The Path: A Room of One's Own
May 18, 2016 1:16 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Eddie and Hawk return to the compound.

Hawk is concerned about returning to the compound, and Eddie assures Hawk everything will be ok.

And then everything goes to Hell.

Eddie talks about not having a grand revelation on the Path except he wants to be home. Hawk says he doesn't want to take his vows. Sarah reacts VERY badly to this. Mary quits drugs and ends up essentially proposing to Sean with Cal's influence. Cal begins to take over Meyerism financially. Sarah seeks Cal's help with Hawk, which results in Cal bribing Ashley. Ashley dumps Hawk AGAIN. Eddie realizes Cal is behind the break up and confronts Cal and Sarah after Cal announces Steve will be returning to the compound.
posted by miss-lapin (25 comments total)
Cal sinks lower in this episode than I really thought possible. Cal bribes a hs girl to dump her bf by offering her something she really can't refuse. Arguably at this point I don't really like Ashley, but Cal using Ashley's dead father as a way to manipulate her is seriously dirty pool.

Juxtapose that with the phone conversation Eddie has with the cop. The cop says "Don't call again" and instead of trying to wheedle him, Eddie accepts this. The cop is shocked, but Eddie then tries to offer genuine support by saying "Don't give up on your kid." This is juxtaposed against Sarah's "Hawk is dead" act. Sarah doesn't herself try, but instead gets Cal to manipulate Ashley to push Hawk back in line. It's just awful. Eddie genuinely cares about Hawk. Sarah....I have no frickin clue.

The opposition between Sarah (the faith militant) and Eddie (conscious doubt) comes to the surface. Eddie's conversation with the grans regarding "There has to be room for doubt." Eddie begins to realize how far gone Meyerism really is and with it how far Sarah and most of his family, save Hawk, are as well. But for someone devoted to Meyerism Sarah's willing to do a lot of underhanded shit to get what SHE wants.

Sarah continues to disgust me. Her whole speech about REAL suffering. When she talks about losing a child....she doesn't know what real loss is. "Losing" a sister tot he world of the IS NOT the same as that person DYING. Her whole sanctimonious act meanwhile she's getting Cal to fuck with her son for purely selfish reasons. She and Cal deserve each other.

How does Cal expect to miraculous produce Steve at the compound? What of Alison's mysterious return? (sorry I forgot that in the description)

Eddie punches Cal! YES FINALLY!
posted by miss-lapin at 1:28 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

So much shit went DOWN in this episode. I might even watch it again. I feel like there's too much to list.

posted by showbiz_liz at 8:19 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, my capsule review is, "Well, that escalated quickly!" Sarah and Cal have certainly shown themselves to be the ultimate lunatic fringe power couple-to-be. If Cal had to murder someone, I kind of wish it had been Ashley rather than Silas since he seemed considerably more interesting. The constant teenage break-up-to-make-up thing is getting mighty old.

The diary has to have much, much more serious freaky dirt than Steve Has Cancer, which is much less of a big deal than the cover-up. I can't believe Alison was going to Virginia Woolf herself over it (or at least that looked like the initial plan).

Oh god how I loved Cal offering sensitive, supportive couples, triangles, wait, quadrangles therapy to Mary, Sean, and Infirmary Girl. I can't believe Mary didn't roll her eyes so far back in her head they stuck.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:45 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wait, maybe the diary reveals that Steve once visited Jupiter.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:49 PM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

You guys missed the BOMBSHELL! I loved it, the police report the cop handed over with the line about "how does a guy fall off a mountain and burn his hands?"

So the dead doctor died with burnt hands, similar to what was described as Steve's grasping the Ladder and his hands not getting burned specifically. And the dead by suicide or murder husband- whatever he write in his journal about what he saw was enough to destroy his wife's new atheism.

The visions shown to believers have also so far come true to some extent.

I think they're going for a supernatural element in the show that's going to come out enough that it can always be explained away or ignored by some characters, but that will make it more than a group of cruel con artists. Imagine Cal and Sarah if their prayers worked - that's scarier.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:38 AM on May 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

Also weren't Felicia's burned hands taken as some kind of miraculous sign in a previous episode?
posted by fancyoats at 7:44 AM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

That's one of the things I was gonna come in and talk about on rewatch. My roommate and I were speculating - what if they wind up going with 'Meyerism is real'? And/or, what if by season 3 or 4 it's a global movement with millions of members? I kind of want this show to be stealth speculative fiction.

But, yeah, I am officially INTRIGUED by Alison, after being pretty bored with her storyline. Since like episode 2 I've just been assuming her husband was not murdered, because they were clearly pushing a "Meyerism isn't as good or bad as it seems" narrative and that wouldn't have fit with a straight-up murder that happened offscreen before the series even started. And because I've been assuming that, I've been rolling my eyes and wondering "ugh, when is this chick going to find OUT already" every time we saw her on screen.

And I was really not expecting this.

The fact that Alison filled her pockets with rocks and then (after her abortive suicide attempt) took what seemed to be a long walk back to the compound - I mean, it's an exact parallel to The Walk that they're all expected to take. That's surely deliberate. And I, at least, got the impression that either her failure to sink into the lake was a genuine miracle, or at least she was supposed to see it as a genuine miracle.

In previous episodes there'd been speculation that Eddie was the stealth candidate for The Future Of Meyerism, but this episode would seem to indicate that Alison might be the true 'heir' of Steve, which sets up a really fascinating conflict.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:49 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Gotta say though - I really, really liked this episode, but I didn't quite buy the idea that Eddie would start saying such brutal things to the other Meyerists. Like - he has lived with these people for what, 20 years? He knows how his wife will react to being told it's "all bullshit"! He knows how her parents will react when he tells them he just plain doesn't believe anymore! He couldn't have phrased it any differently?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Even if I have a few issues with how it's being handled (what, you don't even have a policy of trying to persuade nonbelievers?), it all very strongly reminds me of a series of posts I once read by a woman who left an incredibly strict Satmar Jewish community in Brooklyn and was completely and totally ostracized by her family. She had grown up without ever going to regular school or learning English, and when she left she really did have absolutely nothing. Years later she came back for a parent's funeral and the entire community came together to make her leave without attending the funeral.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:02 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

One more thing: it was maybe a little on-the-nose, look-we're-doing-a-Thing, but even so, I really dug the way that the teakettle noise was used in that scene between Cal and Sarah. It came in so abruptly and went on for so long and carried this vibe of building menace with it, and it could almost have been part of the soundtrack but not quite, and on top of that, it's a great little callback to Cal's continuing mission to get someone, anyone, to have some fucking tea with him.

Actually, in general I really noticed and liked the sound design in this episode, and often on this show I find it to be just a teensy bit Too Much.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:15 AM on May 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

Felicia's hands are burned. She talked about how both she and Steve saw the Ladder, but when she grabbed it it burned her hands. She holds them up to show the audience and they gasped. Steve, however, was NOT burned and ascended the Ladder. This would suggest that Alison's ex-husband saw the Ladder and tried to climb, but wasn't chosen. whether this means that Alison is the heir of Meyerism or someone else who was with the doctor and has not yet surfaced is remains unclear. I'm still on Team Eddie as he saw Steve in the hospital which set off this series of events, which will hopefully create a massive change in Meyerism involving Cal and Sarah falling off a mountain.

I've liked so far that all the visions and signs are ambiguous. Sure they've all come true so far, but with the exception of Felicia's hands and now the burned hands of the doctor, there have been fairly reasonable explanations for these dreams and visions. I'm not sure how I feel about Meyerism being real. And I say this as someone who likes some aspects of Meyerism like the idea of the offset.

Eddie talking about "This is bullshit" the guy is desperate. He's not thinking in a strategic way and like many people who are desperate he makes the situation worse. Of course, dealing with zealots, it's not hard to make things worse as, from what we have seen, the upper rungs of Meyerism demand absolute faith (unless you're Cal in which case have a good time). He's tried to be reasonable. He's tried to do everything to hold things together including the walk in the middle of winter at Cal's bidding with his wife (ex wife now?) becoming more insufferable by the minute. He has HAD IT. also, remember, that he has been re-eastablishing contact with his past so that part of him is resurfacing. But also I think Eddie's desperate flailing is meant to be a foil for Cal's manipulation. Sarah thinks Cal is the leader because of all his quiet faith, meanwhile he's a seriously fucked up toxic individual whose good at manipulation. Eddie on the other hand is genuinely good. That she looks down on Eddie....well it says a lot about her character.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:56 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh and a little snag in the Cal Sarah power couple. Sarah gave Alison the journal. If Alison's return prompts a reveal of Cal not being the chosen, I'm reasonably confident he's going to be less than pleased with Sarah using the journal as a bargaining chip in her marital discord. (Not that he can take the moral high ground on anything, but you know...)

Another thing-the episode opens with Cal talking to Steve asking for a sign if he's not the one. the episode ends with Alison's return tot he compound. Whether she is the chosen or not, it seems pretty clear she is the sign Cal ostensibly was asking for.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:26 AM on May 19, 2016

What if they wind up going with 'Meyerism is real'? And/or, what if by season 3 or 4 it's a global movement with millions of members? I kind of want this show to be stealth speculative fiction.

I would actually sort of love that, even if it doesn't get to be a huge movement. It would be fantastic for a show that started out ostensibly presenting itself as "hey, look at life in this fucked-up corrupt cult that will eventually get taken down" (like a religious Sons of Anarchy) to turn into something else entirely.

I caught the hand-burning thing, and back when Felicia told the initial story about Steve and her and the Ladder, I wondered how her hands actually got burned, but because I'm a godless heathen, I assumed it was probably just the result of some "stuff the person full of hallucinogenic juice and then burn their hands" procedure for both Felicia and Alison's hub. It would be way more interesting if it were something inexplicable and/or paranormal, though.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:24 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

So maybe Alison's trek across the breaking ice was not even initially intended to be a suicide but a test of faith to start her mini-Walk.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:26 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

That's how I took it. Her walk across the ice is a test. She passes.

I think with the paranormal they have to be careful. The entire season there have been hints of the paranormal, but nothing aside from the burnt hands that were inexplicable and since we don't know the scenario in which either of those burns happened, they still reside within the realm of physically possible. Introducing overtly paranormal events this late could be difficult. they've done amazing job so far though so I'm on board to see where they take this.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2016

Gotta say though - I really, really liked this episode, but I didn't quite buy the idea that Eddie would start saying such brutal things to the other Meyerists.

I felt the same way, mostly because he still seemed pretty deeply entrenched in denial about his doubts until very recently. And then one clam roll later he's telling the world and expecting his in-laws to be less looneytunes than their daughter because . . . why? Maybe once Sarah found out, which was obviously going to derail everything, and disowned Hawk, he felt like he'd crossed the Rubicon and might as well let it all hang out.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:01 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was reading a review of this episode and it reminded me of something else: what the fuck was up with that burlesque bar?!?! There was absolutely nothing about that place that scanned as 'debauched businessman hideaway' to me. No no no no. That bar was not for businessmen. It was 100% uncut hipster bullshit, the kind of place where every patron is vaping through his beard and trying to explain the merits of polyamory to you, the kind of place where you take that girl you met in your improv class in order to seal the deal on your third date. I was losing my goddamned mind during that scene, to the point where I had to rewind because I missed dialogue, because my roommate and I just kept being like "what? WHAT??"
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:05 PM on May 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

That was weird. But I guess maybe burlesque bars (or regular bars with burlesque shows) have proliferated in NYC to the point where it's the type of place where all the latter-day Patrick Batemans hang out or something, to make fun of the hipsters. Finance Sector Asshole seems too old for that demographic, though. Cal, being the repressed twisted fuck he is, could barely carry on a conversation there, so maybe that's why FSA chose it, to make him squirm.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:21 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

NYC resident here. No burlesque bars are not a thing here. Even regular bars with burlesque shows aren't that common. There are a few places, but they are definitely not geared towards the patrick batemans of the world. At least not that I've seen. Even The House of Yes, which is probably as close to this kind of place that I've been to, is fairly unique in its existence and would definitely not be old finance dude territory.

It's a VERY odd selection. I'm guessing they were going for classier than just a titty bar and more original than a lounge or steak house.

I'm guessing the selection was for more symbolic reasons, particularly the woman dangling over the bar. It reminded me a bit of the sword of damocles. Or maybe they were trying to go for a little Twin Peaks. Either way, it didn't really fit.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:23 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

NYC resident here. No burlesque bars are not a thing here. Even regular bars with burlesque shows aren't that common.

I too am an NYC resident, of the '20something hipster' variety, and I've been to more than a handful of burlesque shows without even really trying to. It's definitely a Thing, but mostly it seems to be a Thing for people like me - young, broke, artsy, vaguely alternative. And I've never seen it be marketed or perceived as anything but kitschy fun. Sure, burlesque is inherently sexual, but people do not go to burlesque shows to get themselves all hot and bothered, at least not people in 2016 in NYC.

I can see what they were going for if I squint, but they missed the mark to a comical degree on that one.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:38 AM on May 20, 2016

Yeah I'm 41. I've been to a few burlesque shows, all of them advertised. I've never stumbled into a place that had burlesque accidentally. Actually just last week I took a class at the School of Burlesque. Most of the bursleque I've been to has been in Brooklyn. In my neighborhood, we're all Irish dive bars. Last week a....well I don't know if it's a club, bar, or lounge, but a SOMETHING opened up with go go dancers. (I found out because some friends of friends were the go go dancers.) I'm willing to put hard cash down right now it closes in under two years.

For me, I always end up accidentally at drag shows. And now I am nostalgic for Stingy Lulu's.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:49 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If this fucking show actually goes paranormal, I'm bailing. I think it can be much more interesting without pulling deus ex machina out of their asses. The miracles so far are not all that miraculous. People at the top know there's a heap of bullshit being fed to the low rung folk already. Felicia's burnt hands impress me none because she's one of those few in the know about Steve's real condition.

Is that really Keir Dullea in the bed? Unrecognizable, and so much like real life loved ones I've seen in that condition, transformed from people I knew to unrecognizable husks.

Mention of "Steve" always sounds so humorous to me. I dunno why... Tao of Steve or something just so casually laid-back-West-Coast, first-name-basis about our spiritual leader, Steve.

Some of those Meyerist men are annoying and completely useless at doing anything more than meandering about and toking up. Cal seems transparent to me, but despite his high position, it looks like women truly wield more power in the movement, though it's not clear to me that they know it.

I like Ashley. She is quite practical, mature, and has priorities for loyalty. Hawk, on the other hand, barely seems to know himself at all, and even less about the larger world outside the Movement. He seems like a fragile puppy in comparison.

I'm curious if Sarah turns out to have been far more nefarious all along than we might have been led to believe. This is the second time things take an unexpected turn for people after she happens to make contact with them. In addition to the continuous revelation of her icky extremism.

I get a good deal of satisfaction seeing Cal get hit (again). But what the hell is left for Eddie now after that little display? It looks like Eddie and Sarah don't really know each other at all, to an extent that I can't quite buy, really. I'll go along for the sake of the story. But her willingness to burn everything to the ground than let Hawk go seek his own path looks like it is a sucker punch to Eddie. Has his whole life turned out to be a house of cards?

So far this show is holding me pretty well.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:43 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

If this fucking show actually goes paranormal, I'm bailing. I think it can be much more interesting without pulling deus ex machina out of their asses.

Same. I would respect the, uh, pivot, but it would kill my interest in these characters.
posted by Monochrome at 7:12 PM on May 22, 2016

If this fucking show actually goes paranormal, I'm bailing.

It's be the three of us then.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:08 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll stay because a) how else to get my Hannibal-Hugh fix and b) one of the reasons I found Big Love satisfying overall was that the show took religious faith seriously in that belief mattered and varied in the way it changed people's lives. I would prefer that The Path allowed for multiple interpretations, and the hallucinatory drugs help a lot there, but it does seem to be heading that way. Eddie has lost faith but he still sees the teachings as valuable, while Sarah's belief is extremely powerful and fragile - she's never questioned any of her beliefs and now she's discovering that Cal, who she knows is broken, is writing them - and part of her wants that power and part of her wants to be a child again. The way she begs her parents for help and yet has to face that she's outgrown them (she's literally a level higher than them) and that they've chosen what she knows she couldn't do, banishing her own.

She tried to banish Hawk, and she immediately went and got him brought back as best she could. It was manipulative and awful, but from her set of values, fearing he would be banished, having lost her sister for decades, and feeling Eddie vanishing - not a brave or truthful act, but still one where love for Hawk won over dedication to Meyerism. She puts her family ahead of faith, but Meyerism is her family.

I can't wait for season two. The only thing I dread is that dead baby hawk in the toy aisle. That was just an awful image, and there is no reason except tragedy to come.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:51 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

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