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Loosely based on multiple murderer John List, THE STEPFATHER gets uncomfortable horrific in its attack on the American family.
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
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: “You‘re 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 isn‘t 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: “You‘re a fraud. You can go out there and smile, but you‘re 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: “It‘s over. It was over when Steve couldn‘t accept his own mortality.”
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: “I‘m lost. I‘m 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.
Jonah Hill and James Franco are the selling point of TRUE STORY, all the way.