The episode opens with Eddie and Sarah in the Meyerist equivalent of marriage therapy. They’re told to reach back into the past and figure out what’s bothering them. While faithful Sarah envisions the two of them traveling into a wormhole made of light, naked as the denizens of Eden, the increasingly troubled Eddie just sees them sitting on the bare floor. Sarah wants her husband to do the organization’s 14-day lockdown program, but Eddie refuses. Everyone makes mistakes, he points out. “I don’t,” Sarah responds.
Cut to Cal in his car, listening to some kind of motivational tape. Per the voice of his invisible instructor, he goes through eye exercises in the mirror, practicing how to convey different emotions. He arrives at the home of a wealthy couple who want him and the Meyerists to help their son through a drug addiction. The wife is a faithful convert who found the organization’s methodology very helpful in dealing with her mother’s death a decade earlier. The father less so; he’s willing to donate an extraordinary amount of money to Meyerism but doesn’t want to be publicly associated with it.
At high school, cool girl Ashley Fields finally approaches Hawk in person. She was impressed by how his family took in refugees from the New Hampshire tornado and wants him to come by her house to help her with something. It doesn’t seem like anyone in his family has prepared this high school boy for how to, like, talk to girls, because he has quite the awkward stammer in her presence. It doesn’t help that Meyerist dogma expressly forbids such a private interaction with a nonbeliever.
This is emphasized to Hawk when he brings up the request at a later family dinner. Eddie, however, tries nudging the rules. After all, Meyerists are also supposed to aid anyone who asks for their help. Their beliefs and their practices appear to be in conflict here — a classic problem for many religions. Eddie gives Hawk approval to do it.
Later, Cal and Sarah share their mutual frustrations. In Meyerist practice, this is called “unburdening,” when you talk about what’s bothering you so it doesn’t curl up inside. Cal is annoyed by the hypocritical rich guy, and Sarah is still troubled by what she’s convinced is Eddie’s affair. Hopefully Sarah will get more to do as the show goes on because so far she’s not far off from Michelle Monaghan in True Detective, the wife nagging and annoying the roguish male protagonists.
Cal is trying to bring Meyerism into the light — not just the light of Truth, but the literal public spotlight. This kind of publicity has apparently always been forbidden by founder Stephen Meyer because it would only bring trouble and controversy for the movement. Indeed, Cal appears to have created one possible enemy already: a detective named Abe Gaines. Gaines is disturbed both by reports that the Meyerists reached the tornado site hours before FEMA and that some of the refugees they’ve taken in aren’t responding to messages from friends and family. A shot of Mary’s bloodied, beaten father serves as proof that some are going even further than that. Gaines tells his boss he’s putting the Meyerists on “cold watch.”
Speaking of Mary, she’s now training as a Meyerist novice. Cal takes a group of them to a public park and tells them to reach out to people who seem lonely. She and Sean (the novice who first approached her in the last episode) have success with one woman after Sean reveals that his twin sister was killed in a school shooting.
Eddie meets up with Alison in a far less suspicious setting: a lumberyard. The trouble with his wife and family is getting to him, and he wants to back off, whether his vision of a comatose Stephen Meyer is true or not. Alison reacts angrily — she thinks Meyerists killed her husband for trying to defect, so she has nowhere to turn. And wasn’t the truth the whole motive for Eddie joining Meyerism in the first place? For now, though, Eddie drives off.
NEXT: Crisis on Infinite Eddie’s [pagebreak]
Hawk goes to dinner at Ashley’s house, and it gets kind of awkward. Meyerists don’t eat meat, but he takes a bite of steak to placate Ashley’s family. Later, Ashley takes him up to her room…but not for anything sexy. She shows him a pile of unpaid pills. Her mom hasn’t paid the mortgage in months (her dad died while driving drunk), and she has nowhere else to turn.
Cal sits in a van with Sarah’s father; Hank’s watching novices hand out fliers in the park. Cal is starting to get fed up with Meyerism’s relaxed style (embodied by Hank literally smoking a joint next to him) and wants them to be more public, more aggressive.
Sarah again tries to convince Eddie to do the 14-day lockdown. They have angry sex, which Hawk comes home to. Already conflicted over his feelings for Ashley, the sound of his parents’ aggressive sex makes Hawk puke in the bathroom. He storms out the next morning, opting to walk to school instead of taking a ride from Eddie.
Cal wants to do an interview with a local journalist who’s become interested in the Meyerists after their tornado relief effort. Sarah says Meyer would forbid it. Cal responds by saying that Meyer gave his approval before going into seclusion. Not only does he want to make the organization more aggressive, but he’s also growing more aggressive in equaling his word with Meyer’s.
Eddie learns that Alison’s husband officially committed suicide but doesn’t know how. He’s called to the high school, the site where Hawk got into a fight with Ashley’s boyfriend. Hawk is torn — like any moody teenager, he wants to get out of school ASAP and thinks climbing the Meyerist ranks is the best way to do that. Eddie was apparently on board before Peru but now wants him to stay in school. Hawk has also absorbed his mother’s paranoia about Eddie’s affair, so he doesn’t know what to think. This prompts Eddie to agree to the lockdown just to get this whole thing over with.
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Mary once again makes a late-night booty call to Cal. She says she believes in him. Cal corrects her — she believes in the movement. But she doubles down. She believes in him. Perhaps she and the other novices represent a new group in Meyerism, loyal to Cal specifically rather than Meyer’s teachings abstractly. Mary performs oral sex on Cal, but he tells her to be with Sean and to bring in more new recruits.
Cal gets his press interview, and it goes extremely well. His soaring rhetoric about idealism and improving the world even appears to turn his interviewer into a convert. This success emboldens Cal. He returns to the home of the rich couple. As two of his goons drag the drug-addicted son away, Cal promises they will cure his addiction. In response, he needs them to prominently place the Meyerist eye sigil throughout their mansion and spread the word to their friends.
Eddie’s lockdown is just as insane as he expected. A time-lapse shows multiple versions of him slowly breaking under the pressure of the constant questioning in a confined environment. He eventually admits to an affair with Miranda Frank rather than reveal his disturbing vision of Meyer. As in any good Stalinist purge, two Meyerist goons (wearing red T-shirts) are dispatched to pick up Miranda on the basis of this obviously forced confession.
The final scene of the episode, however, confirms Eddie’s suspicions. Cal returns to Peru to visit Meyer…who is indeed comatose in bed. Cal tells his sleeping mentor about the interview and the resulting publicity. He declares this the beginning of a new era, “the era of the ladder.”