In this week’s installment of Hulu’s original drama The Path, Eddie’s digging a hole, Hawk continues to struggle with his feelings for Ashley, and Sarah proves that she just might be one of the show’s villains.
Eddie’s (Aaron Paul) working his way through 7R with Cal (Hugh Dancy), but he’s got bigger things to worry about when Hawk (Kyle Allen) wanders home in the morning after falling asleep in the grass with Ashley at the party.
When he arrives, the whole family’s gathered, “worried sick,” and his cousin Joy (Stephanie Hsu) completely sells him down the river and tells everyone he’s been seeing a girl from school. The family collectively clutches its pearls — though no one calls Joy out for being a fucking narc, which seems unfair.
Eddie and Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) sit Hawk down for a come-to-The-Eyeball meeting and Sarah is sort of a jerk about the whole thing. After she storms out of the room, though, we get poignant moment between Hawk and Eddie.
Hawk’s been taught that the “Ignorants” (those outside the Movement) are bad. “Ashley doesn’t seem bad,” Hawk says. “Is she bad?” It’s a real humanizing moment for him. In the pilot, he adhered to the Movement strictly, but as his worldview expands, he’s finding it harder to reconcile what he’s been taught with what he sees in the world around him.
Agent Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) meets up with Alison (Sarah Jones) and, if we’re being honest, is the opposite of helpful. Alison gives us more of the story behind her husband’s suspicious death, but Abe’s only real advice for her is to leave and let the FBI take care of it.
Later, Abe comes to a turning point when a brief but impactful conversation with Eddie about starting 1R has him seeing Eddie as a human being, not just another mindless Meyerist.
Ashley (Amy Forsyth) confronts Hawk at school, knowing that he’s avoiding her and that it all boils down to Meyerism. “A religion that tells you who you can and can’t like is stupid,” she says. Hawk seems to take that to heart because at the end of the episode, he sneaks out of the house to meet with Ashley in…the middle of nowhere — in the bed of a pickup truck to look at the stars, maybe? It’s hard to tell. Teens, right? The only thing missing is some moody Explosions in the Sky track.
Throughout the episode, Cal locks horns with Mr. Ridge over Sarah’s suggestion that his wife and son go to Peru to contend with Freddie (Max Ehrich) and Ayahuasca. In return, Mr. Ridge’s personal muscle beat the shit out of Cal in the ritzy private circle drive in front of this McMansion.
This episode proves that Hawk is one of the show’s greatest victories thus far. He had all the makings of being totally insufferable in the first few episodes, but watching him go from holier-than-thou zealot to a kid who’s just torn between his family and his feelings for a nice girl at school has been surprisingly rewarding. We want Hawk to find his truth and some happiness, but the staunch and uncompromising commitment of his mother to the ways of Meyerism puts him in a tough spot.
While we’re on the subject of Sarah, this episode made some interesting insinuations about her character. Mainly, we’re not entirely sure that she’s not one of the villains on this show. Her treatment of Miranda Frank, her unwillingness to empathize and actually talk to Hawk and her obvious, and troubling contempt for anyone who isn’t a part of the movement are all pretty clear indicators that Sarah isn’t all wholesome kindness. Sure, she isn’t exactly burning the world to the ground or murdering people in cold blood, but the dark side of this cult has more than one face, and it feels increasingly obvious that Sarah’s is among them. After all, not all villains twirl their mustaches and hang out in evil lairs.
The Path, though it had some victories in Hawk’s development and the promise that lies in complicating Sarah’s character with a touch of villainy, is still sluggish. Mary’s character shows up in ways that feel entirely non-essential, Cal’s time on screen feels less impactful than it should, and the quest to figure out what lies beneath the cult’s surface is stalling with Eddie’s puzzling decision to eschew his doubt and continue Meyer-ing.
It’s been the narrative of the season thus far and it continues this week: the characters and the premise show promise, but it feels like we’re spending time and focus and energy on some inconsequential things while the plot chugs along a touch too slowly. We’re halfway through the season now, so here’s hoping we pick up some steam in the second half.