“Where there is transgression, there is also transformation.”
So says Richard at the beginning of Hawk’s tree-planting ceremony. What he doesn’t say is that transformation isn’t necessarily a good thing from the Meyerists’ perspective. Sure, you could be like Hawk, and your teenage rebellions with an I.S. girl could make you a better person, one who plants trees and only listens to Bob Dylan’s best protest songs and supports his father by walking 250 miles through the freezing cold with him. Then again, you could be like Alison, and your decision to steal thousands of dollars from the Meyerists could change you in a different way — one that involves eating a whole lot of salami.
In “Refugees,” we learn a lot about the Meyerists from the way they handle their own transgressions, especially when it comes to Cal. For the first time, we see Cal doing something relatively good-hearted and selfless — giving the Hondurans refuge from the government — but it requires him to defy the movement’s leaders, which is the biggest sin imaginable in this group. Already, there are press helicopters circling the compound, and Sarah, Bill, and Felicia are all more worried about bad press than they are about actually helping these refugees and their children. It’s ironic that the one person who doesn’t have kids is the only one who advocates for the children from the very beginning. (Sarah only comes around later.) There’s a vote among the elders, and Cal is forced to tell the Hondurans they need a different place to stay. But he can’t bring himself to do it. “The light directs us,” he explains to them. “And the light tells me that I have to fight for you.”
Turns out the light is telling him other things, too. Like, that he should go back to the cabin and investigate that strange blond woman who’s been spotted outside. Seriously, Alison? How careless can you be? First, you’re wandering around naked in your apartment when Eddie could walk in at any moment; then you’re going outside for fresh air? Also: WHY ARE YOU STILL LIVING LIKE TWO MILES AWAY FROM THE MEYERISTS?!? You made it out of the cult, sister. Get a job. Rent your own apartment. Shack up with a nice Scientologist in another town. I don’t care. Just get out of Dodge.
Eddie runs back to warn Alison that Cal is onto their scheme, but it’s too late. Cal commands Alison to unburden and sentences Eddie to “the walk” for helping an evil deserter, lying about his supposed affair with Miranda, and losing his faith. “You can’t live among us, call yourself a follower, and not believe,” Cal tells Eddie. So Eddie has two choices: walk 250 miles and return to the circle, or keep on walking and never come back. When Eddie tells Sarah about the walk, she demands to know what it’s punishment for, but his explanation that this is top-secret 7R stuff seems to shut her up for the time being. Come to think of it, that could be a pretty good excuse for a lot of things. Why aren’t you taking out the trash, Eddie? Oh, I can’t — because of top-secret 7R stuff.
All of this raises the question: If you’re doing the right thing, does it matter if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons? Eddie wants to make up for his transgressions, but somehow he doesn’t mind lying to his wife in order to do it. And Hawk has a sudden urge to re-devote himself to Meyerism only after Ashley leaves the compound and all temptation is removed from his life. Who can blame Ashley’s mother for dragging the kids out the door once she realizes that the dentist’s assistant job the Meyerists hooked her up with has a scary Meyerist worship room? Can’t you just imagine the whole office huffing Novocain on their way up the “ladder”?
NEXT: Cal snaps