Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Episode Guide--Season 1, Episode 2: "After the Ball is Over"
Questions proliferate in this second episode of the series. What is the significance of the phrase "Every prophet in his house" that Brother Justin keeps hearing? How is it that people's secret sins are being revealed to the preacher? Why is "Management" hidden within a curtained compartment in his trailer? Does such a figure even exist, or is Samson the real leader of the carnival? Who/what caused the appearance of the ghostly baggage trailer that Ben explores? Why is the carnival going to deviate from its circuit to head south? And how/why does the presumably catatonic Apollonia rise from her bed, seek out Ben, and then express "You are the one"?
Fortunately, the episode also provides viewers some answers to its various mysteries. The tuxedoed figure who appears in Ben's and Brother Justin's dreams is identified as Henry Scudder, an ex-carnival member who performed as "The Gentleman Geek." More importantly, Ben discovers that Scudder has a connection to someone from his own past. And finally, a key clue is revealed in the last shot of the episode; keep an eye out for what Ben notices about Management's trailer.
The characters grow more familiar to the audience in this episode, as does the world they inhabit (a detailed milieu wonderfully conveyed by the show's sets, props, and vintage clothes). Modern viewers are transported to another era, and learn what daily life was like in the 1930s--for Dust-Bowl-crossing carnies as well as constituents of a quaint California community. Carnivale's flights of dark fantasy no doubt prove even more amazing because the series itself is so firmly grounded in historical reality.