THE PATH Review: “Spiritus Mundi”

5

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This week’s episode of had some intense, unexpected developments, but was hampered by repetitive story beats and frustrating characterization. Sarah’s character has never been more unsympathetic while Hawk’s mix of blustering rage, self-righteousness and naivete has grown incredibly tiresome. Sarah forces Richard to sign papers declaring himself a denier, kicking him out of the movement for stealing her transgress and giving it to Eddie. Sarah and Cal also try to convince Felicia to publicly support them and return to San Diego, but she refuses to take part in any of their nonsense.

Eddie tells Abe that he can’t tell him how to proceed with his investigation into Sarah, even though Abe basically tells him that if he wants, he’ll destroy her. Abe seems to decide to split the difference. He proceeds in the blackmail case, as we see him observing his superior depose the victims, but he also furtively slips an envelope containing the results of the water test into her car. Eddie forges ahead in his quest to unite the deniers, meeting with a bartender who claims Cal forced him out of the movement due to jealousy, as well as with a woman in a park.

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Sarah spies on this meeting. When Eddie notices, he confront her with the fact that he knows about the blackmail. He warns her that her victims are getting ready to testify against her, telling her she’ll be punished for her actions. Sarah drives home, unaware of Abe’s envelope, when she’s ran off the road by another car. Her car flips over and she’s taken to the hospital. The identity of the other driver is not revealed. The list of who might want to kill Sarah is long. It could be any of the people she’s blackmailed or it could be someone from DeKaan Chemicals, although how they know she has the information that could expose them?

When Sarah wakes up, she tells Cal about her encounter with Eddie. Cal tells Hawk that Eddie threatened Sarah, emphasizing that they don’t have proof but knowing full well that Hawk will freak out. Hawk goes to Eddie’s house. He tells Eddie to leave town. It’s frustrating seeing Hawk treat his father with such contempt, when Eddie’s done nothing wrong and his mother’s a criminal. The fact that Hawk is so convinced he’s right is just annoying, but what’s even more annoying is that Eddie listens to him. He decides to leave town and give up his efforts to reform the movement.

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We’ve seen this dynamic play out before this season, so it felt like the show was spinning its wheels. Eddie has decided to stop his efforts after talking to a member of his family, only to change his mind multiple times before. There’s no dramatic tension left in watching him walk away, because we know it won’t be for good. Richard comes to ask Eddie if he can stay on his couch, but Eddie gives him the keys to the house. For the moment, he’s determined to get out of town. Eddie also tells him that Sarah used the unburdening tapes to blackmail members.

Meanwhile, Mary has been wandering around the forest after fleeing from Sean last week. The stress of her ordeal drives her into labor. She manages to make it to the side of the road by the compound, where a Meyerist finds her and her child. Her white child. This isn’t Sean’s baby. From the sight of the newborn and Cal’s reaction to Mary, Sarah deduces that Cal must be the father. This is the last straw for her, but she realizes that she should have known that Cal wasn’t a good person all along. She had all the proof about his character she needed when she found Silas’s body.

So much has happened this season that I didn’t stop and think about how weird it was that Sarah slept with someone who she knew murdered another person in a fit of rage. Sarah’s made some awful decisions this season that make it extremely hard to root for her. She’s almost worse than Cal. Cal at least knows he’s flawed, perhaps irredeemably so. Sarah goes through life seemingly convinced that she’s a good person, only making bad choices because of the situations she’s forced into. Both her and Hawk’s lack of self-awareness has been frustrating this season.

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Richard, completely broken, bursts into the meeting room where the Meyerists are holding a quasi-baptism ceremony for Mary’s new son. He denounces Cal as a snake and tells the members that Eddie is the true Guardian of the Light. He then locks them in the room and goes to the storage room where the unburdening tapes are kept, dousing both them and himself in gasoline. He’s willing to kill himself to make his point and to ensure that Sarah can’t use the tapes to hurt anyone else. Sarah, the only member not at the ceremony, follows him to the basement, but Richard has locked himself inside and changed the combination.

Eddie, stopped at a gas station, gets a vision that Sarah is in danger. Richard told him that the last rung of the ladder doesn’t require any work, it will just come to him, so maybe he’s now climbed the final rung? Richard yells at Sarah to run before dropping the match, but we’re left in suspense as to whether she’ll get out unharmed. To the commenter from last week: nice call on predicting this season could end with the compound in flames. There’s only one episode left this season and still so much to be resolved.

TB-TV-Grade-B

Season 2, Episode 12 (S02E12)
The Path airs Wednesdays on Hulu

Read all of our reviews of The Path here. 
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Jennifer lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA.
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5 Comments

  1. doctormellow on

    I honestly loved the episode, I thought the fledgling out of the characters was proper. I wouldn’t have expected hawk to act any different, the conviction to sarah, though unrelatable (to most) is understanding, the cause of the car crash still makes no sense, I’m pissed Mary was dumb enough to run out into the woods. And as someone who hated Richard for the majority of the show, he went out with quite a bang. My favorite episode of the series, wish Sarah’s dad had a little more development, but besides that I look forward to the season finale!!!

  2. BrooklynPsych on

    This episode left me feeling very angry and floored. Hawk’s defiance of his father and faith in Cal’s judgement is unsettling. Sarah has just been making bad decisions throughout the season and a big part of me was elated when the Abe proceeded with the blackmail case. Her downfall will be a huge wake up call. Also, Richard’s decision to burn the unburdening tapes was reasonable but I feel that his character would’ve been a big asset to Eddie in the future.

  3. I’m sorry I was even partly right. I loved Richard — a lot of that had to do with Clark Middleton’s nuanced portrayal — and as BrooklynPsych says, he would have been a big asset to Eddie as the outcast devotees gather around him. Since in the preview it looks like Felicia survived, I hope she’s plotting to stick with Eddie. Richard said 9R just happens with no study or preparation, but we don’t know if 10R is like that; he will also need her to fill him in on background information.
    Middleton gave a Twitter interview yesterday on @ThePathOnHulu talking about what went into his portrayal of Richard and entertaining speculation about whether we’ll see him again.
    The preview for next week looks like the entire community isn’t actually destroyed. That’s good. I’ve loved the way Jessica Goldberg made decisions to stay away from the “cult” stereotypes and after what happened to the Branch Davidian 7th Day Adventists the idea of a perceived cult community going up in flames is just what everyone expects.
    Speaking of guesses — I wonder if Russell ran his sister off the road. “Law and order”, dude.

  4. Loved the homage to Breaking Bad in Ep 12 When Eddie is filling his car at the petrol station. He removes the hose and the petrol keeps flowing reminiscent of Walter White’s explanation as to why there were petrol fumes in the house after Jesse had poured petrol in the lounge room. That it synched with poor Richard’s immolation scene was amazing! Tragic Comedy at its best!

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