Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 8 – “Lonnigan, Texas” – Exploration of Power

Lonnigan Texas Carnivale

Pastor Justin Crowe is my favorite character in the show at this point, after him probably Samson or Lodz as far as how complex and compelling they are. This episode really illustrated why for me in regards to Justin. He’s a character who has crossed through Hell and come out of it changed with a new discovery of his power. This episode is about his using that discovery to find out more about what his power is and means. Can’t say the same for Ben…

The episode was directed by Scott Winant and written by Daniel Knauf.

The premise starts out with after his suicide attempt Justin has been put into an Insane Asylum where after all the treatments, he begins to discover what he is capable of and his place in the world. This is contrasted by Ben who is asked to go into town to pick up someone for an act. There are also the mini-stories of Stumpy trying to hook up Jonesy with his wife and his wife trying to get Sofie into dancing because she’s seeing how it makes her daughter happy. These are the stories that unfold.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Asylum – The asylum scenes are some of the best. From seeing the torture they put Justin through to when he is able to correct the Doctor’s work and put words on the page as well as shaping the minds of the insane around him…from silencing a man who cannot be quite. The scenes are chilling because he’s embraced the supernatural in his nature.

Justin Crowe – God, this character is awesome! I’ve already described some of the events and now he has self awareness of the world and their looking for him and their belief in his mission of helping the poor. If that mission has changed remains to be seen but he found his belief in God and his own power making him the most compelling character on the show.

Mother and Daughter Relationships – This episode had a lot mother and daughter relationships…from Libby and her Mom for the dancers, from Sofie and her Mom for the card readers. In both we learn that Libby’s mom rebelled against her mom which is why she went into dancing and Libby has been protesting against her because she thought she was hustling Sofie. We also see Sofie do one show until someone grabs at her and we realize she’d done for the same reason Libby’s mother Rita Sue. We also see Rita was doing it to make Libby happy and to feel her own whole of her daughter’s murder. Babylon changed things.

The Knights Templar – The one noteworthy thing that happens to Ben is another Carnie owner Phineas who has a ring that is tied to it that sparks a flashback leading to Ben to still the ring. This leads to us seeing Phineas and Samson have a relationship even though their rivals and that their is a Carnie honor code. What all this means remains to be played out. Is Phineas part of the order? What does the order mean in the mythology of the being darkness and being of light? How does it tie to Scudder?

Jonesy and Rita – Jonesy has a sweet moment with Rita where she treats him with kindness and tenderness when he sleeps with her and he does too. This is contrasted by her husband who cares nothing for her. This is a big part on why she tells Sofie, “I wish I had someone who cared half as much for me, as he (Jonesy) cares for you.”

The Cons: The Drive – I get this is the depression and it’s supposed to be bleak and depressing but Ben being lied to by folks and us seeing he escaped for a chain gang and is wanted feels unneeded right now. Ben has got to start acting like Justin and finding answers or else we have no reason to care about him.

Another great episode that is worth a watch, but with problems like before. It was slightly better than the “The River” though, mostly because the side character stories are really good and having more time with Justin is gold.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Babylon” – The Evil of Humanity

carnivale-babylon-31     “Babylon” is one of the most powerful episodes of any show I have ever seen. We see character exploration of the major sort and see how desperation can make people evil and bad and left wondering if that evil was there all along in some places, just waiting for someone to blame.

“Babylon” was written by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin and directed by Tim Hunter.

The story involves the carnival finally arriving in the ghost town of Babylon, Texas…where there used to be mine but there isn’t anymore. Here Sophie talks to one of the dancers Libby who lets her know she isn’t pregnant from her one night stand the day before. To deal with the turmoil everyone is feeling Samson treats them to a night on the town but things go south when the carnival starts up and they find just how unwelcome they are.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Babyon – A ghost town with a dead mine…this place is haunting and foreboding the entire time here. It’s like something bad is just waiting to happen as Pastor Crowe reads a prayer for the children as a voice over and it tells of Babylon and how wretched it is.  Major areas are a movie theatre with one silent film and a nearly empty bar. The place is dead but there are people hidden.

Libby – Carlo Gallo is great and though we only get to know her in this episode (she’s had a lot of sexual experiences but has always had self respect) and she helps Sofie find herself and make peace with her night before. Sadly her reward is one of her fellow dancers getting killed and labeled a harlot.

Sofie – Sofie is growing and we find her stand up for herself to Jonesy as she connects with Libby. What affect Libby’s death will have on her remains to be seen, but her mother hated their friendship.

Jonesy – Jonesy is falling apart. He turns the Wheel on full speed and lets no one on or off and gets drunk. He tries to pursue Sofie but because he isn’t open or friendly to anyone he gets nothing back. It ends with him being cast from the carnival but returns with the body of Libby.

Professor Lodz – With his lover Lila the bearded woman, he goes out to the mine where Ben has been placed to guide or guard him. What he is doing is unknown at this point, but he believes he has to be there and foresees that Ben will be there. His relationship with Lila is wonderful and he continues to be the mysterious mentor.

Samson – Samson is back in the good as he treats the crew to drinks and does all he can to protect them from Babylon when he realizes it isn’t safe. It is here you realize just how overwhelmed he is by it all and trying to make the best choices for the carnival.

Ben – Finds Scudder in the mine and finds the words AVATAR carved into the wood. He chases Scudder who tells him that he may know who he is but he doesn’t know the bigger questions related to meaning. Scudder retreats when Ben asks what they are. His time is short but important in this episode.

This was a powerful and perfect “Carnivale” episode. From showing the evil of humanity as desperate men targeted an innocent who only treated them with kindness and labeled her a harlot. This being done side by side with Crowe’s prayer for the children was made all the more powerful.

Final Score: 10 / 10. Perfect episode.