Blogging notwithstanding, I have managed to watch all eleven episodes of the HBO Series “Carnivale,” the freakishly disturbing and yet oddly addictive show about a pathetic group of “Carnies” traveling around the Dust Bowl and the Southwestern U.S. in 1934. I have even watched several of the episodes at least twice, which is often necessary, given the darkness of the show and the quick paced and often strange dialog.
Unfortunately, at the end of each episode, I remain relatively unsure about what I had just seen and completely confused about what some of it means. We are treated to parallel stories, with mysterious and other-worldly connections between certain characters in the parallel stories (i.e. the minister and Ben), along with bizarre twists and turns within each of the parallel stories, which are all set in the dusty, dirty, and downright pathetic world of a traveling carnival in the throws of the depression.
Sunday night marked the final episode of the season, and I had hoped that some of the more puzzling aspects of the story would be brought to closure. It did not happen. The final episode of the season closed amidst of collection of loose ends.
Here are just a few of the many loose ends that come to mind at the moment. (Pictures of the characters can be found here.)
He is the main character, who we thought was fortuitously discovered by a passing carnival just at the moment that he was trying to bury his recently deceased mother in the dusty soil surrounding the shack in the middle of nowhere that he and his mother had called home. As it turns out, we learned that his meeting with the Carney was not exactly accidental, although we’re not sure why he was plucked from his dusty surrounds by this band of misfits.
What is the deal with his dream sequences? Are they past lives? If so, Ben appears to have been in the crusades, the Civil War and World War I.
Why is it that Lodz (see below) seems to be in some of the dreams?
Why do he and the minister seem to share the same dream, and yet neither knows of the other?
What, for Chrissake, is the deal with Ben’s father, “Scudder?” He apparently was a Carney (a geek) in the past, who may or may not have killed a man or many men in a town called Babylon.
What is/was the relationship between Scudder and Samson? Between Scudder and Lodz? Between Scudder and “Management?”
Why does Scudder continue to torment Ben? What does he want Ben to do?
What was the relationship between Ben’s mother and the Carnivale?
What is the murder he supposedly committed that resulted in his being chased around by a sheriff?
What does this vertically challenged troop pusher of the Carnivale know about Ben, Scudder, Ben’s mother, Lodz, and “Management” that he has not told Ben?
What does he know about Ben? What does he know about Scudder? What is his relationship to “Management?” To Samson?
What is that stuff he drinks that looks something like an Alka-Seltzer and which puts him in some sort of trance?
What is his relationship, past and present, with Apollonia, the seriously weird catatonic woman, who is the mother of Sophie and who appears to be the brains behind Sophie’s Fortune telling gig?
Was Lodz killed in the final episode? It sure as hell looks like it, but one never knows?
What the hell does he “see” (he was blind until the final moments of the final episode) in that dreadful bearded lady? What the hell does she see in him, particularly since he appears to be abusive to her?
What is the deal between her and Apollonia, her catatonic mother?
What was her past relationship with Jonsey?
Will she survive the fire in the trailer that ended the final episode?
Apollonia (Sophie’s mother)
What caused the mother to be catatonic?
Is the mother catatonic because of what appears to have been a rape in her past?
Who was the rapist? Might it have been Lodz?
Why did the mother become ambulatory only to walk up to Ben and utter something I cannot now remember?
What message did she transmit to Lodz in the final episode, when he placed his hand on her head and exclaimed, “How long have you known?”
Why did she start the fire in the trailer that ended the final episode?
Will she survive the fire?
How did he screw up his leg? A baseball injury?
Is it really over between him and Rita Sue, the Cootch dancer and hooker?
Will he come out of the burning trailer at the beginning of the new season?
Have she and Stumpy reconciled for good?
Will Sophie get even with her for hopping in the sack with Jonsey and pretending to be her friend?
What the hell?
Is “Management” a real person or some evil spirit?
If he/she/it is real, why doeshe/she/it remain behind a curtain?
Will she, as it appeared in the final episode, be brought back from the dead by Ben?
Before she decided to do the nasty with Ben, why the hell didn’t she demand that he take a farookin’ shower?
Justin, The Ministe
What’s the deal with him coming here from Russia?
When he came here from Russia, why was someone trying to kill him?
Is he really a demon?
Is he now or has he ever been in an incestuous relationship with his sister? (One doesn’t put a lip lock like that on one’s sister, and one doesn’t peek at his sister in the shower.)
Iris (The Minister’s Sister).
Is she also a demon?
Will she end up in the rack with the radio guy?
Can any of the characters possibly be more skuzzy?
Is there a bath in Ben’s future?
Why did the writer decide to put the “e” at the end of the word “Carnival?”
I’m sure there are a zillion more questions, but those are the ones that come to mind. I am amazed to think that someone sat in front of a keyboard, started out with a blank screen and ultimately dreamed up “Carnivale.” How does that happen?
Oy!! When does the next season start?