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The Path - Return - Review



While this season has seen the show’s male lead Eddie take a bit of a back seat, Aaron Paul’s character has been undergoing an interesting arc of his own, and that all comes to a head in this episode. Through Eddie’s attempts to readjust to normal society and his struggle to not allow himself to get dragged back into the movement, The Path has not only been suggesting that he has some sort of supernatural ability, but that he has been metaphysically chosen to lead the movement in a new direction. This ties into this season’s recurring tension between Steve’s vision for the movement and Cal’s vision of the movement. This conflict has gotten murkier and more complex as the season has progressed, so perhaps what Meyerism needs is a new leader.

Despite this episode being the most significant example yet of The Path addressing its potential supernatural element, the show refuses to provide solid answers. Was Eddie’s vision of the Garden a genuine afterlife experience, or was it a drug-induced dream? But for now, these questions don’t matter. What actually matters is what Eddie believes. This season has seen him battle with his belief and faith in the Light, as he has found himself getting drawn back to it. This episode may bring about a significant change in Eddie as a character. While he left the movement as a result of losing his faith, that may have also led to his faith growing stronger than it ever had been. Though given his very negative experiences with the movement this season, I doubt he’ll be returning to it any time soon, at least in its current form.

But while this episode may have provided the strongest argument yet for the validity of the Meyerist faith, it also presents the founder of the movement in a very different light. In Eddie’s vision, Steve is presented as someone holy, greater than human. But ironically, in an episode that comes ever closer to affirming Meyerism, the episode’s other storyline grounds the character of Steven Meyer even more, posthumously making him seem very human and flawed indeed. This has been a theme of the show from the beginning, his terminal cancer a very early plot point. But this episode took the idea even further, suggesting that he was far more flawed than anyone realised.

This is suggested by Cal’s mother Brenda (a returning Kathleen Turner), who spends the episode in a hospice bed dying of liver failure. When Sarah visits, and when she realises that Cal is not coming, she passionately tells Sarah of the truth of Cal’s relationship with Steve when he was a child, saying that it was in fact abusive. While the show doesn’t confirm Brenda’s words, Turner’s aching performance and the little the show has shown of Steve and Cal’s dynamic lends credence to them. The Path has always tried not to romanticise the character of Steve, and has suggested the very mortal man at the movement’s centre. But to introduce the possibility of child abuse is another thing entirely, and is especially ironic if Meyerism ends up in fact being real, as this episode may also suggest.

While there’s no firm evidence for Cal’s molestation, it certainly makes sense when you take into account his erratic and unstable behaviour throughout the series. Cal has always been portrayed as a man with good intentions who is emotionally and psychologically unstable. While the show has always said that a tough childhood is the reason for this, this episode indicates that said childhood was tough not only because of an emotionally absent mother and a vicious father, but also because of something far more disturbing.

But if Steve’s rape of Cal is true, then it not only casts Cal’s emotional state in a new light, but his faith also, which is addressed in his subplot in this episode, in which he goes to LA to try and get some money from Noa’s mother Jacqueline (Melanie Griffith). In return for her money, he has to convince young popstar Luna to go on tour, and tries to do so by converting her to the Light. But when he pitches this to Luna, it falls flat, as it doesn’t seem he even believes what he’s saying. This happens soon after her finds out about his mother’s impending death, and this may have reminded him of not just what Steve did to him, but Brenda’s inaction. This is the first episode to call Cal’s belief into question, in an episode where we all of a sudden see him in a very different light. Cal takes his anger with his mother out on Jacqueline, another irresponsible mother who hasn’t been there for her child. The two of them having sex is yet another example of Cal’s sexual damage, a recurring theme from early in the series.

But this episode suggests that Cal is moving forward. While Sarah is following in Cal’s footsteps by doing immoral things for the sake of the movement (seen by her blackmail of members), Cal in the end doesn’t attempt to convert Luna, someone who, like him, didn’t have much of a childhood. He instead urges her to run and leave her toxic life behind, something that he may have desperately wanted to do when he was young. Cal has wrestled with his conscience all series, and this episode suggests that while he could be far more damaged than we thought, there’s still hope for him.

Grade: A


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