Carnivale Finale – Season 2, Episode 12 – “New Canaan” – The Final Battle

Carnivale New Canaan

So ends “Carnivale,” and what a fascinating journey it has been. So, how does the final hold up and bringing all the pieces together? A lot of major threads get pulled together and major arcs brought to an end…while others are left open. It is that even though the show was canceled, you can tell Knauf, the creator wanted to do more. I do hope he can someday so in comics so that it can get the complete wrap up he had in mind.

The finale was written by Daniel Knauf with the original story by Tracy Torme. The episode was directed by Scott Winant.

The episode begins with the carnival being hosted at New Canaan, “For the Children.” As Samson visits with his entourage to invite Justin to ride the Ferris-Wheel. This is all part of the plan that he and Jonesy work out with Ben so that Ben can use his healing powers to suck the life from Justin and keep him trapped on the Wheel. Sofie catches Justin without his shirt on and realizes who he and his taken to the room that her mother was held in as Justin arrives at the carnival and the story unfolds from there.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Carnival in New Canaan – This is brilliant. We got to see some of this when Justin and Iris look out the window and Iris knows she has Justin trapped in obligation and when her and Samson are negotiating in the episode before. This carries over as the Ferris-Wheel traps Justin as Ben seeps his life to heal the injured members of New Canaan. It is fantastic and the magic of the carnival and religion are really well done here…the red sky just adds the effect of it all and the darkness that comes later.

Jonesy – Jonesy is changed and is truly a good guy looking out for others. We see him keep the Ferris-Wheel going after the healing start and is only stopped after Stroud punches him and Justin uses his power to stop the Wheel. Sadly he doesn’t survive the episode as darkness has inhabited Sofie and after he rescues her she shoots him in cold blood. His loss actually means something, season 1 I cared nothing for this character.

Samson – Samson is great as the manipulator and puts everything into play so that Ben won’t have to risk his life like past Avatars like Jesus did. From making certain Justin will come by holding back tickets after Iris’s fear of heights comes out, to his pep talk with Ben, “The hardest part is living.” I think Ben gets that because he goes along with the carnival’s plan and embraces their love of him for healing Jonesy. Samson is there through it all and ends with making Ben Management by putting him on Management’s bed. As they leave New Canaan you see him ready for the next adventure. He also gives Rita Sue the money from New Canaan to pay off the debts they owe because Samson looks out for family. I loved the scene and it showed that through it all he was looking out for Rita, Stumpy and Libby.

Pastor Justin Crowe – Crowe goes full bad in this and we see the darkness Avatar in him made manifest when he lashes out at being used to heal others. This leads to him killing members of his congregation, his adopted father Norman and injuring Ben before he is killed. He is a good threat and when he’s in the cornfield (the dream Ben had from season 1) you get the tension and fear as this is someone who has killed and in this state…lives for killing. Surprisingly even here he doesn’t kill Iris though, showing something remains of his humanity. His death is left ambiguous though as we see Sofie performing a healing on him as the carnival leaves and the plants die the same way the plants died when Ben first healed the little girl’s legs.

Rita Sue, Libby and Stumpy – We see sadness and resolution here as they tell her to believe Jonesy will come back even as they know he’s dead. It is a sad scene since you see that they have always cared about him. Their debts are paid off now but they lost a new member of their family. In a way New Canaan is Babylon.

Ben Hawkins – Finds that he is family in the carnival and they do what they can to support him to take Justin down. We see how this has changed him too as he puts beating Justin as the priority over finding Sofie. He’s thinking more like Management and wants to do what he can to win no matter what, how he is different though is he listens to Samson. He doesn’t have to risk his life to win because the carnival is hear to help. The moment between them is priceless and you get why they make him Management at the end and carry him off like a savior. His arc is complete and he’s become the leader and no longer the man alone.

The Cons: Sofie – Sofie being possessed by darkness is never explained…as is her role as the Omega. Why did she bring back or try to bring back Justin at the end after knowing he raped her mother? Why didn’t she rejoin the carnival? What did her mother’s ghost haunting her mean?

Professor Lodz – He tells us Sofie is the Omega and he tells Lila next time he’ll be seen in the flesh in a past episode but that never goes anywhere. What’s Lodz’s deal? What was his motivation? What was his connection to Scudder and Management?

The mythology wasn’t fully explained and Lodz and Sofie were never used to their full potential (or Lila or Ruthie for that matter) but this episode does a solid. Nearly everyone plays a role to help Ben take down Justin and it is beautifully executed. Barring the questions and plot holes (which are a problem I have with the series, not just this episode). This episode was great and one of my favorites. I’ll do a look back at the show later with how I think it worked and didn’t…but until then, this is a great finale and well worth watching.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

 

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 5 – “The Weeping Lady” – A Matter of Trust

sleepy-hollow-weeping-lady

“Sleepy Hollow” has some of the best monsters and this episode kept up that theme of great enemies such as the Pied Piper with bringing us the The Weeping Lady of this episode. The theme of this episode is also trust and how it is gained and lost in regards to the major players of the series.

The episode was directed by Larry Teng and written by M. Raven Metzner.

The premise is that the Weeping Lady, a ghost legend has been summoned to Sleepy Hollow. Things get more complicated in stopping her as she targets the women closest to Ichabod Crane and may be tied to Ichabod’s past as well as the sins of his wife Katrina. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Caroline – Caroline is a character who appears briefly but very powerfully in a scene where we find she has been making Ichabod’s era clothes as she has a love for colonial times. Ichabod lets her down as a friend and she accepts but she is shortly killed afterward. The thing that is powerful though is you get how powerful their brief friendship was given that was one of the few people who got Ichabod on some level because of his being out of time…which makes her death tragic. It is for this reason I’m glad she got a funeral at the end.

The Weeping Lady – This monster looks awesome! Summoned by Henry from Katrina’s past she is there to get revenge on all those closest to Ichabod eventually targeting Katrina herself like she did initially before her death. As a monster she is fantastic and she is tragic though not as complex as she could have been. I’ll get into the character of Mary who became the Weeping Lady further down.

Abbie – Abbie continues to rock and is the one doubting that Katrina is entirely honest with Ichabod, which ends up being true. We see her cynicism rub off a bit on Ichabod at the end and their bond grow stronger. It’s a great scene and she really is part of what makes the show so amazing to watch.

The Headless Horseman / Abraham / Horseman of Death – Abraham makes a brief appearance here and is shown to not be an entirely bad guy when he spares Ichabod’s wife after Katrina tells him about Ichabod saving them. He also confesses he never took pleasure from her pain and only ever wanted her happiness. It shows that though he is a damned headless, horseman of death…the guy still has soul on some level and is complicated.

Katrina – Katrina thanks the Headless Horseman for trying to rescue her! Its a touching scene and where you see she does have or had some feelings there for him. I like this given she sees Ichabod mourn a woman who tried to kill her (Mary) and his close connection to Abbie at times being more important than their marriage. She’s got to be conflicted, just like he is over her staying with Abraham. That moment she thanks him was perfect given the episode begins with her sending a letter of her love secretly to Ichabod that leads to the Weeping Lady targeting her in the first place. Curious to see how her arc plays out since Moloch wants her as a vessel.

Ichabod – Ichabod finally has to deal with all the times Katrina has lied to him…from the existence of Henry, to her being a witch and her covering up Mary’s death and claiming Mary went home. He has a speech about trust which is the major theme of the episode and how he feels it has been lost after today. His laying Mary to rest in peace was a touching scene though as well as the funeral for Caroline.

Horesman of War / Henry Parish – Henry takes the initiative and drives a wedge between the couple by summoning the Weeping Lady and he pays a price for it. Moloch gets pissed off since it wasn’t part of the plan and we see victorious Henry weeping at the end. He may have drove a wedge between his parents, but he did between the Headless Horseman and himself and Moloch and himself leaving him isolated and alone…which given that his loneliness was part of the reason he made the deal with Moloch in the first place, must be a living hell. He’s by far one of my favorite characters on the show, though I’d say Abraham is too along with Abbie and Ichabod.

Okay: Mary – Mary’s backstory isn’t great. She was betrothed to Ichabod as a kid, they broke it off but she thought it was for real still and tried to bring him back to England so their families would be happy. When she saw Katrina she got jealous, tried to get Katrina out of the picture and fell to to her death in the process. I hope we meet her parents since she could easily be a victim of of them, hopefully…and not crazy stalker. Her becoming the Weeping Lady is still a tragedy though.

Nick – Why is this guy still around? He saves Abbie from the Weeping Lady when she attacks in the library and gives them a holy weapon to try out but that’s about it. I don’t get why he’s kept around since he is a mercenary and seems to function more as a plot device. I don’t dislike the guy but there are so many more interesting characters to explore.

This was a good but not great episode. It was good in that the Weeping Lady was a great threat and the themes of trust in regards to Ichabod and Katrina were finally brought up as a major issue…and also trust between Moloch and Henry. We saw falling outs this episode and with it the promise for more.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Outside New Canaan” – Truth Revealed

Carnivale Outside New Canaan

“Outside New Canaan,” is where many things come to a head and where lines are drawn for many of the characters. It is a truth revealing episode and is all the stronger for it and shows how much many of the characters have changed. I’ll get into more of what I mean in the assessment.

The episode was directed by Dan Lerner with the story by John J. McLaughlin and screenplay by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin.

Ben and Jonesy are in New Canaan and have a bad feeling about this place, leading Jonesy to go back and get help for Ben in the final confrontation. Around this time Lila is accusing Samson of lying and management not existing. This turns into a torn carnival where the only resolutions can be from the truth. Ben attempts an assassination and runs into Sofie and warns her about Justin as characters’ intentions are revealed.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Carnival Drama – The Carnival Drama is really good in this one, with Lila wanting to take the Carnival away from Samson for covering up Lodz’s murder and because Sacramento has a far greater chance for profit than Christian New Canaan. This leads to the reveal that Management is dead and that Ben healed Jonesy which leads to the Carnival following Samson since Samson wants them to go to New Canaan to back up Ben. The scene with Jonesy running is beautiful, as is the reveal of the empty trailer where Management resided. This is the strongest part of the episode by far.

Ben and Iris – Ben meets Iris after he tricks the guards to get into the house. This leads to a tense scene where she has him leave the hatchet that burns Justin later on. You get the feeling she knows what he planned to do and covers for him when Justin is trying to find out why the hatchet was there.

Ben and Sofie – Sofie is conflicted after Ben warns her that Justin is the enemy and his true name is Alexie when she hears them speaking in Russian and also when she finds Ben’s deathmask that Justin is keeping. You get the feeling she has feelings for Ben even if she can’t embrace them because of how often she’s been betrayed by those closest to her.

Sofie and Justin – Sofie refuses Justin when he strives pursuing her as a storm rages outside. Glimpses of the old Sofie are scene in these moments as well as the fact that she’s never been Justin’s tool.

The Cons: Jonesy Stops Ben from Acting – I know the finale is coming but there could have been a great scene of temporary confrontation that night in the storm and it would have given Sofie more to think about if Jonesy hadn’t kept Ben’s hand from action. This does payoff in the end though, it is only a con in this episode.

This was a solidly great episode and well worth seeing. We get to see the Carnival come together with truth revealed and a realization of just how much Ben means to them, Ben is family as seen by his healing of Jonesy. This carries on to some powerful moments in the finale, which in my opinion is one of the best episodes of the show.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 10 – “Cheyenne, WY” – Usher Ascended

Carnivale Cheyenne, WY

“Cheyenne, WY” picks up where the last episode left off with the quest for Scudder and a very changed Jonesy. I’ll go into more of what I mean in the assessment but the change is good and it helps stimulate the action and drive the story forward, as a lot happens in this episode.

The episode was written by Tracy Torme and directed by Todd Shields.

This episode follows Ben and Jonesy to Cheyenne and from there to where Scudder’s been taken, Libby is dealing with her mom getting on her case on Jonesy leaving and drama unfolds at the Crowe residence as the pieces are put into play for Justin’s ascension.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Jonesy – Jonesy is a great support to Ben in this episode, even as he doesn’t fully understand everything that is going on. We see him being able to negotiate, like with the manager of the hotel that Scudder was being kept at and follows Ben all the way to New Canaan before heading back. He’s become active, has purpose and it is great to see.

Libby – Stands up to her Mom and continues to establish herself as a strong character. It gives some great moments especially since her dad now sympathizes with her and Jonesy’s relationship.

Ben – Ben is driven and again, it is great to see. His relationship with Jonesy gets explored more too and Ben is forced to not do it alone, which is great to see. This eventually leads them both to New Canaan when he recognizes Justin in the paper for the attempted assassination.

Sofie – Sofie’s relationship with Justin is getting complex, we see her pretty much figure out that he is her father and the one who raped her mother but she still is drawn to him. I don’t get it but it makes for an interesting dilemma given how drawn to him she is and feels as if she has purpose.

Justin and Co. – Justin’s got a lot of character’s he interacts with, and this gives him a moment to shine. We see his dark side come out in different ways from his comrodery with Stroud to his threatening of Smith and the black eyed monster when he kills Scudder and ascends.

Iris – Iris stands up to Stroud when he attempts to rape her and is always plotting with Norman to take out Justin. She has also become really active and has become a moral beacon for Sofie in a manner of speaking.

The Cons: Too Fast – The episode was way too quick. At one Scudder kills Smith and breaks out of his straight jacket that Justin is holding him in but it all goes so quickly since after he becomes a monster Justin quickly kills him while he’s making his escape. Also a lot of the moments in the house go a bit quick, it’s why for me Sofie’s intentions aren’t wholly known because we don’t get enough time on why she’s so attached to Justin.

This was a good episode but I wouldn’t call it great. There are some great visual images like the picture above but it isn’t consistent and since a lot is being covered a very fast amount of time, we don’t get enough time with the characters to really get their relationships. For that reason it isn’t a favorite and why I wouldn’t call it great. Another episode that could have been two…Still should check it out though, if you like the series. It is essential.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 9 – “Lincoln Highway” – The Good in People

Carnivale Lincoln Highway

“Lincoln Highway,” is one of my favorite episodes and the best episode thus far in season 2. It keeps to the style of 2 but gets into a lot of the morality and mythology we had interwoven so deeply in season 1. This is an episode I won’t forget anytime soon either as it defined what makes good television on a lot of levels.

The episode was directed by Rodrigo Garcia and written by William Schmidt.

The major things that unfold in this episode are the discovery that Stroud is with Scudder in Cheyenne, Jonesy and Libby being kidnapped while Jonesy gets tarred and feathered and left to die for the death of the man’s wife in last episode and Norman’s attempt to kill Justin.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Tone – This episode is great at having the theme of decision pervading it. From Ben deciding to save Scudder or save Jonesy, from Libby choosing to trust Ben or not, Sofie learning to forgive and Justin choosing to forgive or let the mob kill Norman when Norman attempts to kill him. These are huge moments that are given the respect and power they deserve.

Sofie – Sofie is Justin’s maid and through her eyes we see that not all of Justin’s humanity is gone. From holding Norman after Norman tried to kill him, to his letting her go and not seeking selfishness with her. It is through Justin we see her process of forgiving her mother, Jonesy and Ben.

Pastor Justin Crowe – So glad we got to see the complex man again this episode! From his forcing Norman to break a tooth when Norman mocked him for Sofie being able to leave him speechless, to his forgiving of Norman and teaching Sofie how to forgive too. If it’s real than there is more to this character again that meets the eye and I want to see more of that. We see even in all the selfishness and power, there is still some good there.

Iris and Norman – Iris praises Norman for trying to kill Justin and we see that she wants him dead too. She wants them to do it together when the time is right since the darkness if Justin for them is too much (Iris kills the other maid for her saying she’ll joke about seeing the devil in him). They are both powerless so want to do what they can  to get that back and no stopping Justin is the only way.

Libby and Jonesy – We see more of their relationship, from the good and the bad. From her smoking outside enjoying the sun and Jonesy asking her to put on more clothes to her staying with him through the desert heat after he’s been tarred and feathered. We see that though they have conflict they are committed to each other.

Jonesy and Ben – Ben heals Jonesy, including his leg and unlike everyone else who has been terrified Jonesy is grateful. He laughs and runs and is like a child again. It’s a beautiful scene and we see him finally fully respecting Ben. This was one of my favorite scenes in the episode.

Ben – Ben sees Scudder trapped by Stroud and knows where they are but on the way stops and chooses to save Jonesy. The payoff is worth it. We see them grow together and Ben better understand the good he can do in his role. This episode captured his humanity really well.

This was a solid episode that I could not find anything wrong with. I’d highly recommend it, if only for the character moments. We see what characters’ core intentions are and the reasons they do what they do, and that says a lot for what makes the show so great.

Final Score: 10 / 10. A favorite.

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 8 – “Outskirts of Damascus, NE” – Management’s Legacy

Carnivale Outskirts of Damascus NE

“Outskirts of Damascus, NE” had a lot of good ideas, but they were not fully executed. The good news is this is made up at least partially by some great character moments…largely with Samson and Ben. For this reason alone, it was still a good episode.

The episode was written by Daniel Knauf, the show’s creator and directed by Tim Hunter.

The premise picks up where the last episode ended with Management granting Ben his powers and from that we learned he’d set it all up in the first place to grant Ben the knowledge and power he would need to take on the Usher, Justin. Management it turns out was a bigger deal to Samson than we knew as their friendship is revealed and Ben must deal with Samson before they can move forward. Jonesy and Libby also get married and that is dealt with in the episode too.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Samson – Samson is one of my favorite characters who is still living and in this episode shows more of why. We see him mourn the loss of his friend and how even if he didn’t trust Management there was still so much history there between them. This leads to it taking a while for him to see that Ben isn’t management and can’t lie. This leads to them forming a new partnership to save Scudder and stop the Usher.

Ben – From one of my least favorite characters last season to one of my favorite this season…Ben Hawkins is worth caring about finally. We see his making sense of his new powers and trying figure out his role and try and save Scudder. We also see him bring back the memory vault so Samson can say good-bye to Management. For this reason he starts out things solidly with Samson and we see them as partners, which Samson and Ben have never really had before. We see his embracing of his role as Avatar in a clear way that wins Samson over too when a mother begs for her life to be given for her dead child’s and Ben grants her wish to bring her child back.

Jonesy and Libby – Jonesy and Libby marry and we see the conflict with Libby’s parents because of Jonesy sleeping with her Mom, though surprisingly Stumpy is okay with it, it’s Rita who has most of the baggage. This comes to a head when Libby says she will dance until her father’s debts are paid off, but no more than dance. It’s a great character moment that showed her being active to Jonesy’s passiveness through the episode. We also have a death at the Ferris-Wheel which is powerful as the mob blames Jonesy because Stumpy shared a drink with him.

Sofie – Sofie is Justin’s maid! A sign of things to come I think.

The Cons: The Tone – I didn’t know what to make of this episodes tone. At times it’s supernatural at times it’s real but it’s hard to get to invested in invents because it doesn’t have a feel that flows through it. For this reason I have to dock it down some points.

This was a good but not great episode, which is a shame since the showrunner and creator was the one wrote it. It still does what it needs to do, so it isn’t bad. It just isn’t great. I would recommend it though if only for the moments with Ben and Samson. The silence of Samson morning management and Ben lost in his new role. These moments helped define it and made it “Carnivale.”

Final Score: 8 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 9 – “Flatline” – A Slow First Half But Powerful Finish…How the Doctor Sees People

Doctor Who Flatline

This episode was really boring at first, I mean I was watching it and couldn’t find myself interested in anyone…and I like the Doctor and Clara. What changed it though was what they did in the Second half when the action started happening and we saw the Doctor as more honest than he’s been in a long time. It was refreshing. I’ll get into what I mean in the assessment.

“Flatline” was written by Jamie Mathieson and directed by Paul Wilmshurst. It is also the 9th episode of Series 8.

The premise of the episode is that aliens from another dimension are taking people away and sucking out the energy of the TARDIS. This shrinks the outer dimensions of the TARDIS while the Doctor is still on board leaving Clara in the Doctor role as she works with some folks doing community service work to make up for their crimes as people continue to be sucked away and the intentions of the new aliens are slowly revealed.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Premise – Aliens from the Second Dimension causing chaos is a great idea! The idea of Clara having to take the role of the Doctor is a great idea! These two main points do eventually payoff but initially do not.

The Boneless – These aliens are great (We’ve had a lot of great aliens this series) and I like how they eventually made themselves 3 dimensional after stealing the energy and matter from others. They built themselves up and we didn’t know their intentions and still don’t fully except that they are destructive. It’s nice seeing a monster for the Doctor to face for once. Most of his enemies this season have had redeemable qualities, even a Dalek. They feel like a good threat too and get defeated very creatively.

Clara – Clara is still lying to Danny and is very much like the Doctor in personality (much to his dismay). We see this in action as she says that to give them hope she needs to lie to them so they’ll be more likely to survive and to weigh each situation and so that the least harm takes place. Clara has no place for warmth an empathy in this episode and we see it in her lying and brushing off of Danny and how she talks the people around her and the Doctor as her companion. She calls herself “Doctor Clara” and mocks him to comedic affect throughout the episode. This is really her giving him his own medicine and he gets the message it looks like at the end.

The 12th Doctor – This episode started out boring, but once it got into the meat and bones of the Doctor’s character gave us some great character moments and exploration. Him having to fully depend on another because he was stuck in the TARDIS is a good illustration of how the Doctor/Companion relationship can sometimes be at it’s core. He saw himself through Clara’s eyes and realized just how far from being a good man he is. He weighs everything logically and doesn’t allow himself to get fully invested in people beyond bringing about balance. He saves people, though some die. He stops Monsters (his speech to the Boneless about this dimension being protected and them being monsters even though the Doctor tried to communicate was brilliant) though many times though becoming one…He takes people for granted and lies and he realized that in the process he destroys those who try to be him. We don’t know how things will end with Clara but Missy feels she chose right at the end of the episode and the Doctor leaves in sorrow.

“You were a exceptional Doctor…it had nothing to do with good.” The Doctor realizes that about himself and what that does in regards to others. I like that as Capaldi’s Doctor started out as one of the more unaware Doctors, though that has always been a thing which is why there have always been companions.

The Cons: The First Half – The first half was boring even as the aliens were introduced. I didn’t care about anyone because nothing happened. There was no action that felt like it advanced the plot and even though the TARDIS was shrinking and it was intriguing I felt as detached as the Doctor.

The Minor Characters – The folks doing community service and the guy in charge of them were tropes. The kid down on his luck trying to get his life back together  and the dickish leader of them. I didn’t care about all of them.

This was a good episode but in no way great. The first half could have been a lot better and given us more of Danny and Clara and the lies as well as the Doctor’s reaction to it or we could have got more of the aliens reeking havoc or some of the minor characters. Because it started out detached it gave us nothing to invest in initially. I personally did think it was still good but you have to have patience to get to the second half where there is actual payoff.

Final Score: 8 / 10