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The Path - Defiance - Review

Much like Mary at the end of this episode, Meyerism finds itself adrift, lost in the woods. In this messy hour (which is not a criticism), lines are drawn in the sand as the conflict over the future of the movement comes to a head. But, like with almost everything on The Path, very little about this conflict is straightforward, this episode seeming to do everything in its power to muddy the show's waters even further.

Because while Eddie and Cal may now be fighting for control of the movement, both seem driven mostly by their own personal insecurities. Eddie has spent this entire season away from the movement, and from a distance he has watched as his family has moved on from him, at least in his mind. And so this episode sees him do the thing one does not expect from a messiah: he infiltrates the centre and ambushes Cal, his words coming off as the incoherent rantings of a madman.

Of course, Cal has been the one to benefit most from Eddie's absence, and so he responds to Eddie's declaration of war with violence. In his mind, Eddie isn't so much threatening his place in the movement as his place in Sarah's life. This episode also makes a point of Cal's emotional damage, and the domino-effect it can cause, most notably in the episode's unsettling conclusion. For two men who want to lead a religion, one of whom possibly being some sort of Messiah figure, both seem far more concerned with their own personal struggles than with the needs of the movement.

But at points this episode does cut through the clutter. In the climax to what is undeniably the series' most underdeveloped story line, Mary chooses the movement over a life with Sean, seemingly bringing an end to her internal conflict. Left with a choice between family and the movement, a struggle that has plagued many characters this season, she chooses the latter. To Mary, the movement is a safe haven from the terrors of her former life. To Sean, it's something running further and further into the distance, but not worth running after.

At times in this episode the characters are reminded of what truly matters: family. In the montage mid-episode, which focuses on Eddie's climb to 8R and that rung's theme of forgiveness, the conflict at the show's centre is briefly forgotten, and we as viewers get a rare glimpse of the characters experiencing true emotional clarity, most exemplified in Gab's reunion with her daughter.

One of the episode's closing scenes sees Abe reveal to Eddie who he actually is, and telling him of how his baby lived. What was a major moment last season has hardly been referenced since, and as this scene demonstrates, for good reason. The show left this inevitable scene until when it mattered most, when the show is at its most muddled. Abe has had his own struggles this season, but he has been more clear-eyed than any other character recently, which probably began at the end of season one, when he saw something he couldn't explain.

When Eddie appeared to cure Abe's baby, everything Abe had previously believed or presumed was cast in doubt. He can't explain what happened, and never will be able to explain, but he knows how it felt, and that being more important is a key part of faith itself. And so as the movement finds itself fumbling through the darkness, the people tearing it apart might need reminding of what it is they're fighting over.

Grade: B+