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Carnivàle/Day of the Dead

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Day of the Dead
Season 1, Episode 11
Airdate November 23, 2003
Production Number 111
Written by Toni Graphia
Directed by John Patterson
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The Day That Was the Day
CarnivàleSeason One

Day of the Dead is the eleventh episode of the first season of Carnivàle, and the eleventh episode overall.





Plot Overview

We open with another of Ben and Justin's shared dream sequences. Justin is giving a communion of razorblades to a willing congregation, until Ben, who is also present in the Church, confronts Justin about the scene. The dream ends before either man does anything noteworthy.

The carnival is still in Loving, New Mexico. Ben is unable to reconcile his night with Ruthie with the deeply ingrained religious values his mother instilled in him, and once again partially insults her and then stalks off, leaving her predictably upset. While confessing his sins in a church in Babylon, he's shocked to find Scudder on the other side of the confession box. Scudder disappears before Ben can ask any questions.

Sofie, meanwhile is caught between her feelings for Libby, which she doesn't quite know how to deal with; and her feelings for Jonesy, who, unbeknownst to Sofie, is having an affair with Rita Sue, an affair that Libby knows about. Jonesy breaks up with a furious Rita Sue to pursue an opportunity with Sofie. Stumpy, prompted by Caterina, visits Sofie and Apollonia for a tarot reading. Apollonia reveals to Sofie that Jonesy's been sleeping with Rita Sue, and that Libby knew about it. Stumpy realizes that Jonesy is still sleeping with his wife.

Balthus tries to convince Iris of how the Holy Water on Justin's forehead turned to blood, but Iris is unconvinced. Balthus is also spoken to by Tommy Dolan who informs him of a police report placing a car matching Justin's outside the Dignity Ministry on the night of the fire. Iris relates the news to Justin, who believes they have nothing to hide from the police. Iris, however, confesses that she set the fire at the Ministry. The children were a sacrifice for Justin, "like the lambs of Abraham," to remove the obstacles from his ecclesiastical career. Justin is overcome by passion and kisses Iris violently.

Professor Ernst Lodz, aided by Lila, heads into town on a mysterious errand. He purchases a poisonous snake at a local endangered species dealer. He places the snake in a bag of dresses that Lila had mended for Ruthie, and when Ruthie empties the bag, she's fatally bitten by the snake. She manages to summon Ben (with Gabriel's help), and he takes her to an empty stretch of road. Ruthie dies and Ben finds himself unable to revive her.


Arc Advancement


  • Samson walks in on the tail-end of one of Lodz and Management's conversations, and hears Lodz say "we both know it's the only way to reach the boy." This will later be revealed as Management's plot to murder Ruthie in order to force Ben to come to Management for help resurrecting her. Lodz is merely the pawn in this game (as he will later discover when Management reveals the professor's complicity to Ben), but it seems likely that Management has led him to believe otherwise.
  • Ben throws his lot in with Samson and reveals that he's been seeing Scudder in his dreams, as well as a lot of other weird stuff. Samson, however, has no answers, and merely re-iterates the fact that Management expected to pick Ben up in Milfay.


  • When Sofie and Libby are drinking, Sofie explains that it's Apollonia who's the real psychic, Sofie just vocalizes what her mother says. Apollonia discounts this notion in the second season, when she reveals that Sofie was the one who actually read the cards.
  • After Iris reveals to Justin that Dolan is pursuing the investigation, Justin decides to visit Dolan personally. Iris doesn't think it will have any effect, but Justin, intending to manipulate Dolan telepathically, asserts that it will.


Dream Sequences and Visions

  • Libby and Sofie's relationship becomes much more intense until Sofie begins having violent, graphic and nauseating visions of Libby and Sofie having sex. She initially blames this on her mother, but it's much more likely it's a manifestation of her powers as the Omega.


The Show

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • While walking the streets of Loving during the Day of the Dead festival, he runs into a small, shirtless boy with the same tree tattoo as the Tattooed Man Ben sees in his dreams. The boy runs off, and soon a large group of angry and armed Mexican men round the corner, giving chase. Ben is bewildered, and even more so later when the mob returns. Instead of chasing the tattooed boy, it seems they've caught him, and they're bearing him on a throne and cheering. What this sequence says about the nature of the Usher of Destruction is unknown.

Memorable Moments