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Taking place in the United States circa 1930s,'Carnivale' is an American series about two traveling performance troupes. A mixture of dark fantasy and mystery, the 24 episode story touches upon the timeless struggle between good and evil, and contains elements of modern religion and Western folklore, with especial emphasis on the Knights Templar.

The brainchild of creator Daniel Knauf, 'Carnivale' was executive produced by Howard Klein and Ronald D. Moore. The premise of 'Carnivale' concerns a young man named Ben Hawkins. Ben is a fugitive who commands unique powers of healing, and when his mother perishes from dust pneumonia, and a traveling carnival wends its way not far from his childhood home, he joins the troupe.

Almost at once, Ben begins having bizarre, recurring visions and dreams about a trench war and a soldier, and also about a man with tattoos in a corn field. Lodz, the resident carnival troupe mind-reader, distrusts Ben and his dreams. Meanwhile, Ben mysteriously heals a girl's lame legs by laying his hands upon her, inadvertently establishing Ben as the series' Christ-like figure. Ben performs other miracles as well.

Elsewhere, an obscure preacher named Justin Crowe, a man gifted in a way similar to Ben, dreams of Chin's, a nearby Chinese establishment. When he visits it eventually, he observes a bright cross appearing upon a neon sign, and a shower of blood soaking him through.

Back at the carnival, Ben is cleaning out a baggage trailer one day and stumbles upon a photo of his mother. Ben shares the photo with the local snake charmer, Ruthie, who tells him the woman is named Flora, a sweetheart of Henry Scudder's. Ruthie shares a photo of her own: one of Henry Scudder, a onetime member of the same troupe Ben now belongs to. Ben identifies the man as the soldier in his dreams. Presumably Henry is Ben's father.

Ben soon embarks on a path of self discovery, as the wonderful world of carnival troupes is revealed against a picaresque, historical background.

Sundays at 10:00 pm on HBO
2 Seasons, 24 Episodes - Canceled
September 7, 2003
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Carnivale Full Episode Guide

  • 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.

  • When Samson announces the carnival's next stop, Lila challenges his authority; Stumpy and Rita fear dark days to come; and Libby urges Jones to reveal a secret to the troupe. As Justin baptizes his converts, a new tragedy rises to the surface; Ben volunteers to stack firewood; Sofie sees a face from her past; Iris welcomes a chance to sponsor some fun; and Justin is startled by a development in the migrant camp.

  • Libby struggles to stick to her alibi, buckling under the weight of Rita Sue's superiority; 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 with his "Knights of Jericho," and Justin does some backseat driving.

  • Ben and Jones learn that 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; Balthus misses a big chance; Stroud keeps the morphine flowing; and when chaos breaks out during a public speech, Justin shocks the crowd with forgiveness.

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