THE PATH has always been deliberate in its storytelling, but this episode felt especially slow. The main conflicts of the season are beginning to crystalize, but since we were introduced to all of them last week, this episode in a way felt like a retread. To recap, the main conflicts are Eddie’s struggle to remain connected with his kids while denouncing Meyerism, Hawk’s growing obsession with the movement, Abe’s commitment to his undercover work at the expense of his family, Sarah and Cal’s conflict over his misuse of funds, the movement’s decision to help the citizens of Clarksville in their fight against the corporation poisoning their water, Mary not knowing who the father of her baby is, and the older generation of Meyerist’s doubts that Steve wrote the last three rungs of the ladder before he went into the light.
It sounds like a lot, but very little movement is made on any of these conflicts. The most interesting one is Eddie’s dilemma. He wants to be involved in his children’s lives, but Hawk’s decision to fully commit himself to Meyerism means that he doesn’t want to associate with a denier. Hawk tells Eddie that he floated while on retreat—yes, he literally floated two feet in the air at the end of last episode—which Eddie dismisses as merely a thought rather than a physical thing that happened. It’s the last straw for Hawk, who runs back to the City Center and straight into Cal’s arms, who’s more than happy to help Sarah’s son work through his rage issues. It’s probably not the best idea to take anger management advice from a man who murdered someone in a fit of rage, so Hawk’s on dangerous ground.
Eddie confronts Hawk at the City Center, which of course doesn’t go well. Cal sends him away, which only makes Eddie angrier. Sarah’s upset too, as Eddie showing up at the City Center means that other members of the movement could figure out that she’s been letting the kids see him, something a leader shouldn’t do. Eddie goes out with Chloe, his high school classmate from last week, for a fun night at a casino, but Eddie can’t shake his feelings of paranoia. A man has been following him all day and Eddie thinks the Meyerists sent him. Chloe insists it’s in his head, but Eddie confronts the man, punching him. Turns out Eddie’s right, which is incredibly dangerous, as we saw how the Meyerists murdered Allison’s husband and went after her last season, all because they wanted to leave the movement. Eddie is rushed to the hospital, apparently for an adverse reaction to all the alcohol he’s drank, but could it be poison?
Earlier in the episode, police showed up at the compound, as surveillance footage captured Hawk throwing a rock through the rich owner of the corporation poisoning the water’s window. The woman doesn’t want to press charges, she just wants an in-person apology, so Sarah and Hawk drive to her house. The woman, Libby, is all smiles on the surface, but she really wanted them to come over because she’s blackmailing them. She won’t press charges if they stop their investigation into the poisoned water, even producing documents to show that she’s tested the water and nothing is wrong. Sarah appears to agree to drop it, angering Hawk. She tells Hawk that she doesn’t want him to go to jail. Let me go off a bit of tangent her, but would Hawk really go to jail for throwing a rock through a window? He’s a minor, it’s his first offense, and no one was hurt. It seems like they’re making this crime out to have much bigger consequences than it actually would.
Anyways, sufficiently shamed by Hawk, Sarah decides to redouble her efforts to help the people of Clarksville. She takes the tests to a water expert, who tells her that the tests are accurate, but not complete. Something is definitely wrong with the water, but the corporation specifically didn’t test for that. The testing would cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so actually doing it right is cost-prohibitive for most people. Sarah promises the citizens that she’ll get it done, even drinking some of the poisoned water to demonstrate her solidarity.
The only problem is that the movement does not have the money for the testing. They would’ve, if Cal hadn’t spent every last cent on the building for the City Center. Sarah calls Cal, telling him that he better get the IRS religious exemption or else. So Cal confronts his contact at the IRS, Lisa, in a completely normal way—stalking her in the parking garage of her building. She’s shaken up by the interaction, but there’s really nothing she can do. The order to stop Meyerism’s religious exemption came from the district attorney after urging from Abe. Cal’s such a tightly wound bundle of rage, just waiting to explode at any moment. If Cal finds out that Abe is a double agent, I don’t think he’s long for this world.
Abe is going through a personal crisis this episode. His wife gives him ultimatum—stop the undercover work or she’s taking the kids to Philadelphia to live with her mom. She sees his work as a midlife crisis, an opportunity to go on retreats in the woods with a bunch of naked twenty-year-olds. He sees it as an opportunity to bring down a murdering Svengali milking desperate people out of their money. The thing is, they’re both right. Cal is a dangerous man who needs to be locked up, but Abe is clearly going through something.
The last conflict is the older generation of Meyerists, represented in this episode by Richard and new character this season Kodiak, doubting whether Steve actually wrote the final rungs of the ladder designating Cal and Sarah as his replacements and whether Steve “went into the light” or simply died, possibly because someone pushed him off a cliff. Last week, Kodiak found a drawing a shaman made in Peru of the person he claims to have seen pushing Steve to his death. At first, he thought it might have been Eddie, but now they think it could have been Cal. One thing is for sure, the Meyerist movement is a tenuous house of cards that could be tipped over with a light breeze.
I want to end this review with a theory. I fully realize that I could be 100% wrong, but what if Eddie is really the chosen new leader of the movement? He’s marked by that strange scar we saw last week, Steve basically told him he was when he saw him in Peru, and this crisis of faith could bring lead him back to the light eventually. Cal is a murderer and Sarah is a liar who’s protecting a murderer because she doesn’t want to lose her way of life. Eddie’s decision to leave the movement rather than pretend to have faith is a bit noble, or at least very honest. We’ll see what happens, but that’s my prediction right now.
Season 2, Episode 3 (S02E03)
The Path airs Wednesdays on Hulu
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor