Episodes summary


Season 1

1.01 - Milfay
An 18-year-old, Ben Hawkins, is taken in by a traveling Carnivale after his mother passes away. An evangelical preacher receives a sign that leaves him awakened to the possibility of mysterious powers.
Originally aired: Sunday September 14, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Daniel Knauf
Director: Rodrigo Garcia

1.02 - After the Ball Is Over
A practical joke leads Ben to a piece of the puzzle that is his past. Brother Justin and his sister Iris try to turn a brothel into a house of worship. Sofie tends to her comatose mother.
Originally aired: Sunday September 21, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Ronald D. Moore, Daniel Knauf
Director: Rodrigo Garcia

1.03 - Tipton
The town of Tipton refuses to let the carnival set up. Brother Justin's promise to the migrants upsets his regular congregation. Ben and Sofie search for clues about his history.
Originally aired: Sunday September 28, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Daniel Knauf, Henry Bromell
Director: Rodrigo Garcia

1.04 - Black Blizzard
Lodz tests Ben's powers. Sofie socializes with a handsome cafe owner. Samson visits an old flame. Brother Justin struggles with an ultimatum.
Originally aired: Sunday October 5, 2003 on HBO
Writer: William Schmidt
Director: Peter Medak

1.05 - Babylon
Samson tries to improve the troupe's spirits with a night of revelry. Ben has an enlightening experience at the bottom of a mineshaft. A group of miners is anxious for entertainment.
Originally aired: Sunday October 12, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Nicole Yorkin, Dawn Prestwich
Director: Tim Hunter

1.06 - Pick a Number
The carnies get caught up in "Carnival Justice". Ben's dark adventure ends. Brother Justin wanders in the wilderness, where he meets a group of hobos.
Originally aired: Sunday October 19, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Ronald D. Moore
Director: Rodrigo Garcia

1.07 - The River
While Brother Justin rediscovers his "birthright" on the banks of a river, his sister Iris gets some unexpected support from an attentive radio reporter. At the carnival, Rita Sue and Stumpy argue over their family's future. 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.
Originally aired: Sunday October 26, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Toni Graphia
Director: Alison Maclean

1.08 - Lonnigan, Texas
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 is posing a rallying cry for his radio listeners: "Where are you, Brother Justin?"
Originally aired: Sunday November 2, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Daniel Knauf
Director: Scott Winant

1.09 - Insomnia
Ben tries to stave off the torments of his dreams by staying awake, but the lack of sleep is taking its toll. Samson looks to drum up new business by resurrecting several tried-and-true scams, including "turtle boy" and "man eating chicken". 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, and Lodz's psychic act gets a jolt from a mysterious source. In Mintern, Iris reaches out to Brother Justin over the radio airwaves, and Tommy gets a surprise reaction when he reaches out to Iris.
Originally aired: Sunday November 9, 2003 on HBO
Writer: William Schmidt
Director: Jack Bender

1.10 - Hot and Bothered
Brother Justin returns to Mintern to chart out a new direction for his ministry. At the Carnivale, 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 search of information about Scudder's whereabouts. Stumpy takes his lumps in enlisting a new dancer named Catalina, and Lodz and Lila wait for Ben to finally succumb to sleep.
Originally aired: Sunday November 16, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Dawn Prestwich, Nicole Yorkin
Director: Jeremy Podeswa

1.11 - The Day of the Dead
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, and Ben learns that some wounds aren't easy to heal. In Mintern, 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.
Originally aired: Sunday November 23, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Toni Graphia
Director: John Patterson

1.12 - The Day That Was the Day
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. Stumpy and Rita Sue strike a deal with each other, and Jones, to save their marriage. 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 formers "greatest evil," with the latter pondering the prospect of salvation versus damnation among his congregation: "The clock is ticking, brothers and sisters...counting down to Armageddon."
Originally aired: Sunday November 30, 2003 on HBO
Writer: Ronald D. Moore
Director: Rodrigo Garcia


Season 2

2.01 - Los Moscos
As the spiritual powers of Ben Hawkins evolve, Management exposes him to the cataclysmic disasters that await the world if he doesn't identify and conquer his nemesis, Brother Justin. In order to do this, Ben must find his father, the elusive Henry Scudder, who holds a crucial link not only for Ben, but for Justin as well. Continuing to function as Ben's cover from the law, the Carnivàle troupe follows his lead further west. Meanwhile Justin has employed a new "Apostle" to aid in his search for Scudder: a prison inmate named Varlyn Stroud. Justin and sister Iris spread the word drawing throngs of weak and impoverished masses into their spiritual web. With time running out, Ben and Justin are thrust into high gear - and onto a collision course that will ultimately determine the fate of mankind.
Originally aired: Sunday January 9, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Daniel Knauft
Director: Jeremy Podeswa

2.02 - Alamogordo, N.M.
Ben seeks out Father Kerrigan, a man who knew his father. Stumpy continues his pursuit of Rita Sue and Libby. Sofie's desire for manual labor upsets the other men in the company. Meanwhile Lila challenges Samson and Justin visits Chinatown.
Originally aired: Sunday January 16, 2005 on HBO
Writer: William Schmidt
Director: Jack Bender

2.03 - Ingram, TX
Ben discovers some distant relatives who are not too happy to see him. Stroud continues his efforts to find Ben while investigating a mining accident. Meanwhile, Sophie still refuses to read Ben's future through the tarot cards. Tommy Dolan continues his investigation into the arson incident. Ruthie gets a mysterious visitor.
Originally aired: Sunday January 23, 2005 on HBO
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Director: John Patterson

2.04 - Old Cherry Blossom Road
A relative of Ben's reveals some family secrets and a mysterious face of death. Justin sees the threat that Ben poses when Stroud reports his progress to Justin. Iris tries to cover-up her own secrets while imploring Justin not to keep secrets. Lila discovers some clues in Lodz's trailer and Ruthie continues to see visions
Originally aired: Sunday January 30, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Dawn Prestwich, Nicole Yorkin
Director: Steve Shill

2.05 - Creed, OK
Justin pushes Dolan to make a decision. Ben visit with the mask-maker turns into a nightmare. Ruthie confides in Sofie. Justin receives a mysterious gift.
Originally aired: Sunday January 16, 2005 on HBO
Writer: William Schmidt
Director: Jack Bender

2.06 - The Road to Damascus
Iris is surprised when she learns of Justin's real plan concerning the ministry fire. Meanwhile, Rita Sue learns that Stumpy lost all of their money, Ben and Sofie decide to explore their relationship on the road to Damascus, and Ruthie appears to have a connection with an old friend of Lila's.
Originally aired: Sunday February 13, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Dawn Prestwich, Nicole Yorkin
Director: Tucker Gates

2.07 - Damascus, NE
Ben gets closer to finding his father, and learns that he was once at the hotel, but has left long ago. Ben then goes to investigate further, and meets his father, who is working at the hotel. Ben learns more about who he is when he brings Scudder to Management. He learns that Scudder is his opposite. He also learns that Management has a son, and his son is the one who will carry on the fight, for the side of evil.
Originally aired: Sunday February 20, 2005 on HBO
Writer: John J. McLaughlin, William Schmidt
Director: Alan Taylor

2.08 - Outskirts, Damascus, NE
Ben and Samson have a heated argument; Iris and Justin back a local politician; Rita Sue tries to play hardball with Stumpy's debt collector; Libby shocks her parents; Smith interprets a bad sign for Justin; Jones is blamed for an accident; and Sofie finds a new job.
Originally aired: Sunday February 27, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Daniel Knauf
Director: Tim Hunter

2.09 - Lincoln Highway
Ben and Jones learn justice is "for the birds"; Ruthie's visitor leaves lipstick traces; Lila tries to reach Lodz; Sofie finds salvation in her work; Iris takes Eleanor on a picnic; and when chaos breaks out during a public speech, Justin shocks the crowd with forgiveness.
Originally aired: Sunday March 6, 2005 on HBO
Writer: William Schmidt
Director: Rodrigo Garcia

2.10 - Cheyenne, WY
Libby struggles to stick to her alibi; Jones goes for a ride with Ben; Ruthie delivers a nocturnal message to Lila; Talbot-Smith intercepts a near disaster for Justin and reneges on a deal with Scudder; Iris discovers a relative; Stroud increases security.
Originally aired: Sunday March 13, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Tracy Tormé
Director: Todd Field

2.11 - Outside New Canaan
When Samson announces the carnival's next stop, Lila challenges his authority; Libby urges Jones to reveal a secret. As Justin baptizes his converts, a new tragedy rises; Sofie sees a face from her past; and Justin is startled by a development in the migrant camp.
Originally aired: Sunday March 20, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Dawn Prestwich, Nicole Yorkin, John J. McLaughlin
Director: Dan Lerner

2.12 - New Canaan, CA
As the world grows smaller, Samson devises a grand plan; Justin forces Iris to face her fear of heights; Stroud wants to protect Justin; Sofie finds herself in the dark; Rita Sue is touched by Samson's generosity; Ben performs his most important healings.
Originally aired: Sunday March 27, 2005 on HBO
Writer: Daniel Knauf, Tracy Tormé
Director: Scott Winant