American Horror Story – Cult, Episode 1: “Election Night”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 1: “Election Night”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a recap & review of Season 6 My Roanoke Nightmare episodes, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” – click here
Pic 1We start with clips of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump leading up to the U.S. Election 2016. Including violent events at rallies and protests, clips of the Donald talking about his wall, the Rust Belt, and Hillary fighting back.
Cut to Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) praying in front of the television as the election’s being announced: “The revolution has begun.” He chants USA happily, his hair died blue like part of the American flag, humping the TV. Across town are Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and her friends, she literally weeps as the announcement is made while her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) consoles her.
We can tell already just by Kai’s dungeon-like basement, his near worship of the events transpiring, he’s going to be trouble. Afterwards, he blends up a load of cheesies and impersonates his hero in the mirror, complete with the little finger symbol.
And what is wrong with CNN for not giving us a trigger warning before they announce the results. I just, I dont know whats real anymore. She was supposed to win.”
Satire of both left and right is alive and well! Can’t fault Ryan Murphy & Co. for being one-sided, already giving it hard to the liberals, too. We see Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) lamenting the election results. Kai shows up, Cheeto-faced and Trumpified. Perhaps he’s not so much a Trump fan as he is an anarchist, seeing this new Trumpmerica as an opportunity, to further instil fear in those who are now living afraid in the era of the Orange Menace. We’ll see.
Pic 1AOh, a callback to Season 4 Freak Show! Two people hump out near the lake. They joke about Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch). All of a sudden he shows up. Of course the guy pulls a gun, putting a bullet into the clown. Nothing works. Then, Twisty has his murderous fun, killing the guy, chasing the girl. Soon, he’s back at his old bus, the place is a little grown over with weeds, but still the same ole shack.
But it’s only a comic book. Twisty’s a pop culture icon, y’know. Ivy and Ally’s little boy is reading the comic when he’s meant to be sleeping. When Ally catches him, seeing the clown on the cover, it triggers a near panic attack, anxiety flaring and sending her into fits. Because she coulrophobia, an irrational fear of clowns. You can see where this is headed; a terrifying place for her. Lucky she has an understanding partner who cares for and loves her.
We see Kai dolled up a bit, speaking in front of a group about “fear” and references everything from Trump Tower to rap music in his speech about “freedom of movement” and “fear as currency.” Then this leads into his not wanting more cops, certainly not those needing overtime to watch a Jewish community centre. He’s most certainly an anarchist.
Kai is, essentially, a boiled down version of many far-right bros, believing Trump (and people he’s given legitimacy to, such as Steve Bannon) has given them a green light to create a world of chaos in America, so that when fear reigns people will come running for the supposed strong to protect them, relinquishing rights and whatever else is needed. More than anything Kai is starting to represent the wounded male ego, epitomised in one mad, violent young man.
Kai: “Theres nothing more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man
At her doctor’s office, Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), Ally talks about her phobias. How since the election, that fateful night, everything’s feeling shit, amplified in its awfulness. The world and everything in it is terrible. She also comes from the worldview of a lesbian, speaking of Obama and, for the first time, feeling a part of the American conversation. Vincent prescribes something many of us could all use: anxiety medication and less social media. Truly, though, Ally is symbolic of many people in America who’ve been having a terrible time since Trump won.
Pic 2The dreadfulness of the atmosphere in this season is already palpable. Poor Ally goes to the grocery store, experiencing multiple assaults on her senses. From loud music, creepy people in masks, humping clowns in the aisles. Through the prism of her phobias, we see her general fear of masks, of being unable to see the face of others; a parallel to the idea of her not knowing who may be a Trump supporter, who may oppose her very existence as a lesbian, so on. Later, with Ivy, it’s also a view on how many personal relationships, in various ways, have been altered by the state of America and how the election has divided people.
Also, an idea – Paulson’s character, in a sense, illustrates how many people often won’t people marginalised voices. Yes, she has phobias, many of which are irrational. However, as is sadly the case with LGBTQ voices, black voices and other voices from POC, the Indigenous communites(etc), their fears aren’t always considered.
Now we see the first interaction between Kai and the couple of Ally and Ivy. He tosses coffee on them, most likely on purpose. I wonder, has he been watching her already? Or is that coming next? Well, we already see Winter applying for a position with the couple as a nanny for their boy, worming her way in as the pro-Hillary supporter, the type of person they’d love to have around. Inside access. We cut between her interview and an honesty session with Kai. Ominous.
Out on the street Kai sees a bunch of Mexicans. He pisses in a condom, singing like a racist, then tosses it like a water balloon telling them they’re “not welcome.” While someone records in the background Kai lets the Mexican guys beat the shit out of him. Ah, the ole Breitbart-style journalism! Meanwhile, Winter’s also working on the couple’s kid, showing him creepy shit on the dark web. Like dead bodies.
Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.23.33 AMPoor ole Ally continues falling apart, Ivy doing her best to not go insane right along with her. It’s a tragic situation, because partly there’s some genuine mental illness happening, also because she’s spending too much time obsessing. And another part is that it’s understandable, especially as a lesbian, worrying what Pence and Trump will do to her life, her family’s life. There’s genuine concern underneath the obsession.
On the street outside the Mayfair-Richards place an ice cream truck shows up. From out of the back come several clowns, men and women. The same group who were at the grocery store. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Bozo!
When Ally and Ivy arrive the street’s blocked with cops and all sorts of flashing lots, tape blocking the road. A murder at a house nearby. Worst part is that the kid saw the clowns, now nobody else does, so this is going to look to Ivy as if Ally’s influencing their boy negatively with her phobia. Could cause a further divide in the married couple.
Doesn’t help that Winter took the kid over to the house, where he witnessed the murder of the people inside. One of whom happens to be the guy at the municipal council meeting that embarrassed Kai. Yikes. Problem being that Winter negates the story, furthering the tension and pushing the couple farther from the truth.
And Ally, she’ll never escape those clowns. Not even in her own bed.
Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.29.28 AMScreen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.39.59 AMI don’t give a shit, I love this series. Cult comes out of the gate swinging, not afraid to jab at the left and right of the political spectrum. People will automatically assume this is a Trump hatefest. And sure, part of it is, or at least it’s attempting to show the real world division in America through the lens of the horror genre. I’m excited to see more, because it’s bound to get very fucked up. Judging by the premiere, anyways.
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is next week. Buckle up, snowflakes and deplorables.

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JACKALS Shows Us the Meaning of Family

Jackals. 2017. Directed by Kevin Greutert. Screenplay by Jared Rivet.
Starring Deborah Kara Unger, Stephen Dorff, Johnathon Schaech, Nick Roux, Alyssa Julya Smith, Chelsea Ricketts, Jason Scott Jenkins, Ben Sullivan, Alex Kingi, Cassie Hernandez, Alex Castillo, & Carol Abney.
Tommy Alastra Productions
Not Rated. 85 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★
COVERAlthough Kevin Greutert didn’t sit in the director’s chair until 2009 when he directed Saw VI, he’s old hand in the industry, working in the editorial department as far back as Ernest Scared Stupid; he did uncredited work on big budget features like Titanic and Armageddon. So it’s nice to see his name as director on a couple recent films that are top notch horror.
Such as his latest, Jackals: a brutal horror-thriller centred on a family with deep, divisive issues, one of whom has been lured into a cult. The action begins as the family, along with a hardened cult deprogrammer take their son forcibly to a cabin in order to save him from the grip of these mysterious people. Only the cult’s got different ideas.
This is easily Greutert’s best work. Due in no small part to the morbidly exciting screenplay from Jared Rivet in his feature film debut as writer, giving us a story that doesn’t need twists and turns to be scary or wild. Together, Greutert and Rivet craft a very human, devastating movie that will eat at the heart of anyone with even half of one.
Jackals 1I dig that the film takes place in mid-1983, yet it isn’t a forced period piece. Sometimes the throwback ’80s film works, though often enough in horror it feels too much of a choice rather than a natural progression. Jackals feels at home in the ’80s because of the Satanic panic craze that swept America, the era of repressed memory therapy when far too many doctors messed up their patients by planting memories rather than digging them up. An era of confused people searching for meaning.
The son, Justin (Ben Sullivan), is terribly lost. A creepy cult’s wrapped him up with their rhetoric of madness. Scariest of all it’s not just community, it’s family the cult has provided him. Paralleled with the family he feels cast out by, in various ways, from his secretively adulterous dad Andrew (Johnathon Schaech) to his sort of alcoholic mother Kathy (Deborah Kara Unger), and most of all his psychologically abusive brother Campbell (Nick Roux).
The film’s greatest strength, on top of its bleak horror, is its examination of what makes up a family, as well as how dangerous things can happen when a family doesn’t perform its proper function. While the individual’s responsible for themselves ultimately, a family constructs the foundation of their actions and emotions. What seems like years of inattention has led Justin to feel abandoned by his natural family, causing him to seek out family in the arms of the psychotic cult.
Everything in the plot forces the broken family to either mend, or die; if there’s even an option. They’re all trying to do what they couldn’t before, save Justin. And through it all they try finding redemption, if they can bring themselves to do whatever must be done. Whether that happens you have to watch and see for yourself.
Jackals 2There’s a great moment when the family, between in-fighting, are left wondering how Justin could’ve fallen in with such violent types of people. Dear ole mom knows: “Hes a young man. Young men need to find their, drive.” Unfortunately, this drive doesn’t always wind up positive. Like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy – may as well toss Jim Jones in while were discussing cults – Justin’s drive became murder and other psychopathy.
Going along with that there are moments in Jackals which scream, or should I say howl the influence of Charles Manson. Specifically, Justin feels much like one of the Manson family’s male followers, wide-eyed, spouting insane shit. Plus the fact they call it a family specifically, at least Justin does. And that’s a concept of cults very specific to the infamous leader. Then, the howling. He howls like a wild animal, something very Manson-esque. More than that he calls his family “piggies” and that’s straight up Charlie.
Spooky moments are plenty throughout. A solid start opens the film on a POV shot of a guy murdering his family, putting on a jackal mask to join his cult friends. Then there’s the howl from Justin, returned by his family outside sounding just like a pack of animals; maybe the creepiest of all. However, there’s one kill in particular which takes the cake involving a super meticulous burning, a slow, painful death, and it’s… cruel, no other word for it. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get the job done! That’s what we’re here for, right?
Jackals 3With a grim end, void of any hope, Greutert’s Jackals cements itself as one of the best horrors of 2017. Unsettling cult members + weird masks? Check. Vicious violence? Cheeeeck. Add to that good characters with genuine depth, solid writing bringing them out through dialogue that doesn’t clunk through each scene like too many horror flicks out there, and with the tension Greutert creates it’s a nasty piece of work.
This is a grounded view of cults, their brainwashing, the later process of trying to deprogram someone from outrageous, dangerous, indoctrinated thought. There are emotional roots in the story, which make the terrifying events later all the more impressively scary. So much tension, never lets go.
Is a family only those with whom we share blood? Can others become the family a person needs or wants? People find their own families, no matter how brutal, no matter at what expense. Even if they have to violently leave their natural family behind.

You’ve Got Horror for Days? THE VOID’s Got Cosmic Dread for Weeks

The Void. 2017. Directed and Written by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski.
Starring Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Won, Mik Byskov, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, James Millington, Evan Stern, & Grace Munro.
Cave Painting Pictures/JoBro Productions & Film Finance
Rated R. 90 minutes.
Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi

★★★★1/2
POSTEREveryone goes on and on about how this movie’s influenced by The Thing, which I’m sure is definitely true. I’d argue it’s more Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness than any of the master’s works. Others go on that it’s Lovecraftian, though I don’t agree totally; the filmmakers say it was their influence, and that’s fine. As I often preach, artistic intent doesn’t always have to equal concrete meaning to the audience.
Most of all, this is an original bit of sci-fi-ish horror on its own. Sure, it draws bits of heart from films co-writers Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski likely grew up watching. It throws back to the 1980s. To give their influences too much credit is to do a disservice to their horrific originality.
Many movies post-2010 seem to feel like throwback means an ’80s-type electronic score and a dark yet vibrant look. The Void has a wicked score, the sound is perfect. Best is the fact the team behind the film went with expert practical effects for the various creatures and abominations. Add these technical aspects to solid performances from one of my latest genre favourites Aaron Poole, as well as the great Kenneth Welsh (Windom Earle from Twin Peaks). This makes for one fine ride into the heart of darkness.
TheVoid1The Lovecraftian influence, the Carpenter roots, they’re fine. Gillespie and Kostanski are what matters. Their story, particularly how it’s told, works wonders on the suspense and tension which builds so dreadfully over the course of the first third of the film. Their directorial work is startling, with grim delight. We start out with an act of violence that’s inexplicable; at the time. From there, the writing-directing team unravel a tale of a cult offering sacrifices to an otherworldly entity called from the cosmos.
Production design on this one all around is fantastic. The location of the hospital is like they found a facility in the middle of nowhere, cultivating a mood all of its own. In addition, the costumes for the cult add to that atmosphere by sort of crashing down on top of the audience. When we first see them it’s a shocking moment, oh so excellent.
Not to mention the cinematography of Samy Inayeh (The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh; another great flick with Poole starring) makes everything feel hazy, terrifying, like a feverish nightmare even before the descent into utter madness and hell. The visual style is most definitely part of what gives it a throwback feel. The biggest part of that essence is the practical effects work, up there with some of the best in the genre.
TheVoid2Kostanski has an extensive background in makeup effects. He’s doing stuff on the new It, he worked on ClownGirlHouseHannibal, and even worked as an uncredited prosthetics shop assistant for 2005’s Capote. Point being, he knows his shit. He uses his chops here, alongside Gillespie, whose resume is as impressive having worked on It and Suicide Squad as assistant art director (both of which his co-director and writer worked on). He was a graphic designer on Hannibal, too. He served as assistant art director on Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, and the underrated found footage 388 Arletta Avenue is his first art directing credit. These two artists together did something on this film which amazes, in the best horror kind of way.
The creatures involved in the descent to hell, as the characters of The Void explore the hospital basement, are totally wild! Some of the best stuff out there, truly. I can see why The Thing is used as comparison. Particularly when it comes to the final monster we witness birthed; like a combination of pieces of living things. A vicious finale creation. That isn’t it, though. Throughout the movie we see various creatures, and you can’t forget the other practical effects like the blood, et cetera. That seemingly simple stuff can often get lost in the shuffle for other, lesser horrors. Not these guys. The attention to detail is what drives this whole effort home.
TheVoid3Above anything else, the end and what the film builds to from the start is the payoff. I won’t spoil it. Just to say that I love the vision these guys brought to the visuals. There’s something wholly original in the way they presented the other world, where Dr. Powell (Welsh) intends on going. Those last shots are perfection, impressing upon us without words the tiny speck that is humanity on the entirety of the universe. Gorgeous, if not also disturbing.
I gave this film a 4 and 1/2 star rating (out of 5) because The Void does what two other similar movies, Baskin and Last Shift, didn’t do despite their awesomeness: it shows us an end result. What I mean is that those other two films, kick ass as they are, sort of end in a place where there’s ultimately no traction. Not saying nothing happens, if you check my reviews of them both I’m actually a huge fan (I’ve seen Baskin at least a dozen times).
The Void goes a step further, not only in its inventiveness and practical effects monster work, it also opts to go full-on cosmic. In this way, I concede that they touch on Lovecraft and his rightful idea about man’s insignificance to other much greater, larger, non-human entities out there in the universe; gods, if you will.
Again, I don’t like to lean so heavily only on influence. Gillespie and Kostanski deserve what’s due – praise, for a breathtaking wave of pure terror, start to finish. They’ll live on with this film, though I cannot wait to see their next project. These guys are the real fucking deal.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 13: “Mercy”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 13: “Mercy”
Directed by Jessica Goldberg
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “Spiritus Mundi” – click here
Pic 1Here we are: the final episode of The Path‘s Season 2! What a ride it’s been, I do hope that we’re getting another season. But first, let’s see where this one ends.
Last we saw, Richard (Clark Middleton) was about to set himself and the compound, specifically the archives room where all the unburdening tapes – the blackmail weapons – are kept.
Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) and Eddie (Aaron Paul) are together with their daughter. They’re living a different life, out in the real world, in a seaside Canadian town. “Are we safe now?” Summer (Aimee Laurence) asks.
Is this a vision of the future, a life beyond Meyerism and its cult for the Lanes? Or are we seeing a dream? It looks like reality. We then see Cal (Hugh Dancy) go back to his little room with Mary (Emma Greenwell) and their newborn baby. It looks as if the Lanes finally made it out, all of them – well, aside from Hawk (Kyle Allen) it seems.
Everyone else is moving on, three weeks after the birth of Emma’s child. The events of the previous episode set off a series of repercussions that everyone’s still learning how to deal with, still understanding. Sarah’s confused; her daughter wants her parents back together, but mom isn’t entirely sure. The entire web of relationships is fractured, possibly beyond repair. Sarah tries justifying what she did with the blackmail, yet also harbours deep guilt over Richard’s death.
Pic 1AThe Meyerists continue trying to move past Richard’s death, the fire. They all lay cacti and plants at the site, a sort of ceremony. Meanwhile, Hank and Gab (Peter Friedman/Deirdre O’Connell) wonder how things will continue, as Bill and a reluctant though present Felicia (Brian Stokes Mitchell/Adriane Lenox) assure them – Cal is “good for the movement.” Right. The fearless leader’s too busy licking his wounds over Sarah that it’s a wonder he can concentrate at all. Between that and having a lovechild with Mary, one everyone’s gossiping about behind their backs.
It’s nice to finally see Eddie, Sarah, and Summer living a normal life away from the compound; too bad Hawk’s brainwashed. The three walk on the beach, they spend time in the open air without having to do any creepy, weird shit. They’re an actual family again, bound by themselves instead of some cult nonsense. More than that it’s clear Sarah’s never actually fallen out of love with her estranged husband.
On the street, Eddie runs into Abe (Rockmond Dunbar). He’s not happy that his case essentially up and ran away. He came to see Eddie, to “bring him back” to his people. Whatever that means.
Pic 2At the centre, Hawk gets an envelope from his mother reading DO SOMETHING WITH IT – the results from the Clarkesville water tests. Hmm. There’s something bigger, more major coming with that whole plotline. I’m just curious to see where Hawk takes it, and whether it changes him.
Abe drops Eddie home. Following nearby is Russel (Patch Darragh), too. Inside are the former Deniers, all meeting to figure out what’s their next step. Eddie tells them about his visions, how it isn’t clear. It’s not about seeing the finish line; he’s on a journey, like the rest of them. “I dont know if Im the one,” he tells them. He’s unsure, even with the blessing of Steve Meyers (Keir Dullea). Nevertheless there are people who now count on him, who BELIEVE in him. Of course Russel brings information back to Cal – Sam Field isn’t who he said he is, he’s been in league with Eddie. And he tells Cal of the Deniers, their hope to reform Meyerism. That doesn’t sit well, either.
Cal’s fragile psychological state is scary. When he goes home to Mary she’s asking questions about Eddie. This further reveals that Cal believes “people don’t know what they want.” He has contempt for others. But Mary’s smarter than he understands. She tells him: “You are what we want.” And she suggests something must be… done… with Eddie. So the two have a chat when Cal shows up down at the Deniers HQ. He acts quite threatening, as well as too sure of himself, full of ego. None of his behaviour will drive Eddie away, though. Unless it comes down to Sarah.
Pic 3Speaking of her, she’s out experiencing the world, dinner at a friend’s place. Then comes the questions of where she came from. Why nobody can Google her. So on. Sarah gets paranoid, so she and her daughter sneak out the bathroom window and run. They head to their house, grab a few things, and they take off. An intense scene, with a pounding score.
Hawk walks in to find Eddie, Cal, and Libby Dukaan. Troubling, not to mention the fact his father appears not as enraged or defiant as normal. A little later Cal talks about Eddie, saying he’s willing to drop all he believes in to help Sarah; funny, as this shows that Cal cares most about the movement and himself. Sadly, Mary can’t see that, not yet. Although she’s full of spite enough to try and twist things up for the father of her child; the identity of whom she reveals to Hawk, in order to stir up some trouble.
Sarah heads for the border with Summer, determined on doing the “right thing” so that her daughter can be proud of her. Will she turn herself in? Is that actually her plan? Meanwhile, Hawk goes to see his dad. He discovers the truth of Eddie as Steve’s chosen one to lead the movement. He also finds out that his dad got Libby to pay back the people Sarah blackmailed. But this also means there’s nothing going ahead with the water tests. Eddie further believes he isn’t the one to lead. Through it all, Hawk, the one who was so brainwashed, falling away from his dad, may be the one to convince him.


A great sequence cuts parallel between Eddie preaching about mercy and Cal practising a speech about loss. What we see is how Cal has to rehearse his movements, whereas the compassion for others, the speech, it all comes easy to Eddie; like a natural extension of himself. This is THE GREATEST SEQUENCE OF THE SERIES! Hands down. And all the while as we visually comprehend the differences between the opposing leaders, Sarah wanders a rock maze, trying to rediscover her own way on the path. Just amazing filmmaking here in this scene, from writing to editing to score.
One good thing, I suppose, is that Cal comes into his own as the father of Mary’s child. They name him Forest Roberts, due to his being born in the wilderness.
Sarah confronts Eddie about his choice to reverse the blackmail. He assures her that her life “will be hell” and she won’t need to look for punishment, not from the law or anywhere else. For once, she’s now the one who wants to walk away and have a family, away from a cult. She doesn’t want him to “go back inside.” She worries it’ll wash away what’s good about him.


At the compound, Ascension Day is underway. Sarah walks into the midst of the celebration, as Cal preaches his rehearsed speech. Everyone eats it up, too. They love it and him. They sing songs of Meyerism, acting like a big, happy family. Then they’re distracted by a noise from out at the gate. The Deniers have come, Eddie leading the crowd. Hank even lets them in willingly.
What a stunning moment! Some greet Eddie, others leave. Perfectly Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place” plays in the background. Soon, people walk from out behind Cal, joining the rightful Guardian of the Light. A change is coming. Just a case of who, and what, is left standing when all is said and done.
Pic 6Pic 6AI LOVED THIS FINALE! Even better than the Season 1 finale, as well. Spectacular work, especially now as we sit on the edge, waiting to see how Cal moves forward – no doubt treachery and violence are on his path – and how Eddie handles the movement, plus I can’t wait to see what Sarah chooses as her own personal way forward.
Hulu: renew this, or feel my wrath.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 12: “Spiritus Mundi”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 12: “Spiritus Mundi”
Directed by Sian Heder
Written by Coleman Herbert

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Defiance” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Mercy” – click here
Pic 1In the woods, Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) finds herself lost after fleeing the car with Sean (Paul James), his mother, and the cult deprogrammer. Now she can’t find her way through the darkness, calling for Cal (Hugh Dancy), for anyone to come get her. Then she gets pains in her stomach, her baby could possibly be in danger.
Meanwhile, Abe (Rockmond Dunbar) talks with Eddie (Aaron Paul) about Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) and her blackmail, facing a “4 years minimum sentence” for what she’s done to the Meyerists who once unburdened in the faith and hopes of privacy. So, how do these two men go about navigating the waters ahead? Eddie believes Abe needs to make his own choice, in regards to what he ought to do with the information he’s gathered.
At the compound in one of those little white rooms, Cal and Sarah interrogate Richard (Clark Middleton) about taking things to Eddie behind their backs. At the same time, Felicia (Adriane Lenox) is likewise interrogated. Whereas Richard gives them bullshit, Felicia doesn’t mess around and tells them the truth – Steve (Keir Dullea) and the Light intended on Eddie taking up the cause. Nevertheless, Sarah feels betrayed by Richard particularly, wanting to label him a denier. Later when Bill (Brian Stokes Mitchell) arrives, he’s not pleased with what Felicia’s been doing behind his back; he’s also more realistic, in a way, than his partner. He doesn’t believe in the Ladder burning her, calling it all a story, which seems to drive a deep wedge between them right away. She’s not ready to “atone” for anything Cal, Sarah, or Bill want her to, and this really looks like it eats them all up inside; Cal most.
Eddie: “Sleep the sleep of the just


Hank (Peter Friedman) goes to tell Eddie that “they know” and that everything is over. I get the feeling this is going to push Eddie into a dangerous space. Because he knows he’s right, in many respects. But it’s now a question of whether he wants to push things past the breaking point, and whether the Meyerist cult is going to retaliate in an unsettling way. How far is Sarah willing to go, now that she’s gone so far over the line? She wonders if Steve was right, though. About Eddie. After which Cal tells her: “Steves words mean nothing.” If so, for real, how can they go on believing what they believe?
Out on the town, Eddie tracks down another denier. A bartender who was kicked out for supposed subordination. All due to a run-in with Cal, because he was getting ahead and Cal wasn’t at the time; Steve was favouring someone else. The guy seemed to have loved Meyerism, for what it was, an enlightening experience of self, but it was Cal, those competitive, weird bits that were the destruction.
Cal and Sarah try reassuring everyone, after Richard’s betrayal, that things are going well, and that going forward they’ll be fine. Big, big talk. Hawk (Kyle Allen) and Noa (Britne Oldford) look on proudly. Russel (Patch Darragh) goes to Cal alone to tell him he wants to help “maintain law and order” however possible. Although Hank’s still not sold, even if he pretends to accept things as they lie. And Abe, he drops off his tests about the water in a car – Sarah’s car – in the parking lot. I wonder what this will set in motion.


Out finding more deniers, Eddie convinces others he wants to change the movement. To reform certain policies, to make Meyerism what it’s meant to be and not some insane cult. In the trees, Sarah lurks, watching. He confronts her and tells her the movement can be better. He also lets slip he knows of the blackmail, that the deniers could testify against her. Eddie speaks ominously when he says to his wife: “One way or another, you will be punished.” Whoooa, that was an intense moment courtesy of both Mr. Paul and Ms. Monaghan. When she’s on her way back home a vehicle stars chasing her, ramming the car from behind, before it pushes her into a guardrail and flips her car, crashing hard. What timing, after Eddie’s harsh yet plausible words.
Poor Richard wakes up in a homeless shelter, nowhere in the real world that will take him after many years under the veil of Meyerism. Life hasn’t exactly turned out how he expected. He goes to a law school, tracking down a man named Jeremiah (Brian Yang); someone he knew in another life, before the cult. Jeremiah’s married to a nice man, kids, the whole deal. Richard needs a couch to sleep on, but his old friend – a lover, most definitely – can’t oblige after two decades. Sad to see the ruin of a life like Richard’s after believing in a faith that ostracises and pushes people away, often in a violent emotional manner, now coming out the other end worse for wear.
Everyone’s worried about Sarah, she hasn’t come home, she hasn’t called. Cal and Hawk assume she’s with Eddie; the two of them and Hank try calling around to find out where she’s disappeared. And Mary, she’s still lost, too. Having complications when her water seems to burst.


In the hospital, Sarah wakes with luckily only a broken arm. At her bedside is Cal. She tells him she was run off the road. More paranoia for them and the movement. She also tells Cal that Eddie knows, of the money, the blackmail. Will this lead them to Abe working undercover? If that’s the case, I worry for him. I never stop worrying about Eddie, either. Only takes a suggestion for Cal to believe he had anything to do with Sarah’s accident. He then takes his suspicions to Hawk, which could make things get ugly. Cal knows what he’s doing by telling him. Rotten and manipulative.
Abe is busy building his case. People are brought in to videotape their statements, bringing out all about Sarah taking money from those who once unburdened themselves to Steve and the movement.
Back at his place Eddie discovers Hawk waiting, angry. This is disgusting to watch. Cal has manipulated the kid into hating his father, believing the worst of him. He is so far gone he’ll never come back. He wants Eddie to leave, won’t even call him dad anymore. And it breaks the well-meaning father’s heart to hear and see.
At the compound Mary is found on the roadside, bloody, unconscious. Her baby happy and healthy, it seems. For the first time Sarah looks at the child, then at Cal, and realises who the father is, truly.


Eddie: “Theres a fine line between a tool and a weapon
Going to see Eddie, Richard pleads for him not to leave. He wants them to help people, to actually do good instead of letting the bad overcome all the Meyerists worked for over the years. For his part Eddie isn’t willing to fight, not any harder than he has already. Will he come back?
Everything for Sarah and Cal has changed. Just in the way she looks at him, it’s evident. He apologises without her saying a word. “I was asleep,” she tells him re: his true self, his behaviour, the bodies and wreckage in Cal’s path. She already knew. However, what does she do now that she’s “wide fucking awake” after all this time? Things have really taken a turn, in all respects, during this episode.
While everyone in the movement has a ceremony for the baby, Richard shows up, declaring Eddie Lane as the true leader. He locks everyone inside their little church, calling Cal a “snake” and yelling for anyone nearby to hear. He heads to the records room. As Sarah and a guard try to get in, Richard produces a gas can; is he really going to light all those files, the tapes, himself, and the whole place on fire? An excellently edited sequence sees Richard pouring gas as Eddie fills his car with gas elsewhere; Eddie feels something happening. Haunting score, intense cuts, perfect acting.
Before Richard lights the place, he urges Sarah to run. And she obliges.
Pic 4BWhat an intense episode! WOW. Richard sacrificed himself to something greater, for real. No Ladder, no Light. He sacrificed himself, and now where does the movement go from here? Likewise, does this put a wrench into the works for Abe or does he already have enough information to bury Sarah, Cal, and the entire cult? We’ll see.
Only one episode left, titled “Mercy” – and then it’s Season 3, or bust. I hope they’ll give us another one, depending on how the season finishes. Excited to watch what’ll unfold.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 11: “Defiance”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 11: “Defiance”
Directed by Phil Abraham
Written by Vanessa Rojas & Andrea Ciannavei

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Restitution” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Spiritus Mundi” – click here
Pic 1Hawk (Kyle Allen) is in one of those same rooms where his father Eddie (Aaron Paul) sat, staring into the Meyerist eye, repenting for sins. Or whatever. A lot of pain in him. On the outside, Cal (Hugh Dancy) and Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) are basking in the success of their latest talk. Although she’s having a tough time, with family. But Cal says he’s “all in” for their new life, their relationship. Except Eddie’s there to confront him over what he discovered about them. He also shows off the charm Steve (Keir Dullea) gave him, making clear both their leader and Sarah chose him; not Cal. Whoa.
Note: Eddie’s cast in light as Cal, once more as I’ve noted time and again, gets cast in shadow, a great visual in this moment!
Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) and Sean (Paul James) are talking with his mother and the cult deprogrammer. They’re asked about whether there’s a threat of violence, which neither of them can answer for certain. He wants to take the second chance. She’s still connected, particularly to Cal.
And then there’s Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar), trying his best to blow the lid of the Meyerist cult. He says that “press alone” can take them down, though Sarah’s looking more likely headed to jail all the time. On top of that, there’s the issues with the water, and Abe gets troubling results back on the tests ordered.
Through Richard (Clark Middleton), Eddie wants to send a message for his son. That they need to meet. Although Hawk isn’t doing well. His mother’s going to see him, then gets a call from Cal; he’s surprised to find out that Eddie was in fact in Peru with Steve before he died. The stress sitting on Cal’s shoulders right now is so huge, you can see it about to break. Later, he holds a meeting about Eddie slipping past security, and he goes a bit wild. You can see people a bit scared now for the first time. They can see Cal’s instability raging below the surface.
Hawk’s having trouble seeing how the isolation is meant to help. He doesn’t feel it’s working, and he knows it didn’t work for his father, either. His mother, brainwashed as she is, pushes him to continue: “The Light radiates in you,” she tells him, feeding him the same shit her parents likely fed her. Speaking of Hank (Peter Friedman) and Gab (Deirdre O’Connell), they go to see their daughter Tessa (Alexia Landeau), defying the Denier Policy. Already, a change is coming in the movement altogether. One that Cal might not be capable of stopping.


Eddie, with help of Felicia (Adriane Lenox), continues on his climb to 8R. He does meditation. He threads a needle blindfolded. All while she narrates his journey. Simultaneously, Cal goes through all his things – his memories of Steve, pictures and letters and all sorts of things – wondering if what Eddie told him earlier is actually true. And despite the madness, the nonsense, there’s something to Eddie’s claim of being the “chosen son” because he has a power in him, somewhere deep down.
Returning to life again, Hawk runs into Noa (Britne Oldford). Things are awkward, yet he confesses to being with Ashley (Amy Forsyth). They try moving past it, and he lays on one her lips to prove nothing’s changed. But something has changed, absolutely. He’s only denying it. Then he finds out his father crashed the compound to get to Cal. Coupled with the fact Richard brought word to him in meditation, he’s a confused young man.
For his part, Cal is trying his best to hang on to everything. From Sarah to Mary. Of course when Sarah tells him about the latter wanting to possibly leave, things get tough. Cal tries to pretend like he cares, like he’s not putting pressure on Mary in any kind of way. Sarah’s doing her best to root out who’s exploiting and abusing her. Only a matter of time before she finds out more. And piled on top of everything, Noa contacts Cal to tell him Eddie’s trying to see his son. That’s not all, though. Eddie and his father-in-law Hank are still in league, too.
And Eddie gets beaten up by three men, brutally. Which starts to make him paranoid about who’s pulling those sort of strings. He tells Hank that he now has to “pick sides” and to go with his own truth, instead of that of his wife, his daughter. But Hank can’t, not yet.
Sean gets a bit scared after Mary tells him she let Sarah in on their possible plan to leave. Especially when Cal shows up at their place in the middle of the night. He acts willing to let them go. “You are loved here, the two of you,” he claims. Is this truth? Or merely an act, another mask in the long line of delusions that is Calvin Roberts? Honestly, I can’t tell at this point.
What Abe discovers is that he’s a pawn in a game involving Dekaan, the water wars. He feels more and more isolated, as well. Nobody on his side seems to care about what’s truly happening. When people are dying from poisoned water, and the cult goes on blackmailing and brainwashing and ruining lives in their own way.
Family dinner now includes Cal, something Hawk does not seem to enjoy. Also, Hank and Gab bring up how intense Cal was during their little security meeting earlier. This starts up a conversation about why Eddie showed up at the compound. Everything gets quite intense. Outside, Cal tells Hawk about him and his mother. Then retroactively admits to offering Ashley’s family a house as a bribe to leave Hawk alone. He likewise tries to make her out to be the horrible one. Not a good idea; shit.
That night Eddie’s waiting for his boy as he gets back in the city. Things don’t go well, Hawk wants to throw him away, he believes whatever Cal tells him. He won’t accept anything, and says that Eddie has to accept everything, that he must move on. Poor kid. He goes one step forward, three steps back. Into the muck and the mire of Meyerism.


Sarah goes to see Eddie, and they argue over their respective responsibility for their actions. She’s shocked, knowing that he knows what she tried to make restitution for, and this sends her away angry. Now she can likely guess Richard’s been meeting with her husband. She goes back to the compound rifling through his things, trying to find a clue.
Packing their things into a car in the middle of the night, Sean and Mary plan to leave. But she runs back, unwilling to let go. All he can do is turn around and leave on his own. This is not good.
At home, Eddie hears a noise. Wielding a bat, he finds Abe out poking around his place. He reveals that his child made it, just as Eddie prayed for “to the Light.” More than that he explains why he’s on Eddie’s side. “Everything else has been a charade,” Abe says. Then he reveals more: he’s with the FBI.
Finding keys to a hotel room, Sarah discovers Felicia there.
In the woods, Cal has a vision. He sees Steve “painting flowers on [his] walls of doom.” He attacks his mentor, mad for not receiving the pendant, the one he says he earned. He chokes Steve, but the man only smiles. A terrifying, waking nightmare. We have an idea of all the devious ways in which Cal had to… earn, the pendant. This is the trauma that lingers in Cal constantly, haunting him.


What an intense episode! One of the most emotional, eerie, powerful episodes of all.
Excited to see what happens in “Spiritus Mundi” next, as we get closer to the end of this psychedelic, strange, visceral Season 2.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 10: “Restitution”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 10: “Restitution”
Directed by Patrick Norris
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Oz” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Defiance” – click here
Pic 1Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) wakes in her hotel room, alone. She and Cal (Hugh Dancy) spent a passionate night together. But what’s next in that regard? Do they empower one another to keep being awful? Well, she’s having a dream right now. She sees Marshall the farmer down at the buffet, where she starts pounding down bacon before almost choking.
She’s actually right next to Cal, in bed. A strange dream, though with those involved in Meyerism there’s often something true in all their dreams.
Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) brings all Sarah’s blackmail to his boss. They think it’s possible to bring down the movement, although many “morally reprehensible” people won’t get their just desserts, walking away for just a couple of the higher ups. Still, that’s the usual reality for many of these white collar crimes.
Meanwhile, Hawk (Kyle Allen) is meeting up with Ashley (Amy Forsyth) for the first time in so long. He also downplays his relationship with Noa (Britne Oldford), that they’re only friends. Very clear he hasn’t gotten over Ashley, still holding onto strong feelings under the surface, and barely.
Also there’s Eddie (Aaron Paul), still in contact with Sarah’s estranged sister Tessa (Alexia Landeau). They talk about the cult, as well as the Denier Policy. He wants a group of Deniers to walk onto the Meyerist compound and say: “We exist.” Yet Tessa doesn’t believe that it can happen, or she isn’t sure. The more Eddie talks, the more she’s convinced. But it still isn’t so easy.


Back with his mother and the cult deprogrammer, Sean (Paul James) is being pried out of the movement. All the same Mary (Emma Greenwell) isn’t there, and the deprogrammer casts further doubt on all the Meyerist bullshit. Sean is paranoid, worried, and who wouldn’t be? These people play hardball.
Ashley and Hawk talk about their former relationship. Why she broke it off, got away. He has to run off, they’ve got to be back to the compound by sundown. Before that he tells Ashley about watching his mother onstage, that she talked about “self love” and things that weren’t related to Meyerism. Is he finally seeing the real light? That of TRUTH outside their cult? He and Ashley embrace with a kiss. Perhaps it’s the first step.
Hypocrites Cal and Sarah speak about “transgression” that they’ve all experienced, meditating in a group for restitution. Helping others to find their own transgressive acts, to cast them out. What nonsense. Yet there they all are, meditating and thinking of their faults, all crying. And none of them will ever really face the truth, only the veiled truth in Meyerism. At the same time, Felicia (Adriane Lenox) guides Eddie through his own meditation.
Felicia: “Rest. Tomorrow, we act.”


Sarah finds out Marshall the farmer died weeks ago. This is one of those strings of guilt that keeps tugging at her heart. I wonder if she’ll manage to get herself past all the horrible things she’s done. Can she make ACTUAL restitution, instead of feigned restitution in the form of Meyerist meditation? Not sure. If so, she’ll be going to jail. Straight up. Even if she doesn’t do it herself, Abe is on the case.
And Cal, he’s got far more than just what we’ve seen in the series weighing on his shoulders. The fact Dr. Meyers molested him long ago is the bottom of the iceberg; what he’s done throughout the episodes of this series, what we’ve seen, is merely the tip.
At the park Eddie gets to hang with his daughter Summer (Aimee Laurence). And it’s sad to see her worry about their family, dragged into all the mess of cults and the madness of her mother’s side of the family. Tragic. At home she isn’t too happy with her family and doesn’t want to do take part in their latest celebration, or whatever they do.
Simultaneously, big brother Hawk is in bed with Ashley, suddenly falling farther from the movement yet hanging on at the same time; I’m interested most in seeing his arc, what’ll happen with this new development of Ashley showing back up in his life. Best of all is her influence, pointing out how Hawk’s only moved from the control of his mother to the control of Cal. She wants better for him, to make him see he can control his own life without needing others, even her. He can be his own man.
During dinner, Tessa arrives, out of nowhere. She confronts everybody – her brother Russel, sister Sarah, her mom, her dad, everyone else. She likewise reveals she and Eddie are in touch. Nobody reacts too well, Hank (Peter Friedman) is devastated. Then Tessa tells everybody Sarah wanted to leave, too. Had her bags packed and everything. Nice; another family divide. This throws everyone into a mixed up place, even Russel, particularly considering the fact Hank sees his daughter fairly regularly and keeps it secret from others.


Sean later tells Mary about who the deprogrammer is, that she’s trying to get him back home, away from the Meyerists. Mary doesn’t like that he lied. He says he’d like to go home, with her. To make a life together away from the movement. “The only thing thats keeping me here is you,” he tells her. Love this shot – as they talk, essentially discussing life in a cage with the cult, their faces are captured through the bars of the crib they’re painting. Beautiful visuals.
More revelations: Cal offered Ashley and her family a house to break up with Hawk. She says he is a bad man, that Eddie never would’ve done that to him. This confuses and frustrates Hawk, obviously. Never easy to see the world you know and love and bought into start crumbling around you. Regardless, Ashley’s only trying to help him. She has nothing to gain. It breaks her heart to see him entrapped by that insane cult.
Eddie gets a visit from Sarah, a pissed off visit. He tries to tell her it’s all about fixing things, mending bridges. She wants him to let go of their relationship, she doesn’t want to move outside of her safe little Meyerist world; especially not after all the crimes she’s committed in the name of Dr. Steven Meyers’ movement. Next day with Felicia and Richard, Eddie tells them he doesn’t want all the responsibility of leading the movement in the right direction. He says he can’t do it. But it’s all left up to the Light, Felicia says.
Pic 5Everybody’s painting tiny coffins. They put their sins inside, to “relinquish” them, or y’know, whatever the hell they believe. Hank relinquishes the Denier Policy. Nicole relinquishes Sam Field a.k.a Abe. So basically, it’s a type of confession, in aid of their own souls. To cleanse themselves. To lie to themselves about their guilt, their mistakes.
A couple good things: Mary agrees to talk with the deprogrammer for Sean, and Gab tells Hank she wants to see their daughter again.
Cal uses this time to relinquish his mother, her ashes into the waves. To let go of her, all that she represents. Yeah, right. It’ll take far more than a bit of water to cleanse ole Cal.
On the beach, Richard burns all the relinquishing coffins in the other half of their ritual. He remembers the one bearing Sarah’s sins. He brings it to Eddie, who opens and reads, discovering his estranged wife has been with Cal, though she’s willing to bear the burden of guilt for every other horrible thing she’s done all year. This is heartbreaking for Eddie to read. Necessary, to push him towards leadership.


What I love most about The Path is its resistance to tell a clean, happy story, where the families are likely to rejoice at the end and come together again. No, it isn’t like that. The Lanes are on the brink of all out destruction; hard to tell which of them will be left standing, or faithful, once all is said and done. Such a great show, excellently paced writing with plenty of drama and mystery to steer the ship. I don’t know what others are talking about when they trash the series. Spectacular show, that I hope will have another season despite however things wind up in the remaining episodes.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 9: “Oz”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 9: “Oz”
Directed by Patrick Norris
Written by Coleman Herbert

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Return” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Restitution” – click here
Pic 1The unburdening tapes are being used now with more force by Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan). She goes to one person, then the next, the next. Using the dirty little secrets of everybody against them. Such a creepy sequence. Reminds me of something you’d see from Scientologists, blackmailing people to stay, or else their “fragile house of lies” come toppling down. Clearly Sarah knows she’s doing awful things, yet she is so tied to Meyerism she has no identity otherwise. So, she’ll fight dirty to save what she loves.
Eddie (Aaron Paul) sits alone in a church thinking. A priest comes and sits with him. They talk about their life’s path, how they came to faith, their calling. He’s searching for his own answers about his calling with the Meyerist movement.
In other news, Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) is in shit with the higher ups. Because the movement’s paid off their back taxes. No more leverage for the feds. This puts Abe in a tough spot. Now he’s going to try harder to catch Cal (Hugh Dancy) and the movement red-handed. And that could lead to some trouble.
Pic 1AEddie meets with Richard (Clark Middleton) and Felicia (Adriane Lenox) in a hotel. To talk about what’s next for Meyerism. She doesn’t totally believe what’s happening, in regards to Eddie as Steve’s choice to lead them forward. The only way she’ll accept it? He must “continue the climb” to 8R.
Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) is introduced to the cult deprogrammer Sean’s (Paul James) mother has brought in, though she isn’t interested. She can tell what’s going on, and there’ll be resistance.
Finally, Sarah reveals to Cal she’s paid off the back taxes to keep them afloat. This stresses him out. He’s not the saviour, he isn’t the leader. She is taking charge like never before. You can see how it bothers him. He’s not exactly great at hiding his inner feelings, despite what he may think of himself. Note: more instances in this scene of how Cal is cast in shadow often, behind the veil of darkness, and there are other times he’s half in the light, half in shadow to convey a split sense of who he is as a person.
Abe a.k.a Sam goes sniffing around the donors who helped with the tax bill. He figures out about the blackmail, something he already suspect, anyways. I only keep worrying about what’ll happen to Abe if he pokes in the wrong places.


Hawk (Kyle Allen), Hank (Peter Friedman), Russel (Patch Darragh), they all worship Sarah’s supposed good deed of saving their cult. The only one unsure, as usual, is Nicole (Ali Ahn). And more every episode I start feeling as if she’s going to play a part in Abe’s eventual plan to catch Cal and the movement in their ugliness. On top of everything, the guilt is flowing through Sarah as eager as the blood in her veins.
Like you didn’t see it coming, Cal still keeps in close contact with Mary. He goes to see her before the upcoming trip to Baltimore. She talks to him about The Wizard of Oz, which she was given by the deprogrammer. He’s there because a family is what he needs, only he’s far too dysfunctional and damaged in his own right to be with anyone properly. As for Mary I’m starting to think she’s seeing the truth about Meyerism. Or at least, I want her to see.
Cal: “Im a husk, Mary. I wanna be vapour. I wanna metamorphose. We can do it together. Swim in the sea. What do you say?”
On his way up the Ladder, Eddie’s guided by Felicia into his own mind. He’s at a bus stop, and when a bus arrives it’s filled with people who have no faces. Just a head covered in skin. What does it all mean? He believes it has to do with the cult’s Denier Policy. He wants it changed, as per his vision. The faceless were those outside the movement and this isn’t any way to treat the outside world, nor is it any way to treat those who’ve been shunned as deniers.


Physically, Abe and Nicole get closer. He also gets a bit of information: the unburdening tapes are in the movement’s archive room. In the meantime, they bang on the floor in a storage room. A little secret to keep between each other.
Out in the real world, Eddie goes to see Tessa Bishop (Alexia Landeau) – Sarah’s sister, who long ago broke away from the Meyerists and all their nonsense.
Cal and Sarah keep on having issues. He says he can’t get up and speak with her at the conference. He says he’s having problems with his conviction. Then she admits to her blackmail for the donations. Essentially, after the murder and the blackmail they’ve both got to keep going, for one another. If only for the sacrifices they’ve made to get to that point. This is an effective point in the series overall, is that anyone who gets lost in a religion, a cult, anything of that, eventually becomes so lost they don’t even know why they’re still walking further.
But Meyerists, they have a weird little ritual they do similar to the Catholics’ confession, to wash away their sins/convince themselves that their sins are washed away. Sarah and Cal find themselves on the same page again. For better or worse.
Sarah (to Cal): “Make me believe
What Eddie wants to do, underneath his new leader exterior, is change the movement. To show them the truth. When Tessa walks out on him because she can’t deal with any of that, he winds up running into Ashley (Amy Forsyth), Hawk’s old girlfriend. Hmm. I wonder if she’ll play a further role, maybe to help get Hawk away from all the madness. She actually turns up at the centre to see him later. One big surprise.


Back at the hotel after their conference, Cal and Sarah become one. Not only in their emotional headspace, their wants and needs. They fall in bed together. And this just feeds into their shared delusions of Meyerism, it won’t help anything. Not to mention it’ll take Sarah farther from Eddie than she already is. Above all, she’s fallen into a black hole, one crime after another with Cal.
Abe is snooping in the archives. He finds the tape of an unburdening with Don Hendren written on it.
Eddie receives a visit from Hank, about his meeting with Tessa. “Our families need to be mended,” he tells his estranged father-in-law. He says Steve chose him to lead, and that soon he will replace Cal; that they can make something better out of their movement.
We end on a strange moment, when Hank and Eddie embrace. Suddenly Eddie is bleeding from his side/back, almost like one of the wounds of Christ.


This second season is fantastic! I can’t believe that some critics have said there’s nothing overly enjoyable or worth fleshing out in these episodes.
Are they watching the same series? I don’t think so.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 8: “Return”

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
Pic 1Last 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.
Pic 2Things 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. “Im in someones 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. “Youre 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.
Pic 8So, 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.
Pic 9I 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.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 5: “Why We Source”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 5: “Why We Source”
Directed by Norberto Barba
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Red Wall” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “For Our Safety” – click here
screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-10-42-34-pmCal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) gives a speech to a crowd, more of the Meyerism Kool-Aid. Next to him stands Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan), playing her role. Then in the wings are Richard (Clark Middleton) and Kodiak (James Remar) still try getting to the bottom of Dr. Steve Meyers’ (Keir Dullea) death.
Simultaneous is the trajectory of Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul), on his second meeting at the support group for people who’ve left cults. He talks fondly of his children, of course. “I really thought that I was freer than Id ever been,” he laments, knowing that’s not true at all.
At their latest meeting Cal and Sarah, uncovering the damage of others, are actually looking for the mole in their midst. Nothing on that front yet. The rooms are checked by Russel (Patch Darragh) under the pretence: “This is why we source.” They claim to be helping when they’re only digging for answers they hope to find. Abe Gains (Rockmond Dunbar) sweats through one of the sourcing sessions opposite Cal, and for the time being is safe from being rooted out.
screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-10-42-59-pmLife outside the cult is wildly different for Eddie. He’s back to eating all the things he did once. Living away from a commune. Taking pills to help his mind rather than burrowing himself into a useless ideology. But things are much worse for Sarah, as she’s called to a house where Hawk (Kyle Allen) is being hauled away by the police on a warrant for his arrest. Hmm. I smell Libby Dekaan (Molly Price) behind this one. Did the scientist testing the water give something up? Either way, young Hawk is in the clink.
Everything really gets heated once Eddie and Sarah meet down there. He’s pissed because it’s clearly out of his hands. But Hawk doesn’t even want him there, and Sarah gets hot under the collar about her estranged husband calling Meyerism a cult. Compounded by the fact a domestic terrorism charge is on the books. The Meyerist lawyer is all about “the Light” and that’s terrifying, both to the viewer and definitely to Eddie.
Back at the compound, Cal talks to Abe about the death of his child; or, what he believes was the death of Abe’s child. We know that Cal is digging, we know that Abe is undercover. It’s one of the best types of Hitchcock schemes where you show the audience the bomb under the table, then let them sweat until it explodes. Whenever that may be. As it stands, Abe – aka Sam – is recruited by Cal to help them suss out the rat. Oh, really? Could mean ramifications for Meyerism if Abe’s privy to anything sensitive. Maybe just a way for Cal to reel him in closer.
Later on Sarah’s letting the kids see Eddie comes out, upsetting her mother Gab (Deirdre O’Connell) and father Hank (Peter Friedman) a bit. Although grandma reassures young Summer (Aimee Laurence) that Hawk’s predicament has nothing to do with them seeing their “denier” father. This further brings out tension between Gab and Hank, about the presence of Kodiak, why he left many years ago.
All the pressure comes down on Eddie, too. He returns to his prayers, to his Meyerist roots. I hope it doesn’t suck him back in permanently.


Sean (Paul James) has a sourcing session with Cal and Richard. Essentially, the younger man tells his leader exactly how things are going to go. Such as they need a new fridge, he and Mary (Emma Greenwell). None of this seems normal to Richard, certainly, and you can see the strain on Cal. Without many words Sean made clear he won’t be sitting by silently, not forever.
In prison, Hawk comes up against other ideologies. A black inmate (Hubert Point-Du Jour) from his cell challenges his Meyerist shit. He tries to show Hawk that things aren’t as simple and as loving and equal as his book The Ladder makes the world look.
Over at Dekaan, Eddie lays out his plan when he and Sarah confront Libby. Turns out she has a son who won’t talk with her anymore. Even has him on the phone. This doesn’t exactly appease her, though it made a difference. “Youre sadistic,” she tells Eddie as she leaves. Not long after, Sarah and her husband connect again, if only for a moment.
Mary receives a visit from Cal, looking mighty angry. He doesn’t like blackmail. She has him wrapped around her finger. But how long will it last? And it’s a dangerous game for her to play. Given what we know about Cal’s impulse control.


Together again, Richard and Cal sit. Only  now the sourcer is being sourced. Cal’s asked questions, then he comes clean about a mole in their legions. However, Richard wonders why the FBI is even poking around in the first place. He can so clearly see the lies in Cal, anybody can. He all but runs away after they’re finished. Leaving behind his old friend to wonder exactly what the leader is up to, and how bad things are going to get sooner than later.
Sarah and Eddie, after making love, lie together and talk about life, calm, open. He talks about being struck by lightning when she comes across the tree-like scar on his back. More and more, Eddie’s secrets are revealed.
That night in prison one of Hawk’s cellmates tries to touch his hair all creepy in the dark, which prompts him to freak out. This starts a fight and now things are likely looking worse for Hawk. Aside from that he gets further into the speech of his black cellmate, who preaches to his friends in the prison yard. I wonder if this whole experience will alter Hawk’s worldview.
Abe goes on leading his search effort for the Meyerist mole. In the doctor’s office they find a burner cellphone taped under the patient’s bed. Shelby (Allison Layman) denies it being hers, yet Cal and Russel believe otherwise.


Hawk gets released from the Juvenile Hall to find his father waiting. But Eddie only wants to make things better, right between them. And the ever ungrateful, foolishly idealistic Hawk turns his back on his father, wishing they’d left him in jail. Lots of people are turning their backs. For instance, Shelby is now cast out, and I sort of worry for Abe’s ethis at this point. He knows he’s the one undercover. Shelby is sent away, crying, with him left to do more work. Might’ve been the best thing for the woman, I don’t know. Just brings other elements into the picture when considering Abe as a character.
Sarah has to go down and see farmer Marshall Small (Tracy Howe). He is outright disgusted with her, particularly with his latest sick cow. She tries softening the blow, but it doesn’t do much. Because Marshall opens up his poor cow, spewing black, tar-like liquid into Sarah’s face: “I dont need to have the water tested. I know whats in the fuckinwater.” The animal’s veins are nearly entirely filled with poison.
screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-11-31-41-pmWow. That’s one of the more intense episodes and final moments of any yet on The Path. Very interested to see where all the threads lead from here. Many possibilities, none of them anything other than grim.