1x02. "After The Ball Is Over"

written by Daniel Knauf and Ronald D. Moore
directed by Jeremy Podeswa

original airdate: September 21, 2003
running time: 56 minutes


Back at the carnival, it's meal time. Rita Sue comments on the amount of food on her daughter Dora Mae's plate, suggesting that if she eats like a lumberjack, she'll look like one too, and "nobody wants to see a lumberjack dance the Cootch." Samson sits with Jonesy at a table. As they discuss Babe Ruth, Jonesy indicates to Sofie, who is standing with her plate, looking for a place to sit, that she's welcome to join them. When Sofie opts to sit with Ben, Jonesy yells to Samson how overrated Babe Ruth is and storms off. Sofie asks Ben if he's been fixed up with a job yet, and he tells her that he's "totin' junk of trunks" and helping set things up. She informs Ben that he's officially a "roustie," or "roustabout." While she proceeds to offer to approach Samson about finding Ben a better job, Ben's attention again drifts toward Ruthie, who is finding a table for herself and her son, Gabriel. Meanwhile, Lodz and Lila eavesdrop on Sofie and Ben's conversation.

LODZ: "Do you sense any attraction between them?"
LILA: "Maybe on her part. Boy doesn't know what to do with a woman. Needs someone to show him the ropes. Someone... with experience."
LODZ: "That would be unwise."
LILA: "What's wrong with teaching a puppy dog a few tricks, hmm?"
LODZ: "For one, it might very well kill you."

Sofie invites Ben to visit her later that night. She tells him that her mother wants to see him. Ben tactfully tells Sofie that Apollonia gives him the "creepin' willies" and that her mother's "a turnip." With that, Sofie fumes and leaves the table.

Back in Mintern, Justin and Iris walk toward the Red Bird Restaurant. Justin freezes when he steps inside. It's the very same diner from his dream. "Love Me or Leave Me" is even playing on the radio. Iris senses that something's wrong, but Justin denies it. They join the gray-haired Reverend Norman Balthus at a booth and the reverend proceeds to boast about his car: a silver and black Buick Phaeton. A convertible, no less. Iris comments that Norman should stop acting like such a "rake" and more like a man of his age, and Norman jokingly tells Justin to snap his sister back in line. But Justin has his mind on other matters.

JUSTIN: "Tea, please."
WAITRESS: "Every prophet in his house."
JUSTIN: "Excuse me?"
WAITRESS: "I said, 'Coming right up.'"

Norman tries to get Justin's attention by showing him the headline of the day's paper: "Babe Ruth Swinging for 700!" Iris complains that Babe Ruth is all anybody talks about, and Norman compares the slugger to David, for "mighty endeavors are inspiring." Iris doesn't like the comparison, but Norman explains that in desperate times, the Lord chooses certain men to offer hope to the masses, and gifts them with talents, which should not go unused. Justin listens, enraptured.

Things are in full swing at the carnival. Sofie is in her trailer, giving a tarot card reading. She listens for her mother's advice, but Apollonia refuses to speak. She explains to the woman that the "cards are unclear" and returns the woman's money. After the woman leaves, Sofie tells her mother to quit pouting and that there will be no further discussion on the matter of Ben Hawkins. The crowd outside Sofie's trailer groans when she breaks the news: no more readings for the day. Elsewhere, Ruthie tells Ben that Gabriel won't wrestle without his gauntlets, and asks Ben to go get them from her trailer. He complies. Inside Ruthie's trailer, Ben examines Ruthie's fineries and sniffs a bottle of her perfume... Ruthie gives Ben a kiss on the cheek when he returns, gauntlets in hand.

Carroll Templeton arrives at the Crowe household. Justin tells Carroll that he's got a project in the works, but that he needs help. Justin asks Carroll to donate a building that he owns, Mr. Chin's, a gambling and prostitution joint, to the church so that the migrants will have a place of their own to worship. Carroll breaks out laughing and offers Justin $50 so the Oakies can get themselves a tent. Justin refuses. He explains to Carroll that the Lord has spoken to him and that he must have Chin's. Carroll says it's not for sale, and tells the reverend he's out of his "goddamn mind." Justin angrily grabs Carroll's arm and the room goes pitch black. Out of the darkness, a Chinese prostitute approaches. She rubs her hands over Carroll and whispers sensually in his ear: "Hello, Mr. Templeton. Back so soon?" A wall of flames erupt in front of Justin and Carroll. Suddenly, Justin and Carroll are standing in the street outside of Chin's. Inside, Carroll watches himself across the room. Carroll #2 asks Mr. Chin if there's "anything new on the menu" and Chin hands him a key. Room four. Justin forces Carroll to go upstairs and face his sin. Carroll watches Carroll #2 sit on the bed... next to a very young Chinese boy. Suddenly, they're back in the Crowe's living room. Iris enters. She's brought them lemonade.

It's around midnight and the carnival's shutting down. Jonesy spots Sofie carrying a jug on her way to the water pump. He tells her it's been a "dog's age" since they played catch. Sofie tells him she has to wash her mother's hair and Jonesy denies that he meant right then. Dora Mae peers through the Gecko's tent, watching Jonesy walk away disappointed.

DORA MAE: "Poor Jonesy. Sniffin' around little Miss Prissy-pants like a dog lost his bone."
GECKO: "Oh, I'd wager he knows where his bone is all right."
DORA MAE: "Bet you wouldn't mind helpin' him find it neither."
GECKO: "Jonesy? Nah, not my type..."

While Dora Mae helps Gecko peel off the loose skin from his back, Samson joins Lodz for a drink. Lodz pours himself a glass of absinthe and tells Samson that he saw Scudder in Ben's dreams. Samson says he doesn't care because Scudder has been dead for years. Lodz informs Samson that Scudder's very much alive, and to tell Management for him, because Management no longer listens to him -- not since St. Louis. Lodz tells Samson that the circuit's just an excuse and they should head south. Samson insists: they're heading north. As Samson walks back to his trailer, he spots Ben Hawkins walk past. The boy deeply troubles him.

Lodz is sitting at Apollonia's bedside. The two are having a conversation, although neither is speaking. Lodz finally says aloud that they were always "stronger together." He strokes her hair and Apollonia makes the trailer shake. Sofie enters and screams at Lodz to leave. Apollonia causes a tea cup to fly off a table and shatter against a wall. Sofie tells her mother that's she fed up with her tantrums and runs out.

Ben dusts off his blanket and slides underneath a trailer. He pulls out the "Big Sky Farms" photograph and studies it awhile before falling asleep... A fast and frightening series of images. A WWI soldier (the same man who appeared in the earlier dream -- the man wearing the tuxedo) walking through a bunker filled with dead soldiers. Another WWI soldier (the second man from the earlier dream) above the bunker, aiming a rifle. Growling within the bunker. The first soldier rounds the bunker and sees a soldier, minus several limbs, writhing. A giant bear appears, wearing chains, a vest and a red cap with Cyrillic writing on it. The first soldier looks up into the bear's blood-stained mouth--