Hawk and Eddie visit the Coney Island of the mind
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S1 E8
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When you’re standing on the beach, where Hawk and Eddie end up in “The Shore,” you can’t see where it begins or ends. There are no definitive lines. Sand and sea and sky blur together. It’s a liminal space, an “in-between” place where one thing transforms into another. Something about it feels spiritual — and not just because Eddie’s dead brother shows up there to wander among the seagulls. Hawk and Eddie might literally be in Coney Island, eating $11 crab rolls just off the boardwalk, but they’re not the only ones standing on a threshold. Cal is drifting in and out of sobriety (and maybe in and out of sanity) after burying Silas. Sarah can’t distinguish her dreams from her waking life. And Hawk and Eddie are still vacillating between faith and belief. All of them are in a place that’s neither here nor there. Soon, they’ll have to choose sides.

What makes Cal’s story line so compelling right now is that it puts you into the same liminal space as a viewer. You might not be entirely sure if what you’re seeing exists only inside Cal’s head or if it’s real. Last week, when Cal killed Silas, I wondered if the whole thing might’ve just been a vision. Now, it’s clear that Silas is actually dead, but there’s still a surreal tone to Cal’s point of view.

His early scenes are shot like a dream, all lit up with red and orange sirens cutting through the dark. The episode begins at night, as Cal wraps Silas’s corpse in a sheet and carries it out to his car. There are cops all around him. The compound has been designated a protected space, meaning the removal of the Hondurans has been delayed, and on his way out of the compound, Cal runs into Mary’s father, who just happens to be there, grumbling about “payment” for his daughter. (Yuck.) It’s a bold move to bring a dead body outside on a night like this, especially since Isaiah just stopped Cal to chat a few minutes before, telling him that everyone is “on pins and needles tonight.” What would Cal have done if Isaiah caught him with a giant human burrito slung over his shoulder? I can just imagine it: “Oh, you mean this human burrito? Well, it’s required for a top-secret 7R procedure. You’ll understand once you’re enlightened.”

The hypnotic mood continues as we segue into Sarah’s dream. She’s walking down a road when she sees Hawk with his headphones on. There’s a truck coming up behind him. As she screams and runs toward him, he turns into his kid sister, and when the truck passes by, Sarah sees something terrifying: It looks like Sarah herself, except she’s been transformed into one of Silas’s idols, with a Medusa-like head, her forked tongue slithering out of her mouth. Later, when Sarah spots the same idol in her office, she starts to get suspicious. Was Silas there? Her mother warns her about interpreting the dream too literally. “You’re not just you in your dreams,” she says. “You’re everything.”

Is Sarah’s dream a sign that she bears some responsibility for Silas’s murder, if only indirectly, through her relationship with Cal? Or is her mother right, and it’s just a warning that all the Meyerists are in danger? Whatever that truck symbolizes, it’s coming for everyone.

And it’s looking more and more likely that Sarah’s the only one capable of protecting them. After last week’s uplifting sermon, everyone’s already treating Sarah as if she’s their new leader. She even performs what looks like a miracle, literally breathing the life back into Nicole’s baby. Right now, people need to believe in her, especially since Cal has been MIA. When he visits the recruitment office where Sean is working, the people there can sense that something is off about Cal. Felicia tells Sarah that Cal is dragging the movement down, and Cal seems to prove her right when he shows up at Sarah’s place drunk. But Sarah, who’s always had a soft spot for Cal, chooses to see things in a much more charitable way: The Meyerists are getting a ton of donations because of Cal’s decision to harbor the Hondurans. To her, he’s the real savior. “We are going to be a powerful force in the world,” she tells him. “It’s all coming true.”

NEXT: Eddie’s seeing ghosts

But will that “powerful force” necessarily be a good thing? The situation with the Hondurans has set a lot of things in motion so that no one’s quite clear what direction the Meyerist movement needs to take. And as Hawk and Eddie get closer to the end of their 250-mile journey, they won’t be able to offer much help.

I loved the way “The Shore” forced Hawk to see his father as a human being, someone who used to fool around with girls and party with his brother — someone who’s just as flawed as Hawk is. When the two of them take refuge in a church, Hawk catches Eddie chanting the prayer of St. Francis: “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” The look on Hawk’s face reveals his shock in remembering that Eddie actually existed before Meyerism did, that his dad might have dared to follow a different faith. And the prayer itself hints at bad things to come for Eddie. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Eddie has always had the most spiritual character arc on this show. Let’s just hope that this season doesn’t lead him to the most spiritual ending of all: death.

That’s how Eddie’s brother’s story ended, after all. So it’s a bit ominous when a Christian couple offers to drive Eddie and Hawk to Coney Island, where Eddie and his brother used to play. Hawk thinks it’s fate. He remembers Eddie telling him that when Dr. Stephen Meyer did “the walk,” he didn’t know what was next; he just knew he couldn’t stay where he was. And while that’s very touching, think for a moment about how well that worked for Dr. Meyer, who’s currently living out his final days in a hospital bed in rural Peru.

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Hawk and Eddie have some deep talks on this walk, and they make for some wrenching moments that remind you just how amazing of an actor Aaron Paul is. When Hawk asks if Eddie stopped loving Sarah during his transgression, Eddie replies that the transgression had nothing to do with her, and you can see in his face that he desperately wishes he could tell Hawk the truth about Alison. Later, when Hawk asks Eddie how he knew Sarah was the one, Eddie replies honestly: “She can lift all my doubts and pain just by looking at me.” You could view that response as romantic, or you could view it as sad. Sarah does for Eddie what Meyerism is supposed to do for him. And right now, his feelings about Meyerism are plagued with doubt.

Like a typical teenager, Hawk hears Eddie’s story and wonders, What does it say about meeeee? He thinks about Ashley, and Eddie convinces him to call her from a pay phone. (Apparently, cell phones are verboten during spiritual quests.) While Hawk is away, Eddie has a vision of his brother wandering around the shore. There’s something poetic about the way Eddie drops all of his stones on the way out to meet his brother. Meyerists are supposed to leave rocks in places of significance, lightening their load, physically and spiritually, along the way. Are we meant to believe that Eddie feels lighter and freer once he sees his brother? Or is it that Eddie is dangerously close to joining his brother? Standing at the place where sand meets sky, where ground meets heaven, he’s getting so light, he could just drift away.

To me, the vision feels like a bad omen, especially since things are about to take a turn for Eddie. While Eddie’s away on his walkabout, Cal tries to make out with Sarah. When she spurns his advances, he nearly tells her the truth about Silas. He ends up warning her about Eddie instead: There’s something Eddie hasn’t told Sarah. And that’s true but not in the way she suspects. The episode ends with Sarah finding an unfamiliar number — Alison’s — in Eddie’s cell phone log. We know the truth about why it’s there. But she doesn’t. Eddie’s not going to get a warm welcome once he gets home.

Random thoughts:

  • You mean to tell me it’s totally kosher to hitch a ride when you’re supposed to be enduring a grueling 250-mile trek? Can’t I just choose the “spiritual awakening” option while requesting an Uber?
  • I like the way Abe keeps us guessing about the limits of his sympathy for the Meyerists. First, we see him quasi-defending the Meyerists to his co-workers. Then, after his boss announces that Abe’s been taken off the case, he’s suddenly arguing that they’re a bunch of murderers. Abe also gets the best line of the episode: “You know what? I f—in’ hate pot pie!”
  • Mary and Sean are reunited! Poor drug-dispensing redhead. Your heart is about to get broken. Wait… Now Mary is telling Sean that nothing too serious happened with Cal? And she can’t stop getting high? Okay, drug-dispensing redhead. You might have a shot after all.
  • I loved the moment when Cal walks into the Meyerist recruiting office and a panicked young recruiter picks up a soda and swears, “This isn’t mine!” If only this guy knew that chugging a Dr. Pepper wasn’t exactly a hand-wringer compared to what Cal’s done.

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The Path
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