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.

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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.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 4: “The Red Wall”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 4: “The Red Wall”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by John O’Connor

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Father and The Son” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Why We Source” – click here
screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-3-13-15-pmLast we saw Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) he got punched out poolside while drinking with old friend and possible new flame Chloe Jones (Leven Rambin). He was then carted into the ER having a bad reaction to the booze. Will he be okay? Is it a physical reaction, or a more emotional one?
We start with Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan), listening to a tape of Lisa Jackson (Megan Byrne) when she came to Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) and Meyerism. She was helped, now Cal wants his return on that investment. Because these are exactly the types of things he does, he puts in a good deed to make up for the bad he’ll do, and so the vicious cycle goes. Now Sarah wants the tax exempt status in order to quell her guilt knowing what Cal’s done. At this point she’s no better than him, either.
Back to Eddie, he’s awake and in the hospital. Doctor Sally Hollins (Gretchen Hall) talks with him about why he’s there, why he lost it at the pool, the fight, all that. Chloe told Dr. Hollins about him spending “the last two decades in a cult” and now the doctor wants to help. Although this is nothing but opening a wound for Eddie. Especially when his brother’s suicide comes up.
screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-3-17-44-pmThings get trickier for Lisa, too. She’s been summoned to the compound, and this frightens her. So she goes to Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) and the authorities. But none of it’s easy, not for Lisa, not for Abe and the law. The higher-ups want the Meyerists taken care of, soon. Yet Gaines worries Cal will manipulate Lisa. Still no telling how Abe’s undercover work is going to go in the end, we might see something nasty happen. Right now they’ve got Lisa with a recording device, heading into the meeting willingly. Uh oh. Even Abe doesn’t look too sure about any of it.
Everyone sees Cal differently. Hawk (Kyle Allen) buys into his bullshit, as do many of the others, Noa (Britne Oldford) and certainly Mary (Emma Greenwell). However, we can see, more and more, how Sean (Paul James) looks at him with contempt. There’s an inevitable confrontation. At the same time we see the sadness of one of Cal’s lectures, as they each take turns changing the colour of the wall. All visualisation. Seeing everybody excited like they’re literally watching it change is soul crushing. And now Sean can see through Cal. It hurts for many reasons, not only because that baby’s likely not his, but rather most of all because he actually let Cal hypnotise him into that way of life.
Richard (Clark Middleton) and Kodiak (James Remar) aren’t stopping in their quest. They don’t know who hurt Steve (Keir Dullea). Kodiak is intent on finding who did, Cal or not, by any means necessary. While Richard’s worried big accusations will “harm the movement” and, rightfully, wants proof. They’ll eventually discover one kill Cal has under his belt, sooner or later I’m sure. But was it him who killed Steve? Could it have been Eddie?


At the hospital Sarah arrives to see Eddie, who isn’t impressed he’s being followed. Is he? I believe it, though I also believe she had nothing to do with that. Probably Cal, knowing his devious nature. Sarah keeps talking about knowing “your damage” and using all the Meyerist buzzwords. Simultaneously, Eddie rejects the movement and loves his wife deeply. One of the saddest parts of any of the plots in The Path.
Over in the new building Cal runs into a man who’s now homeless because of the building the Meyerists bought. He also gets a bottle tossed at him in the dark. Oh, the joys of being in a cult!
Dr. Hollins diagnoses Eddie with PTSD, giving him medication to soothe the anxiety, et cetera. She refers him to a support group, as well. “Youre free now, Mr. Lane, and you can have a wonderful, productive life.” To which he has no real response. He knows it’s true, and all the same, isn’t it tough to admit you’ve spent a huge portion of your life working towards a fraudulent goal? I think so. Eddie is caught between so many things. On top of that could be the guilt of killing Steve. At least he’s got Chloe around, she does care for him and wants to see him escape the cult, sheltered life he was living behind for good.
Hawk has a charged moment with Noa, as she rejects him for being a “boy” when they’re at a private concert together. What we do see is that Hawk’s not totally lost in the movement. Not yet, anyways. That is coming quickly. In other news, Sarah flips at Cal for having her husband followed. Then they get into their shared darkness. We see in this scene, as we do others, how the people in a cult – even the leaders – start at a point where they want to do good, they even are good people, and somewhere along the line that disappears, fading into obscurity as the individual good winds up above the good of the whole.
Cal: “You cant win. Someone always suffers.”
screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-3-34-53-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-09-at-3-39-21-pmThe day of Lisa’s visit to the commune comes. Before Cal can go meet her, Kodiak hauls him aside; he’s found a rabbit eating his strawberries. He asks Cal about the “weight of leadership” on his shoulders. Or does he see the weight of something else, and this is his way to get under the new leader’s skin? Oh, I think he’s a tricky one, that Kodiak.
Once Lisa gets to her meeting, she finds out she’s meeting Sarah. Hmm. Now Sarah brings up everything about when Lisa was there, how they helped her. This is a wildly tense scene. Then Lisa reveals she’s recording them, silently, and the meeting is over. The law thwarted. A situation getting more crazy by the minute.
Speaking of crazy, Sean goes to see Eddie. About his doubts. They sit and talk together, Sean worries about his child – that’s not his – with Mary, and everything else bearing down on him. Eddie says he wishes he could be with his family: “But, I cant have that,” he says solemnly. He tries to tell Sean that it’s all about his life with Mary, their marriage, nothing else.
Eddie: “No one can change the colour of a white wall


Later, we find out Noa’s mother is a music mogul, of some sort. Sarah then tells Cal about giving Lisa the tape of her ‘unburdening’ back, after she revealed the recording device on her. We hear more of her tape, too. She hit a kid on a scooter, a street kid she says. And then she lived with the guilt. So finally, Cal figures out there’s somebody undercover in their ranks. This visibly has him shaken; Sarah’s equally disturbed.
And Eddie, he’s decided to start taking his medication. He sees further how the damage of the cult spreads. First him, now Sean, and countless more will come eventually. He even takes off his ring, heads out to a support group and introduces himself.
Can he turn the page on Meyerism? Or will events now out of his control pull him back into the void?


Fuck, what a great series! This second season is stellar, no matter what others say. Plenty of material to keep going, plus there’s a couple extra episodes this time around.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 3: “The Father and The Son”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 3: “The Father and The Son”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Julia Brownell

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dead Moon” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Red Wall” – click here
screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-10-24-17-pmWe begin with Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) giving us a talk on Meyerism, saying it must not “remain static” – these are actually the words of Dr. Steven Meyer (Keir Dullea), as he talks of Cal and Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) being Guardians of the Light. Meanwhile, we flashback with Richard (Clark Middleton) to his first time taking the drugs the Meyerists do. He trips hard then Dr. Meyer comes out to comfort him. And imparts that it isn’t for him to decide who’ll lead them after he’s gone isn’t up to him: “Thats up to the Light, man.” Ah. Now, he’s got doubts about Cal and the supposed words of the doctor coming from his lips.
screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-10-24-47-pmIn other news, Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) is worried about first time motherhood, so the cult prays for her; Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar), undercover, included. Then out of nowhere, police arrive. You can see just from the look on Cal’s face this worries him. Their mere presence enough to disturb that quiet underneath the surface. Likewise, Sarah’s worried, and she isn’t as good as Cal at hiding it; not that he’s great. Well the cops were there about Hawk (Kyle Allen) and Noa (Britne Oldford) throwing a rock through a window on their previous night walk. Nothing too serious right now.
Speaking of Hawk, he and his father Eddie (Aaron Paul) talk about the retreat he went on, that he “floated” and that he received a sign. When his dad brings the sceptical real world into the picture Hawk does not respond well. The kid doesn’t want anything to do with his denier father anymore. These are the first steps of Hawk’s indoctrination, fully he’s being submerged in the dangerous side of this so-called faith; the side convincing him, in his youthful idealism, that there’s something real about “the ladder” and all the other Meyerist nonsense. And he’s stuck between one parent who’s come to their senses, as well as another that’s also stuck between a rock and a hard place with her own faith. Later, Sarah takes Hawk to see the woman whose window he smashed, Libby Ducaan (Molly Price). She makes an offer: she’ll not worry about the window at all, if they “stop their campaign of false propaganda” involving the people of Clarksville. Libby even provides result of the tests on the water, to show she’s on the level. Is she? Or are we seeing another aspect of a cult where they can’t even see how their philanthropic ideals, in a rush to ‘be good’ in the eyes of the outer world, are being misused?
screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-10-29-53-pmThen we’ve got Abe and his wife Jocelyn (Jasmin Walker). Things aren’t going well. She knows that he’s doing important work undercover, she’s understanding. But it’s all Abe talks about, and simultaneously she has had to bear all his training, all his work, all this undercover stuff taking up his time. She feels as if the family’s being alienated. And y’know, we already see Abe getting too close to Nicole (Ali Ahn), so it’s not hard to imagine he might be slipping into Meyerism a little.
Kodiak (James Remar) is feeling terrible about what happened to Steve, believing he let the man down. All the same, Sarah’s mother Gab (Deirdre O’Connell) comforts him; they have a history, these two. I wonder will Kodiak being around cause friction? Seems like there’s an unresolved love there, or at the very least a passion.
In a not unexpected development, Hawk starts opening up to Cal, who begins playing the father figure role. Yeah, that’s going to turn out well. Nevertheless, they bond and Cal willingly steps in to try giving him direction. And across the street Eddie watches, as his son slips away, from him, and further into the cult. So he makes a split decision to confront them. Eddie tries appealing to his boy, he tries to be understanding. He’s desperate. Hawk runs off while Cal puts up a tough front, and Eddie makes clear: “I will fucking murder you before I let you take him from me.”
Together, Richard and Kodiak look over the final few Rungs, the former believing Steve didn’t write the last three Rungs. And Kodiak’s inclined to believe he didn’t. They wonder now if the man drawn on the cave in Peru, involved in Steve’s death, was in fact Cal.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-10-50-10-pmMary goes for a talk with Sarah. She reveals that her baby may or may not belong to Sean (Paul James). She’s concerned that he’ll be devastated finding out the child isn’t his (no telling what Cal will do if he knew for sure). However, Sarah has other things on her mind. Eddie contacts his estranged wife. They met and he’s clearly angry about Hawk, what Cal and possibly Sarah are putting in his head. No telling where all this is headed, but I know it ain’t good.
Note: Truly fantastic score from Will Bates (Imperium). In the next scene, this pounding rhythm takes over and drives the tension you feel mounting. This goes on for a stretch of time, as paranoia begins setting in.
On the road Eddie notices someone following him. Does he? Soon the car vanishes, and he’s relieved. Then at a gas station the car pulls up, a young guy gets out. Quickly, Eddie pumps his gas and takes off. He meets Chloe Jones (Leven Rambin) for a drink at a casino, telling her about all the madness of his life as of late. When Eddie sees the guy from the gas station this sets his paranoid mind off, big time: “Im not letting them control me, okay?” he all but yells at Chloe.
When Sarah talks to Hawk, he says he’s filled with rage. And therefore Cal will help him “channel” all that. Like an unknowingly oxymoronic statement. He further rejects his father, and his mother worries for what she can’t say: Cal is a god damned murderer, one who’s killed his own friend. Super choice of a role model. Somehow Sarah continues falling for him and she’s, essentially, asking him to offer up money in exchange for her silence re: his sins.
screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-10-59-22-pmFinally, Mary suggests to Sean the baby may not be his, and without words confirms she may be carrying Cal’s child. Uh oh. I wonder, will Sean let his old self through and take out his frustrations on the cult leader?
Sarah finds out Ducaan’s testing isn’t complete. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are needed to do the rest, which is, of course, why nobody has found anything major yet as proof. But she knows there’s something wrong. She’s trying to reassure a Clarksville farmer they’re doing their best to help. “I will take on your burden,” Sarah tells him before taking a drink of the contaminated water herself. Stupid faith, and now poison, runs through her veins.
In a car park Cal confronts Lisa about their tax exempt status. He wants their application pushed through, though she says exemptions are being pushed back for a while. Cal wants to be repaid for Meyerism helping her in a time of need. He’s being unbearably creepy, physically threatening without ever uttering a threat or raising a hand.
And while everyone else goes on with their lives, Richard and Kodiak summon the spirit of Dr. Steven Meyer. They beat drums, hoping to speak with him. Kodiak reveals Steve is “not in the light.”
Worst of all, Eddie starts having a bad reaction to the alcohol he drank with Chloe. He’s rushed to a hospital, his breathing staggered, his face going deep red. Will he make it through?


I loved this episode. The personal tensions between characters are coming to a head, and the family of Lanes is coming apart at the seams. Like a juggling act, seeing who’ll be able to carry the biggest emotional load, and who’ll succumb to defeat.

The Path – Season 2, Episode 2: “Dead Moon”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 2, Episode 2: “Dead Moon”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Annie Weisman

* For a recap & review of Season 2 opener, “Liminal Twilight” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Father and The Son” – click here
screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-42-35-amSarah (Michelle Monaghan) has seen the skeletal remains of Silas in the ground, unearthed by Cal (Hugh Dancy) at her request. She’s trying to work through the emotional baggage, as Richard (Clark Middleton) guides her in their Scientology-like therapy. He thinks that Eddie (Aaron Paul) is a constant source of disruption and pain in her life. He brings up Eddie’s trip to Peru, after the pair separated. But Sarah refutes his playing a part in her damage right now.
Meanwhile, Eddie’s off with Hawk (Kyle Allen) and Summer. The older child is still unhappy about his father’s leaving the commune, leaving them, essentially. Dad continually tries to do his best and to make them happy.
At the same time Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) is catching Mark Penetti (Matt Bailey) up on his undercover investigation into Cal Roberts and the Meyerist movement. Things are going smooth, and Penetti seems invested. Career is looking up for ole Abe. Unless something bad happens along the way.


When passing over the kids, Sarah talks to Eddie for a minute. She’s upset, though. She hates being apart and at once won’t let go of Meyerism, she’s trapped in her delusion that it’s all worth what they’re giving up (i.e. their intelligence, their lives, and much, much more).
And other things crop up at the ranch. The movement isn’t going to get their tax-exempt status like planned, a snag’s come into play. Just another bit of stress for Cal. More faith lost on the part of everyone else, especially Sarah. He’s not listening to Steve, who told them never get “involved with the government.” Needless to say the pair of Cal and Sarah are growing further apart, and they’re struggling to stay united as one; all a farce for their followers.
At home, Eddie meditates. Then in juxtaposition he’s out in front of a ton of big screen television sets, everything so loud and so modern and it’s as if the world is right inside his head. The real world is too loud. Almost like he was in prison. And in a way, he was in a cell. Only one constructed from the mind.
Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) continues to get further into the fold. She and Nicole (Ali Ahn) bond over babies, motherhood, breastfeeding, and such. They talk about mixed race children, considering that Mary and Sean (Paul James) are expecting. But that’s all a cover: Mary’s worried the baby won’t have any trace of her man, and that it’ll be clear Cal fathered him or her. Should be a tense pregnancy.


Eddie goes to check on Sarah, but things devolve into an argument over Peru before he takes off again. He knows there’s something going on. Now it’s worse, as he sees Sarah ready for a big cocktail party of some sort. This makes Eddie worry about what’s going on between Cal and his estranged wife.
Out in the woods, Russell (Patch Darragh) leads a retreat for the 1Rs, such as Hawk, who are getting more and more indoctrinated into the Meyerist movement. It’s a journey in darkness: “Tonight, youll have to find the Light inside of you.”
Cal and Sarah are out at a party, showing off Mary after her battle with drugs. They talk about their focus on social justice, and plenty of other issues. One interesting note: Sarah decides to have a drink, shocking Cal in front of their friends. Hmm, that’s not a good sign. However, she’s just fine. It’s Cal that isn’t doing well, watching others around him indulge while he can’t even face his own demons. Things between him and Mary are getting stranger, plus the fact Sean can tell there’s something not quite right in the way Cal treats his wife.
And then Eddie, he’s out having a guilt-free date with Chloe Jones (Leven Rambin), after assuming his wife is out doing the same thing. They’re having a chat, some drinks over a meal. Will anything more come of it? They’re both obviously interested in one another. Still, Eddie does love his wife despite the few feelings stirring for Chloe in his newfound freedom. Things start breaking down after she talks about the cult, asking questions, making him uncomfortable. It’s all mixed in with the fact Chloe used to be with his brother Johnny before he died. She’s lost and believes he found “answers” in the Meyerist movement. Or at least she doesn’t judge him for fleeing into the arms of a cult after what happened. Through it all they actually do fall into each others arms.
In the midst of the party, Cal calls everybody out for their rich bullshit. For a killer he is awfully high and mighty. This is one large portion of what Cal is all about, thematically. He represents, quite literally (and very well), the hypocrisy of those who sit in power of some movement, whether an organised church or something lesser like Meyerism; they do their nastiness out of the public eye, then preach on the pulpit within the same breath.
screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-10-54-amscreen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-15-59-amSimultaneously, Sarah and Eddie get intimate with other people. This is an intense scene, both for the viewer and the characters. You can see Eddie’s initial reluctance, before he goes headlong into making love to Chloe. For her part, Sarah refuses her would-be lover and walks out. All the while Cal is being taken to town by the Ridges for making the guests look ridiculous. When the would-be lover emerges, he taunts Cal, and the whimsically hypocritical Cal lays a punch into him, for everyone to see. Ah, the monster emerges, further each day.
Those aren’t the only relationship troubles. Sean’s getting less happy with the way Cal brought them out like trophies. Whereas Mary liked having someone show her off after a lifetime of abuse. Her husband hates how Cal touches her – “Like he owns you” – and rightfully so, as it’s weird, and creepy, and symptomatic of a larger, more unsettling problem of which Sean is still sadly unaware.
NOTE: Watch how many times Cal is cast in shadows. Whether he’s fully submerged, or just a part of his face obscured, there’s often a shadowy light over him when onscreen. I’ve noticed it more this season, but I know they’ve done this in Season 1 at least a few times, too. Great technique. In this episode, as he and Sarah talk about his “living, waking hell” of guilt, Cal is literally divided by shadow: one side of his face is visible, the other darkened totally. Such a slight thing that some might cast off, but in this scene we see that hypocritical side of his character given to us totally through imagery, you don’t even have to pay attention to his dialogue (though you should). Testament to some of the well executed techniques of this series and those who make it.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-24-20-amSarah knows Cal is devious, that he is a murderer. And yet she continues on, for the sake of her own soul, for the sake of others. With every bad deed comes a few good ones, he redeems himself then undoes it, like clockwork. It sucks her back in every time. And waking up in bed with another woman, Eddie remembers the better times he had within the movement, with his wife. Everybody’s stuck in some way.
Now Hawk is stuck. Because he’s having a vision, of lifting off the ground. Some of that gorgeous magic realism in The Path. Except it’s bittersweet, as Hawk finds himself mired in the movement further. I feel a tragic end to his story, and it’s going to devastate me, if so.
screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-29-14-amAnother great episode. I love this series, unabashed. Can’t wait for the next episode, these first two got me back in the spirit! The actors are all pulling their weight, times ten. The writing’s getting better. Don’t listen to those who complain: judge for yourself. And let me know what you think in the comments.

Digging Up the Past in THE TRIANGLE

The Triangle. 2016. Directed & Written by David Blair, Nathaniel Peterson, Adam Pitman, Andrew Rizzo, & Adam Stilwell.
Starring Andrew Rizzo, Lee Rizzo, Brick Patrick, Nathaniel Peterson, Ciara Rose Griffin, John Budge, Nicholas Daue, Hendra Mylnechuk, Andy Greenfield, & Karen Jean Olds.
Firework Brain/BadFritter Films.
Not Rated. 94 minutes.
Horror/Mystery

★★★★
img_3997When found footage films go for different concepts from what we see so often, there’s always a bit of worth in watching them. Not that it automatically makes them good; not at all. But credit where credit’s due. Every inch of found footage could be the exact same plot, over and over, if it weren’t for a few great titles out there. Even a few that follow the repeatedly lifted plot of The Blair Witch Project are still good, simply for the fact they’re actually scary.
The Triangle is a horror, yet it isn’t traditional. Having loved Ti West’s The Sacrament and its fictionalised retelling of the tragic Jim Jones story, my initial worry with this movie was that it might follow too closely in line with his, either ripping it off or just feeling way too similar to be any good. It actually goes in its own unique direction, to surprising lengths. The story starts out as a real documentary, in that the postcard these guys receive from an old friend is true to life. From there, reality gives way to beautifully organic plot, to strange horror bordering on science fiction.
This is one found footage flick that has great camerawork, which is an added bonus to all the weird, wild plot developments over the course of a lean 94 minutes. You won’t quite know what to expect, and part of that works on your nerves. A lot of complaints I see online are simply due to the slow burn plot. So, if that’s not your thing maybe you’re not the target audience here. I’d still suggest giving it a chance because of the unique events that unfold in front of the camera, as well as some of the questions you’ll be left asking later.
img_4001Just starting from the premise it’s an interesting way to begin this faux-documentary. A vague, mysterious opening with the postcard, holding endless possibilities. Wondering about many of those sketchy possibilities is a reason why the initial scene is kind of tense. There’s also this hopeful mood, too. Still, a lingering sense of uneasiness accompanies the postcard and even once they decide to head out after their friend there’s an undeniable apprehension inside them all. Like them, we feel on the precipice of a life changing adventure, never knowing if what’s next could be something terrible dark, or if it’s all worry for no reason. You might doubt your thoughts, which is a recurring feeling, and it’s in those moments The Triangle catches you in its tangled web.
There’s talk in the community, as it is with these types of places, about self-sufficiency. What does that really mean, in the end? What must one sacrifice in order to gain it? Or, do these cult-like people simply give themselves over to something or someone else to replace modern society (et cetera)? Often so-called self-sufficiency in these communes, in reality, requires devotion to an Other: a god, a deity, or in these situations a charismatic leader in Rizzo. And when there are these hierarchical positions amongst supposedly open, free communes, there are always secrets, things kept from people and those people kept in the dark about something. Of course we find this is truer than ever throughout the course of the plot.
Any horror, mystery, thriller needs suspense and tension. If not, there’s nothing to grasp onto and even an interesting story can end up plenty less compelling. From the time these guys get to the Ragnarok commune there’s a great deal of slow, mounting tension while the documentary crew – representative of the modern world, that old society from which the commune tries escaping – clashes with everyone they meet. Not in a totally overt way, either. That’s  one reason why it feels dangerous. There is a gruelling passive-aggressiveness about their behaviour, especially Rizzo; he’s the number one. His sense of domineering status and narcissistic attitude comes out more and more after we get to know him a bit. At first, he doesn’t seem to hold that narcissism. He’s open, welcoming, friendly, foolish. As the time passes this changes, and Rizzo emerges, subtly, as absolutely like all those other cult leaders in history. That’s his, and their, ultimate aim is to talk the talk, walk the walk, no matter what lies behind the veil. Perhaps scarier is the fact Rizzo isn’t the only narcissist in the cult, that he’s a mere figurehead for a main group who all share something in common that others in the commune don’t – what that is, you’ll have to find out on your own. Such a thick tension goes on for a long while, then once the mystery of the plot breaks the impact of the coming horror feels significant. We get time with all the main characters, not only Rizzo, so after having spent that portion of the film getting into their lives and their emotions, et cetera, it’s gripping to watch what goes on past the halfway mark.
img_3999SPOILERS: from here on in there’ll be a bunch of spoilers – turn back, lest ye be spoiled!
The commune is named Ragnarok, based on the Ragnarök of Norse mythology which is most commonly translated to mean “the final destiny of the gods.” Later in the film we discover a core group in the commune has had what they call “the dream” and it’s about being led on a journey by this shapeshifting creature, at the end of which it disappears leaving a dinosaur skull – a tyrannosaurus – and then, as one of them puts it, “at the end of the dream, were gone.” Certainly by the time this dream comes up we’ve seen the skull they’ve dug up in a nearby cave, we get the sense it has an effect on people emitting a high-pitched noise the closer you get to it. When the end of the film comes, the main group from Ragnarok who’ve had the dream are all ill, going a bit crazy, and they wander off up into the hills. We see a flash of light in the cave, and everyone is gone.
What does it all mean? Here’s my take.
One of the purposes of their commune was to try and get back to a time they felt was lost in modern society. These people reject the modern world so much that when it comes time for them to sign releases for the film crew, at first there’s significant contention. This changes, yes, but Rizzo even talks about simply not having time for the logistics because they live in the middle of a desert, no real houses, self-sufficient, so they’ve rejected that entire system of living. Point being, they wanted to go back to a lost time, a time before, another place almost. In the end, as it went in their collective dream, a nearly genderless woman comes to take them up to the dinosaur skull, and then they’ve disappeared (“at the end of the dream, were gone“). Have they been transported through time, back to another place? Did they will it to happen through their collective brain power and wanting it to be true? They strip down, almost in a primitive sense. As if going somewhere closes aren’t needed. Everything speaks to going back to the past. Right on down to the fact they’ve dug up the past, literally, by finding the fossil. We’ll never know where they’ve gone. Not for sure. We can only assume from what we’re given, and it’s good fun trying to piece the puzzle together.
img_4002I’ll probably be in the minority, although I couldn’t care any fucking less. The Triangle is an interesting addition to the found footage heap, definitely nearer to the top of the pile. When I felt it was about to rip off West’s recent Jim Jones-inspired effort, the plot threw me for a loop. Not everything was perfect. Even for a slow burn this one takes its sweet time drawing out the story.
All the same, no matter its mistakes this is a weird, worthy little movie. The camerawork is top notch for found footage, giving it more credibility than about half of them in the sub-genre. Better still, I enjoyed the performances and they help make this faux-documentary feel more like the real thing, giving the emotionally charged moments a sense of gravitas. You can do much worse than this movie, as the suspense does a fine job making the stretched out plot feel like an enjoyable breeze.
The Triangle deserves a watch. At least one. Maybe you’ll be pissed off, having felt it was a waste of time. Or maybe, like me, you’ll enjoy trying to figure out the answers to all the questions left after the finale. Either way, it makes you think. And that can’t be said for so many other found footage horrors out there. This one isn’t filled with shaky camera angles, screams, or even blood. It works on your brain until the last moment.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 10: “The Miracle”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 10: “The Miracle”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the penultimate episode, “A Room with a View” – click here
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Our season finale commences with Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan) taking a walk in the forest on her own. Obviously lots to contemplate. She sees a white owl land nearby, captivating her. Meanwhile, Christmas is here. Eddie (Aaron Paul), Hawk (Kyle Allen), and the littlest Lane drive together. We see how the youngest is a little affected by the other kids in school having gifts and experiencing Christmas. Furthermore, we can tell how Eddie hates what happens to his children because of the cult.
Back in one of those creepy little rooms, Richard is trying to get Eddie to sign a form proclaiming him a “denier” but the latter won’t have any part of it. Sarah pulls rank. Later, Richard goes to see Alison Kemp (Sarah Jones). She’s in distress over the things her husband supposedly wrote in a journal. But can we trust that? Could it not be a plant? Seems too good to be true, and highly likely Sarah doesn’t know.
At the same time, Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) is only preparing to go bigger, go wider with Meyerism.


Sarah’s worried about Silas. She connects the snow owl out on the trail to some kind of omen. She calls Felicia and they chat about what may have happened. Felicia gives a sideways accusation leaning towards Cal, which Sarah refutes. Right as Cal walks in the door. He still wants Sarah in on the next “phase of the movement” alongside him. They’re on different levels, as far their relationship goes. And Cal appears taken aback by the idea that Sarah doesn’t want their relationship anything more than professional. Even more than that Sarah questions Cal about where he was when they voted about the refugees. He stutter steps and then tells her he relapsed, had some drinks. Sort of true. I mean, he got drunk after killing Silas, of course. Yet Sarah knows him, and now she begins to suspect there’s something else going on behind the mask of Cal Roberts.
At home, the Lanes discuss Eddie leaving, living somewhere else. “Without the light,” as they say. More of the confusion of youth here. Their little girl is so deluded, so brainwashed, she believes now they’re separated for eternity. No Garden together. Daddy’s not going to be in the Future. Yikes. Still, it’s an emotional scene, as Sarah is so evidently hurt even if believing, for now, it’s the right and only thing to be done.
In his new hotel room, Eddie freaks out believing he sees a long snake slithering over the carpet. Except nothing’s there. At all. He then gets a call from Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmund Dunbar), a.k.a Sam, apologizing for being a jerk on the phone last time. He’s simply worried for his little daughter, being readied to undergo surgery in the morning.
What’s more is that we now see genuine paranoia in Eddie. He’s actually worried for the first time. About what, ultimately, I’m not sure. Though he suspects some darker business underneath the Light.


Everyone’s talking about the last Three Rungs of the Ladder. Then Cal brings Alison, a denier, into their communal space. He claims with those last Three Rungs, things are starting to change. With these changes, though, is everyone willing to see their system and structure change? Some, yes. Not all. Perhaps because seeing things change is the beginning sign that Meyerism is complete bullshit. Once a system of belief starts to shift, as the Catholic Church has done how many times now I can’t be bothered to count, then certain true believers start questioning the motives of the change.
Sarah knows some change in Cal has begun to emerge. The darkness of his actions, the death of Silas, it’s making him more susceptible to the mistakes of others, or else be relegated to the land of hypocrisy. Tracking down the security guard on duty the night Silas disappeared, unbeknownst to anyone aside from Cal, Sarah starts finding out there’s more to the underbelly of Mr. Roberts than anyone understands.
Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) has met prospective husband Sean Egan’s parents. They aren’t exactly impressed with the whole movement, except Cal and his semi-Jesus speech. The mother goes to Mary and lets her know she approves of her. This almost gives Mary a ray of hope in all the encroaching darkness. I worry she may come up against those darker elements of Meyerism. She’s teetering on the edge of chaos.
Up in the hospital, Eddie goes to see Abe – well, Sam – and then a nurse almost gives up the cover, calling his wife Mrs. Gaines. Maiden name, she says. Eddie tells Abe he’s leaving the Meyerist movement. Without his family. He admits the crisis of faith and all that. Will this evolve into a better case somewhere down the line for Abe? At the very same time, Hawk is going in deeper, saying goodbye to Ashley (Amy Forsyth) and preparing to take his vows to the movement. A sad turn of events in this parallel between father and son.


Abe (following a prayer by Eddie: “I thought you didnt believe
Eddie: “Cant hurt
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In the city, Eddie has another hallucination. He sees a dead bird on the floor of a toy store. What’s going on with him? Are these omens, or merely a psychological break because of his divided brain, stuck somewhere between belief and doubt, trust and paranoia, guilt and repression?
All sorts of things are happening. Cal gets word from the security guard he only told Sarah what he was instructed to tell. Simultaneously, Eddie arrives back at the commune where he’s greeted by Richard. He says it feels like he’s “on the medicine“, while clearly not. He’s worried about going crazy. Although Richard says the Light is trying to communicate with him, or some other nonsense.
Mary runs to Cal saying she’s “not a good person” and claims they’re both alike. Two broken, unfixable souls. She’s not so sure about marrying Sean, as she believes in the end he’ll only be hurt. “Ill always want something dark near me, inside me,” Mary confesses to Cal. The dangerous, violence in Cal knows it’s a good thing she is marrying Sean, so that the dark forces are kept at bay. However, Mary wants somebody to know every inch of her; the bad, the good, the ugly. Only Cal can do that for her. In a twisted way, they’re perfect for each other. More twisted is that she wears the veil Sean’s mother gave her while she and Cal start getting busy.

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Eddie drops by his old place to give his daughter a gift. He’s confronted by Sarah’s family telling him to go. So he does without incident. It’s just sad to see these cults reject family members for doubt. Tragic, stupid, unfortunate. Inside, Sarah’s parents try telling her things will be fine and it’ll actually feel good after things pass. Only Sarah isn’t so happy any more. She doesn’t seem to be sold on the entire concept, even if going along with it: “Fuck you its gonna feel good, fuck all of you,” she rages. She might just discover the truth yet. Open her eyes to the actual light, which she literally does in the next scene through her bedroom window. Almost like she sees the sun for the first time.
Amazingly, the Gaines family discovers their daughter won’t require surgery after all. A blessing from out of nowhere. It rocks them, in the best sense. Only now, Abe may start wondering if there’s really something to faith and belief like in the Meyerist movement. Or maybe this just helps him and Eddie get closer.
That light Sarah saw, it wasn’t anything truthful. She wants to be next to Cal in order to usher in the Meyerist movement’s next steps. Is this Sarah diving in head first to try quelling her own doubts? Or genuine? No telling with her. Also, Cal is stuck between two women – Mary and Sarah, unsure of which one gives him what he needs.


In his hotel room, Eddie dreams of the snake again. It craws up to his neck, hissing, ready to bite. Another dream. Poor guy is plagued by nightmares, living, waking dreams crawling out of his subconscious. The snake, which he saw originally in Peru wrapped around Dr. Steve Meyer (Keir Dullea), could possibly mean there is death, fatality, murder behind the movement. Could mean all sorts of things.
So that’s where Eddie goes: Peru. At home, Cal and Sarah perform rituals -a wedding, a re-commitment of a denier, a taking of vows. Cutting between Peru and home, we watch the celebration juxtaposed with Eddie gradually tracking down what those nightmares may mean. Cal says Steve is there, ready to transform into pure light, heading off to wherever the hell they think they’re heading.
Eddie got his daughter one of the invisible ink pens she wanted for Christmas. A beautiful little gift. This speaks to Hawk, as he finds his sister drawing all types of things in the kitchen. At the community gate, Sarah finds Mr. Cox looking for Mary; he wants payment, or else there’ll be trouble. Then Mr. Cox lets slip a detail that interests Sarah, about being there during the full moon, that night Cal drove off on his own. Hmm.
Best of all, Eddie finds an empty bed in Peru where Steve once lay. Nobody to be found.
Sarah’s discovered secrets, finally. She knows that Cal wrote the last Three Rungs, that Steve is dying. She also found his little liquor stash. Everything about him is starting to unravel. Now there’s lots of tension between the two. There are incredibly dark, deep things about to spew forth. “To the truth,” Sarah toasts him over a glass of booze. Despite his love for her, using her name as a password and all, does this now put her in danger of Cal doing something to her, to keep his secrets buried?
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And in Peru, Eddie comes face to face with Steve, still alive.
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This was a perfect way to end the first season. Keeps the intrigue, sets up lots more action and suspense for Season 2, which I’ll be awaiting with bated breath. A fantastic opening season. Great acting, writing, and the music all around is solid. Very excited for more, so let’s hang in there together, fellow fans!

The Path – Season 1, Episode 9: “A Room With a View”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 9: “A Room With a View”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Julia Brownell

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Shore” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “The Miracle” – click here
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Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) sits at the bedside of Dr. Steven Meyers (Keir Dullea). He talks about the dying of their movement, and what happens next. Furthermore, Cal reveals how deeply he cares about Steve, the entire Meyerist cult (though he’d never use that word). “Im sorry for everything I have done is wrong and everything wrong I do next,” Cal says tearfully to his father figure-mentor.
In a bar, Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan) meets with Alison Kemp (Sarah Jones) about all the calls between her and Eddie (Aaron Paul). We also discover there was a diary left behind by Alison’s husband Jason before his death, in Peru where he’d been staying. Now more of the “doubts” Eddie has are coming out, not from his own mouth but from that of Alison this time, like Cal spilled at the end of last episode, too. Alison makes clear it doesn’t matter if Eddie has faith, he is willing to “drink the fucking juice” all for his wife, and that ought to matter most.
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Finishing their walk together, Eddie and his son Hawk (Kyle Allen) have clearly connected more than ever in their time on the road. Meanwhile, Mary (Emma Greenwell) and Sean (Paul James) are connecting more, as well. She asks him to help her get off the drugs that are hooking her in. For now he helps. I’m just not so sure he isn’t brainwashed already. Perhaps he’ll end up ratting her out.
Then finally, the Lane boys get back to the commune. Sarah and Cal are each on edge certainly. Everyone else is glad to see them once again. Eddie’s wife quickly tells him she knows all about Alison, now we’re faced with whatever fallout’s to come. At home Eddie faces the music. The truth is out in the open. Not only is Sarah feeling betrayed, she feels stupid for trusting in Eddie after all they’ve been through as of late. Love the “pod person” reference by Eddie, bringing us back to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Sarah finds her husband admitting that the faith is bullshit, except for the good work they actually do: “The rest is just fucking fairy tales,” he tells her sternly. He compares it to the people that eat communion in the Catholic church, how most sane people don’t ACTUALLY believe they’re eating the legitimate body of Christ, they just do it as a ritual. Regardless, Sarah walks away from her husband. She doesn’t even bother letting him in on the fact that she’s now cheated on him with Cal briefly.
On the other side of things, Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmund Dunbar) is finding himself coming up against the higher ups. He is genuinely worried about the new “charismatic” Roberts at the helm. At the same time, they’re forcing him into time off. Will this drive him undercover on his own? He doesn’t strike me as the type to take things lying face down that way. He’s going to take charge of this situation. But maybe that’s a bad thing. Maybe he’ll find himself in a terrible situation that way.


Sarah isn’t happy with Cal, either. She chastises him for not telling her about the truth re: Miranda Frank. Then Cal drops a bomb on her about Steve supposedly finishing the rungs, and also preparing to leave. Whatever that means. You can guess there’s a Jim Jones-esque/Heaven’s Gate-type shit going on. Apparently, Steve also wants Cal and Sarah, together, to be “Guardians of the Light“, which I’m sure we’ll find out the meaning of soon enough. Does this mean they’d actually have to be… together? And what does that mean for Eddie, especially since his crisis of faith is becoming more known by the second.
At school, Hawk and Ashley (Amy Forsyth) come back together. She is more than happy to have him. They embrace and then head off to be alone together. This warms my heart to a puddle because I hope Hawk someday shrugs off the damn cult and gets free. Ashley may be the key. Time being, she’s living in a car with her family, but Hawk finally reveals: “Im leaving the movement.” He will do anything possible to help her. A strong, deep love.
In front of the congregation, Eddie tells everyone about his experience on his walk. He says there is no truth, for him. Rather, he just wants to be home. No matter where he ends up. Not everyone is exactly impressed with his talk, though it’s from the heart. Buried deep beneath all the Meyerism, culty bullshit.
And underneath it all, he and Sarah do love one another. She loves him, he loves her. The doubts in his belief are an issue. However, their passion and care and lust and love for one another is more than obvious.
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A situation develops between Mary and Sean after the redhead she was with for a short time causes a huge scene. Her drug use is revealed to everybody. Then Mary snaps and attacks her. This is going to create a big mess now. Something is on the horizon for poor Ms. Cox.
Speaking of mess, Dt. Gaines gets a call from Eddie. The detective is not doing well between trouble at work and the emotional trauma of his daughter going under the knife. Abe rails against Eddie and the entire Meyerist movement. The most ironic part is that Eddie knows all that. He even agrees not to call again, and this is the inkling Gaines hangs onto: “Fuck the Light, just do not give up on your kid,” Eddie says. Wow. Are those calls recorded? That’d be some god damn wildness.
The Mary Cox situation has found its way to Cal’s office. Sean, of course, feels betrayed. For his part, Cal seems to understand sometimes things happen when “people with deep wounds” come together. Plus, for all his faults Cal’s doing his best not to be hypocritical. He isn’t exactly the guy who suppresses his urges.
The divide between Hawk and his cult family has started widening. At dinner, the littlest Lane reveals “Uncle Cal” slept over while the men were on their walk. Yikes. Then Hawk drops the bomb he’s leaving the commune, the cult, all of it. Sarah has this brutal look on her face, one of malice. She plans to exile and shun her son. The impressive turn of Michelle Monaghan only gets better with each episode; here, she wows with a range that is hard to find. The way she changes expressions here is almost chilling.
At the very same time, Alison holds her husband’s diary walking out onto a frozen lake, weeping. Oh my, that is crazy sad. I hope it isn’t what I think.
Well Hawk is packed and ready to leave already. Mom says fuck him, basically, which does not sit right with Eddie. The extent of their cult beliefs is now surpassing any line Eddie can handle. This is it now. Sadder still, their daughter is caught up in the mix. The parents-in-law are no less crazy than Sarah, they’re the ones who bred it into her and made her part of the whole cult. This penultimate episode of Season 1 is where we watch Eddie finally have the breakdown that’s been coming. The ultimate collapse of his faith in Meyerism.


Eddie: “Theres gotta be some fuckinroom for doubt
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Cal heads inside a club where scantily clad women are dancing, serving drinks. He takes of his outer wear, under it all wearing a suit and tie. There he meets John Ridge (Michael Countryman), the one who had him beaten awhile back. Seems his son Freddie turned around big time. Now their friendship is back on track. Cal wants to expand the mission of the Meyerist movement. “Were still in the Dark Ages,” he tells John hoping that he’ll help with investing, real estate, et cetera. Now the cult is starting to grow. This is becoming a scary thing. Even worse, Cal wants only him involved, to keep things close to the chest.
In the office, Sarah calls Silas for help. He could’ve used some himself. Too late now. A short time later she meets Cal at his office. They kiss again, their longing more than evident. She tells him about her son leaving, which Cal says is “unacceptable“, so now I’m officially worried. Both for Hawk and Eddie alike.
The next day Cal picks Ashley up from school. This is getting more frightening. He takes her to a house where she could stay, instead of the car with her family. He even semi-quotes Virginia Woolf. Cal tries convincing her to help Hawk, to not let him walk from the cult, or else he loses everything.


A coroner’s report on Jason Kemp comes back. Ends up in the hands of Abe due to a friend. Seems Kemp had serious burns on his hands, though his apparent suicide was from jumping off a mountain. Strange, no? This may well be what prompts Gaines to keep moving despite being almost fired.
Hawk goes back home when Ashley doesn’t meet him. She actually broke it off with him. But will Hawk let it go that easily? Surely someone’s got to realize there are strings being pulled behind the scenes. Eddie tries comforting him, then feels the touch of Cal on the situation because of Ashley’s words to his son. With that, Eddie rushes off.
Is this the final break of his faith?
Eddie confronts everyone, specifically Sarah and Cal. “You broke your sons heart,” he yells at her before eventually punching Cal out. Now the entire group is aware of his faith slipping. This is the event that starts a downfall. What will the finale bring after this revelation?
And outside, Alison arrives. Back to the commune, back to Meyerism. Really? This was an intense finish.
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Very excited for the finale. Glad to know they’ve already got a renewal. The final episode of Season 1, “The Miracle”, is bound to bring out a whopper of an end. Stay with me, fellow fans and fanatics and friends.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 8: “The Shore”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 8: “The Shore”
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Written by Annie Weisman

* For a review of the previous episode, “Refugees” – click here
* For a review of the next episode “A Room With a View” – click here
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Last we left Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) and his son Hawk (Kyle Allen), they were preparing for The Walk. And Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy), well… he’s got plenty of other things of his own happening.
Cal’s drunk and wondering what to do next with the dead body of Silas sitting in his house. This series was always poised for a dark turn, but does it ever get dark. Here’s Cal now left with disposing of a corpse. On the way out of the commune, Cal finds himself confronted by the father of Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). This time Cal’s got nothing except threats for him: “Next time I see you, I finish the job.” Yikes. Believe THAT. Particularly from a man who’s on his way to bury a body. A man he killed that was a friend. Imagine what he’d do to somebody like Mr. Cox, a despicable predator.
Love some of the shots in this opening ten minutes. Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) has a dream of Hawk walking down the highway towards her, which then becomes something entirely different. Terrifying nightmare. You can almost tell it’s a dream sequence right off the bat and then it still throws you for a loop.
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No, Hawk and Eddie are off for The Walk. Supposedly Dr. Steve Meyers worked for the U.S. Army doing “psychological warfare” and all sorts of stuff. Actually sounds crazy coming from Eddie’s mouth. Totally brainwashed-type nonsense. Then there’s this really awkward encounter with some soldiers at the the military gate where the father-son duo starts their walk. Meanwhile, Cal is in the woods burying Silas. He sees an omen of sorts in a white owl perched nearby, as he sits covered in mud and leaves. More of that great cinematography captures the forest in such an incredible light, all the while such a dark story weaves itself through.
Over at the commune, Sarah’s getting all kinds of praise for representing the movement well. And her husband, her son walk continuously. I still just needwant Hawk to break away. Although there’s a bond of family, he needs to get past the cult. They’ll only bring him down. Guided by Cal everyone seems to think it’s fine. They don’t see the terrible, ugly side beneath that mask he wears up at the pulpit.
In fact, nobody is in good shape. Mary falls deeper into the high she gets off her stolen drugs. She and the pharmacist girl get much closer, despite her becoming a junkie once more. I can only wonder how her relationship with this girl will be put to the test, or in danger, by Cal. Because he’s got a vicious fascination/obsession with her.
Speaking of Cal, he’s drunk and off to Milton. To find Sean. And at the same time, Sarah talks with Felicia (Adriane Lenox). She’s given a figurine that looks exactly like the hallucination from her dream. Creepy as hell.


Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmund Dunbar) is still trying his hardest to track down the dirt on the Meyerist movement. He manages to stay outside their influence. For now.
Out on the road in a shelter, Eddie has to assert himself when a man steps up to Hawk. But worse, his son seems off. Regardless, you can see how much Eddie cares for his son. Through all the cult bullshit it is just his son that matters. When Hawk talks about Ashley (Amy Forsyth) and their family not wanting any part of the Meyerists, with Hawk, his family. Eddie sticks by his son no matter what, simply asking what’s next. The Walk is all that’s next.
An interesting moment happens when a priest walks in and leads a prayer. Eddie starts to pray, too. Hawk watches on. Then we drift back to the Lane house where Sarah and her daughter hang out by themselves. Until she sees Cal outside, drunk in the yard: “I need help,” he tells her.
Mary and Sean meet out by the lake. She’s obviously surprised. Apparently there’s some decency in Cal yet, as he brought Sean back to be with Mary. Is this a good thing? Hard to trust in a man that just murdered a person he’d known for years.


Dt. Gaines and his wife have dinner with his boss, congratulating him on all the hard work, so on. The Meyerist case is done apparently. Homeland Security’s now on the job. But Abe isn’t too pleased. The whole thing is about politics, not the case. Likely the whole thing ends up in the lap of the IRS. Gaines loses his shit in front of everybody, putting the cherry on top with “I fuckinhate pot pie” before storming out, his wife trailing not far behind.
On the road again, Hawk and Eddie are planning their next trail. From nowhere the son asks his father: “Did you stop loving mom?” So what we forget is how wide the lies spread out. Eddie didn’t even cheat on his wife, he had to make up a lie to cover up a bigger secret. Further than just all the regular cult madness, Eddie’s doing him a disservice by covering up his own crisis of faith in the Meyerist movement. They end up hitching a little ride down the road a ways, with which Eddie struggles some.
Not as much as Cal struggles back at the commune, sweating, shaking out the booze. Some good news from Sarah – big donations coming in, all because of Cal. She assures him everybody has a “rock that [we] carry” and almost excuses his alcoholism breaking out. She lavishes a ton of praise on him now, though unknowing of his deep transgression. And from the corner of the room beams that little figurine, staring at Cal and boring into his brain.


At Coney Island, the father-son stop. Eddie’s old life almost calls out to him from the attractions, the very stones on which he walks. There is an ever present sense Eddie needs to get away from the cult. Because it’s all about repression, that place. The memories of his brother linger and Eddie can feel them burning, lingering in his soul. Back down they go, and off on their walk once more. Still, they go past all the rides and the games, Eddie telling his son about their adventures. It’s all so foreign to Hawk. That is totally tragic and sad. Hawk will never experience all that, yet his father got to, and there’s an unfairness that is nearly smothering. When they come across the famous clam rolls Eddie ate as a kid, they opt to spend most of their remaining funds on reliving that childhood. There’s a bittersweetness to this whole scene. My absolute favourite of the series thus far.
Nicole (Ali Ahn) is trying to have a baby. All the while kids are running around, she’s sitting in a baby pool, Sarah reels off her creepy nightmare. Lots of fun. As Nicole rages, Sarah assures “anger can be a good engine” with more pseudomedical fuckery. And Cal draws a bit of weird energy off Nicole’s pregnant moans. This whole episode is entirely wild, each moment is more intriguing than the last.
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Eddie: “The greasy, crunchy bit. I meanits so terrible, but its perfect.”
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Hawk asks his father about when the moment came, where The Light washed over him. The elders, Joy, they all talk about a single moment where the pain washes away and there are “no more questions.” But Eddie says there was nothing like that for him. It was only when he met Sarah. Then Hawk breaks down talking about Ashley; the kid is truly in love. The divide between Meyerism and real life is preventing him from living like a normal teenager. Is this something that will eventually be able to push Eddie towards getting out? I hope. For the time being, he gets Hawk to a payphone to call Ashley: “You cant stay with your eyes closed,” he tells his son.
Then while Hawk makes his call, Eddie locks eyes with a young man across the way. Then he’s gone. A vision of his brother? This sends Eddie into a bit of an intense state.
Back at the birthing, Nicole’s baby comes out not breathing. Sarah saves the day, though. And the little baby lives! Even Cal steps in to touch the child, whimpering like one himself. Happy days.


Sarah: “Welcome, little one, to our world. You are whole and you are broken, just like the rest of us.”


After the birthing, Cal and Sarah find themselves kissing at the sink. She starts to protest, asking him to stop. Then it ends with him weeping against her. He then reveals Eddie’s been lying to her. Now things are about to get difficult.
They’re already difficult for Eddie. He follows the vision of his brother out on the beach. Along the way he drops their rocks, to mark sacred spots. Eddie stares out seeing his brother for a while and it nearly crushes him. Simultaneously, Sarah is at home searching through everything – the bedroom, the car – until she finds any evidence of Eddie’s lies. She finds a cellphone with the same number in it. Over and over. The various paths are coming together here now.
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Best episode yet. Amazingly emotional, layered, the writing was fantastic and both Hugh Dancy and Aaron Paul are on fire in their various scenes.
Next episode, “A Room With a View”, will definitely get intense. This one setup so much more suspense and tension that it’s unreal. Let’s stay tuned together, friends and fellow fans!

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master: Two Men in (Forbidden) Love on a Journey Towards Meaning

The Master. 2012. Directed & Written by Paul Thomas Anderson.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons, Ambyr Childers, Rami Malek, Martin Dew, Joshua Close, Jillian Bell, Kevin J. O’Connor, Patty McCormack, Laura Dern, & Mimi Cozzens. Annapurna Pictures/The Weinstein Company/Ghoulardi Film Company.
Rated 14A. 144 minutes.
Drama

★★★★★
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Paul Thomas Anderson is the best filmmaker of his generation. There are tons of other writer-directors I admire, to the fullest. However, he stands atop that pyramid. Time and time again his films captivate me in genuine ways others do not. I’ve followed his career closely since initially seeing Magnolia, then going back to Hard Eight and moving on forward again. His work as a director is astonishing, as Anderson cobbled together his own style through watching the cinema others produced, learning the craft through seeing it in motion. With equal parts Stanley Kubrick influence and that of Robert Altman as well, Anderson makes movies in an epic style while also managing to keep complete focus on the humanity at the core of his characters and the plethora of stories he tells. His earlier work is dominated much more by the Altman-esque sensibilities of his talent. Starting with There Will Be Blood, he’s transitioned into his more Kubrick inspired work.
The Master is at once an unauthorized, fictional version of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, and also the story of two men locked in a love they’ll never fully express; not in this life, anyways. Perhaps the next. And then there’s also the fact this film speaks to that Scientology influence without directly condemning and shaming their beliefs (no matter how crazy they are). Anderson questions what is at the heart of faith: could it simply be the searching of the lost for love and comfort? Who knows.
Throughout the film a Navy veteran out of WWII named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) finds himself in the midst of The Cause, a group on the verge of being a full fledged cult run by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), affectionately known as The Master. What follows is a story that touches on belief, duty, love, war, and much more.
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After WWII, there was this search for a new meaning to masculinity. In peace time there must be a redefinition of what it is to be masculine. How does a man pushed to kill for his country come back home to that very country and simply… exist? On the Blu ray Special Edition of The Master the 1946 documentary Let There Be Light directed by John Huston is included. This is the catalyst for Anderson’s film. The opening scene is essentially directly from that documentary, as men are interviewed just like Freddie about various psychological elements. One thing the V.As all hear is that people will not understand, and it’s quite possible they might even find their “condition” shameful, so on. So that violent outburst we see from Freddie as he tries to work a normal job taking photos in a department store is merely the aggressive, wartime side of him fighting to survive. Like a delayed reaction or a motor that’s only recently been shut down, it takes time for that aggression to work itself out. Maybe it never does. But that’s why Freddie is almost the perfect test for someone like Dodd, coming along after the Second World War and likely still filled with hate for the enemy. He challenges that “inherent state of perfect” which Dodd refers to in his teachings.
There’s a significance to seeing the beginning V.A. scenes with the doctor and Freddie in juxtaposition with Freddie being ‘processed’ by Dodd. On a simple visual level, there are certain frames where they sit across from one another similarly in each scene; the doctor and Dodd appear on one side of the frame, as Phoenix often remains on the other. Above that there’s the fact Freddie is always searching for a master. Just so happens he ends up finding The Master, Lancaster Dodd, head of The Cause. But before that it was the army; in those beginning scenes, the V.A. Doctor is an extension of the army, and a master in his own right. Moreover, the questions aren’t so dissimilar between Dodd and the doctor, as they each come at Freddie from a psychological standpoint. And finally, it’s the parallel of real science, real psychology versus the fake, pseudo-religious Scientology-like madness Dodd is spinning. So at once there’s a ton of different elements at play all in these two scenes put together.
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One of the final scenes has Lancaster singing to Freddie, the song “(I’d Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China”, and it calls to mind an earlier moment. When Freddie is first ‘processed’ by Dodd he remembers the girl named Doris he left behind at home, the love of his life. She also sings to him “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”. Now what I find interesting is obviously that they’re both romantic songs. And they’re both sung in scenes that precede a farewell, a final goodbye. But the longing in both scenes from Doris and Dodd respectively is evident, which reveals a good deal. It’s obvious before that Dodd and Freddie have a special relationship. I’m not saying that it’s full-on homosexual. However, they do love one another, and on a level of understanding.
The duality of man: Freddie and Lancaster are two sides of a coin, the Split Saber, which is of course Dodd’s own title for his second book that comes furiously from his own hand after Freddie arrives on the boat and in his life. During certain moments the animal in Lancaster comes out, the one whose world of which he vehemently denies man is a part. For instance, when challenged by an insistent man at a party Dodd bursts out calling him “pig fuck” in front of the entire room while trying to defend his position. So of course we see it immediately as his breaking in front of people and unable to appropriately explain/defend The Cause (because it’s all bullshit). Though it’s more. It is that beast in Dodd that wants to live out in the world. In turn, that beast in him unable to unleash lives in Freddie, which is a large part of why he’s drawn to the man.
Ultimately, I do feel that Dodd is a closeted homosexual. That’s my call. I don’t think Freddie necessarily is, though he seeks great comfort in Dodd, and most certainly cares for the man deeply. But the scene where Peggy jerks her husband off in the bathroom over the sink is telling. They don’t make love, even though she is pregnant. They don’t even lay down in bed or get comfortable. It’s something that’s got to be done, like milking a cow, or doing any other chore. She also tells him to give up on certain ideas, that it “didnt work for them and its not going to work for you“, and then advises him not to drink anymore of Freddie’s hooch. On the opposite side, Freddie is a lost man. He can’t seem to really connect with women well enough, other than physically, to form a relationship, at least one that he doesn’t abandon. His relationship with women is problematic at best, as we see immediately on the beach during his tour of duty where he and other men build a woman in the sand; one he proceeds to finger bang and pretend-fuck in front of everybody, all before masturbating furiously into the ocean. So there’s a form of homosexual love on Freddie’s part towards Dodd, too. It’s out of a need, a necessity. He has to have that master, someone to control and guide him. On ther other side Dodd requires somebody to indulge the animalistic nature in him.
In the end this is one of the strongest messages I see in The Master: religious groups such as The Cause are built by emotionally fragile people seeking the comfort in numbers among the fragility of others, so it’s basically the lost leading the lost. This further perpetuates others that are lost looking for a home and a place of comfort to end up further adrift.
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Philip Seymour Hoffman is fantastic here. He embodies The Master well and takes us to the serious side of a man whose mental stability is questionable. All the same, he makes the man believable, very strong. A great performance. Opposite him Joaquin Phoenix gives what might be the single best performance of his entire career. He actually physically embodies Freddie to the point you can see how he formed the walk, the way he stands, his entire look. A remarkable role and Phoenix just downright nails it. Some of the scenes between Hoffman and Phoenix are beyond intense, especially the quiet, closed in moments where it’s just the two of them like the processing early on, et cetera. These two have wild chemistry. Love the scene of them in jail – everything about it is perfect, the angle at which Anderson catches them, the intensity of their conversation, we even see Lancaster slip more into his animal behaviour and just hurl curses and insults at Freddie.
Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame comes back with Anderson again to do another innovative, unique sounding score. His compositions here are downright magical, as they float and hum and burn below the drama. It really is wonderful stuff. At times there’s this gorgeously flowing orchestral music. In other scenes Greenwood employs some of the ole Radiohead weirdness, as he did with portions of There Will Be Blood. It works even better in this film because the strange atmosphere of the music mirrors lots of the oddities in Anderson’s screenplay. They are a solid team together as artists, likely why Anderson has done other work with Radiohead and Greenwood.
In addition, cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. captures the vision of Anderson perfectly with his full, rich lens. Between Malaimare and Anderson the flow of each scene is intense. Certain scenes are blocked with great care and attention. Others it’s simply the fact Malaimare captures every last raw emotion in the faces of the characters. The period is likewise captured elegantly. Also the boat and most of the locations were great settings. When a film that’s written and directed well, filmed well, is also a properly rounded production in terms of set/costume design (and other areas) then it’s altogether an amazing experience.
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This is a masterpiece of a modern film. Paul Thomas Anderson proves over and over he does well with period pieces, no matter if it’s late 1800s, mid-1970s, or any other time. He can turn period pieces into more than just spectacle. Within those he works over the human emotions to an endless degree. Here, his exploration of a forbidden and powerful love between two men is disguised amongst a larger story about belief and faith, fringe religious groups (a.k.a cults), as well as the power of one person over another, for various reasons. The two powerhouse performances of Hoffman and Phoenix are something spectacular to behold. They make this film even better for their presence in it. Anderson will continue to make beautiful cinema, and this will likely always be a favourite of mine out of his filmography. The Master moves me, emotionally and visually, to the point I can watch this endlessly.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 7: “Refugees”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 7: “Refugees”
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Written by Jason Katims

* For a review of the previous episode, “Breaking & Entering” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Shore” – click here
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This episode starts with the Lane family – Eddie (Aaron Paul), Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), Hawk (Kyle Allen), & the littlest one, too. They’re with Richard (Clark Middleton) at a hole, talking about how they “offset” and other nonsense cult terms. Seems digging a hole and planting a tree is all about transgression, moving forward, and such. All a load of bullshit. Especially through Hawk’s eyes. He’s a teenager who simply wants to be normal, only his family and their Meyerism madness won’t let him.
Overheard flies a helicopter. Turns out the immigrants Cal brought in are illegal. Uh oh. Lots of cult talk from the news reporters. Sarah is confronted by journalists on the way in, adamantly repeating the same old phrase they all know: “This is not a cult.” Ashley (Amy Forsyth) and her mother are trying to adjust to life at the commune. Meanwhile, the immigrants are all worried about the increased news presence outside. Everything is a mess.


Eddie heads over with some supplies for Alison (Sarah Jones) at the cottage. He’s keeping an eye out for her. Over at the commune, he meets with Cal (Hugh Dancy) and the rest of the up-and-ups. Nobody’s happy with what Cal has done, particularly seeing as how he’s done it without consulting anybody else. Even Eddie won’t back Cal up, claiming it’s a “shitshow“, and Sarah agrees with her husband, as well. All alone, Cal must take what’s being served to him. Only he is worried about the immigrants being sent back to violence, poverty, the whole terror they wanted to escape.
Poor Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) is left without Sean. Her time there is more and more threatened now. Because Cal wants her, for whatever reason we don’t fully know, and with everything crumbling around him his mental processes aren’t exactly on the rails. It’s a dangerous situation. On the other end, Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmund Dunbar) is researching Meyerism, Cal, Dr. Meyers himself, all of it. He’s being put on the case full-time, given more power. And this excites Abe. While I thought he’d been falling into their trap, I’m feeling further that he’s got a grip on himself, and he knows there’s something rotten at the core of the Meyerist movement. Let’s hope Abe can do some good before some terrifying bad can happen.
And behind his parents back, Hawk is still sleeping over with Ashley. Finally he tells her: “Youre the only thing that makes sense to me.”


Using a girl with clear interest in her, Mary cons her way into their little commune hospital and manages to get her hands on some drugs. Oh no. I can see this heading into bad territory. As for the others on the commune, Cal heads to see the immigrants. He tries explaining what the situation is for them now. Then he gets caught up talking about “the light” and how it guides them, not politics or world leaders or anything else. He wants to fight to keep them. He will not back down: “Your fate is my fate.” Closer, closer, Cal pushes to the edge. I’m sensing something big is going to happen on his end, which might spell a lot of chaos.
More marital troubles. Sarah doesn’t know why Eddie was late to the compound in the morning, after he went off to take care of Alison. Mostly, Sarah worries them not being on the same page damages the overall help they can offer the movement. Ugh. Always something.
Gaines finds himself inducted as a “receptive” and gets more information on possibly becoming further indoctrinated into their movement. Nicole (Ali Ahn) is given a bit of a show, too. Abe takes off his shirt and throws on the Meyerist clothing right away, showing off some abs and muscles. Yowzahs.


Now Cal is taking the place over. He’s gone outside the Upper Rungs. He brought in “a circle” of all the youngest members, et cetera. Strange to see Cal challenging authority so defiantly and openly. Cal wants more of a democracy, to open a vote that includes anyone on any rung. Naturally, the big wigs Bill and Felicia aren’t pleased. Nor is Sarah, who takes Cal aside to chastise his actions. She isn’t happy that he did something so major without telling her or finding any support from him.
But even worse, someone’s gotten wind of a blonde woman up at the cottage. Obviously the sweat is rolling off Eddie now, and he heads off to likely take care of things up there. Even though Cal notices out of the corner of his eye. The chase is on to get Alison out of harm’s way.
Eddie arrives, just not quick enough. Quickly, Cal shows up. He wants her to unburden, set things straight. And in the tense situation in which they find themselves, Alison tries attacking him. She gets herself away, as Eddie wrestles Cal to the ground. WOW. Just WOW! This is going to bring about some serious consequences. Cal knows the affair with Miranda Frank was bullshit, he knows there was “something else” that happened to Eddie over in Peru. Eddie claims he had a vision of Steve Meyers dying and confesses his faltering faith, which visibly puts Cal off-balance. He denies all of it trying to keep Eddie close. Then tells Eddie: “I want you to take the walk.” He wants proof of Eddie’s faith, or else he has to leave and not come back. And if Eddie doesn’t walk 250 miles? Sarah will find out about his lack of belief in Meyerism, sure to ruin their marriage irreparably.
In other news, Ashley’s mother gets a job at a dental clinic because of Sarah. But the shitty news? They can find the light whenever need be. Nice little room with a picture of Dr. Meyers, the big eye on the wall. Creepy stuff.


When Eddie tells his wife about possibly doing the walk, Sarah doesn’t react well. She knows there’s more to it. He tries explaining things, but soon Hawk shows up, not wanting to talk to his parents about being with his Ignorant Systemite girlfriend. “Maybe your path isnt my path,” Hawk tells his father when they get on him. I really want to see Hawk break away. Because that would really wake Sarah up. If Cal, or whoever, were to start going after their boy then there’s a chance maybe she could see how backwards and twisted the Meyerist movement really is after all. For the time being, seems the Fields family has taken off, and that does not sit well with young Hawk.
Mary confronts Cal about sending her boyfriend away to Delaware. She pleads to know what his deal is, re: her. He says he cares about her “deeply“, though isn’t allowed to be with her… in that way. He’s really twisted Mary up pushing her towards Sean then taking him away from her. And then she decides it’s time to leave the commune.
From out of nowhere, Silas (Steve Mones) comes to see his old buddy Cal. He has things they need to talk about. Cal’s suspicious, naturally. However, it turns out Dr. Meyers sent Silas – he isn’t happy with Mr. Roberts and his way of doing things. Silas brings news that the “movement is dead” and that the party’s ready to shut down. Well it’s clear Cal isn’t ready to give up his leadership role, he thinks people are waiting to accept him as their saviour, or some other crazy shit. But Silas straight up tells him: “Youre a fraud. You can go out there and smile, but youre an alcoholic salesman. Just like your father.”
What proceeds is a vicious, spontaneous moment of violence that will reverberate through everything – Cal’s life, the movement, all of it.


Silas: “Its over. It was over when Steve couldnt accept his own mortality.”
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While Bill preaches to the congregation of Meyerist faithfuls, the editing is brilliant, as it puts right there with him then immediately right next to Cal, who dries up all the blood with towels trying to figure out what his next move will be, what to do with Silas. This is some of the most intense stuff yet. The directing, the writing, all the technical aspects, they merge together and create an impressive sequence.
Then Sarah gets up to do some preaching of her own. She seems to have had a change of heart. Her compassion is growing, the grip of Meyerism is not as tight on her as certain others. She actually talks about her husband, how Steve took him into the fold and it allowed her to have a great family, to find the love of her life. A truly great speech. Although, nobody knows the danger being brought to the cult now, as Silas is dead, and one of their prominent members is now a full-fledged murderer.
Now with Mary heading back out into the real world, she finds her abusive father waiting, and it drives her right back inside. Will she eventually make it out? And will that bring more negative attention to the movement? We’ll see.


Ashley’s mother has discovered Meyerism is most definitely a cult. And so that’s why they fled. Hawk finds them and tries to get to the bottom of things, and he doesn’t want to let her go. But she knows they’re partly in danger by staying there, or staying involved with any of them from the movement. Shitty for the emotional devastation Hawk feels, good for the Fields’ because they do not need any of that cult-ish craziness. Certainly not now when everything is so fucked up.
Simultaneously, Eddie prepares to leave on his walk. He and Sarah come a little closer again, for now. Then Hawk comes in – he wants in on the walk with his dad. He almost begs: “Im lost. Im so lost.” I feel terrible for him and it hurts me to see him pain. I want Hawk to break free, but it’s as if he’s only growing further indoctrinated.
And at home, Cal sits with the dead body of Silas. Everyone is in shambles, not just Cal. Yet he is absolutely the most worse off. Even worse, he starts to get back on the booze, too. Yeah, that’ll help. But what do you do when you’ve resorted to murder?


What a GREAT episode. One of the best yet. Next one is titled “The Shore”, and I’m looking forward to more revelations and madness and culty weirdness. Stay tuned with me folks. Hulu is really doing well with this series and I hope they’ll renew it for a second season. These characters and plots deserve another round.

Haunted Memory in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene. 2011. Directed & Written by Sean Durkin.
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Adam David Thompson, Allen McCullough, Lauren Molina, Louisa Braden Johnson, Tobias Segal, & Gregg Burton. Fox Searchlight Pictures/Cunningham & Maybach Films/FilmHaven Entertainment/BorderLine Films/This Is That Productions.
Rated 14A. 102 minutes.
Drama/Thriller

★★★★1/2
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I’ve quickly come to enjoy Elizabeth Olsen’s talents as an actor. Each performance seems to bring something new. Bursting into feature film with the previous, and underrated, Silent House, her range is wide. She can play many parts, though, I believe her best has come from the subtle, quiet roles I’ve seen her in. Since 2011, she’s gone on to do some good stuff, and markedly bigger pictures. Although, I hope that she’ll soon be done with Avengers and get back to the smaller, indie-type stuff where she excels most.
Martha Marcy May Marlene gives Olsen the chance to dig into a meaty role, as the titular character, across her confused identities. In a story that mainly concerns the lingering effects of abusive cults, the misogyny of many of these so-called off-the-grid cults, many other issues alongside, the story takes on a highly personal tone as we venture into the psychological savagery of a woman who’s come out the other end of a physical, mental Hell. Director and writer Sean Durkin extracts the existential dread of the main character in an uncomfortable study of her personality as it shifts back to regular existence following what an enigmatic cult leader puts her through.
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Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) leaves her little commune one day to a restaurant. There, she manages to get ahold of her older sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), whom she hasn’t seen for a couple years. Eventually, Lucy picks Martha up and takes her back to the home where she lives with husband Ted (Hugh Dancy). Having been away for so long, Martha has to readjust to life outside the cult commune where she’d been living with the oddly charming leader Patrick (John Hawkes), as well as other men like Watts (Brady Corbet).
However, coming back to the way life used to be is not so easy. At first, Martha has a hard time figuring out what life was before Patrick. And then, just as things might start to turn around, she makes the mistake of calling home, back to the commune, which puts her, as well as her sister and brother-in-law Ted in harm’s way. Or is it all paranoid delusion?
Nobody knows. Except Martha Marcy May Marlene.
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The normalization of odd behaviour is evident clearly while Martha tries to readjust to life on the outside, back in the regular world outside the strange cult in which she lived for those couple years. First, she strips bare and goes skinny dipping in the lake along with her sister’s husband Ted, out where anybody passing might see including kids. Later it’s obvious how used to asking for permission she’d become after being in the cult so long, she can’t even go for a swim without asking the only man present. Another moment sees Martha creeping into the dark of her sister’s room while she’s in there having sex with Ted, behaving as if it’s completely fine. Because she’s so used to have a shared man around the house that it’s completely okay to be in bed next to a couple making love. Every aspect of her life is permeated by the abusive, controlling nature of Patrick, whose cult has indoctrinated so many women into a misogynistic world view that only serves to hold them down.
Patrick is a misogynist. There’s no telling why or how he got to being that way. He’s simply and utterly misogynistic. One of those most poignant scenes, so brief and so quick where we get this illustrated boldly. As Martha – renamed Marcy in her new family – introduces Patrick to a new girl, Sarah, he greets them smiling. However, notice he quickly corrects Marcy: “Sally, yeah,” he says casually. It’s so sly and fast you’d almost miss it if you were sipping a drink. His intentions are clear almost all the way through, even if on the lowdown. He renames these girls to fit his wants and his needs. If he needs a Sally, then Sally this Sarah shall be. This is the least of his controlling nature. He uses each subsequent girl to get the next girl into his bed, as Marcy then stirs up new Sally’s drink, the same one she had before her first night in the arms of Patrick, along with a bit of special pills.
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What’s very interesting about the cult Patrick operates is the fact he doesn’t just manipulate the women; the men are also manipulated. Not as drastically and deviant in nature as what happens to the girls in the commune, but the men are certainly brainwashed, too. Watts – played by the always intriguing Brady Corbet – is a part of the entire system. Though he reaps the benefits of being there, including having sex with Martha, nothing happens that isn’t Patrick-approved. Even sex with Martha is done under the watchful eye of Patrick. So whereas the women are drugged, raped, converted to the church of Patrick, those young men are also programmed and attentive to Patrick’s needs. Their slavery to him is of a different sort, but slavery nonetheless. They enact all of what he requires, and in the process become nothing more than other assorted pawns in his overall game. More wheels in the cogs of his machinery. The women are his fuel, that which make him king in their commune, as well as that which drives him to such misogyny as is seen through all of his actions, both overt and less noticeable. The men are simply useful to keep that fuel flowing. Likewise the girls are part of that. Patrick doesn’t even go out on jobs at houses on the first night or two, he has the girls and boys led by Watts go out to set everything in motion. Proof of power and control over others, proof of his cowardice to boot.
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The cinematography is outstanding. Many of the shots cast everything in such a beautiful darkness. Others come in a radiant light. All those close, tight shots of Olsen capture her pensive qualities, the paranoia, the guilt, everything. On top of that, the sound design and score make things very subtle. There isn’t any music outside of incidental stuff, so the sound design covers those gaps with a bit of ambient noise here and there, as well as just the general sounds of the action, the voices, et cetera. Everything in this movie, from atmosphere to writing to acting, combines to make Martha Marcy May Marlene into an important character study of those brainwashed into cult-like thought, behaviour, living. Olsen’s Martha is a tragic and unsettling character whose tribulations under cult leader Patrick amount to some darkly emotional subject matter. Watching her transition back to real life, if that’s ever even possible for her, is sublime, in that it touches on some sore spots wondering how someone like Patrick could ever prey on the vulnerable types his commune attracts. The entire film is a solid dramatic thriller led by Olsen’s talents and rounded out with the calm, thoughtful direction of Durkin.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 4: “The Future”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 4: “The Future”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Julia Brownell

* For a review of the previous episode, “A Homecoming” – click here
* For a review of the next episode “The Hole” – click here
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After Eddie (Aaron Paul) found Miranda Frank (Minka Kelly) laying unconscious, likely dead, on the floor o that room, The Path continues on, darker than ever.
At home, Eddie and Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) wait for news. Apparently Miranda’s been taken to the hospital, and trusty Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) will call when there’s anything to report. Yes, I’m sure the cult leader will keep everything on the level and not dust it all under the rug.
Well Sarah wants to “unburden” to her husband. She reveals: “I did this.” But the problem is that Eddie’s lied. He lied about even having an affair, all to cover up a crisis of faith in Meyerism. Then they get word that a Bill and Felicia are coming. What does it mean? Are these higher ups? Elders?
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Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) is sure there’s something “dark going on” in the Meyerism community. He doesn’t even know the half. It’ll be interesting to see him become further mixed up with their craziness.
In hospital, Cal talks with Miranda. She’s bewildered as to why this is all happening. But whereas she doesn’t think anything even remotely close to an affair has happened, Cal uses Meyerism to convince her to talk with him. She reveals Eddie’s demeanour in Peru after taking the medicine, hallucinating, et cetera. Though, no affair. Only a hug to comfort him. But now Cal knows of Eddie’s crisis, his claim that “there is no light” and all his doubts. We’ll see exactly how Cal goes on to use this, you know he will exploit it at some point, for some reason.
Out in the forest, Sarah gives a weird Meyerist-type talk, as everybody sits around with electrode-like suction cups on their heads holding their little readers, talking about finding the “damage” back beyond in our minds. Absolutely mental. But at least the junkie Freddie Ridge’s (Max Ehrich) parents Cal is raking in donations from are happy with his progress.


Cal’s got other issues, though. He wants to know more about Eddie, calling Silas (Steve Mones) who took the drugs/medicine in Peru with him. Most of all, Cal worries about why Bill and Felicia are at the commune. He believes there’s doubt about his leadership. What sort of chaos will this bring? Because it will bring some, in some sense. There’s a storm brewing inside him that could burst at any moment from behind the dam he puts up against it.
Trying to convince the Ridges of the Meyerist way to wean people off drugs, using Ayahuasca, Sarah hopes the parents will keep their son there to be treated. But the father won’t have any of their hippie bullshit.
Meanwhile, Eddie finds Cal to figure out where Miranda is, after she’s been moved from the hospital. The magnetic Cal wants Eddie to do 7R, to climb the next rung of the ladder. There’s that old saying, right? Keep your friends close, your enemies closer. Cal wants to push Eddie further to see if that crisis of faith will become anything more. Simultaneously, Cal chews Sarah out for her treatment of the Ridges; he doesn’t want the medicine used, apparently. Likely Cal is afraid of losing their donations. Greedy, greedy, Mr. Roberts.
And Hawk (Kyle Allen) is still semi-dating his lady friend Ashley (Amy Forsyth). He resists certain things, though, she ends up giving him headphones and some music, saying it can “change the way you see the world” – very true. Only another member of the Meyerist community spies Hawk with Ashley. There’ll be some fallout, no doubt.


The relationship between Eddie and Sarah is starting to mend. He talks of moving up to 7R, one rung below his wife. “Thats because Im coming after you,” he says sly and sweet. I’m glad they’ve started coming around to a better marriage again. Because he never cheated. Now he’s just got to try tackling that crisis of faith, or else tell his wife about it, so they can figure out a way forward. Problem is Cal is in their midst, and even with Sarah’s steady faith to Meyerism her old flame will end up becoming a problem if there’s dissent from the Lane family, in any way.
More of Cal and Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). He wants her to speak during “Ascension Day“, some kind of Meyerist day of nonsense. Does this have anything to do with Felicia coming to see him, saying her and Bill will take over duties for the big day? Of course it does. Nothing in their world happens without reason. For now, Cal talks suggestively with Mary, he undoes his belt listening to her describe being with her boyfriend, kissing; a very disturbing moment. We can see that there’s another person inside Cal, one which he represses constantly, one that wants to come out but he wills to stay hidden. And that’s always going to create a problem. Soon, it will escape. We just have to wait and see how long he can tame it.


So the big thing about Felicia is that she apparently tried to climb The Ladder after Steve Meyers (Keir Dullea). Only it was burning hot, singing her hands. She even holds them up for all to see. Oh really, Felicia? Well everyone there buys into the propaganda. Cal doesn’t like it because he wants to be the man, the one and only behind Steve. I’d like to know the real story behind those burned hands. Perhaps we’ll see some of that eventually.
The dangerous part about Meyerism and young people is the repression of sexual desire. Hawk is confronted by the girl who saw him with Ashley, she pleads that they all feel horny now and then. Yet those feelings are just lies, they corrupt. That is a terrible thing to convince young people of, a bad way of life to lead them on. At the same time, the adults are all so deluded, and for so long, that they’ve convinced themselves completely of their hoax and it will never let go.
Eddie talks briefly with Felicia. They want someone close to Cal, so it seems. She also mentions Sarah doesn’t necessarily see Cal in an unbiased light. So we’re beginning to understand Bill and Felicia are definitely there to exert some sort of control over the commune. Because of Cal. The suspicious look on Eddie’s face says it all.


Mrs. Ridge calls Sarah to go find Freddie in an extremely sketchy-looking drug house. The place is disgusting, though, she pushes on in to find the kid. He’s there, stuck full of needles and strung out. He definitely needs help. I’m not convinced Meyerism is the answer to that call.
Across the fire, Bill and Felicia bring their concerns to Cal. They don’t like his way of doing things. He makes it clear that the cult needs a leader. He also says he’s going to write the last few rungs of the ladder because now he has seen the light, just as Steve did all those years ago. They bring up Alison (Sarah Jones), now Miranda, they don’t like his mishandling of those who’ve lost faith, and so on.
But he’s got a lid on Miranda, he’s brainwashed her once more, essentially. She’s off in a little trailer, “grateful” to the movement for all they’ve done. A marked change since her time in that bare, white room. It all looks like Cal’s got things under control now. It also gives him too much confidence, believing himself to be the “chosen son“, but Bill and Felicia still aren’t happy.


Cal: “I can go out on the fucking street and make people believe
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The cult may be starting to get to Detective Gaines, even slightly. After infiltrating them so far, only just a bit, he’s already starting to see his own life differently. And speaking of different lives, Hawk ends up going to a big party to meet Ashley. His life is changing drastically. He lays a big kiss on her and things start moving quick for them.
Before leaving, Bill and Felicia head to see Eddie. They bring Miranda to see him. She keeps apologizing, and now it turns out she’s back in the movement. “Keep the faith, honey,” says Felicia. They ask him to watch Cal. And it all clearly worries Eddie, knowing Miranda did nothing yet there she is, unburdening herself all over the place.
Later out in the woods at night, Eddie meets Cal in private. “Dig until you find something,” he tells Eddie handing over a shovel for him. What’s the meaning? What will he find down there?
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Suspenseful little finale for this episode. Loved it all. The whole series gets better as the episodes wear on. Next up is titled “The Hole”, so naturally, we’ll figure out to where Eddie is digging.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 3: “A Homecoming”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 3: “A Homecoming”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Annie Weisman

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Era of the Ladder” – click here
* For a review o the next episode, “The Future” – click here
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Further down the spiral we go, alongside Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) as he wavers on the precipice of losing his faith in Meyersim, in Doc, in the far too enigmatic Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy).
After last episode when Eddie went in for his fourteen days, leaving behind son Hawk (Kyle Allen) and wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), we pick up in Peru.
In his bed lies Steven Meyers (Keir Dullea), net to him Cal. The Doc is not well, as we’ve already inferred. It’s becoming more and more Cal isn’t so much in it for their religion. He’s in it for the power.
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Back into the world, Eddie shares his experiences. Everything is renewed, everything is fine again. Then there’s Cal, pumping everyone up saying there was “light dancing” in Steven’s eyes when he was told about all their work. Capable of seeing both sides we’re able to stay wary of Cal and his wiles. How long can he keep the wool over everyone’s eyes?
Meanwhile, the whole Miranda Frank (Minka Kelly) situation is devolving. She apparently would not “unburden“, and therefore creates an entirely new pocket of troubles. Because how can Eddie explain himself if Miranda will not confess (to something she did not do)?
Most interesting so far is Cal going to see his previously briefly mentioned mother – Brenda Roberts (Kathleen Turner). One thing I have to mention, as I’ve said before: the score from Will Bates is phenomenal. As Cal goes into the apartment building to see his dear ole mom there is such a great piece of music that builds and builds, it has an unasy, warped feeling, and almost puts you directly into the mind and headspace of Cal.
Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) is still pursuing the cult. He’s out at their camp talking with Richard (Clark Middleton), pretending to be someone else of course. Naturally, he’s trying to get a lead on what these people are all about.
Still meeting with Alison (Sarah Jones), Eddie tries to cut himself off from their previous incognito investigation. He’s drinking their “juice“, but believes he’s “living the truth“; something she will not buy.
In one of the locked rooms, Sarah goes to talk with Miranda, whose confusion only grows more by the second. Except Sarah is convinced of their affair. The layers only twist around one another, wrapping up in a pit of snakes that’s only bound to make things worse for everyone involved.
Back at his mother’s place, Cal tries to clean up. She’s more interested in trying to draw him back into her life. For a seemingly narcissistic man Cal appears concerned for his mother, her safety, her health and sanity, too.


Home in bed, the Lanes “connect” and try to get their energies flowing together. All of their Scientology-like teachings and beliefs make it right into the bedroom. So, like all other major religions, this cult is just like any other operation. They want to control life, they want to lock down personality, to crush individuality. And it’s obvious: Eddie and Sarah have a big Meyerist Eye hanging in their bedroom, right there in the place where they make love.
The sour relationship between Cal and his mother comes out further. She clearly has never had time for any of that cult religion bullshit, though, Cal’s dad entrenched his son in the workings of Meyerism. What’s interesting about their relationship is that there are guaranteed many people Cal’s age, in real life, whose families were torn apart by quasi-hippy nonsense like Meyerism during the 1960s and 1970s. A guy like Mr. Roberts took his son under his wing and immersed him into the cult, which had lasting repercussions on Cal, as well as the family overall. Yet, it’s still clear also that Cal cares deeply for his mother. He even has a drink for her.
Hawk is still trying to live a normal life. He explains the ways of his religion to his new sort-of girlfriend, Ashley (Amy Forsyth). Part of him comes off very abrasive, likely a result of his being raised in the cult of Meyerism. While Ashley doesn’t exactly understand, or dig, the whole religion thing, she does like Hawk a lot.
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Cal’s trying hard to get his mother into a care home. But she pushes and pushes and pushes, until he snaps on her in front of the people there. The rage in him is clear, even though she is on ragged, rough bitch. There’s a hatred in him which runs deep. It’s scary, actually.
At the same time, Eddie is dealing with being pushed, too. The stress of having to admit something he did not do grows around his shoulders. Everybody knows, everybody thinks that he’s “transgressed“, and it is a burden. No matter if he wants to make things right again. Likewise, Cal’s secret life with his mother, his drinking, it puts him in touch with Sarah. Funny, how Eddie never actually cheated, and yet Sarah and Cal have a strange, semi-emotional relationship with one another, very personal, private. I wonder if there are any other secrets of theirs we don’t know about yet. Because she’s already lying about why Cal called.
Further than that, Eddie finds Alison lurking around outside their house. He actually threatens to kill her if she comes around again: “You do not know where I come from,” he warns. It’s like a massive whirlwind of trouble brewing around their lives, ready to encompass everything nearby, everybody has something threatening the integrity of their cult, something about to crash down on top of their systematically structured universe.


Later when Eddie finds out that Miranda is at the compound, unwilling to admit to their non-existent affair, he is rocked. Now what will he do? Somehow this has to go away.
Over at his girlfriend’s house, Hawk does what he can to help Ashley and their family in harsh times. It’s intriguing to watch Hawk go against the wishes of his community because he knows what’s right, he knows to help someone is the ultimate goal, and yet the others around him, his own family, they’re falling way of the path in their own various ways. So to watch the kid be the one whose intentions are lining up true is sort of ironic, when the adults act as if they’ve got it all figured out.
And Cal, he knows exactly where he came from, unfortunately. His mother warns of trying to outrun his identity. That never ever goes the way it’s planned.


Brenda: “Wanting to be someone else never works. Just brings you right back here.”


A fire is lit under Gaines by the father of Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). The detective is definitely going to start causing some issues for the Meyerists and their community. Coming up against the wrath of Cal, I wonder exactly how out of control things are about to get.
Once Cal gets back to the camp he meets with Sarah. He tells her about something “in Peru” about Doc Meyers. He claims the “next rungs” deal with “succession of leadership” and so on. Of course. No surprise there, right? Cal wants to install himself as the next leader of the Meyerist movement. “Its always been you,” Sarah even assures.
In the end, Eddie goes to see Miranda. And she’s unconscious, likely dead, having drank the juice she was brought earlier by Sarah, or at least that’s what it looks like. Whoa. Is it really the case?
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Let’s find out together. Next episode is titled “The Future” and more revelations are bound to expose themselves.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Era of the Ladder”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Era of the Ladder”
Directed by Mike Cahill
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the previous episode, “What The Fire Throws” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Homecoming” – click here
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After the first episode, Hulu’s The Path continues on its ominous journey.
We open on Eddie and Sarah Lane (Aaron Paul/Michelle Monaghan) going through some type of couples therapy. They go, together, back in time to a different place in their lives. Turns out Eddie’s taking the rap for infidelity, instead of admitting the truth – he is doubting, his faith is crumbling, and he was in that motel meeting a woman named Alison (Sarah Jones). Although, he only goes so far. He adamantly refuses the “14 days“, which seems to be some type of reflective punishment.
Meanwhile, Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) is off meeting with a possible wealthy donor to the cause. The family has an addict son who requires a last ditch effort to be turned around. Speaking of young people, Hawk Lane (Kyle Allen) is coming up against the religion of his family. He’s not supposed to spend time with young women outside of school, alone, things like that. Eddie sort of bands with Hawk against the rest of the family, which is obvious. He’s trying to slip out of the whole debacle as it is.


In the aftermath of the tornado also lies the aftermath of Cal supposedly protecting Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). So then there’s Cal, pushing forward into his own agenda. He talks with Sarah, wondering how the couple therapy – branded with yet another Scientology-like name, IRP (Infidelity Rehab Program) – is actually going. Also, Cal continually presses into the life of Mary, as now they’ve got a bond over what happened in the previous episode. And she definitely, clearly, has a lust for Cal.
We’re finally introduced to Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar). He’s discovered the reach of the Meyerist cult, how they swooped in on the latest disaster area. This will provide an excellent, fun thriller element to the series.
Outside the community, in the real world, Cal and his minions help spread their word. Subtly, sly, they infiltrate the minds of others and casually rope them in.


Deeper down the rabbit hole goes Eddie. He and Alison have another meeting. “Maybe it doesnt matter if its real or not,” says Eddie. Now he’s doubting his doubt. “Because it fucking matters,” Alison replies. She reveals her husband was killed after they tried to leave the cult, and though Eddie doesn’t believe it, there is an obvious fear in him. The elderly people she was going to meet were her grandparents. She’s on the run, “like a fugitive“, and all because of the madness within the cult of Meyerism. For now Eddie decides to halt on going any further with their clandestine activities.
Hawk’s trying hard to fit in with the little family of his maybe-girlfriend, Ashley (Amy Forsyth). He even eats meat. The whole situation is sort of odd, especially in modern times. He asks personal questions of the girl, the mother, he doesn’t like to have the door closed in the room alone with the girl. Such a noble, honourable kind of belief system, though, under it all there lurks darkness.
That darkness is defined in Cal. He appears so candy coated on the outside. But inside, there is chaos. He has huge ideas, wants to help humanity. Yet is he any kind of leader? He manages to keep the anger inside him at bay, at least when required. Then it rips out of him at times. A very Hubbard-esque characterization in contemporary times. One little thread slips out – Cal’s mother. He avoids talk of her completely when asked point blank if they see one another. Mommy issues, Cal?


Eddie and Sarah still struggle. There are tons of underlying bits and pieces to their relationship. He was a sort of outsider, one who found his way into the inner circle with the likes of Sarah and Cal, those who’ve spent their life in the cult. So there’s an aspect to Eddie that’s on the fringes to begin with, and now this bit of doubt pulsing in him only serves to put him further on the edge. But he and Sarah can’t talk too long before they tear one another’s clothes off for a steamy romp. Hawk comes home in the midst of their lovemaking and has a bit of an existential mini-crisis, throwing up the meat he’d ingested earlier.
One way or the other, the Cleary family tries to keep on keepin’ on.
The media are being courted as a new possible avenue for the cult. Cal claims Doc told him the message is ready to spread. It’s obvious there are chains, a hierarchy, one that’s as rung-like as The Ladder they tout – whomever is higher has more authority, more knowledge, supposedly. And Cal exploits that to a certain degree in order to further his personal agenda, where he wants things to head. I love that they’ve used Scientology as a basis for the cult, but steer clear from copying everything too readily.


At school, Hawk gets called “Jim Jones” and warned of bringing the “Kool Aid” too close to Ashley, by her boyfriend. I knew repercussions for this were coming. A fight ensues, no doubt bringing more drama to the Lane clan. Needed at the school, Eddie’s drawn away from investigation the claims of Alison, re: her husband Jason. Mostly here we get an examination of how these cults, these communities affect families, the children in them, their social relationships, and much more.
Closer and closer, Cal and Mary come together. And no longer can he control his urges. Well, sort of, sort of not.
After everything, Eddie wants to go through with the rest of therapy. He wants to normalize their relationship, to “get back” to the old way. It’s the whole fourteen days thing. And into the room he goes, a veritable jail cell, self-imposed. A place of introspection, of clarity. Two weeks in there? Very similar to a practice in Scientology, though, again – not lifted entirely.


The media’s eye is now finally coming down on the cult of Meyerism. On a set, Cal is interviewed by a reporter. He tries to delineate their cult from the very world itself. The power of persuasion is on Cal’s side, as he is charismatic, charming, intriguing. His skills of oration are impeccable, he can almost melt people into the palm of his hand.
With Detective Gaines watching on, Eddie straddling the fence and Alison on the outside fighting, when will the cult find themselves at direct odds with the outside world? Soon enough. I’d bet on it.
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The finale of this episode sees Cal moving on helping the would-be-donors with their junkie son. Not just that, he’s making sure the donor professes his love and admiration for their religion. He wants true, faithful followers, and is doing whatever necessary to ensure that. “Cause I dont give a shit about your million dollars, Mr. Ridge,” says Cal: “I want your faith.”
At the same time, Eddie goes through the beginning of his fourteen days. It is a head trip. A one way ticket to absolute insanity. All billed as therapy, somehow. This whole sequence is almost terrifying, watching Eddie pace around the room, answering questions, painting, throwing paint, all kinds of things. Then, we get another glimpse at his revelation from Peru, behind the door, as Stephen Meyer (Keir Dullea) lays in a hospital bed, draped with a large snake. Back in the stark white room, Eddie loses his mind. Apparently he admits to an affair with Miranda Frank (Minka Kelly), and everything is fine afterwards. A few men go to pick her up in a cult van. What will be her fate?
Cal relays the new happenings to Doc in his bed, pronouncing their new era, “The era of the Ladder“, and now we know for sure what Eddie knew to be true really is true after all.


Where does The Path head from here? Let’s stay tuned together and find out.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 1: “What The Fire Throws”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 1: “What The Fire Throws”
Directed by Mike Cahill
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the next episode, “The Era of the Ladder” – click here
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The new Hulu series begins in New Hampshire. A desolate landfill-type location, some sort of disaster area, with various types o people everywhere. Up pulls a van, beeping loudly. Out of it emerges Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy), as well as a team of others, and they proceed to start saving people. Later, we come to discover there was a tornado.
Immediately one of the things I loved about this pilot episode is the cinematography. Really beautiful stuff. With Hulu in the game now, also putting out the Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63, the tv arena is getting wider.
Cut to Eddie and Sarah Lane (Aaron Paul/Michelle Monaghan). They’re at the dinner table surrounded by others, everyone hand in hand reciting some type of ritualistic grace. We’re directly in the midst of the cult, smack dab in the middle of conversations about their practices, and so on. Sarah’s worried about her husband, whose recent return from Peru seemingly prompted a change in attitude. There is definitely something off, whatever that may be.
A short time later, Eddie gets a text that sends him off. Not before he and his wife connect intimately a little.


Everything about the opening ten minutes is eerie. There’s an unsettling air about these first few scenes. When Sarah creeps about the house listening in on husband Eddie, there’s some great suspense. And that sets the tone for what’s likely to be a bit of an unnerving drama. At least that’s the initial feeling that this episode lays out.
Now we’re at the compound. A gated little community, guard at the front. Everything is quaint, almost too perfect. Everything is built and structured to look very country.
And at the center of it all, or at least lead puppet: the enigmatic Cal. He is charming, he reads people well, and his history with Sarah clearly runs deep. We get a little snippet on someone named Doc, who Cal claims is in “lockdown” working on a book. Hmm. Is this some L. Ron Hubbard-esque character, a Jim Jones kind of man, or someone altogether different?
One of the people saved by Cal and his crew is Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). She’s had drugs problems, it’s clear, and now this cult is going to nurse her back to health. To her, it’s as if the sky has opened up and Heaven shined down. But perhaps it’s more than it seems, perhaps not all it appears on the surface. She’ll have to wait and see.
An interesting aspect of this series already is Hawk Lane (Kyle Allen). He and other children of the cult members have to deal with life at school, following their beliefs in a modern world with bullying. That to me is something worth including, and hopefully will get more time to play out.


We get a quick scene with a woman named Alison (Sarah Jones). She tries to go talk to an elderly couple, but two men stop her on the street. Is she trying to reconnect with her old life? Are they preventing this from happening? This could be our first view into the darker side of life in this little community.
Mary Cox is being introduced to it herself. Sarah says she was “born into” this way of life, and that Cal came to the group as a young boy. There’s talk of “rungs” on a ladder, obviously parts of their belief system – the titular path, most likely.
Then there’s Eddie. He gives a sort of inspirational lecture to the newest recruits. He talks about his brother, Johnny. Sadly, Johnny hung himself, and Eddie found him. What’s most interesting is how he and Cal are incredibly close, so much so the latter already knows the story. Front to back. The community is clearly one built around close relationships, intimacy. But quickly we move into talks of “Meyerism“, books – because there’s always more than one – and more spurts of the ladder everyone climbs. Most importantly, the foreboding presence of Cal is so evident already. As is the doubt in Eddie. His faith is slipping; an amazing edit takes us over to Eddie reading to his daughter, poignantly giving us an exclamation point on his situation.


In a quiet room, Mary goes to see Cal. She undresses for him. His reaction certainly isn’t one of professionalism. He admires her a little before putting the clothes back on her body. For the time being, Cal’s playing it safe, which then prompts her to spill all the awful secrets in her past. “All my life I had this fantasy, one day an angel would float down from the sky and save me,” Mary tells him. Cal, for his part, spews some quasi-Scientologist madness, or pseudo-psychiatric nonsense. Either way, Mary doesn’t particularly buy it.
Another point to mention. The score in this episode is impressive. Both tense and subtle, it swells, pulsing underneath many of the scenes adding something properly ominous to the atmosphere. Props to Will Bates.
More on Eddie, as he takes off in the middle of the night. Not without Sarah on his tail. She follows him right to a motel. An affair? Could her husband be that sort of man?
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Jump back three weeks. Peru.
Eddie’s sweating out a pretty intense hallucination. He sees his brother, the one we’ve just heard of, and it brings him to tears. The shaman there encourages him to talk with his brother, which he does. To interesting results. He ends up staring through a doorway into some light. What does he see?
Forward, again in the present.
Things are obviously no longer the same for him. He Googles “Is Meyerism real?” and other such phrases, seeking out the elusive truth. His text messaging is to someone claiming to have such a truth. They cryptically communicate awhile, put off a little by the impromptu lovemaking in which Eddie and Sarah engage. Nonetheless, he’s been altered. Beyond that door, we only manage a glimpse of some sort of hospital equipment. Keeping someone alive? What could it be? The mystery is amazing, so palpable and full. Especially with the writing, which weaves us back through events we’ve seen already in the episode, giving us new insights, et cetera. Great work all around. The character development is slow, yet very full thus far while holding back just enough.


Eddie: “I think that I am having doubts


Maybe letting on too much, Eddie questions things about Doc to Cal. In front of everyone. A little out of line, from the looks of Sarah, and the slight apprehension, or faked apprehension, on the part of Cal. Appearances are a big deal here, they’re everywhere; people are keeping up a mask. At least Cal is, anyways.
Has Eddie discovered something about Doc? While Cal is fronting the whole thing, talking about what Doc is up to, writing, so on, is Doc really lying somewhere, barely alive, kept breathing by machinery? Is that what Eddie saw when let into the inner sanctum? Maybe he’ll discover the madness of the cult, just as people like Paul Haggis did in real life after figuring out Scientology was all about Xenu and a ton of fucking insanity.
Now, the whole mystery is wrapped up in a family drama. This edgy thriller is built inside a compact emotional framework. And Eddie, off in that motel, is talking to Alison. A highly interesting development.
Meanwhile, Sarah goes to see Cal. She talks about their early days together. “Your hands were like fire,” says Sarah. Things are deteriorating in the world of the Lanes, she keeps saying Eddie “transgressed“, but they’ve got no clue as to what he’s actually been up to.


We finally get a look at one of their little services. Interesting enough, Cal gives a bit of a speech on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. He goes over the “shadows of reality” and other talking points. He uses this to shape people and their minds. The way Cal uses his charisma, his natural charm, is almost dangerous. We can already see him peddle his heavy influence. An excellent performance from Dancy, love this turn from his other great role as Will Graham on NBC’s Hannibal.
Funny enough, Cal talks about not being able to live knowing what one knows, without breaking free of the chains which bind us. Same thing Eddie struggles with.
The part of this episode that’s most interesting is when Mary brings Cal back to her trailer park home, to meet dear old dad. To make everything “right“, as Cal had put it earlier. Such a terrifyingly quiet nature about Cal that explodes wildly, unexpected. His is a deep flowing rage. Juxtaposed with him lecturing people on Plato, it is a powerful scene.


Cal confronts Eddie later about what Sarah told him re: motel meeting.
Then we discover what Eddie saw, cut alongside his meeting with Alison. It is in fact Doc, Stephen Meyer (Keir Dullea), in an almost 2001: A Space Odyssey-like homage, laying in bed, hooked up to hospital equipment, as Eddie explains: “There is no light.”
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I love, love, loved this first episode. What an odd, beautiful, well-filmed and written, expertly acted pilot. Look forward to taking in the second episode ASAP.