It got weird…er.
When we left off last week on Hulu’s The Path, Hawk had won my heart for all time by sneaking out to meet his girlfriend at a bonfire party, Sarah had stolen an entire person and Cal was making Eddie dig … a grave?
But it’s not a grave, we quickly learn, just a hole you dig until exhaustion makes you hallucinate and that’s the first stage of 7R. Because that’s what Eddie is doing, at Cal’s bidding, he’s trying to achieve Seven R, a new level of spiritual development within Meyerism. Cal’s motivations in this aren’t clear but since his stint In House, neither are Eddie’s so the dynamic is explosive and it only gets better as the episode progresses. Eddie and Cal both know the Miranda story is a total lie and both men seem to suspect the other is aware of Steven Meyer’s frail condition. Slowly, steadily, we’re heading towards something, a rupture within this group that’s going to be cataclysmic. This episode draws some interesting battle lines in how this all will play out.
So, after a full night of digging, an exhausted, probably dangerously dehydrated Eddie hallucinates Cal and Sarah getting hot and heavy and is done with digging after that, as we all might be if we hallucinated Hugh “I mean dayumn” Dancy doing anything.
Eddie checks a realistically beat-up looking iPhone and learns that Hawk … didn’t come home last night!
Because Hawk fell asleep in the loving arms of Ashley on a blanket at a bonfire party and when he wakes with the dawn and races home he’s confronted by everyone, and I mean like —
Because Sarah called her parents, her brother and his entire family and everyone is there to chastise Hawk for sneaking out and scaring them all. True believer cousin, Joy, outs his relationship with Ashley (damn it, Joy!) and the whole family full body flinches at the news Hawk is dating an ‘IS’ girl, an ‘Ignorant Systemite’, the Meyerist version of a Suppressive Person; non-cult types who may even pose a threat to the Movement.
Sarah and her family (and later Cal) all wig out over the news and Hawk might as well have walked in shooting heroin into his eyes from their reaction. It wonderfully highlights the locked-in thinking patterns these people have because the very idea he mingled with outsiders just crushes them and they start to close ranks. For the first time, we hear mention of another Lane sibling who was ‘lost’ but how they define lost isn’t made clear. We eventually learn Sarah had a rebellious sister, Tessa, who at the same age as Hawk pushed back against the group and is now … absent. They don’t clarify if she’s alive or dead or how any of what happened ever went down, and that has to be intentional. Now I need to dream cast her.
Sarah is so thrown off by Hawk’s behaviour that she takes some time to deeply meditate, confide in Cal (natch) and eventually tells Hawk a curious story about how before one of her visits to Peru she had learned she had been pregnant, but during a scan they found the fetus had no heartbeat. Devastated and waiting to miscarry-presumably refusing medications which might aid her in this — she took her trip to Peru and took her Medicine and … it gets hazy exactly what happened but, Sarah had a profound vision and Silas the Shaman performed some kind of dance or prayer over her and then, she claims, when she got back to the U.S. the fetus suddenly had a heartbeat. And it was Hawk, named for one she saw during her hallucinations. Hey, so, how much ayawaska is too much ayawaska for, you know, a fetus? Is it any? I bet it’s any.
Either way, she uses the story to vow that because she lost Hawk once, she won’t again. It’s exactly as intense as you thought it was.
Hawk sneaks out later to see Ashley, who he is definitely still seeing. That shit gets funnier every time.
Ashley continues to have found a way to save her house from absolutely imminent foreclosure.
Hawk’s simple disobedience reveals that meaner side to Sarah that can turn incredibly scary on a whim. She takes hurtful shots at Eddie’s parents, she hisses her orders and demands about Hawk’s future behaviour and how he’ll engage with the Movement from that point forwards, and is just generally absolutely terrifying. I’m afraid of Sarah more than anyone, of what she’ll do to keep her family and the Movement together.
Hawk also manages to give us a little more insight to Eddie’s position. When alone with Hawk and trying really hard to be a good parent by actually listening to his kid, Eddie is nailed by his son asking the discussion all very religious households must deal with eventually: “I was raised to think These People are bad, but they’re not bad at all, explain now.”
Aaron Paul looks like he’s swallowing his own bile before Eddie spits out the Meyer rhetoric he knows he has to tell their son. But because he’s Eddie, he tempers as best he can.
But Eddie, again, has his own troubles this week. Cal is pushing his 7R training and after the hole, the process involves memorising a code of numbers which will open a door which may or may not be metaphorical. When Eddie is struggling to nail down the pattern he and Cal get into a ‘casual’ conversation about the reasons why Eddie might be distracted and it’s basically a masterclass in The Art of The Thrown Shade
Basically, since neither man can leap and up all “IT’S ALL A LIE!” they use what information they can acknowledge and quietly, smiling and by beautiful firelight, they take each other apart; about Cal losing his temper over Sarah’s interference with the Ridge family and yelling at her, about Hawk’s waywardness. Cal tells Eddie he and Sarah prayed about Hawk, only he says prayed like other people say “fucked.”
Eddie digs in deep about the fact Cal has to shill for money to keep them all going. They smile at each other like sharks might.
Cal’s day only gets worse after that, though. Mr. Ridge, whose son Sarah had spirited off to Peru to take psychotropic drugs to cure his drug problem, is incandescent with rage and he passes that on to Cal, who passes it on to everyone around him.
Mary bears the worst brunt of this, because of course she does. She consummates her relationship with Sean and delightedly tries to tell Cal about it; because remember, he told her to, and so far Mary only does what Cal tells her to do. But Cal is mid tantrum right as she catches him and is so cold and so dismissive and her heart just utterly shatters, it just explodes to pieces. It’s an achingly hard moment to watch.
Later, she sees his talking to and praying with Sarah and like anyone with a set of working senses detects their crackling sexual tension which is enough to drive her to leave. But Sean convinces her to stay with another achingly hard moment in describing his sister’s awful, racially motivated murder in her own high school. He might actually love Mary. She might only love him because Cal told her to. It’s agony. Emma Greenwell and the work she has done with Mary is just outstanding.
But Cal gets his ass karmically handed to him. After thoroughly failing to sway Mr. Ridge and then having to vehemently defend Sarah against the man’s (accurate) accusations she’s a brainwashed follower, Cal gets beaten into a paste by Ridge’s silent HenchGoon. The assault, and it is an assault and it is brutal can only be something Cal will use. This guy?
He just got himself martyred.
In the world outside the cult, Agent Abe Gaines’ baby is both super adorable and tragically stricken by a heart condition. Pushing hard on his “I wanna sign up!” act, Abe confides in Eddie that his daughter is so ill and it makes him feel untethered. In a moment reflecting but reversing his conversation with his own son, Eddie talks Abe down from signing up right away, especially when he’s so confused and troubled.
For those of us who know cults, the confused, troubled periods are basically exactly when you strike. There’s something exquisite and twisted about Eddie having the freedom to keep someone like Abe at a distance, for his own safety, but he has nearly no choice but to drag his own son deeper into it. In an episode that wants us to consider children, and parents, it’s more of that beautiful writing.
No matter, because Abe probably isn’t actually a convert. Despite his very much changed demeanour to the sickening waste of skin that calls itself Mary’s father, despite his realisation it’s important for Mary and people like her, Abe still thinks Meyerism is fucky and after a conversation with Alison leads him to run some backgrounds, he decides there’s evidence the Meyerists are or where trafficking something.
Meyers cancer drugs into Peru? Ayawaska out of Peru? People?
Alison, who was broke three weeks ago but found some pennies to pay for her continued residence in the motel and her steady diet of fast food, reveals more about hubby Jason’s death to Abe. Jason was working on a “secret project” that saw him travelling regularly to and from the Peru-based compound. He died in an apparent suicide after conversations with his wife in which he expressed doubts and promises his days of travelling would soon end. Brilliantly, all the evidence Alison has could be read either way, as signs of suicidal depression or as signs he was killed for something he knew. The only evidence we have something shady went on is Alison’s insistence. And how creepy everything is, all of the time. But if Jason was a true believer it’s not hard to believe he could be pushed to suicide by the truth of Meyer’s illness. Look at what it did to Eddie? And in this show, it would be foreshadowing anyway.
The fifth episode continues clarifying the picture for us and it’s becoming more and more clear who will fall to what side if the worst should happen and the Movement should begin to crumble. Cal and Sarah are at odds over specific details but their shared faith is absolute and their shared attraction is complicating every interaction. Cal, we can never forget is an utterly nightmarish predator with complex sexual issues and a very troubling history with Sarah. Sarah is increasingly vulnerable as her safe, perfect world crumbles around her but she was also so psyched that Hawk “broke up” with his girlfriend and submitted to more Meyerism that she and Eddie had passionate, loving sex right there and then.
I told you.
It got weirder.
But while it seems obvious Eddie is always going to choose Sarah, it’s becoming just as clear Sarah is always going to be #TeamMeyer.
Eddie’s gentle handling of Hawk and Hawk’s continued rebellion seem to throw them together though as yet neither of them knows it. I do hope a future episode gives Eddie the chance to enable his son’s misdeeds, nothing major, but covering for a missed curfew or something. I want these two to know, to be able to confide. I worry about Hawk, otherwise. He’s a good kid.
To me, it seems as if the show is leading us in a very specific direction, towards a breaking point that can’t end well for everyone. Cal is fighting ever harder to contain his moods when they hit him and the more his mask starts to slip the more it throws other followers into crisis. Sarah knows all about his marks and her crisis is the homegrown one. Her perfect world, which has cost her nothing, to her mind, and brought her only happiness, is crumbling. As she leans ever harder on her faith, seems evermore unwilling to cope with a world outside it, she seems on the edge of her own dark pit. And Eddie is finally being confronted by the dichotomy of sticking with the Movement after losing his faith; when his son expresses his own curiosity, Eddie can’t support his exploration of anything beyond, has to toe the party line. But simultaneously, he’s talking vulnerable people out of joining as he can’t bring himself to lead people all the way in. It’s all so fraught. This episode was like watching a heart having to work hard, watching the strain start to show as it builds up to a fatal rupture and it left me speculating on a lot of things.
My first left field conspiracy theory for this show is that Silas will turn out to be Hawk’s father. The “hair” Silas wore in the flashbacks seemed very … Hawk-like, but I don’t know yet how or why it would play in to the plot if it were true. I’ll let you know.
But since the pilot I’ve been wondering what route the show will take and if the long-term goal is to emulate any kind of real-life mass suicide events. The foreshadowing so far is there for a Peoples Temple (Jonestown) situation. No one we’ve seen has any guns or any carries anger towards any one group or the government or anyone specific. Sarah is on edge and seems to want a return to some kind of peace, one way or another, Eddie is faking it, Abe sniffing around and Mary set to go off … things are escalating. And then there’s Cal. Cal is angry at everything.
His followers seem pretty calm, but they are insular, isolated, they’re a largely vulnerable group of people rescued from poverty, abuse, addiction. These are a people conditioned to take “medicine” in order to reach higher levels of consciousness and who believe The Future, an apocalypse of one sort or another, is imminent.
If Abe’s investigations go wrong, if Eddie or Alison sets something in motion, the New York compound will quickly become a tomb.