This week’s THE PATH furthered the idea that Eddie might be the true Guardian of the Light, while pushing Sarah into darker places. Both their storylines were intense this episode, but Cal’s floundered. Cal used to be the most compelling character in the show, as his benevolent exterior belayed an intense and dangerous interior, but this episode, he comes across as lost and vulnerable. Cal journeys to Los Angeles to try to get money out of Noa’s mom, record label executive Jackie, quickly becoming disillusioned by the emptiness of the people he finds there.
He meets Jackie at a hip hotel, acting like their run-in was spontaneous. She’s not interested in hearing about Noa’s progress, as she has problems of her own. Her popstar client Luna is set to begin a sold-out world tour the next day, but she’s disappeared to spend time at the beach. Jackie tells Cal that she’ll give him part of her cut, $50,000, if he’s able to convince her to go on the tour. The two of them head to Luna’s beach house, which he describes as “someone’s idea of oblivion” to Sarah—the type of line that probably looks great on paper, but was cringe-worthy in its faux-profoundness when spoken out loud.
Luna’s high on cocaine, which Cal doesn’t turn down when offered. When Cal and Jackie are finally able to get her away from the other partygoers, Cal launches into his prepared speech about his movement. He seems to think that if he can convince her that there’s a way for her to feel less empty inside, she’ll decide to follow through with her responsibilities and go on tour? The speech is ridiculous and does nothing to convince Jackie or Luna. Jackie tells Luna that he’s from a cult and tells Cal that no one will believe his message if he himself doesn’t really believe it.
It’s true that Cal didn’t seem completely authentic in his message. He felt rehearsed and desperate. He blows up at Jackie and Luna, leaving Los Angeles without any money or any leads on how to get more. Cal’s also dealing with personal issues this week. His mother, the alcoholic Brenda we met in season one, is dying of liver failure and claims to have a message for him, but Cal won’t return to New York to hear it. That leaves Sarah to visit her in hospice and the message she has to deliver is a bombshell. Brenda wanted to apologize for not intervening while Steve molested Cal as a child.
This reveal was set up in a previous episode, where we see a young Cal walk into a session with Kodiak and Steve. It’s damning stuff that puts the whole Meyerist movement under a dark cloud, but it’s not the most original direction the show could have chosen. The idea that men who preach their faith the loudest are the ones who are probably doing the most sinful things in private is one that has been explored many times before. Sarah of course refuses to believe the accusations and doesn’t ask Cal about them, instead lying and saying that Brenda simply wanted to apologize for being a bad mother.
Sarah’s character takes a dark turn this episode, which opens with her listening to member’s recorded confessions. Hawk discovers that the movement is in serious debt and in danger of losing the compound after doing some snooping through Cal’s desk, tipped off that something might be wrong by the fact that the company delivering the new flooring for the City Center claims the last check they received bounced. He angrily confronts Sarah, telling her that he’s taken on a leadership role at the City Center and he prides himself on his honesty.
It’s probably a mix of devotion to her son and devotion to the movement that causes Sarah to take her next step. She tells Cal that she’ll take care of getting the money and proceeds to blackmail a member whose recorded confession had him admitting to cheating on his wife without her knowledge. It’s just the thing that Abe, who’s not involved this episode, is looking for and it legitimately makes the movement predatory and dangerous. Season one Sarah would have never done this, but Cal’s actions have pushed her to this place from which she can’t return.
Sarah and Cal are both compromised. Cal’s a murderer and Sarah’s a blackmailer. But the movement might have a new savior in Eddie. Kodiak and Richard kidnapped him last episode. This week, they tie him to a chair, knock him around, then dose him with drugs to get him to reveal what really happened in Steve’s final moments. They go a bit overboard with the dosage and Eddie technically dies for a bit, entering a hallucination where Steve tells him that he can build the garden and he gets closure with his brother Johnny. We see Eddie physically enter the light before this hallucination, making it clear that he’s special in the movement.
Kodiak and Richard inject him with adrenaline to restart his heart. When he comes to, he tells them what really happened. He tried to save Steve from going over the cliff, but the storm was too intense. He let go and Steve plunged to his death, but Steve was dying of cancer anyways. Kodiak doesn’t seem to know what to do with this revelation that Steve wasn’t ascending to some higher plane of existence, but Richard determines that Eddie’s hallucination combined with his scar point towards the fact that he’s the true new leader of the movement.
Eddie doesn’t seem to want to hear this, but I could see this season ending with Eddie starting his own splinter movement, taking away the true believers and leaving Cal to deal with the mess he’s made. But what will happen to Sarah? It seems unlikely that Eddie will abandon her, but she’s committed a clearly illegal act. There’s also still the issue of the tainted water, which was set up as a big subplot this season, but hasn’t really took off. With only a few more episodes left this season, it will be interesting to see how everything comes together.
Season 2, Episode 8 (S02E08)
The Path airs Wednesdays on Hulu
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor