Season 1 Episode Summaries
Episode 1: Milfay; Written by Daniel Knauf; Directed by Rodrigo Garcia; 9/14/2003
After a young man named Ben Hawkins buries his mother on the grounds of his family's repossessed farm, he's taken in by a traveling carnival. Ben's shackles and strange spiritual powers worry a blind mystic named Lodz, but the carnival's day-to-day manager, the diminutive Samson, insists that Ben remain. Meanwhile, in Mintern, California, an evangelical preacher named Brother Justin receives a "sign from God" that leaves him shattered and amazed - and awakened to the possibilities of his own mysterious powers.
Episode 2: After the Ball is Over; Written by Daniel Knauf & Ron Moore; Directed by Jeremy Podeswa; 9/21/2003
A practical joke by Jones, the head-rigger, leads Ben to a piece of the puzzle that is his past. Meanwhile, Brother Justin and his sister Iris, (who lives with him in Mintern), are going through their own changes. Most notably, Brother Justin is attempting to turn Chin's, a Chinese brothel, into a house of worship for migrants. At the carnival, Sofie tends to her comatose, psychic mother, Apollonia, after she has an upsetting run-in with Ben.
Episode 3: Tipton; Story by Daniel Knauf; Written by Henry Bromell; Directed by Rodrigo Garcia; 9/28/2003
When authorities of the cash-poor town of Tipton refuse to let the carnival set up, Samson takes Jones' advice and temporarily reinvents the troupe as a religious-revival show - with Ben as the headliner. Brother Justin is headlining his own new show at the former Chin's, promising to bring "Old Time Religion" to migrants, a move that upsets his regular congregation. Back in Tipton, Ben and Sofie visit an ailing woman outside of town in search of clues about his history.
Episode 4: Black Blizzard; Written by William Schmidt; Directed by Peter Medak; 10/5/2003
On the road to Babylon (Texas), the carnies encounter a horrific storm. Lured by clues about his past, Ben reluctantly follows Lodz into an abandoned house, where the seer tests Ben's powers. Samson pays a visit to an old flame and Jones, facing a roustabout mutiny, comes up empty in his effort to meet with management. Meanwhile, Brother Justin struggles with an ultimatum: give up his new migrants' ministry at Chin's or face losing his old congregation at First Methodist.
Episode 5: Babylon; Written by Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin; Directed by Tim Hunter; 10/12/2003
The carnival rolls into Babylon, a tapped-out silver-mining town with a luckless history - and few visible inhabitants. Samson looks to raise morale by treating the troupe to a night at a local bar in town, while Sofie, a tarot-card reader, and her new friend Libby (one of the cooch dancers) take in a film. Finally, a group of restless miners arrive just in time for the evening cooch show - and the latest tragedy to befall Carnivàle.
Episode 6: Pick a Number; Written by Ron Moore; Directed by Rodrigo Garcia; 10/19/2003
Thirsty for payback, the carnies get caught up in an obscure yet fascinating phenomenon known as "Carnival Justice." Ben's dark adventure in the mind shaft ends, and Lodz is there to welcome him back into the fold. Meanwhile, Brother Justin decides to take a trip - destination unknown - and ends up wandering in the wilderness. Later, he swaps campfire stories with a group of hobos, one of whom is about to change Justin's life.
Episode 7: The River; Written by Toni Graphia; Directed by Alison MacLean; 10/26/2003
While Brother Justin rediscovers his "birthright" on the banks of a river, Iris gets some unexpected support from an attentive radio reporter. At the carnival, Rita Sue, afraid the family will end up on the breadline, argues with Stumpy about his plan to move the family to Hollywood; Ben and Ruthie go hunting for snakes to use in her act; Samson goes to work on the bally and Libby and Sofie see stars on the western horizon.
Episode 8: Lonnigan, Texas; Written by Daniel Knauf; Directed by Scott Winaut; 11/2/2003
Samson sends Ben on a road trip to enlist a new attraction, where he encounters a longtime carney rival named Phineas Boffo. Sofie debates whether to defy her mother and join Libby on the bally, Stumpy tells Jones he needs to get his "candle waxed" and Lodz and Samson have a falling out over Ben's errand. Meanwhile, while Brother Justin is receiving treatments for "religious excitation," Tommy Dolan makes a plea for radio listeners: "Where are you, Brother Justin?"
Episode 9: Insomnia; Written by William Schmidt; Directed by Jack Bender; 11/9/2003
Ben tries to stave off the torments of his dreams by staying awake, but with negative consequences. Samson looks to drum up new business by resurrecting several tried-and-true scams; Lodz warns Ben about the dangers of not practicing his "gift"; Sofie worries that her mother is losing touch with reality; Ben marvels at Ruthie's snake-charming routine. In Mintern, Iris reaches out to Brother Justin over the radio airwaves, and Tommy gets a surprise reaction when he reaches out to Iris.
Episode 10: Hot and Bothered; Written by Nicole Yorkin & Dawn Prestwich; Director: Jeremy Podeswa; 11/16/2003
Brother Justin returns to Mintern to chart out a new direction for his ministry. At the carnival, Samson's loss is Lodz's gain; Libby catches on to her mother's deception; Sofie accuses Apollonia of "breaking the rules"; Ben and Samson come up empty in their search for information about Scudder's whereabouts. Stumpy takes his lumps in enlisting a new dancer named Catalina, and Lodz and Lila wait for Ben to succumb finally to sleep.
Episode 11: Day of the Dead; Written by Toni Graphia; Directed by John Patterson; 11/23/2003
With management's blessing, Lodz hatches a devious plan to "reach" Ben, who is vulnerable after letting his guard down with Ruthie. Rita Sue upstages Catalina in the Gay Paree tent; Sofie reads Stumpy's cards and doesn't like what she learns. In Minstern, Balthus is concerned about the influences surrounding Brother Justin, as well as some fiery allegations that Tommy Dolan threatens to make public. For her part, Iris proves she'll do anything to advance her brother's career.
Episode 12: The Day That Was the Day; Written by Ronald D. Moore; Directed by Rodrigo Garcia; 11/30/2003
Faced with a crisis of life-and-death proportions, Ben turns to Lodz for advice, and ends up meeting with management for the first time. Samson covers for Ben when the law comes knocking and Sofie settles a score with Libby and Jones, only to find herself in the grips of Apollonia's fury. Meanwhile, Balthus and Brother Justin contemplate the former's "greatest evil," with the latter pondering the prospect of salvation versus damnation among his congregation.
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