“Black Blizzard” is the episode of “Carnivale” that establishes a great world but also leaves questions open. Characters make choices or choose not to make choices and we are hinted at that this will have lasting consequences later. The main choice makers of this episode are Samson, Sofie, Justin Crowe, Ben and Jonesy.
The episode was written by William Schmidt and directed by Peter Medak.
The premise is Sofie goes into town to hook up and Lodz takes Ben out to train his abilities while Samson is entertaining a prostitute and leaves Jonesy when one of his workers visits, In all cases a giant dust storm hits keeping them trapped in their locations and having to make a choice.
Here is the assessment of the episode:
The Pros: The Tone – The tone and feel of having to make a choice is really strong in this episode and the dust storm facilitates that drama really well. We learn more about characters…both the good and the bad about them, mostly the bad as fears override their better natures.
Professor Lodz – Brings Ben out to train him and we learn he gave up his sight to see the future, for what little power he has he was willing to sacrifice so much. He is able to convince Ben to stop the storm briefly, but when Ben gives into to fear and denies his power they are back where they started. He hasn’t given up yet though, since he knows trouble is coming in Babylon.
Ben – Doesn’t want the power and when he uses it, denies it. We see someone who wants to be normal more than anything else and wants to remain invisible. This is a shame since he could make such a difference but at this point cannot see beyond himself and he chooses that place.
Samson – Samson is revealed to be quite prideful and selfish. I still find the character compelling and if acts differently later may like him again, but he uses the prostitute he was entertaining profession against her when one his workers hooks up with her. He is shown to be quite low and wants to shame her because of how small he feels inside thinking they had something special…when they did, but he blows it with his small mindedness. She tells him at the end, not to come by again.
Jonesy – Is left in charge and protects them all from the storm really well, but uses the key to see the Manager but finds no one there. He doesn’t trust Samson after that and throws the keys at him. The mysterious Management still remains mysterious.
Sofie – Sofie goes into town and hooks up when given the chance. She feels nothing during it and regrets it later when she finds out the guy was married (she feels used) and that her mom nearly chocked on the dust without her there. She grows from the experience and we see just how human she is.
Pastor Crowe – Is told by his fellow pastor that he needs to go back to his old church or face termination. He says me must stay and we see he cares for the children and poor. Mysteriously his church gets burned and the children die in the fire. At the end he is devastated and I suspect it was the men who warned him they were going to tear down the neighborhood, his sister who says it happens in a blank voice or one of the pastors. How this changes things with him remains to be seen since he believes God wanted him to build the church and minister to the poor.
Okay: Samson’s motivation – We don’t really get why Samson was so cruel beyond jealousy, this was a shame as he is a dwarf and recognizing him facing prejudice towards him because of this would have gone a long way beyond him just looking like a prick.
This is a must see episode and nearly perfect. It gives us drama, dilemmas and we learn more about characters and their motivations. This is what makes a series great and why I am looking forward to where the series goes if this level of quality continues.
Final Score: 9.8 / 10