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The current generation's Avatar of Light. Ben is a young man from Milfay, Oklahoma. His mother is Flora Hawkins and his father is Henry Scudder. Scudder leaves when Ben is an infant, and Flora raises him alone. Flora, a mentally unbalanced religious fanatic, is convinced that Ben's healing powers are an abomination and that he is an agent of the devil. Flora dies of dust pneumonia, which Ben could have cured had she let him. After Flora's death in 1934, Ben is picked up by a traveling carnival. The carnival, Carnivale, is the same one that Scudder travelled with after leaving Ben and Flora in Oklahoma. Ben joins on as a roustie and finds himself immediately embroiled in carnival intrigue. Management, the previous generation's Avatar of Light, patiently manipulates him throughout the first season, using Professor Lodz as his agent. Ben, who is trying to subvert his heritage (much like Scudder did), initially refuses to succumb to Management's plans, but his hand is forced when Lodz, acting under Management's orders, murders Ruthie. Ben is forced to accept his gift and, moreover, consciously decide who will die in order for Ruthie to live.
Season 2 opens with the aftermath of the incident in Management's trailer. Lodz is dead and Ben is overwhelmed. Before he has a chance to steady himself, Management launches into the exposition, revealing his identity as the Russian Soldier Ben saw in his dreams, and showing Ben where his path will take him: the Trinity detonation. He also provides Ben with the information that Justin is Ben's counterpart, and his enemy.
Scudder, however, is Ben's real goal. He must find his father before Brother Justin does, and the search leads him far and wide. He variously visits a Templar hall, a mental institution, and a deranged potter, but the most harrowing encounter is with Scudder's family. Tracking them down to a ramshackle, decrepit old cabin in Texas, Ben is accosted by Scudder's nephews and is buried alive. Ben's cousins realize their mistake when they find Scudder's watch fob in Ben's belongings and take Ben to see his grandmother. The blind old woman leads Ben around, before finally presenting him with two things: an old army knife and a plaster mold of Scudder's face. Ben accidentally breaks the mold, but keeps the knife.
Ben finally locates a horribly disfigured Scudder working in a hotel in Damascus, Nebraska. Drawing the life from everyone in the hotel and the surrounding area, Ben repairs his father's face and the two head back for the carnival. At Scudder's request, Ben vows to protect the man if Belyakov proves hostile. Which he does. In the ensuing confrontation between Belyakov and Scudder, Ben winds up killing Management in order to protect his father. Upon Belyakov's death, Ben receives his avataric boon.
During the confusion, Scudder flees from Management's trailer and runs right into the waiting hands of Varlyn Stroud. Once he realizes what's happened, Ben immediately embarks on a quest to rescue his father. Unfortunately, even with his new set of powers providing him with numerous methods to discern and hone in on Scudder's location, Ben isn't fast enough, and Justin manages to kill Scudder and receive his boon.
Moreover, while he's searching for Scudder, Ben is forced to heal Jonesy, who had been tarred, feathered and left for dead. Ben winds up healing Jonesy's limp as well, a feat which is eventually noticed by the other carnies, who apologize for being so exclusive to him and offer him their support.
At long last, Ben arrives at New Canaan and prepares to attack Justin. A plan is formed to lure Justin onto the ferris wheel, so that Ben can freely drain the life from him by acting as a healer. The plan almost works, but Justin manages to stop the ferris wheel and come after Ben. The preacher chases Ben through a cornfield, finally re-enacting the dream sequence seen in the first episode. Both men grievously wound each other, but Ben remember's Management's words when he received his boon, and plunges his broken knife into Justin's tree tattoo. He then promptly collapses, succumbing to the stomach wound dealt to him by the preacher.
The next morning, the carnies locate Ben's barely living body, and the carnival soon departs. The closing shot of the season is one of Ben, and it is clear to see that his wound has completely healed.