“The reason to have a home is to keep certain people in and everyone else out,” the novelist Jenny Offill once wrote. Some might say that’s also the reason to have a family, or to have a religion. Family is the bedrock of Meyerism. Couples build their faith through loyalty to each other, and children obey their parents. This system is supposed to make everyone’s beliefs stronger, so that when someone like Eddie starts to stray from the faith, his family brings him back in. He remains a Meyerist in part because he doesn’t want to lose the people he loves. But here’s the problem with that system: All an outsider needs is to make one family member doubt his faith. Suddenly, doubt will infect the whole family.
At first, Sarah seems open to allowing outsiders into her home. When she and Eddie hear on the radio that a gift box factory was raided, leading to the arrest of 40 illegal workers, many of whom had children in the U.S., she’s heartbroken. “Such a disgrace to separate families,” she says. A local church is providing refuge for three workers and their families, but the church leaders are expected to comply with the authorities. “That’s organized religion for you,” says Eddie. “Good intentions, no follow-through.”
He might be right, but that’s not exactly Meyerism’s problem. Take Cal: He’s all follow-through, without the good intentions. “The higher you climb, the more the movement asks of you,” Cal tells Eddie. And apparently, the movement is asking him to break into Alison’s hotel room and punish her for stealing $40,000 from a center in San Diego. Eddie, who didn’t know about the stolen money, finds Alison hiding on the balcony and decides not to rat her out to Cal. He’s so troubled by the incident that he spills everything to his wife, only omitting the fact that he’s been meeting with Alison on his own. Eddie tells Sarah that he’s worried Cal would’ve hurt Alison if he’d found her. “We don’t hurt people,” Sarah says. But Eddie isn’t so sure. “Maybe that’s what we do. Hurt people. Now that Cal’s in charge.”
Cal makes a strange leader for Meyerism, since he doesn’t really have a family. You can see the hurt in his eyes when he asks Russel to hang out and Russel shrugs, “Nah, I gotta get home. Wife and kids.” And Cal is taken aback when Sarah scolds him for breaking into the hotel room. He’s clearly surprised that Eddie broke his trust. Unlike Sarah and Eddie, Cal is ultimately alone, which is probably why he decides to send Sean away to Delaware. Mary is getting too close to Sean. And Cal can’t afford to lose her. She’s the only person who will put Cal above everyone else. She’s the only family he’s got.
Even Abe seems to understand why family is the core of Meyerism. He has just discovered that his premature baby has PDA, and he’s been grilling Eddie about how to use Meyerism to get through this tough time. Abe’s wife scolds him for using the baby to work his way into the movement, but I wonder if it’s the other way around. Abe might’ve started out as a spy, but I suspect that he’ll end up actually seeing the light.
NEXT: One big happy family