It’s hard to see how this season of THE PATH could end well for Sarah. This episode opens with her blackmailing a slew of members, playing them their unburdening tapes, often in public places via headphones, which is quite a bold move. She’s not exactly being subtle about what she’s doing. Now that the back taxes are paid on the compound, the government has very little leverage against the Meyerists, so they order Abe to find out how they were able to pay off such a large fine so suddenly. Abe visits the members who paid, under the guise of thanking them for their donations, quickly learning the truth.
Even though Sarah’s bold with her actions, she doesn’t feel great about them. The guilt about what she did consumes her and she can barely stand to hear her family members praise her for saving the movement. She also realizes that paying off the back taxes is a temporary fix. They’ll need more sources of revenue soon, so she gets Meyerism as spot at the World Faith Conference, hoping to getting into the business of corporate events and leadership training. She needs Cal to come with her, but after last week, Cal is seriously questioning his faith and place in the movement.
I’ve never been fully invested in Mary and Sean’s subplot, but hopefully it’s leading to something. Last week, Sean’s mother hired a cult specialist to help Sean and Mary leave the movement. Mary’s still somehow a believer, even though she knows better than anyone how flawed and corrupt the leadership is, so Sean’s mother tricks her into talking to the specialist by throwing her a baby shower. At the shower, the specialist gives her The Wizard of Oz to read, implicitly linking the fraudulent wizard to the Meyerism leadership. The thing is, if Cal preying on her sexually can’t convince her that the movement isn’t as pure as it’s cracked up to be, can anything?
It seems like the endgame for this season will indeed be Eddie forming some sort of splinter movement or taking over leadership of Meyerism. Richard tells Felicia what happened in Peru and that he suspects that Eddie is Steve’s true successor. Felicia is a bit skeptical, but she encourages Eddie to do 8R, as climbing the ladder is the only way he’ll be able to take over the movement. He begins the work, experiencing a vision of faceless people descending from a bus. He interprets this to mean that Meyerism needs to get rid of the rule stating that all deniers must be shunned.
Both Felicia and Richard have reservations about this, as they see it as cutting off people who are toxic towards their growth. Plus, Eddie has a personal reason for wanting the rule gone, as it’s affected him personally. But Eddie counters with the argument that cutting people you love off simply because they don’t believe the exact same thing as you leads to losing the ability to love at all. Eddie visits Tessa, Sarah’s sister who left the movement, but their meeting ends with Tessa storming out. Eddie wants to reunite broken families, while Tessa believes that some people can’t change.
One interesting development that comes out of their meeting is that Eddie runs into Ashley, Hawk’s girlfriend from last season. Hawk and Ashley’s relationship was one of the strengths of last season, as the writers accurately portrayed the immensity of young love without resorting to cliche or sentimentality. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been so harsh on Hawk’s subplot this season. It lacks the same specificity. Hawk and Noa are slowly growing more serious. He takes her home for dinner and attends the World Faith Conference with her, but when he gets off the bus, Ashley is waiting for him.
At the World Faith Conference, Sarah can’t find Cal before their presentation. He’s in the courtyard, as he doesn’t think he can do it. He doesn’t have conviction left to articulate. Sarah admits to him that she blackmailed the members into donating and the two bond in their shared disillusionment. They give the speech together. Cal’s particularly convincing when he talks about the power of love, but he’s not thinking about Meyerism. He’s thinking about Sarah. The episode ends with the two of them hooking up at the hotel, which was a long time coming, but was more sad than romantic. These are two broken people finding solace in each other.
They’re not the only couple to hook up. Nicole, annoyed with Russell, hooks up with Abe. She realizes that she’s devoted her entire life to his needs, his family, his religion. Her own family disowned her when she left their church. She also gives Abe the last piece of information he’ll need to nail Sarah. She tells him that the unburdening tapes are kept in the archive room. When he goes there, he finds the tape of one of the men Sarah blackmailed. There’s still four episodes left this season, but it seems like Abe has all he needs to arrest Sarah tomorrow. It will take a miracle for her to avoid prosecution, but miracles have happened in this show before.
Season 2, Episode 9 (S02E09)
The Path streams on Wednesdays on Hulu
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor