If faith without reason is blind, then a television series without anticipation is immobile. The Path encompasses both of these handicaps, offering a largely non-sensory experience with a plot that lags behind its attempt at building tension.
The Path, a Hulu original series, returned for its second season on Jan. 25. Created by Jessica Goldberg, the show was renewed for a 13-episode reappearance after a successful first season consisting of ten episodes.
The show centers around a fictional faith called Meyerism whose followers aim to ascend a ladder of enlightenment that will bring them closer to the light. Stephen Meyer (Keir Dullea) founded the faith upon his personal revelation of the ultimate truth and guided his followers through his work, The Ladder. His supposed death in Season One, however, ushered new leadership and disillusioned questioning into the Meyerist Movement.
Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan) and Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) serve as Meyer’s successors, and their dual authority carries not only the expected power struggles but also underlying issues of mistrust and lost faith. In the first episode, dispute over expansion of the religion strikes the Meyerist council. Cal’s desire for grander outreach and establishment counters Sarah’s desire to remain true to their founder’s wish for an intimate faith. Cal’s disregard for this wish results in an unapproved purchase of a property the council cannot afford, which only escalates an already festering aura of distrust from all Meyerist authorities.
Perhaps even more pressing than this deficient administration is the newly wayward ex-member of the cult Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul). Now separated from Sarah, he is in the middle of a mid-life crisis that straddles between reconciling with his kids away from the watchful eyes of the Meyerist administration and instituting a new life for himself outside of the religion he was so immersed in before his disillusionment.
Eddie’s eldest child, Hawk (Kyle Allen), however, remains more steadfast in fostering his faith than ever. He condemns his father for being a so-called “denier” of Meyerism and accepts his consequential ostracization.
What Hawk cannot accept, along with many otherwise devout followers, is the ongoing issue of water within the society of Meyerism. All those in leadership positions seem to fare well with clean drinking water while the majority of the population suffer the health effects of drinking contaminants, causing a trend in cancer as well as a decrease in infantile health.
Aside from the trifles of the present, Eddie is continuously pulled into the past by persistent hallucinations of his encounter with Meyer himself. Meyer’s deception toward his followers culminates in him falling to his death, but not before his reveal that Eddie is his “Chosen Son.”
The conclusion of the season opener presented the two basic problems the show will battle with throughout the duration of the next twelve episodes the destabilization of an all-powerful regime and the unchartered journey of Eddie.
And yet, we’re still not hooked.
The opener still doesn’t manage to sink its teeth into the viewer because it has no teeth to begin with. It lacks the sharp intrigue and clever twists in plot necessary for a series surrounding a fake religion to succeed.
The Path sits awkwardly between a futuristic realm and a world of the past, haphazardly cultivating a community devoid of any investment in one character and instead characterized by several surface-level presentations of a mainly dull ensemble.
While the series finds refuge in some fascinating symbolism and the standout performance of Breaking Bad’s Paul, such hope is dashed by the feeling that this has all been done before—and done more cunningly at that. Right as you think the pace is lifting and a breakthrough is emerging, the moment has vanished and no real progress in interest has been achieved.
The Path attempts to highlight a bright faith amid the darkness of reality through cult-like devotion and a docile following. But if you are searching for a story line that captivates you immediately, this may not be the right path for you.
Featured Image By Hulu