The Path: "What the Fire Throws" Review
Hulu’s new 10-episode drama, The Path, executive produced by Friday Night Lights’ Jason Katims and Jessica Goldberg (who created the series), dives deep into an upstate New York family who are members of a nebulous “light/truth”-based cult called Meyerism.
Sarah Cleary (True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan) was born into the Meyerist sect and always been a true believer, while her husband Eddie (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul) joined up later in life after finding its author’s books following a family tragedy.
The Path – which kicks things off Wednesday, March 30th – is a gripping, meditative look at people in turmoil. Hitting the cult theme from many sides, the core of the series involves Eddie’s newfound lapse of faith following a foreign retreat. A trip usually known for helping members experience new aspects on enlightenment has closed Eddie off to most every aspect of his belief system. And Sarah has taken notice. And it’s this mostly silent struggle that sings the loudest in this first, excellent episode.
The Path – which is filed with expert performances from Paul, Monaghan, and Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy (who plays compound leader Cal) – isn’t out to take sides. Or bash specific methods of coping or believing. Meyerism is sort of a mish-mash of several belief blueprints, using terms spiritual ascension terminology like “climbing ladders” and “revealing hidden truths” and such.
You’re not meant to get a full handle on Meyerism (at least not yet) but rather dig into the characters here. And their very real, touchable world. And how someone experiencing doubt can shatter a big mechanism.
Aside from the Clearys, The Path brings us into Meyerism through the very damaged and traumatized Mary (Shameless’ Emma Greenwell), who acts as our “new eyes” to the group, and through Alison (Alcatraz’s Sarah Jones), a woman who’s left the flock and is now in hiding. And while it remains somewhat unclear as to how dangerous this cult is (there’s a dark spot toward the end of the episode, though it may be character-specific), we are shown that Alison’s former cult-mates are desperate to get her back.
The Path starts off with a strong first episode, complete with stellar acting and pacing. The actual cult aspects of the story sort of become secondary at times in favor of over-arching themes of secrecy, doubts, and unhappiness. Which is great because the topic itself, while unique to TV, might work to some drive viewers away. But showing us a story with more universal themes that could almost get plucked out up and out of the show works to open up the series and make everything more relatable.