The Path Review (2×07): “Providence”

No matter which direction we walk in, the light will point us home.”

If only it were that easy.

Much of this show’s second season has been an examination of values and resolve. Many of its characters are being pulled in multiple directions, faced with finding the right path to lead. Sean calls his mother to tell her Mary is pregnant. It’s both a cry for help and a plea for her to stay away and let him figure things out on his own. Eddie attempts to establish a life outside of the movement, yet is conflicted by his love for Sarah and his children. Abe is close to a promotion with the FBI, but is at risk of losing his family in the process. Cal seeks to fulfill his grand vision for the movement, but instead ends up putting everyone’s livelihood in jeopardy.

This episode is centered around the meaning of “home”. In the most literal sense, the Meyerist compound is facing foreclosure following Cal’s reckless purchase of the city estate. Both he and Sarah are faced with the decision of what to do next. They agree on trying to sell the recently acquired building in order to save the compound that Steve built for them. This leads to a multitude of logistical complications surrounding resale value and debt, leading Sarah to admit “either way, we’re fucked.” Sarah and Cal have a moment of laughter in the car after acknowledging their failures as co-leaders of the movement. But in reality, much of the blame falls on Cal alone.

Throughout the series, there has been constant tension surrounding Cal. It’s as if one pull of a thread will unravel him entirely. Hugh Dancy has been stellar at capturing Cal’s desperation. In this episode, we see him receive comfort from Mary after an outburst. Mary tries to remind him of the leader and savior she believes Cal to be. As this is happening, his breathing grows heavy and he visibly shakes. There’s an overwhelming sense of guilt within him. Later, Cal shows up to dinner and apologizes for his failures in front of Sarah and her family. He then tenses up during a line of prayer about forgiveness. Cal’s continued drive to progress the movement is really an attempt to make up for all of the detriment he has caused to it. At the table, Sarah’s family claims “there is no room for doubt.” All the while, however, Cal is still deeply and visibly troubled.

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At this point in the series, it’s crucial to remember that there is something fundamentally broken about many of the people who inhabit the movement. It’s what brought them to Meyerism in the first place. As Kodiak says after his failed attempt to capture Eddie, “it’s taken me years to get clean, to feel the light’s forgiveness.” The movement has an entire room dedicated to transgression tapes. It’s an archive of pain, and a reminder of just how far its members had fallen before they found the light. This episode feels like yet another low point for Cal in a series of low points, yet he does at least acknowledge his past transgressions and attempts to make amends.

Given all of Cal’s problems, it’s clear how dangerous it is for someone like Hawk to fall under his influence. After cutting ties with his own father, Hawk moves to the city to further contribute to the movement. Under the tutelage of Cal, he begins the climb to the next rung of the ladder. He even cuts his hair as a gesture to symbolize his newfound dedication. This shift in behavior begins as a way for Hawk to deal with losing Ashley, along with his father’s departure from the movement. It does eventually evolve into something more meaningful. In this episode we see Hawk thrive in the city through his work. He connects with those who are less fortunate and helps take care of the homeless. But Cal’s influence on Hawk still looms large. He says Hawk has what it takes to be a leader, and sets him off to find ways to improve the movement. This begins as a seemingly thoughtful lesson, but ends up revealing itself to be manipulative (AKA vintage Cal). Hawk tries to convince Noa to ask her mother for funds. It’s no coincidence this happens during a time of monetary crisis for Cal and the movement.

Eddie’s relationship with Hawk is explored indirectly through his time spent babysitting Chloe’s son. Much like Hawk, the boy is dealing with separated parents. At one point he tells Eddie, “I just always miss someone.” Following their trip to an armory museum, the boy asks Eddie what he would do in a time of war. Eddie says, “I would go home as fast as I could and try to protect my family.” Whether Eddie realizes it or not, his increased commitment to Chloe is merely a distraction from Sarah and his children (and not a very good one: as the boy tells Eddie, “you space out a lot”). He is caught between two lives, and his mind is not entirely in either one.

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But this might change going forward, as Kodiak and Richard have captured Eddie and brought him in for interrogation. Eddie’s dream sequence at the beginning of the episode foreshadows this event in eerily accurate detail. This brings into question Eddie’s potential supernatural ability to see the future — something we’ve witnessed before with his visions of Steve — and whether he is destined for a greater role in the movement after all.

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