fate share one mission. For Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin, the race is on to find the elusive Henry Scudder--and the fate of the world depends on who finds him first.
3 Audio Commentaries with Creator Daniel Knauf, Executive Producer Howard Klein, Director Rodrigo Garcia and cast members Clancy Brown and Clea Duvall
Magic and Myth: The Meaning of Carnivále--half-hour documentary exploring the apocalyptic writing and mythology behind the show. Interviews with the creator, executive producer, and writers and directors of the show to get their take on the mythology, as well as independent contributors who have examined the show's characters and the archetypal roles they represent.
Creating the Scene Featurettes--Find out how Carnivále's creators brought the Daily Brothers show -- and its Scorpion Lady, He/She and Praying Mantis-to vibrant life!
Museum of Television and Radio panel discussion with cast and crew
Run Time: 720 min