Finale To Savour
by Joan Lau, New Straits Times (December 14,
It's curtains for the first season of hit HBO
series Carnivale tonight but avid fan JOAN LAU
just knows it'll only leave more questions than
answers! IF you are not a fan of the hit HBO
series Carnivale, please do not read on. Or
maybe you should. Then you may want to kick
yourself for missing out on this fascinating
series that's set in a travelling carnival.
The series reminds me
of the movie Freaks which I watched quite a
while back while I was still a member of the
Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia. I cannot remember
the storyline now but the sense of shock and
horror I felt still remains to this day.
I guess what frightened
me was that the "freaks" in the movie
were probably real. After all, the movie was
a black-andwhite offering probably made in the
1930s. Up till that time, I had always thought
carnival freaks were fakes. Bearded woman? Probably
stuck some hair to her chin. And midgets? They
are not freaks - just, well - midgets.
A few months after watching
the disturbing movie, I came across a book on
freaks in my favourite bookstore. Complete with
pictures. Oh boy - that was truly disturbing.
And no, I did not buy the book even though it
seems like I kept "bumping into" freaks
Fast forward at least
16 years and we have Carnivale. I wasn't sure
I'd take to it at first - after all, my viewing
taste has become so much more sophisticated.
I don't know about you but I'm hardly affected
by blood or gore in the movies anymore thanks
to the work of directors like John Carpenter,
James Cameron and gang.
But you know what? I
got sucked in right from - are you ready? -
the trailer for the series. It was so exciting:
a boy with special powers he is trying to hide,
a pastor who shares his nightmares, the many
different characters who make up the travelling
carnival, death, magic. Wow.
As the first season of
Carnivale progressed over the last two months,
more and more was revealed about the characters.
There's Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) who is only
just learning about his remarkable powers -
he is on a quest to find out who or where Scudder
(John Savage) is.
Everybody at the carnival
seems to want a piece of Ben and he, in turn,
wants just a peaceful night's sleep.
He shares these recurring
nightmares with pastor Brother Justin (Clancy
Brown) and as we head for the season finale,
it is becoming clear to me that they are different
sides of the same coin.
But wait? Is Ben really
the good guy and Brother Justin from the dark
side? It seems too obvious but the whole thing
is panning out that way. My favourite character
in the series is the midget carnival boss Samson
(Michael J. Anderson).
He may be ironically
named but I believe Samson is indeed like his
namesake. His is the strength of spirit that
keeps the carnival together. Even though he
seems to have been displaced by the wily blind
mentalist Lodz (Patrick Bauchau) in the eyes
of Management (okay, don't ask - everyone is
already asking who or what is Management), he
still keeps an eye out for everybody's welfare.
The series is so beautifully
put together and so is the editing. A couple
of episodes took my breath away (favourite episode
so far is The River where Brother Justin's past
is revealed!) - some people say the show is
creepy because it talks about evil but I don't
find that to be so. For me, the horror comes
from the unseen and unknown.
And yes, I have been
in a tizzy the last couple of weeks because
I knew - yes, indeed, I most certainly did -
that this day, TODAY, would come. It's the finale
of HBO's Carnivale and I just know (because
it is a series, duh!) we won't know the answers
to the questions that have been sitting in my
head the last two months.
It's going to be back-to-back
episodes tonight and I know it will end in a
cliffhanger. Oh boy, those guys at HBO are such
teases but I'll be there watching the show tonight
and hankering for Season 2!