New Canaan, CA
“When it comes to livin’, dying is the easy part.“Sofie carries laundry out to the line and stops in her tracks when she sees the Carnivale set up in the valley. Glancing over her shoulder at the house, she sees her mother Apollonia in the window, dressed in a funeral veil. “No…“she moans.Rushing to the house, she enters the room upstairs, but finds Brother Justin dressing, his cassock open to reveal his tree tattoo. Justin asks Sofie to cut an irritating thread from his collar, and hands her a straight razor. Trembling over his exposed throat, she slices the thread. But as she turns to leave Justin speaks, “You really should have knocked…” and the door to his room slams shut in front of her. Samson and Jones work hard to convince Ben that a suicide mission to take out Justin is not the answer. “The dumbest thing is dyin’ when you ain’t gotta,” Samson says. “Dyin’ just because you’re piss-poor at livin’.” Leaving the trailer, the troupe stands around watching Ben in awe, and Rita Sue tells him that they were wrong about him.Brother Justin interrogates Sofie: “He’s out there with them isn’t he—the boy Ben,” he demands, but Sofie professes ignorance. “Why do you continue to deceive yourself, “ he asks, and roaring at her as his eyes turn black, he tells her it’s time to choose. “Go to hell!” Sofie yells, but Justin is nonplussed. “Go? Why? I plan on bringing it here.” Samson suggests to Ben that he can win away Justin’s flock by healing the sick. “I can’t just conjure up a healing from scratch,” Ben says. “It don’t work that way. All I do is move life.” The idea settles in to Samson. “So you heal someone…” And Ben finishes: “…I gotta hurt someone else.” The Carnivale crew hatches a plan. Jones will trap Justin in the Ferris Wheel and Ben will “commence to healin’” person after person. Ben sees that the plan is to siphon life away from Justin. “Tap him dry,” he says, nodding. Valyn Stroud hauls a bound Sofie away to a remote cabin, even as Libby confronts Jonesy about still being sweet on her. But Jonesy, moved by his affection for Libby convinces her that he’s happy. “I always know where I stand with you,” he says lovingly. Feeding Norman, Iris does some soul-searching. “I thought I was in service to God,” she says of her youth. “I wish I had made better decisions. The children and Eleanor, sins like that are black sins, beyond redemption.” But she does not seem upset. “When I die, I’m going to hell,” she says dreamily. “I’m very, very fortunate. My brother will be there to embrace me.” Her reverie is interrupted when a group of freaks, led by Samson, rings the doorbell. The motley crew has just accepted its honorarium from Iris when Justin arrives. Startled by the unexpected guests, he questions Samson about Sofie, but Samson plays dumb, and offers the Crowes a pair of tickets to ride the Colossus. Justin seems eager, but Iris demurs, citing her fear of heights. Back at the camp, Jonesy, Ben and Samson try to figure out what has become of Sofie. Ben suggests looking for her “once the shouting’s over.” But the others are not sure; Sofie is a part of the family. “What if she’s dead?” Jonesy asks aloud. “If she’s dead, then God help them all in this valley,” Ben says. “Every single last one of ‘em.“But Sofie is alive, screaming for help from her cabin prison. Finally sinking to her knees, she looks up to see a series of visions: of Justin paying an unwelcome visit on her mother, of men with tree tattoos, the Templar saying “every prophet in her house,” of Libby, Ben, and Lodz; of Justin’s kiss on the porch and the fire that almost killed her in her mother’s trailer. Then the black figure of her mother is in the cabin, walking toward her. Sofie scrambles away, but a hand reaches out to her face. When the veil is lifted, Sofie sees not her mother, but her own face, with the black eyes of the demon. “This…is…your…house,” the figure says. When the night finally comes, Samson apologizes to Rita Sue about the cooch tent being dark, and Rita Sue agrees that they can’t leave Ben high and dry. Still, she says, her family is scared about the shylock. Samson gives her the honorarium. “That’s the nut,” he says. “Two-hundred and fifty bucks. We got to take care of our own.” At the house, Stroud is unhappy about Justin’s trip to the carnival. “It’s a goddamned set-up,” he says. Justin agrees, but says he has to go. “I must ride the Ferris Wheel. It’s the only way,” he says. Removing his scythe from a drawer, he contemplates the night. “Pain is an unavoidable side effect,” he says. Smoking alone, Ben watches the house and remember’s Sofie’s words. “People in these towns are asleep,” she said. “We wake ‘em up.” Samson talks Justin into disarming his guards, and Justin soon pressures Iris to climb aboard the Colossus. With the Crowes onboard, the signal goes out, and Stumpy begins drumming up business for the healer, Benjamin St. John. Ben halts the music and gets right to business. “Which ones of you need healing?” he asks the crowd. He finds a young boy who is deaf and places his hands on his ears; suddenly Brother Justin gasps and clasps his head. Next Ben cures an old man, leaving Justin gasping on the wheel. As Iris cries for help, Ben touches a woman with TB, and Justin writhes and pulls open his cassock to reveal his tree tattoo. Stroud rushes forward to stop the Ferris Wheel, but Jones pulls off the controls. “Be still!” Justin shouts, his eyes black, and the Colossus grinds to a halt. Climbing from the wheel he tells Stroud to “take care of the girl.“Samson runs for Ben. “The whole thing’s gone in the crapper, kid!” he yells. “Run!” But Justin has arrived at the tent. In the midst of healing Norman Balthus, Ben stops Justin in his tracks, but a demonic Justin slashes his scythe into members of the crowd, regathering his strength as the bodies are impaled. Balthus intercedes: “The power of Christ compels you!” he says to Justin, but his onetime son runs his blade through. “Holy evil has come,” he says.. Ben runs into a nearby cornfield, as lightning flashes and he recalls his past visions of being chased by the tattooed man. Falling down, he pulls his dagger from a boot, but Justin is there and slashes Ben’s arm. Ben escapes and, finding a scarecrow, takes its place on the cross. He jumps down on Justin and plunges in his blade, but Justin counters, slashing Ben across the belly. “Look at you, boy, such a sad mess,” he says to a prostrate Ben. “Sofie…” Ben gasps as Justin prepares to finish him off. “Yes, she’s waiting for you,” replies Justin. A scene flashes in front of Ben, of the dagger being thrust into the fork of the tree. “My kingdom come,” Justin begins, raising his scythe, but Ben stabs his dagger into the crux of the tree tattoo on Justin’s chest. With Justin gasping on the ground, Ben pushes the blade in further. “Plunge thee deep,” he says and collapses on his adversary, as the tree explodes into flames in the distance.Jones, meanwhile, has spotted Stroud leaving and jumps on the back of his truck. Arriving at the cabin where Sofie is held captive, Stroud draws his gun and prepares to enter, and Jones knocks him out with a log. Jonesy finds Sofie inside and frees her. They are close to their escape when Jones realizes that he has forgotten the keys. When he emerges from the cabin, he faces Sofie, her eyes black and pointed a .45 at his chest. “Sofie?” he says. “Don’t…” But Sofie shoots him. Jones slides to the ground, and she picks up the keys and leaves. With the sun coming up, the Carnivale members search the cornfield and find Justin and Ben in a heap. Checking closer, Samson finds Ben is still breathing. “He’s alive!” he says and a group carries Ben out. Libby refuses to leave without Jones, but Stumpy convinces her that things are going to get very dangerous in New Canaan. “I’ll bet old Jonesy’s waiting for us out on the road,” he says. Sobbing, Libby and Rita Sue load themselves in the truck. Samson, too, is loathe to leave. “Anything?” he asks one of the rousties of Jones. When the answer is no, he drops his head. “Drive.” The troupe has shaken some dust when Sofie arrives at the cornfield. She places her hands on Justin’s body. Immediately, stalks of corn wither and fall away, row after row, acre after acre. Miles away, Ben’s unconscious body bounces in Management’s bed as the trailer heads down the highway.
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