Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 8: “Return”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Annie Weisman
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Providence” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Oz” – click here
Last we saw Eddie (Aaron Paul), he was swept off violently by Richard (Clark Middleton) and Kodiak (James Remar), leaving Chloe’s (Leven Rambin) boy in the wind. The two men want answers from their captive, about what happened with Dr. Steven Meyers (Keir Dullea). They need to know, because of the implications in his death.
Cal (Hugh Dancy) goes to see Jacqueline Richards (Melanie Griffith) at a swanky pool. He claims it’s “fate” but surely he’s tracked her down. Her daughter bought into the Meyerist cult, though Jackie isn’t overly interested. She’s preoccupied with everything in her life. And this provides him with the perfect way inward. Another rich person to exploit.
Then there’s Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), who slips further down the rabbit hole each day. She listens to tapes of unburdening sessions, going through all the people and their lives ripe for blackmail. She gets a call about Brenda Roberts (Kathleen Turner), Cal’s mother. She is in hospice – liver failure – and ready to die, at any moment. Hmm, I wonder how that’ll affect Cal once he finds out. Sure to run another few cracks through his weary foundation.
Things elsewhere are sketchy, as Chloe tries to deal with her son being left on his own, and Eddie’s sudden disappearance. Meanwhile, he’s struggling with the drugs he’s been given by Kodiak and Richard. He’s being taken back through his memories – seems he had a mean, violent father, on top of the memories of his brother Johnny, and more. The two Meyerists holding him captive try to lead him through to memories of Peru, up on the mountain with Steve. Until Eddie stops breathing.
Cal works his eerie charm on Jackie, helping with her current problems but also chipping away at her doubt in terms of the movement. He rattles on about the power of Meyerism, and it works. If he can solve Jackie’s problems it’s worth $50K to her. Once more, the snake slithers its way into another life.
At the hospice, Sarah goes to see Brenda. The old woman isn’t well, awaiting death to come take her away. She desperately wants to see her son before she goes. Is there something she needs to tell him? Or is it merely a mother wanting to see her boy one last time? What we see is that Brenda knows all about the Meyerists, definitely all about her son. Confirming what we all know, that Cal’s been in love with Sarah forever.
Between reality and coma, Eddie wanders. He finds his way back to the Meyerist commune, walking through an otherworldly space. There, he sees Doc Meyers greeting him. Is this death? A place between life and the afterlife? He goes further and sees his dead brother Johnny in a garden, tending to plants.
Seeing Cal amongst regular people is kind of like watching an alien walking through human beings. Weird watching him at a poolside party. “I‘m in someone‘s idea of oblivion,” he tells Sarah when she calls. She bears the bad news about his mother, also that there’s something holding his mother back from death. Definitely a secret, a hope for closure, anything similar. But Cal won’t assuage his mother’s guilt before she dies leaving Sarah to take the brunt. In the meantime, he meets Jackie’s friend Luna, the one he supposedly needs help. Then in one of his relapse moments, he sniffs coke with them. Off the deep end. This has the potential to get very messy.
At the centre in the city, Hawk (Kyle Allen) is dealing with a pay shortage, not knowing the dire straits in which the Meyerist cult has fallen financially. With people threatening to leave and stop working he goes looking through Cal’s office. Only to find all the Past Due notices from the IRS, so on. Finally, the Impending Seizure notice. Here he was, thinking Cal had everything under control. Hard to watch your idol crumble into nothing. Also, his faith in his mother only worsens.
Brenda: “Fuck all of you”
On her death bed Brenda reveals to Sarah the true nature of Calvin Roberts and Dr. Steven Meyers. She says that Steve loved her son, a bit too much. In the wrong ways. WHOA! I didn’t see that coming, at all. I expected many things. Not that. And like myself, Sarah is rocked by the revelation. If true, it’s beyond devastating. In all the obvious ways, and also on a deeper level of faith, trust, it’s somehow even more sick.
Eddie and Johnny talk in that limbo or afterlife space. He tells his dead brother about trying to save someone, obviously Steve. He couldn’t, that’s when the storm came in and when he was struck by lightning. Eddie’s overcome. Then he’s back in that old shack with Kodiak and Richard, they were able to give him a shot to wake him up.
On a beach Cal spins a speech on freedom for pop star Luna. He offers a “chance to feel unlimited fulfilment.” All that cult shit. And then he gets offended when Jackie calls Meyerism a cult, too. No surprise. But he’s further put off when she doesn’t immediately buy into his “pitch” about their movement. “You‘re not even convincing yourself,” Jackie tells him plainly.
At home, Sarah’s confronted by Hawk about the money trouble the cult is in. He is definitely betrayed. She spouts off more nonsense about the movement being stronger, the “path to the Light” and all the greatest hits. Now with the revelations concerning Steve on Brenda’s end, there’s even more danger to anyone young near Meyerism.
Eddie tries to make Kodiak and Richard see Steve was only a man. He didn’t ascend to any Light. He got cancer, he was ready to die before they were on that mountain. But Eddie’s also at peace, with himself, with everything. After his visit to the garden with his brother. He goes back to tell Chloe about what happened and she’s rightfully freaked out. She wants him to call the cops; he doesn’t want anything to happen to his kids at the commune.
Cal relates to Luna about not having a childhood. Being told he was “special” and separated from the rest, in more ways than one. She’s got a lot of pain inside. Fucked up on drugs, gun in hand. He offers her help, though it’s only a means to an end for the cash. Another mind for him to manipulate. If only she’d buy into his cult hypnotism.
Later on the phone Cal asks Sarah about his mother, and she lies, telling him she was proud, blah, blah, blah. Hiding that she knows the truth. Does Cal even remember the abuse? Hard to know for sure. He winds up falling into the arms of Jackie, anyways.
So, in lieu of other money, Sarah’s already out putting more blackmail into motion. Becoming a worse person all the time, in order to save their dying movement.
Richard gives Eddie a necklace belonging to Steve, the first one made after “the Ladder was revealed.” He believes that Eddie was marked by the Light. That he will build the Garden, “and we will follow you there.” Shit.
I didn’t really expect the stuff between Eddie and Richard at the end of the episode. Neither did I see the Steve revelation concerning Cal coming, whatsoever. Truly rocked me.
Cannot wait to see the next episode “Oz” coming up.