Hulu’s The Path slow burn and eerie performances make the new series a trip worth taking
I’ve often thought of cults in terms of a funny bit from The Simpsons. In the episode “Marge vs. the Monorail,” the final sequence features a running tally of Springfield’s stupid ideas, including an Escalator to Nowhere, with people taking a trip to the peak only to come crashing down with an off-screen thud. Strangely enough, that’s what Aaron Paul’s character Eddie discovers within his cult on Hulu’s The Path: there’s nothing at the top.
After the suicide of his brother years prior, Eddie enters into the Meyerist Movement, which preys upon the spiritually weak and desperate by promoting the idea of “The Ladder.” In the opening sequence of the show, the cult shows up in Rindge, New Hampshire to rescue victims of a tornado that’s swept through the area. We later learn that the cult arrived on the scene before even FEMA.
But after having a strange spiritual vision on a trip to Peru, Eddie returns home to his wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) a changed man. He starts sneaking around and having late-night conversations. Sarah follows him to a hotel, thinking he’s cheating on her. As it turns out, he’s meeting with a woman who believes the whole Meyerist Movement is a lie (although Sarah doesn’t know this).
But even though The Path is billed as an Aaron Paul series, a scene stealer is Hugh Dancy as Cal. He’s the guide of the movement, and like Sarah, he grew up in it. For a long time, Dancy was the resident cutie in films like The Jane Austen Book Club and Confessions of a Shopaholic, but it appears as if he’s holding over some creepiness from his days on NBC’s Hannibal. In the second episode titled “The Era of the Way,” Cal storms into a wealthy couple’s house and delivers a chilling ultimatum in order to save their son from his drug addiction.
The show also brings to light interesting questions about cults. When Eddie is debating whether it’s OK to stay in the Meyerist Movement, even if there is no truth to it, Alison (Sarah Jones) reminds him that that’s why he bought into it in the first place. Isn’t it important that there’s truth? It’s a compelling debacle. If it makes you happy, can you turn a blind eye?
The Path is perfect for Hulu’s format of week-to-week episodes. This is one show that works better with a slow reveal, rather than bingeing all at once. Aaron Paul may not have another Breaking Bad on his hands, but there’s a ton of new drama to delve into that hasn’t been explored on television. Even if there’s nothing at the top of the ladder, like so many of the Meyerist members, I’m still willing to take the ride.