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Season 1, Episode 9
Airdate November 9, 2003
Production Number 109
Written by William Schmidt
Directed by Jack Bender
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CarnivàleSeason One

Insomnia is the ninth episode of the first season of Carnivàle, and the ninth episode overall.





Plot Overview

Sofie hears a commotion in her mother's trailer, and when she rushes in, it's to find Apollonia being raped by the Tattooed Man. As it turns out, the rape is merely a memory of Apollonia's which she is no longer able to keep hidden from Sofie. More importantly, the rape itself is how Sofie was conceived.

Samson, due to the growing lack of funds, orders the carnival to put on a fireball show, which essentially aims at milking, cheating, and downright stealing as much money from the customers as possible. This also means the carnival can only stay in town for one night, to avoid repercussions.

Probably hoping to get back into Management's good graces, or perhaps just hoping to get back at Lodz, Samson passes Scudder's Templar watch fob onto Ben. Samson surreptitiously sends it to Lodz during the professor's nightly show, and when Lodz touches it, he has a seizure (like when he first tried to read Ben's dreams) and is accosted by the same Templar visions that Ben saw.

Justin continues to exert his influence over the other denizens of the mental ward. He controls both patient and doctor alike, and everyone seems to be serving his needs without realizing it. When he is released, his doctor hands over his portfolio, which we see is a large collection of handwritten papers, under the heading "Acts of Redemption by Brother Justin Crowe."


Arc Advancement


  • Ben refuses to sleep due to his nightmarish dreams. Lodz reveals that if Ben does not dream, he cannot be "reached." Presumably, this implies that an avatar's dreams, while many come naturally, can also be influenced by other avatars. This lines up with the fact that Becca Donovan told Ben that Scudder was sending him dreams, as well as with the fact that Management seems to know what Ben is dreaming about (like when Bruno's hat appeared on Management's trailer).
  • When Lodz is overcome by the fob and begins chanting "In Hoc Signo Vinces," Ben, in a trancelike state, repeats the English: "In this sign you shall conquer," prompting Samson to demand where he, of all people, learned Latin.
  • When Lodz and Management discuss the sudden appearance of Scudder's watch fob, Management explains that this is why they've had so much trouble reaching Ben. Moreover, he states that "we should have known that from Babylon." The gist is that Scudder was seemingly in contact with Ben in Ben's dreams and Lodz and Management were either unaware entirely, or merely clueless to the full extent of it. Either way, it explains why Lodz was putting so much pressure on Ben to reveal what he saw in his dreams.


  • Sofie's conception raises numerous questions about her identity and her role in things. Was the fact that she was sired by the Avatar of Dark and is also destined to become the Omega mere coincidence? Or does the Omega need to be fathered by an Avatar, but it doesn't matter which one? Regardless, this is one of numerous references to Sofie's connection to the Tattooed Man.
  • Jonesy continues his ill-advised affair with Rita Sue. Rita Sue lies to Stumpy that Jonesy was a one-time thing.
  • Lodz offers to teach Ben and is yet again rebuffed.
  • Ruthie tries to kiss Ben after her show, but he gets spooked and runs out of the trailer.


Dream Sequences and Visions

  • Sofie's vision of Apollonia's rape is extended in season 2, when Iris has a "memory-vision" of the incident.


The Show

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • In several frames during Apollonia's rape, the Tattooed Man is replaced with Brother Justin. When Apollonia screams at the end, it's clear that her eyes have gone temporarily black, just like Justin's do.
  • During Lodz's visions (caused by the Templar watch fob), he sees among the images a basket filled with severed feet. The importance of this is left unresolved at the end of second season, though Clancy Brown implied that it would have significance at some point.

Memorable Moments