Hulu’s The Path
Season 3, Episode 9: “To Lift the Veil”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by John O’Connor
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Door” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Strongest Souls” – click here
Lilith (Sarita Choudhury) tells Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) about when she first saw the Light as a young girl, that it was like a “warm blanket.” This is earth shattering for Sarah, whose faith has ultimately hinged on the unstable visions of a mentally unstable thirteen-year-old girl. Lilith claims that Dr. Steve Meyer didn’t steal her visions, but that they collaborated together. None of that matters. Because Sarah hasn’t found what she was looking for, she’s still lost. Although she walks away with some more of Lilith’s writings.
At the office, Eddie (Aaron Paul) tells both Cal (Hugh Dancy) and Hawk (Kyle Allen) about Sarah leaving the movement. They’re each a bit shocked, though their leader assures them it’s merely a “personal choice,” and that’s exactly the message Cal wants to make sure is being broadcast to the other followers. In the meantime, Eddie and Cal discuss other things, such as a man called Rufus Mott (Julien Seredowych); he’s suing the Meyerists for a cool $2-million after ending training then taking a fall.
Then there’s Vera (Freida Pinto), who’s decided she’d like to be part of Meyerism. She’s being processed during an intake session and asked all the questions, providing answers. “I want to be good,” she tells her interviewer. Eventually, she’s interrupted by the leader and Cal – they want her opinion on what to do about the lawsuit. She just wants to take the Ode and become a Meyerist.
While Sarah’s trying to get out of the movement she’s discovering how difficult it is when confronted with family. Gab (Deirdre O’Connell) has moved herself in with her daughter to try offering “support” a.k.a to try forcing her into staying with Meyerism. Doesn’t help mom talks to her dead husband all the time.
Cal is meeting with Congressman Buck Harbaugh (Vincent Kartheiser), whose problems involve three accusations of sexual harassment and groping. We see the politician isn’t concerned about that, he’s only concerned with his position of power. Cal tries to tell him about the psychic harm he’s doing to himself by sexualising women. He gets down to the bare bones of the man’s issues, and quick; something at which Mr. Roberts is adept. Soon, he has the congressman pull down his pants, and bare himself literally. He’s trying to make Buck realise he is male without the need for any external reaffirmation, that he shouldn’t have to sexualise women or anything else like that to find his power; power is within. An eerie scene, but not in a weird way. It’s scary how directly Cal can influence people.
At a pizza place, Eddie finds Rufus making dough. He asks the young man about him not completing “1R training” and likewise not completing college at various institutions. The Meyerist leader’s trying to get at the heart of what Mr. Mott is searching for in all these ventures. The answer? A place “to belong.” Rufus felt the whole process was too invasive and personal. Now he’s trying to take them for all that cash, uninterested in any deal Eddie has to offer. However, we see the leader pokes and prods at the guy’s personal life; he’s gradually becoming manipulative, just like everyone else who’s ever been in power in Meyerism.
Cal begins administering the Ode to Vera, and immediately he’s starting to uncover things he didn’t know before about the woman. Then, they go deeper. Vera speaks of seeing a large tree in a field when she’s a little girl, and there’s a boy chasing her. They laugh together. The boy takes out a knife and “carves a heart” into the tree. She hears her father calling. And the whole thing nearly makes Cal have a panic attack. Did these two meet as children, back when he was being abused by Steve? Hmm. Not sure. Worth considering, anyway.
The fact Gab is talking to a bird, whom she believes to be carrying the spirit of her deceased husband Hank, becomes a much more disturbing thing than anything natural or beautiful to Sarah, as she falls further away from Meyerism. Daughter begins to notice the behaviour of her parents was never exactly normal from the start. It’s even worse now.
Eddie has now been served with a restraining order against Rufus, so it’s another thing to worry about. At the same time, he’s given the results of Vera’s Ode. After discussing it, the leader orders his pal to “get rid of it.” Was it bad? Either way, they’re bringing her into the fold. Perhaps that’ll have unintended consequences down the line.
Hawk meets with Caleb (Titus Makin). He finds out the guy’s dad is forcing him into “conversion therapy.” Caleb has been brainwashed into his own cult of organised religion, and doesn’t see any other option. It’s compelling to watch two people from vastly different backgrounds of faith grapple with their sexuality. Particularly seeing as how Caleb’s also black, complicating things socially/culturally for him in a way Hawk can’t totally understand. A heartbreaking development.
That evening, Sarah goes back to see Lilith, and says she believes her. She’s mostly troubled by not feeling solace in her father supposedly going to the Garden. Yet she simultaneously discovers Steve made up the Garden; Lilith never saw one originally. I’ve a feeling her vision of the Light is more apocalyptic than the Meyerist faith turned out to be under Steve.
Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) has been sent in place of Cal to go meet the congressman again; he believes she can make a difference, as well as the fact that Buck needs to learn to be around powerful women. But ole Buck is your garden variety misogynist. He starts trying to attack Cal’s “essential character” for allowing his wife to go to a hotel room, alone, with a congressman accused of assault. Mary knows pain, though, and she can see the politician has deep pain behind his alcoholism.
On a walk, Cal comes across a tree where he recalls himself as a boy, chasing young Vera through the tall grass. He walks out to the massive tree. That’s where he sees the carved heart in its trunk from years ago. All those dammed up memories inside him are gradually giving way. What a sad, lonely, broken childhood Cal experienced. So heavy it hurts.
Note: The song playing in that scene is “Doomed” by Moses Sumney.
Meanwhile, Sarah is willingly being inscribed with the Light by Lilith a.k.a getting her skin seared and hallucinating from the pain. We’re witnessing Sarah go deeper into a madness looking for answers to justify her faith. Will she lose more of herself by doing so? She’s slipped into an ecstatic insanity through this ritual, and she sees that apocalyptic End Time vision that’s so horribly influenced Lilith all these years. Christ, it’s grim.
What an episode! Wow. The Path manages to get better all the time. And as I’ve said as of late, this is where I always anticipated things were heading, but I had no idea how the writers/creators were going to steer the show in this direction. Great to see them doing it in such a revelatory, beautiful, and also dark fashion.
“The Strongest Souls” is next week, promising more wildness.