If you haven’t seen or even heard of The Path, you’re missing out (until you get to season 2 that is). What we have is a great cast with a great premise. We follow a “movement” (it’s a cult) as they weave in and out of certain issues that they face. The Path focuses on a few characters in particular, one of which is Eddie (played by Aaron Paul). Eddie, who is married and has children (also part of this group) has spent most of his life as a believer only to start to doubt the movement after a journey to Peru. During an ayahuasca trip he saw some things that planted a seed of doubt in his mind.
This basically leads onto the story of season 1 which one way or another revolves around Eddie’s spiral into disbelief and eventual rebellion from the movement. If you haven’t seen the show before then be warned, I’m not going to flat out discuss the plot, but I am going to explain why it going down a different path would have been a lot more interesting…at least to me.
The Path ultimately focuses on the story of Scientology. The show itself isn’t about Scientology as such but more on their tactics of recruiting, of getting away with illegal activities, what they do to people trying to escape the group, how they respond to challenge, their pseudo-science tests that basically involve measuring arbitrary bodily measurements such as heart rate or temperature…you get the idea. I always compared it to other religions such as Christianity but actually, after recently learning more about Scientology, I couldn’t ignore the flat out parallels.
Meyerism (the religion of the show) employs these same tactics in order to lure in new members, blackmail and exploit previous members and essentially keep control of the movement. This really ties into what made the show so incredible at the start. It was gritty, it was realistic, it contained some truth that you see when you look out into the world. Let’s take a closer look at that.
Season 1 took such a tight grip of, much like a snake gripping its prey. I couldn’t believe how interesting this show was and it felt exactly like the sort of show I’d been waiting for. I’d recently finished Hannibal and had a gap in my life for something that was dark and appealed to that part of our personalities. What’s darker than a cult that stops people from leaving?
The first season of The Path interested me in one very distinct way. You see, Eddie quite early one (I believe it may even be the first episode) returns from a trip to Peru where he took “the medicine” (ayahuasca, an extremely potent hallucinogenic concoction used by Amazonian tribes. It’s essentially liquid DMT). During his visions/hallucinations he follows his brother into a room. Here he sees the leader of the movement, dying in a very mortal way: from cancer. What I absolutely loved about this was the idea that there was nothing remotely magical or mystical about it. Eddie was exploring his own consciousness to come to terms with one very specific truth: They Meyerism movement is bullshit.
To me that was wonderful! This unspoken idea that their medicine was helping Eddie to see the truth just seemed so compelling. The rest of the season focuses on Eddie being torn apart by this revelation due to his family (particularly his wife) being very devoted to Meyerism. It just felt so real and while watching it you knew all too well that similar things like this undoubtedly happen all the time whether in Christianity, Islam, Scientology, you name it. People don’t cope well with their loved ones coming to the conclusion that everything they believe in is bullshit!
Up until the very last episode, I couldn’t get enough of this show. That is until Eddie returns to Peru and finds out that actually, what he saw wasn’t a vision projected by his subconscious at all. Steve (the founder) was actually there and was actually dying of cancer and for no real fucking reason, was dying in a compound where people are allowed to wander around freely, people who are there with the sole purpose of taking a psychedelic drug. But you know what? I could have accepted that. It ruined an aspect of the show that I adored but it wasn’t the end…or so I thought.
The Chosen One
Season 2 then goes down a path that ‘The’ Path should have stayed away from. It turns out that everything in season 1 was unnecessary as Eddie is now the chosen one. Meyerism is real, there are real powers and Eddie is essentially Jesus. Dammit Hulu you fucking pieces of shit! This led me onto a whacky conspiracy theory that I’ll share with you shortly.
Anyway, I sort of came to terms with Hulu’s decision to send The Path down a dark road and I did enjoy season 2 for the most part. It showed Eddie trying to fit into a normal life outside the movement which for some reason I really related to despite having never been in such a position. The biggest issue was that all of the story involving Eddie fitting in, getting a new girlfriend, getting a job, ETC was all just a build-up to him coming back to the light and re-joining Meyerism. Re-joining isn’t the right word…running Meyerism. There entire season builds up to the most disappointing climax ever! (giggity)
The tinfoil hat wearer inside of me thinks that it’s very suspicious that the show seemed to be heading in one direction in season 1 and then a completely different direction in season 2. We’ve gone from a gritty and realistic show to absolute nonsense. Who knows, maybe that was the plan all along? But if that’s the case, then the writing of the show was poorly done. I had just recently watched Going Clear, a documentary about Scientology and one part of their fairly recent history kept coming back to me: Scientology essentially blackmailed the IRS into granting them the status of being a religion. That’s very real and very true and quite frankly, it is terrifying. They’ve done similar things to people speaking out about the cult…religion, the religion.
So what about The Path? A show which quite clearly mimics Scientology and highlights MAJOR flaws with such a system that many, many people had come out and said “this is clearly about Scientology”. If Scientology as a movement is really so against any negative press or willing to “deal with” anyone who has a bad thing to say about them, then what would they make of a show such as this? This relates to season 3 a little but I’ll cover that in the next section.
I mean am I the only one who thinks that? Maybe I’m being a bit too much of a conspiracy theorist but that doesn’t sound too unbelievable to me. Scientology is a hugely powerful organisation. I mean if you can blackmail an agency of the United States government into announcing that a following started by a mentally ill sci-fi writer is now a religion, then what else can they do?
Welcome in Season 3
So far i’ve watched the first four episodes of season 3. I think the show is perhaps going for a shock factor combined with all these different lessons it’s trying to portray. All of my original interest from the show has well and truly gone. We have Eddie, who once stood for sanity and morality: A man who simply wanted to be with his family but could no longer turn a blind eye to the evil goings on of the movement. Now he is surviving explosions, turning the movement into some sort of company and sending young adults back to their clearly abusive parents. He isn’t the same character we met in season 1. Not only that but his personality is changing from episode to episode. Obviously you can expect this a little but but in episode 3 he is defending a decision that he literally just did himself in the previous episode.
Cal is perhaps the only character who actually has an interesting storyline as of season 3. We’ve always seen hints that Cal’s past is a dark one. What started off as him simply being raised in the movement soon became an abusive and traumatic childhood. He was never a likable character but season 3 is certainly making you feel sympathy for him. I didn’t imagine he would become the character of interest on the show but in comparison to how badly they’ve ruined all the other characters, I guess we have to take what we can get. I mean Mary, who unfortunately accompanies Cal’s storyline is literally the worst written character of the entire show. Similar to the show itself, she played an interesting role at the start. In season 2 it became ridiculous and now in season 3 its erratic and makes little sense.
In all honesty, the writing just doesn’t make any sense. It’s suffering from the exact same problem that The Last Jedi had. It feels like one person is writing a story and then someone else is following on but without having actually read the story, perhaps settling for the blurb or abstract. Characters are changing who they are willy-nilly, there seems to be a general lack of plot and certainly not one that has been consistent throughout all three seasons (apart from maybe the dark goings on behind the curtains of the movement). Hawk, a guy who has had a new girlfriend per season and who has shown deep love for both of them, has now entered into a gay character arc despite him having a girlfriend…Even how they treat drugs in this season is ridiculous. People having shared visions on a drug that nobody with any sense of spirituality would be drinking anywhere but South America.
In relation to my conspiracy theory, I always wondered if there would be any signs on the show that a change had taken place (beyond the obviously butchered writing) such as a nod to the truth. I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head but in season 3 the movement hires a public relations woman to deal with everything. She’s Steve’s daughter and part of a separate denomination of Meyerism but she also handles any negative press. When someone tries to speak out against the movement, she turns up on their door and threatens to have their brother (who is illegally in the country) deported. I know, I know, that’s such a grasp but hey ho, it’s not like it’s a serious theory anyway…or is it? No…or is it?
So long story short, I’m a little disappointed. I understand that there will always be fans disappointed with the direction a show takes. I happen to usually be on ‘Team Disappointed’ such as with How I Met Your Mother or Lost or any number of other shows. So I completely acknowledge that the opinion of one person is not cause for uproar. I’m sure many people are loving the direction the show is taking. I guess there are just too many elements from season 1 that called to me only to flip them on their head. There’s probably not some Scientology influence causing the show to head in a different direction. It probably comes down to appeasing the masses. Maybe they are trying to feed off the superhero phase currently going on in the world. I mean Eddie can survive explosions now so… who knows? Shame he couldn’t deflect lightening in the same manner.
I will say this: A show that managed to highlight beneficial aspects of both weed and ayahuasca will always get a thumbs up from me. I’m going to continue watching to see where season 3 heads and who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, maybe not.
Anyway, as always, if you have any questions or comments then leave them below. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!