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The Path - Spiritus Mundi - Review

The penultimate episode of this season of The Path felt like the culmination of everything the season has been building towards, from a character perspective, a narrative perspective, and a thematic perspective. And while at times the episode did feel a little too rushed (you can certainly argue that the show took a little too much time to get to this point), watching as the hour's events unfolded was still a thrilling experience.

Obviously, the big takeaway from the episode is that it said goodbye to one of the show's more prominent supporting characters: Richard, the Steve loyalist who has been conflicted about Cal's vision for the movement and has, in recent episodes, begun to believe that Eddie is the true Guardian of the Light.

Richard's arc provides the episode with its spine, and it makes for devastating television, especially if you watch it twice (as I did). Siding with Steve and betraying both Sarah's trust and the sanctity of Restitution lead to his inevitable removal from the movement, and so he wanders lost throughout the remainder of the episode. Clark Middleton's performance excellent throughout, we see as Richard's options are slowly stripped from him, until he, in his mind, has no other choice but to do
something drastic.

That something ended up being burning himself alive (along with the blackmail tapes) after publicly denouncing Cal's leadership, in an ultimate act from a true believer to help ensure his vision for the movement. It makes for fantastic TV, feeling both surprising and still rooted in character, the score and the cutting between Richard's sacrifice and Eddie seeming to have some sort of premonition giving the sequence an epic feeling, a welcome departure from the typically quiet tone the show most often strikes.

But this episode also saw the collision of several of the season's other dangling threats. Sarah gets run off the road, and though we don't know who was responsible, it seems likely that it had something to do with the water testing in Clarksville. This leads to Cal using his close relationship with Hawk to manipulate him, turning him against his father. This then leads to Eddie abandoning his new mission to reform the movement, leading Richard to do what he did. It's all very logical and efficient storytelling, executed with minimal fat.

And then there's Mary, who spends much of the episode stumbling through the woods while having contractions. Last week I mentioned the rather unsubtle parallel's between Mary's journey and the state of Meyerism itself, and this episode sees the show commit to that idea even further. Mary eventually emerges from the woods in front of the compound, with her newborn (very white) baby. And while this result isn't good for Cal (Sarah now no longer sees him as a victim, but an abuser), it maybe suggests that there is hope for the movement.

Just as Mary survived her ordeal and her child was born out of it, this episode's closing moments suggests that a sort of rebirth will occur for the movement, if it emerges from its own struggles, both internal and external. As Richard's death proved, such a transformation would be hard, but the episode ends with Eddie turning his car around, foretelling that maybe there is a future for Meyerism brighter than its current reality.

Grade: A-