Because it can not go unmentioned; in an already heavy year, this weekend was a hard one. We lost a powerful voice in writing, tragically and suddenly. Chez Pazienza was acerbic, funny, intimidatingly smart and for me, like many, was a guiding light through the tumultuous election and these first eight weeks of fear and uncertainty. Writers like Chez, like Cindy, are who inspired me to write. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, as well as others who are feeling his loss more personally, but his loss is like a gut punch. I will miss him. Rest in peace, Chez.
Then, we learned we lost the great Bill Paxton, just as suddenly. An actor with far fewer accolades awards than seems right or fair, a man of character and heart who left a legacy of memorable characters, but most of all, kindness.
Maybe somewhere else right now, they’re sharing a beer and laughing over that madness at the Academy Awards.
But, on to The Light…
Sarah hot boxes to purify herself, but exactly when and how this happens in relation to the episode is curiously unclear. And by hot boxes, I mean that is what she does. There’s a pipe full of (probably) weed and a hot, sauna-like room. She’s nude, covered in oils, laid on with crystals, while around her someone smudges to cleanse the air. Sarah wants to be pure, she murmurs over and over again. Pure.
At home, Hawk is WOKE and approaches her to declare he’s leaving to live in the city Meyer building, and pursue his rungs there. He is still all worked up over the water thing and on the one hand, his dedication to doing good is admirable, but on the other, he’s ignoring the fact he was facing terrorism charges because Libby is a stone cold bitch.
Sarah does not point this out, just that he can do just as much good from the safety of the compound (which, no), but he’s quite right in thinking his sheltered, comfortable life has left him clueless to real suffering. He parrots both Cal’s and more recently, Sarah’s own claims that the book is old and outdated and changes need to be made.
He leaves her devastated. He could at least be less of a little asshole to his mother, but okay.
Eddie is going with Chloe to a barbecue, with some of her friends. She has taught him enough about The Bachelorette to hold conversation and avoid any awkward questions, and he’s saved any difficulty when he gets a text from Sarah and makes excuses to leave.
Cal is opening the ‘past due’ notice from the IRS about that $250,000 they owe and I wish someone would be like ‘Could we lease part of the building in some way to start paying it back?’.
Also, would that letter go to him? Surely, the compound is their main base?
Hawk enters to announce his plans; Cal is, for once, actually the good guy here, and basically makes noises like it will only be okay with him if it is with Sarah.
Aaw Cal, a human side! Don’t worry, it doesn’t last long.
Sarah, though? She’s hooking up with Eddie at his place … adorably, because they are the cutest couple.
And, her absence is noted later during a security meeting at the compound. After Hank defends Eddie to some complaining Meyerists, Abe announces that all Meyerists will now require ID to get on and off the Compound. This is cause for concern for everyone ,and I wonder if this is the first step towards Jonestown territory. The compound just became … well, way more of a compound, didn’t it?
Kodiak vexes to Richard that human rights are always taken away under the guise of ‘security’, which, topical as heck, show. Topical as heck.
Nicole chases Cal to snit about Sarah’s absence, drop gossip about her seeing Eddie and while she’s there demand her husband Russell (who she is literally seconds away from cheating on at any given time) get some respect and dues for his ironclad dedication to the movement.
Holy shit, is Nicole the ‘Manson girl’ I should be the most worried about?
Cal agrees with her and promises to do something about it.
Noa finds Hawk at the city compound, and he makes himself look a bit silly trying to educate her about black civil rights authors. He apologises when she calls him out, but then takes it back and refuses to apologise for caring. Bro, she wasn’t mad because you care; she was a little peeved you acted as if she, the socially woke black girl, doesn’t know this shit. But, she accepts his sincerity and tells her to come and find him later.
I often forget Kyle Allen is not, in fact, a real life teenager. He is just a great performer.
At Eddie’s, he and Sarah flirt, make love, are generally the adorable wonderful couple they could be. Later when she leaves, with Eddie chasing her for more kisses which she gladly returns, we see Cal is watching.
He bursts into the city compound and just when I think he’s going to go and take out his sexual frustrations on poor Mary, like he used to, he actually tells Hawk that not only can he stay, but Cal will personally lead him to 2R, making Hawk the youngest Meyer to ever do it.
Cal, you absolute shit. That’s a child you’re using in your weird, twisted plots against his parents. You absolute, total shit.
Eddie is at group, struggling with missing Meyerism and his guilt over this while he’s with Chloe. He’s reminded that cults don’t allow private thoughts, so its okay for him to be having them now.
In a session with Mary, using one of their funny little E Meters (is … is that good for the baby?), Sarah encourages her to talk to her unborn child. Mary promises to be there for the baby, to never let it have a childhood like hers. Remember, Mary suffered horrific sexual abuse at the hands of her father and whoever he could sell her to. Poor, poor Mary.
Given the curious tone this episode takes, I don’t know if she can keep that promise — which is gutting. Sarah is moved by this, and they end their session. Sarah gently chides Mary for being late, but Mary is in full Lady Macbeth mode and says it must be nice not being able to mess up or make mistakes. Sarah senses and points out the anger, and suggests Mary get someone new to counsel her if she has these feelings. Mary suggests Cal, and subtly brags about the favour he shows, the new fridge he got for them, his all-around super awesomeness, and the women have a mini stare-down, and FINALLY these two are butting heads.
When Hank and Lily try to leave the compound, they forget their IDs, and Hank throws an absolute fit over the fact he no longer has the rights and freedom to come and go from a place he literally built with his own bare hands.
Richard and Kodiak are in the archives arguing over whether to tell everyone their concerns about Cal, but Richard isn’t ready to accuse the man of murder. Kodiak invokes the Rungs as all the reasons why Cal is wrong; IDs and the city centre are not what the movement was about. He says Steve was looking for a way out and ‘the boy’, Cal, held it over him since childhood.
Held … what?? Kodiak declares it’s no longer about the movement; rather, about him living with himself for the next thirty years (what a specific amount of time). He declares he will be the one to do it, like before.
Which is when Richard freaks out enough to run away, leaving Kodiak locked inside the rooms.
What in the hell was that all about?! I need to know like, yesterday.
Eddie joins Chloe in buying a dress for a wedding she wants him to attend with her, but he sours the mood when he fesses up about missing his family and friends. She’s sweetly okay with the fact he’s been seeing Sarah, though he still snits at Chloe and she storms off, and goddamn it, Eddie!
Cal has Hawk scrubbing floors while he drills him on The Rungs. Sarah, who has been trying and failing to speak with Cal for days, arrives and is actually really supportive of Hawk; he’s sixteen so he dorks off.
She and Cal go to get tea and catch up about Hawk, mostly to throw quiet shade at each other, Sarah about Mary, and Cal about Eddie. They each finish the scene sipping some tea, ahehehehe.
When Sarah leaves she’s worked up, and so texts Eddie, grinning like a girl who just got a wink from Bae when he texts back.
After their lovemaking, he wants to know what ‘this’ is that they keep doing and she admits she’s confused, but then mentions Hawk living in the city. Eddie us not happy and calls it her fault (Eddie … if you knew what she was letting your boy hang out with …)
Eddie finally comes clean about being in Peru and being struck by lightning (though not about whether he pushed or saw Steve fall from a cliff), and Sarah is stunned. Eddie explains his ‘visions’ of a dying Steve and his need to know, hence his trip, and Sarah drops the bomb that some of them knew as well, but only after Steve died.
Eddie seizes on this and points out how surely, then, she gets it. Steve wasn’t some immortal light being, he was a man, who died of cancer. But Sarah, in the way of all religious devotees in all of history, has already rationalised that no, because Steve still did ascend into The Light, even with cancer, it’s even more of a miracle.
Ooooh my god she gives me migraines. But of course, she says, ‘If Eddie knows something different’?
He demurs and they leave, angry at each other.
God damn it, Eddie.
Cal is preaching to a room full of Meyerists and in recognition of (Nicole’s scheming) all their hard work, he calls out Russell and Hawk as dedicated members worthy of praise. Russell in particular is offered, and eagerly accepts the offer to ascend to 8R, like Cal and like Sarah and he’s so happy. Poor, dumb Russell.
You really are an asshole, Cal.
At a Meyer barbeque, Sarah tries to congratulate and show pride and support for Hawk, but he’s a teenager so he dips out. Ugh, HAWK.
There’s a neat, creepy shot of Meyer kids playing amongst the gravestones of what, don’t forget, used to be an old church. They seem oblivious that their carefree games are taking place six feet above skeletons.
Cal creepily approaches Mary (just assume everything he does as the season goes on is creepy), and basically threatens her to keep Sarah out of their business, or lose whatever leverage she has or thinks she has over Cal. Mary looks furious, and I think Sarah’s about to find her brakes cut or something, because daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.
Abe slips away from the meeting and later, in a move I loved, we see him delivering a jar of water to an FBI lab and asking for it to be tested for toxins. So, Abe is trying to bring down Meyerism, but will also do right by the townspeople? As if I could love him any more …. just stay away from Nicole, Abe, she is dangerous.
Hank also slips away for a walk in the city, and his wife asks Richard where Kodiak is. We see an exhausted, trapped Kodiak flashing back to an unburdening session with Steve. Steve encourages Kodiak to forgive himself, so that Steve can also forgive himself for ‘What I did to …’ and then what he says is a little lost to Kodiak’s whimpers of distress.
I’ve wondered before if Steve was predatory, perhaps towards young Cal who as an adult seems so sexually repressed and confused, but it’s hard to be sure. Kodiak mentions having murdered people, and wishing they’d kill him too if they came back. Before we can clarify what this means — age-wise he could maybe be a Vietnam vet — their session is interrupted by a little baby Cal, who has been listening in for a while, though it’s not clear how much he heard.
Either Cal knows something terrible Steve did … or Steve did something terrible to Cal. Fuck.
Hank is walking around the city, slips pointedly into a wedding dress store where he finds … Tessa, the outcast daughter they’re not allowed to see. Oh my word. So this was what that argument last week was all about. Goddamn, Sarah’s mother is stone fucking cold.
Tessa worries something is wrong, but Hank just wants to see her. They share a cigarette in a room full of glorious, thousand-dollar wedding dresses; what is the matter with you two?! And, he vexes about everything being messed up since Steve ‘left’. They always say ‘left’, never ‘died’.
Tessa shrugs that it was always messed up. He could just never see it. He doesn’t argue. I’m starting to think Hank stopped believing long ago and just wants to preserve the life and culture — he’s done what Eddie couldn’t — just … bite the bullet and press on.
At the city compound, Hawk anxiously regards his own reflection and Noa gently teases him, but backs off when he asks her to cut his hair. He reassures he its something he wants to do anyway, not because she poked at his ego. Kyle Allen is absolutely not wearing a wig, so, this is a huge deal. While I pour one out for his glorious mane, Noa sits and carefully starts to cut. Hawk/Kyle (because it is, really) vacillates between tears and giddy excitement as the hair comes off, but the haircut is interrupted when they start making out.
Their children will be beautiful. With amazing hair.
Sarah is having an unburdening session with Richard, who is surprisingly calm considering he secretly has Kodiak locked in a room just a few doors down. Sarah confesses about Eddie and Richard talks her through a visualisation of she and Eddie, encouraging her to let Eddie walk away from her and let him go. She talks through it, and when she mentions the lightning scar he got in Peru, it’s all Richard can do not to completely freak out.
He races to free Kodiak and is pounced on from above by the man, who I am now convinced is a very, very damaged Vietnam vet. Kodiak gets poor Richard in a headlock but the little man squeaks that ‘Eddie is the one, Eddie killed Steve’!
But for once, we get to end on a nice note; Eddie has gone to the wedding with Chloe, on a New York rooftop just as the sun sets. She’s delighted he’s there, resplendent in a deep purple dress, and later they dance and he lets her ask him what he’s missing so badly about Meyerism. His kids, obviously; the people; the open receptiveness — but he gets that from her, which he loves about her.
Ooooh shit, the L word? He drops it so casually it might just be a habit, but her eyes widen and she hugs him tight. One of the grooms calls her up to sing like she’s promised, and she sheepishly takes the stage and begins a beautiful rendition of Your Song by Elton John. On the line ‘My gift is my song/and this one’s for you’, she and Eddie lock eyes.
Oh, this is going to hurt.
So, we had some interesting power moves this week. Nicole has made a run for the Lady Macbeth title, and poor Russell has no idea what she’s pushing him into. But then, neither does she. Cal moving to bring Hawk into his inner circle is creepy and wrong, and Sarah’s ongoing complacency with it is getting frustrating. It’s one thing to keep his murderous secret; it’s another to let him get close to your son, Sarah. Come on, girl.
That said, I’m not entirely convinced she’s all … there. She’s always been fragile, and she tends to shatter when her reality is challenged. She’s not making rational decisions, even in her visits with Eddie, but it’s hard to blame her when she seems on the verge of a mental breakdown.