The second season of HBO's Depression-era gothic--John Steinbeck by way of Tod Browning--picks up where the first left off. Professor Lodz (Patrick Bauchau) is dead. Ben (Nick Stahl), the show's protagonist, appears to be the culprit. Samson (Michael J. Anderson) helps him dispose of the body. Later he tells the other carnival workers that Lodz "took a powder." Lila (Debra Christofferson) doesn't buy it. Meanwhile, Sophie (Clea DuVall), who lost her mother to fire the previous year, feels unmoored without her guidance. A few states away, Brother Justin (Clancy Brown) harbors ever greater delusions of grandeur--and inappropriate thoughts about his sister, Iris (Amy Madigan). In "Alamagordo, NM," he decides to establish a temple, which he dubs Jonestown, er, Jericho. At the same time, life amongst the carnies, who are heading towards Justin's California, is becoming increasingly tense. Ruthie (Adrienne Barbeau), for instance, is starting to see dead people--like Lodz--and Stumpy (Toby Huss) is no longer able to keep his gambling in check. As with the first season, the action continues to alternate between the carnival and the congregation. What binds the two is a man named Scudder (John Savage), who has connections to Ben and Justin. Although writer/creator Dan Knauf had planned to tie things up between seasons three and six, HBO did not renew Carnivàle
a second time. Nonetheless, a surprising number of questions are answered, like the identity of "Management" (voiced by an un-credited Linda Hunt) and whether Ben and Justin will have a final showdown. The answer to the latter question is: Yes, they will--and therell be casualties. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
As the final war between Good and Evil looms two powerful avatars divided by fate share one mission. For Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin, the race is on to find the elusive Henry Scudder--and the fate of the world depends on who finds him first.