If Cal when he first turned up in the pilot episode was a caterpillar, a charismatic, handsome, likable, terrifying and soulless caterpillar, then murdering and burying Silas the Shaman was his cocooning, his pupation. What emerges this week is the moth. The depths of Cal’s manipulation and his obsession are laid absolutely bare this week.
But we’ll get to that.
Abe continues to have the very worst time of all times but for once, just once, he might finally get a break.
The show’s very strange approach to time rears its ugly head for a brief second when Abe tries to make amends with his boss and begs to be kept on the Meyerist case, what might be a week after his outburst over dinner.
He reminds the boss that if the IRS get involved with the Movement, the case will sit and wallow and stagnate for years. He’s clueless that an oblivious Cal might be about to wander right into the IRS net so his point stands.
But bossman, showing astounding restraint to be very fair, ‘suggests’ that since little Lucy Gaines has her heart surgery in a few scant weeks (I guess we’ve leapt forwards significantly from trying the medication), Abe will take a vacation to be with her and his family. Abe would rather not but he’s not really offered much in the way of a choice, at all. It’s a vacation or he’s suspended.
Abe has enough common sense to take his leave but he’s not happy and he winds up in a bar drowning his sorrows, just in time to get a follow up call from Eddie. In his job as a Meyerist Eddie is chasing the new recruits who have fallen away. Abe is all done with the bullshit though and tells Eddie bluntly that his daughter is sick and he might be about to lose his job. Eddie is sorry but Abe is on one now and he rails that he’s the perfect recruit, right? Vulnerable and needy, he’s putty in their hands. He invites them to fuck all the way off and never call again and he is quietly shocked when Eddie (who is having his own Day) agrees to leave him alone. More to the point, Eddie agrees ‘forget the Light’ and just reminds him to be strong and believe his daughter will be okay. Eddie, subtly, in the best way he can, kind of lets Abe see the truth of his own beliefs. Abe’s response, stunned silence and a muttered goodbye, fills my entire heart with hope that maybe, just maybe, these two might sniff each other out and join forces. We don’t have much time left.
But just as Abe really does seem like he’s accepted the case isn’t his any more, something…sort of crazy happens. His FBI buddy drops off the ME report on Jason, Alison’s dead husband she believes was murdered by the Movement. The coroner’s report doesn’t shed any more light on Jason’s exact cause of death, and if anyone, Jason or anyone else, intended it to happen.
But it does reveal one very, very strange detail; burns. On his hands.
Like the ones Felicia got from the glowing Ladder which Steve ascended on that same mountain, thirty years ago.
Mary has a moment of clarity and comes clean to Sean about her drug use and desire to go clean. She reassures him detox wont be too bad, she’s come off worse before and besides she hasn’t been using that long. (But how long though, show? Cos the time…)
She cannot physically make herself throw the tabs away so Sean does it for her, and to me that’s a huge deal and a huge problem too. It’s a wonderful sweet gesture from him but she didn’t do it herself, she didn’t take the decision. She handed him the drugs, sure, but she wasn’t the one who decided she didn’t get them back. She let someone else make the choice for her, because Mary thinks Mary is safer when people make choices for her.
But Mary’s own choices, like the one to seduce Betsy so she could steal drugs, are coming back to bite her in the ass. Betsy is openly bitter and after a few days of shade and snide looks, Sean finally has enough and confronts the other Meyerist. Betsy demands ‘Ask her!’ of Mary because these people are in fucking middle school but Sean demands Betsy speak up.
Mistake, because she outs Mary’s seduction and drug theft…for about five seconds before Mary springs like a wild cat and beats her ass like the actual red-headed stepchild.
Russell (ugh) flops over and ‘hey guys, uncools’ until Sean somewhat more effectively drags the screaming Mary away. Later in Cal’s office everyone admits the Truth but we’ve learned very well now that the Truth on the compound is just as malleable and changeable as it is amongst the Ignorant Systemites. At least we embrace the fact we lie a bunch.
Mary admits her loneliness and seduction, so there’s that. But no one quite admits about the drugs and Mary certainly doesn’t admit any of it happened because of Cal’s fucking weird psycho sexual abuse and head games and Cal doesn’t admit he sent Sean away because of his strange seething jealousy and then brought him back to try and atone for that murder he did.
But what Cal does do is suggest everything will just somehow be perfect and better if Sean and Mary get married.
And because poor, dear, broken, broken, broken Mary hears it from Cal…she turns to Sean and asks him.
I had to walk away from the episode for a moment there. I had to. Mary will kill someone if Cal asks.
Mary will kill herself if Cal asks.
I want to take her somewhere with puppies and kittens and let her be that little kid she never had the chance of being.
In equally wretched and gutting storylines, Alison finally gets to meet Sarah, who has gone basically dead inside. Alison sets the record straight. There’s no affair and never was, but Eddie has lost his faith.
Sarah takes this like she’s been slapped and Alison suggest getting over ones self as a coping mechanism, which…yes and no and we’ll discuss why in a moment.
Alison only gives this up in exchange for a journal Sarah retrieved from Jason’s file, a journal Alison never saw, the cops never saw.
Whatever it says, it breaks her.
She fills her pockets with rocks and walks out over a newly frozen lake and waits for the ice to break and just right about when I was about to flip my desk because fuck this show if she kills herself now…who walks up to the gate of the compound but a cold and tiny and very lonely Alison. And she asks to be let in.
And that leaves us with Cal and the Lanes.
Whoo boy, here we go:
By the time Eddie and Hawk, adorably comfortable with each other and past all that father/son angst come home from The Walk, decisions have been made. Eddie appears to be sticking to what we’ve seen develop over a few episodes, to stay with the Movement so long as it means staying with his family and helping people. Hawk has made the more final decision to leave the Movement so he can be with Ashley.
Which the adult in me just shrieks at because Hawk you are fifteen years old but the rational human in me is okay with because Meyerism is not good for Hawk, so I want him to leave.
But…maybe not over a high school romance. That’s just me.
In the same time period, Cal has flown back over to Peru to visit with Steve — don’t worry, absolutely no one is even a tiny bit worried about Silas — and while we don’t see every frame of his visit, something must happen.
Cal is newly emboldened and returns to the US and hooks up with Mr Ridge (remember him? The show finally did!) in a weird little avant garde Moulin Rouge inspired brothel/strip club of the kind that literally only exists on TV. Ridge happily reports druggie son Freddie is a ‘new person’, enrolled in art school and actually functioning and hang on…how long has it been since he went to Peru? Ridge assumes Cal wants money but Cal corrects him that money is pouring in from the public. What Cal wants is expansion. Business investments, overseas properties, off shore bank accounts, the works. He asserts himself as the most important dude Ridge needs to speak with. He even wears a suit like he’s doing it a favour and Ridge buys the whole damn pitch.
But what Cal doesn’t realise is that if Abe and the FBI had little on them before…they might get something quite soon.
Cal is on a roll though, and tells Sarah the final Rungs are finished, and that Steven wants Sarah to join Cal in a leadership role in taking The Movement forwards.
Then, since he thinks he has her on the hook, Cal also asserts himself all the way into the Lane household.
See, Sarah confronts Eddie over his lies and his doubts and for all her outrage and anger over the imaginary affair she is so very cold over this. She is not unemotional. She’s at her most distraught when the Movement and her families place within it, is threatened, and this is her every fear compounded. Her husband doubts. Her son is leaving.
Michelle Monaghan makes an awards run in this episode. Sarah is at times nearly body weak with emotion, shaky and weepy and barely able to function or even stand up right. But when she’s not that, she’s so, so very cold and she is a nightmare. She is no World Mother in this episode, not at all, but the most frightening part is, I think she thinks she is.
When Eddie admits he never told her for fear he’d be locked in a room and reprogrammed she unflinchingly tells him it would have helped.
Eddie’s attempts to reason with her, in their spectacular confrontation, fall on deaf ears because what Eddie doesn’t understand, can’t understand because he was born outside it, is that for Sarah, for her parents at whom he throws this question; there is no room for doubt.
For them, grass is green, water is wet, the Movement is life. She cannot accept his doubt, rejects it more than the idea he had an affair, because for her, an affair is a weakness of mind or body or what ever. It’s a foible.
But doubt? Doubt? As she tells her husband, what he is calling ‘fucking fairy tales’ is every single shred and thread of her entire soul. Every moment of peace and happiness she has ever felt, every experience good or bad…was filtered through The Movement.
Eddie doesn’t have that. Eddie remembers the world outside, Eddie lived there. He hasn’t realised that he and Sarah will never, ever understand each other over this. For him, it’s like not believing in God but for her, it’s like not believing in reality.
This exchange sums it all up;
Eddie: ‘We’re all that matters.’
Sarah: ‘We’re a part of something that matters, and we matter because we are a part of it.’
Which, if you read book about cults, like I do, is called depersonalisation — it’s when a cult removes your sense of self, your ‘me’ and makes you feel you’re part of something bigger.
Sarah has no concept of herself as separate from Meyerism the way Eddie does, no concept that there might be more beyond it.
When her world is challenged, Sarah closes ranks so when Hawk picks the worst moment to reveal his decision to leave, Sarah doesn’t even hesitate to tell him he’ll never, ever see his entire family, ever again.
The next day Hawk is out the door and Sarah doesn’t even say goodbye. She brusquely takes her own leave for the day, taking Summer with her and there’s one shot of Eddie staring sadly at sweet, clueless little Summer as they leave and I honestly thought the child would be dead before the episode closed.
She’s not, she survives this week. But mark me, long term, that child is, though, super doomed.
But because between them Sarah and Cal are just monstrous and because Cal’s slow, careful seduction of Sarah is working, she recruits him to save Hawk and he in turn leans so very hard on Ashley.
Ashley has been living in a car with her mother(what happened to the homeless shelter?) while the little brother stays with a friend-so much for the IR’s who abandoned the family. She’s so happy to see Hawk and while taken aback she’s delighted to learn he left the Movement for her.
But Cal…fucking Cal. If Mary would kill for Cal, Cal would set this world on fire for Sarah. Cal takes Ashley to a beautiful, empty Meyerist house. The owner is supposedly working away in California but the abundance of signs of life in the home suggest that decision was made for said resident about four seconds before Cal arrived.
The home is lovely and will be free for 18 months and Ashley can even take down and hide all the Meyerist stuff so her mother never has to know.
All Ashley has to do is ‘think’ about her relationship with Hawk. Cal channels his inner Salesman/Preacher/Prophet and picks apart Ashley’s situation and throws it back at her. He knows she’s close to her family so he tells her how Hawk will lose his entire family, for ever, if he leaves.
Ashley…Ashley loves her family.
So Hawk gets the shaft. And confused, distraught, he returns home and he tells Eddie what Ashley said and what Ashley said is Cal Rhetoric 101. It is Sarah and Cal’s words pouring out of Hawk’s mouth and Eddie is apoplectic. He arrives at the Upper Rungs meeting just in time for Cal to announce the Rungs are finished and Steve is going to visit soon (…how?) but juuuust as everyones getting excited, Eddie starts cracking skulls.
By the episode’s end I was about ready for a nap. An emotional roller coaster that left everything before in the dust, the ninth episode dug deep and finally gave us a few vital confrontations. Sarah and Eddie are fast becoming something more like enemies than the passionate lovers we’ve grown to know. Eddie wants nothing more than to be with Sarah and his family, but for Sarah, that world can only exist if everyone is on the same page.
With the scales of the Movement fallen from his eyes, Eddie is starting to see that for all the good the Meyerists do in the world the darkness that lies beneath it just too much. And not the obviously shady things, like hunting Alison, or haranguing people to join or being so coldly dismissive of outsiders who don’t believe, or even the actual real murders.
Sarah, a warm and caring and loving mother and wife, a woman who shines with her kindness, who just a few episodes ago was so strongly tied to her family that she campaigned to keep the Honduran families safe and won…that same woman is ready to turn her fifteen year old out on to the streets, mid winter, because he doesn’t believe the bedtime stories she used to tell him.
Eddie is learning the darkest thing Meyerism does is to the people who follow it.