Hulu’s The Path
Season 3, Episode 4: “De Rerum Natura”
Directed by Patrick Norris
Written by Coleman Herbert
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Locusts” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Pageantry” – click here
The title of this episode refers to a 1st-century poem; the title itself translates to On the Nature of Things.
Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) and Dr. Jackson Neill (Raúl Esparza) are setting up a film reel, she found a possible “home movie” in her family’s things. It’s a bunch of the “originals” who were with Dr. Steve Meyer, from the Armstrongs to Felicia to a bunch of the others. Back in the 1960s or 70s, when they were just running around in the woods and getting high.
Afterwards, the reel cuts to shots of Steve, he’s in the hypoxian cleanse bondage ropes, and a woman behind the camera speaks to him, as if she’s commanding him. Could that have been Lilith (Sarita Choudhury), mother of Vera Stevens (Freida Pinto)?
“Life is one long struggle in the dark”
The Meyerists are dealing with a situation at the interfaith space: a bomb threat. Hawk (Kyle Allen) is trying to keep things under control outside, while Eddie (Aaron Paul) is inside with Vera trying to talk the whole thing through. Of course the new leader’s not in a good position, having recently let a kid with a Nazi tattoo into their compound.
At their meeting in the morning, Eddie apologises, which pisses Vera off. He explains the mess to everybody, that the supposed threat was “a hoax.” In the middle of it all, Cal (Hugh Dancy) and Mary (Emma Greenwell) arrive. People aren’t happy. Then it’s the Cal show, all over again. He pushes back into the centre of things once more. Although he tells everybody: “Who we follow is Eddie Lane.” Hmm, strange. He compliments the new leader, believing Eddie has done things by breaking down the barriers surrounding Meyerism. He asks if they can come back to the fold, and he is gladly accepted.
Seems that Eddie’s not being entirely too forgiving. He wants a bit of penance for Cal and his family to come back, which includes the deal that their boy Forrest must be “embraced.” Whatever that means, we’ll come to find out. Because Cal’s very angry about it. Then there’s the fact Mary doesn’t like the way her man is acting, in particular when it comes to Sarah.
At home with her mom, Sarah asks Gab (Deirdre O’Connell) about the woman in the video she found with Steve. She wants to know if the woman, whom Steve calls Lil, was somebody her mother knew. Gab remembers that the woman was possibly “a patient” of the doc, she wasn’t well. Last time she saw Lilith was the ’80s, the woman made claims about Dr. Meyer, though Gab doesn’t specify what those were exactly.
In the office, Eddie gets a visit from Nicole (Ali Ahn), she wants to talk about possibly ending her marriage to Russel when he gets back. He offers her prayers, nothing concrete. This pisses her off. He’s finding his people want to be led, they don’t want to think for themselves; that’s why one joins a cult.
Still nursing his bruised face, Hawk gets a thank you from Caleb. We see that Caleb’s definitely got more feelings for the guy than just being friendly. He kisses him in the bathroom before leaving quickly, surprising Hawk. Oh, wow. Hawk certainly didn’t pull away, either.
Cal goes to see Vera, telling a long winded story about he and Steve driving one day when they picked up a hitchhiker. He lets slip a detail about them sleeping in the same sleeping bag, until he was 16. Jesus. He even has letters they wrote to one another proving the relationship, as well as pictures, all revealing his molestation. So, what’s his endgame? He didn’t want to show Eddie, who’d bring it “to the light.” This would destroy the movement altogether. What Cal wants is to be reinstated, as the businessman, the owner-operator of Meyerism.
Naturally, Vera’s over trying to convince Eddie to let Cal take on a bigger role now that he’s back. She worries that the community needs healing, which will be helped if Eddie brings Cal back into the fold easily, without punishment, and all that. The new leader realises the old one is “a snake.” Evocative imagery, given the literal snake we’ve seen connected to Dr. Meyer, Lilith; Meyerism’s full of snakes.
“If you come from monsters, does that make us monsters?”
Mary’s gone out to pawn off the World Football Championship jewellery she stole from Harold before fleeing Florida. Wonder what sort of repercussions that will have. In the meantime, Eddie and Cal sit together for one of their sacred Meyerist rituals, beginning with drinking their juice. “To the truth,” the new leader toasts.
At the college, Sarah gets Dr. Neill to put on her film reel again. She wonders if the Meyerist movement was “built on the cravings of a very sick man,” as she starts uncovering more of the hypoxian cleanse and exactly why it was conceived in the first place: to choke the “inappropriate urges” from Dr. Meyer’s consciousness.
Sitting together, Eddie and Cal are tripping. Some pretty wild juice! Suddenly, Cal tackles Eddie, the two of them start wrestling, fighting, until they fall over. Soon Cal is having a vision of himself, sitting next to a young boy, a version of himself, holding an umbrella over the kid. They’re on a tomb-like structure in the rain. After that Cal is lying there, weeping. Eddie also wanders in the woods, he hears Steve’s voice; Cal advises not to follow the old man.
The snake appears in the trees. Eddie walks further, finding tons of bodies like the post-Kool-Aid Jonestown scene, people dressed in Meyerist clothing all dead and littering the ground. He worries he did this to them. He and Cal keep walking until it’s daylight. In the distance, Sarah walks past the treeline, she doesn’t respond to either of their calls.
After their dreamy fugue, Eddie goes to see Sarah. He feels the premonition of seeing her means she’s headed towards something. She won’t tell him, though. Even she isn’t sure where she’s heading, not yet. But she’ll dig deeper. And so will he, I’m sure.
Elsewhere, Lilith and Vera sit and have dinner. This is where we discover Vera is the daughter of Dr. Meyer. Oh, shit. The grand plan is slowly beginning to reveal itself. It’s still not entirely obvious what their goal is, and I dig the mystery.
And at the compound, young Forrest is embraced by Eddie in one of those Meyerist rituals. The baby becomes son to the movement, to the leader. Quite a weird moment. It’s also a stab at Cal, right to the heart, after all that’s gone on between them.
The Path gets more intense with every chapter. The revelations, as they come in droves, are filling in bits and pieces of the past we’ve only yet – in some cases – seen briefly. “Pageantry” is next, I can’t begin to imagine what more we’ll discover. Bring it on.