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The Path

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Entertainment Weekly interview with Aaron Paul.

 

The drama, about a religious cult, had potent ingredients: a tortured character, a proven producing team (e.g., Friday Night Lights EP Jason Katims), and the chance to put Hulu on the map as a serious creative force. But it was still TV, so Paul passed. And then, un-passed. “It was one of the hardest decisions,” he says. “I had two sleepless nights. I couldn’t stop thinking about the character, the world. And I know I put [the producers] through hell for a moment, but…I’m happy that the next series I dived into is one I’m so in love with.”

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So does anyone understand the vision Eddie saw during his "vision quest"? A snake and a guy on life support... Not exactly a screaming symbol for me. Anybody else?

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So does anyone understand the vision Eddie saw during his "vision quest"? A snake and a guy on life support... Not exactly a screaming symbol for me. Anybody else?

Phillygurl

I think it's an intimation that the founder--Steve or "Doc," one and the same?--is dying or even dead, and not really writing. Cal may be the one pulling the strings for the whole movement. Shades of Scientology.

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I was so excited to watch this. So far the narrative is vague, rushed and jumping all over the place.The nonlinear storytelling is keeping me from getting emotionally invested; it isn't needed for the show to be intriguing. I got lost halfway through the pilot. Why would Pinkman (I don't know his name yet) still be upset about his brother's suicide after working through his trauma via the ladder programs? Why is he crying and wasted in Peru one minute and suddenly calm/lucid when following his brother's ghost? Why would Mary offer sex to the leader if she doesn't think he can help her? And all that exposition. Ugh. I wish the story started a bit earlier -- I'd prefer to see when Pinkman started having doubts and acting "distant" (instead of hearing that he's been acting distant) and see Mary being trapped by her dad and then freed by a tornado. I hope the rest of the series is more linear.

 

So does anyone understand the vision Eddie saw during his "vision quest"? A snake and a guy on life support... Not exactly a screaming symbol for me. Anybody else?

 

I didn't read the spoiler, so I'm guessing that the comatose dude was the great leader who is supposed to be writing the last chapters.

Edited by numbnut
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Episode 2 was a bit better but the dialogue is clunky and forced, and I'm not buying the instant converts (the girl in the park; the TV interviewer). I only care about the teenage son at this point. His scenes ring true for me.

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I liked the Pilot better, which is unusual. The second episode got a little too dark and tortuous for me. In the Pilot, they made Meyerism seem less like a cult--more like a much smaller hippy commune I lived at in the 70s that was mostly a haven for ex-pat Vietnam War draft evaders in Canada. But I guess when these groups grow, cult-like behaviours are to be expected.

If you Google giant yellow snake, one of the top hits is about dreams of yellow snakes.

I was pleasantly surprised at Aaron Paul's acting. I had been afraid that he was only good in Breaking Bad because he worked opposite Cranston, but he was great here too. I'm just not sure I'm going to stick with the show.

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I was so excited to watch this. So far the narrative is vague, rushed and jumping all over the place.The nonlinear storytelling is keeping me from getting emotionally invested; it isn't needed for the show to be intriguing. I got lost halfway through the pilot. Why would Pinkman (I don't know his name yet) still be upset about his brother's suicide after working through his trauma via the ladder programs? Why is he crying and wasted in Peru one minute and suddenly calm/lucid when following his brother's ghost? Why would Mary offer sex to the leader if she doesn't think he can help her? And all that exposition. Ugh. I wish the story started a bit earlier -- I'd prefer to see when Pinkman started having doubts and acting "distant" (instead of hearing that he's been acting distant) and see Mary being trapped by her dad and then freed by a tornado. I hope the rest of the series is more linear.

 

This struck me as an odd entry point into the story, too. I feel like they were trying to be innovative with the way they kind of dropped us into the middle of things after the big crisis had already started, but for me, it just made it difficult to get my bearings, both in the story and with deciphering who these characters are supposed to be (as individuals and in relation to each other). Show me what Sarah and Eddie's relationship looked like before, and maybe the change would resonate with me more, but as it is, I'm just kind of taking their word for it that something has shifted. 

 

Episode 2 was a bit better but the dialogue is clunky and forced, and I'm not buying the instant converts (the girl in the park; the TV interviewer). I only care about the teenage son at this point. His scenes ring true for me.

 

I did not buy that TV interview at all. I thought Cal came across as kind of weird and twitchy, and when the reporter was suddenly like "wow, sign me up" I was left scratching my head in confusion. I guess I was supposed to find that silly little speech about finding the light in peoples souls or whatever compelling? 

 

I think part of the problem is that they've been deliberately vague about this "movement" and its belief system, which makes it hard to understand why people are drawn to it. With Mary, at least we see that it's less about the ideas and more about her fixation on Cal, but with everyone else? I need more to go on before I can feel connected to these characters. 

Edited by stagmania
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I did not buy that TV interview at all. I thought Cal came across as kind of weird and twitchy, and when the reporter was suddenly like "wow, sign me up" I was left scratching my head in confusion. I guess I was supposed to find that silly little speech about finding the light in peoples souls or whatever compelling? 

 

I think part of the problem is that they've been deliberately vague about this "movement" and its belief system, which makes it hard to understand why people are drawn to it. With Mary, at least we see that it's less about the ideas and more about her fixation on Cal, but with everyone else? I need more to go on before I can feel connected to these characters.

I also thought the TV interview "sign me up" was a little WTFish. Maybe Cal is supposed to ooze sexual charisma.

They hint at it, but we aren't really feeling it, if that's what they were going for.

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I liked the 2nd episode better than the pilot. I understand he confessed to cheating because he didn't want to say where he was really but it seems at the end now this confession is hitting Miranda Frank as well. I also don't get the wife's insistence that it was Miranda Frank. Does she have a history of affairs with married men? Is it she was the only single woman on the retreat? Didn't really get her pushing it was this particular woman. The TV interview was not good to me. If I had seen Cal on the news I would have been like, "That guy is definitely the head of a cult." Don't know what the anchorwoman was hearing. 

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I did not buy that TV interview at all. I thought Cal came across as kind of weird and twitchy, 

This to me was a major problem with the first two episodes. Cal doesn't come off as a charismatic leader at all. He's awkward and tightly wound and it seems like he could blow at any second. Not sure why these people are trusting/following him. 

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This sounded interesting so I checked the Directv guide and it said, "The Path: A highly focused systematic Bible study based on a five panel chart developed by international Bible teacher William Cathcart in 1936."

Different Path, I'm guessing.

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Maybe I missed something, but I'm having a hard time grasping how large this cult is. Scenes make it look like a group of less than 100 people, which is fine if they're going for a WBC type thing. But if it's that small, how do they make money? WBC makes money by suing everyone since a large portion of the family are attorneys. Why do they warrant a tv show interviewing the interim leader? WBC gets publicity due to their very public, controversial antics. The Program members (on the surface at least) seem like peace/love/harmony people. It's not exactly a headline grabbing situation with 100 people being all happy happy.

 

If I'm wrong about the size and it's supposed to be more like Scientology, then all of my above points are moot since they'd make money through member donations and they'd be more in the public eye with their numbers, but that's why I'm confused. We don't exactly see evidence (so far) that it's on the scale of Scientology. 

 

Is anyone else confused? =D Or if not, maybe you can give me your perspective? 

 

(edited to add: and yes, I know there are sizes in between, but like I said, I'm just confused)

Edited by I-Kare

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I'm confused about a lot of stuff because the storytelling is so vague. Why did Miranda get in the van if she didn't want to go to the isolation room? (It didn't look like she was being kidnapped.) It's like I'm watching season 2 after missing season 1. They keep fading out the dialogue like some bad Excedrin commercial. It would have helped to see Cal's relationship with the leader before the coma, Miranda's relationship with Pinkman (still can't remember his new name), and the blond with her husband in the compound before the "suicide." And what the hell happened to Kathleen Turner's face? (It doesn't look like she's aging normally.)

Edited by numbnut
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Maybe we're supposed to figure all of this out as they go along, and granted I do hate when a pilot is all exposition, but we're three episodes in and I feel like we should know more than we do by now. 

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The exposition! Don't get me started. Why don't they just show how Pinkman is broken down during that green juice inquisition? Why was he screaming his head off? His histrionic montage tells us nothing about how the questioning eventually brought him back to being a believer. It's like the writers want to depict a cult without doing much research. I was expecting more from Jason Katims.

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I did not buy that TV interview at all. I thought Cal came across as kind of weird and twitchy, and when the reporter was suddenly like "wow, sign me up" I

I just assumed she was a plant and that she was already a convert which was why Cal was so willing to do the interview and that her on screen 'conversion' was faked to fool the audience. Cal seems like the kind of manipulative type to orchestrate something like that. And that made more sense to me than the idea that his rather trite speech was enough to convert her. I don't find Cal particularly charismatic, but I think HD sells the idea of someone who's ambitious and manipulative and ruthless enough to get what they want by any means necessary pretty well so I hope they focus more on that aspect of the character more than the idea he's just so charming people can't help being drawn to him for vague reasons.

 

I get why finding out about the lie about their leader would lead to a crisis within the cult, but i didn't get why it was supposed to be such a shocking reveal for the audience. The way it was set up I felt like that was supposed to be the mystery that reels the audience in, but it wasn't exactly compelling.

 

I guess they encourage openness and honesty in every aspect of life except sex with their kids. 

 

I feel like right now I'm more drawn by the acting than the plot so I hope it becomes more interesting.

Edited by Swansong
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It never seemed to me that the interviewer was converted. It seemed to me that after she used the c-word, Cal basically comes out in favor of Mom (ironically,) the Flag and apple pie, she just folded. She was making nice after being nasty but getting the other cheek, instead of fireworks. 

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Kathleen Turner is in her sixties, so it's not at all clear that she isn't aging normally. But for what it's worth, i seem to remember she has back problems. Steroids are a common treatment. 

 

Maybe one of the models for Meyerism is Fred Newman, the old Alliance Party guru. He was a psychotherapist at one point and very New Age. Meyerism seems to be very into therapy. This is not unique of course. Christian counseling is very widespread. And twelve step programs of course are highly respected. In some ways, religion can be considered the pre-scientific version of medicine. Clergy of all sorts are widely used as authorities on behavioral problems. 

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Glad I'm not the only one who didn't follow the plot too well.  I'm drawn in by the tense mood and the acting.  And Jason Katims ... I'll stick with it.

 

I thought the tv interview was not so much about whether Cal was a magnetic leader, but that he made the philosophy (or whatever) sound so appealing on the surface.  What's not to like about finding your truest, most compassionate self and helping the ones you can help, so that you can make a small difference in the world one step at a time?  The most negative thing I could say about that was that it seemed naive, but it didn't sound creepy, and I didn't feel Cal came off that way, either.  Just maybe overly earnest.

 

For me, Cal was clearly some kind of administrative stand-in for the real leader, who the other people accepted as a true believer who was trusted.  I think he has yet to grow into the role of being the cult leader himself/master of personality.  I do agree that he seeks power, though.  Whether his motives are for power itself or for providing what he think is needed in a vaccuum to further the cause, I don't know yet.

 

The wife is an interesting character.

 

The whole Peru weird journey of Aaron Paul's is really what drew me in.  How odd.  I'm curious how he had such a specific vision that would lead him to the old man.  I still haven't watched Breaking Bad - now I see why AP is so respected as an actor.

 

This is going to be one of the shows where nobody smiles, though, isn't it.

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. Why did Miranda get in the van if she didn't want to go to the isolation room? (It didn't look like she was being kidnapped.)

I disagree.  I thought it very much looked as though she was being forcibly removed.  She just happened to understand who her captors were.  I think she knew what was ahead of her (at least theoretically), but she was completely outnumbered and overpowered.

 

Why don't they just show how Pinkman is broken down during that green juice inquisition? Why was he screaming his head off? His histrionic montage tells us nothing about how the questioning eventually brought him back to being a believer.

I actually loved the freaky Pinkman green juice inquisition scene.  I liked the way it was shot, I liked the build up where he didn't want to go, I liked everything about it.  Clearly, he continued to resist telling the truth about his vision.

 

I think his decision at the end wasn't so much to be back to being a believer, but to keep his family, and to do that, he has to go through the steps of looking as though he has done the work and is ready to be back.  The fact that he was so reluctant to do it, and that he has this secret that he still isn't sure how reliable it was, is the most interesting part of the plot so far, to me.

 

I don't understand where the blond stalker girl in the car came from, though.

 

His wife, so far, is annoying.  They do have chemistry, though.

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I made it half way through the pilot and got so bored I turned it off.  To me it pulled the

amazing feat of too much crammed in and being draggy at the same time.

 

I may try it again in the future. Maybe it's a show you have to be in just the right mood for.

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My (limited) understanding of the scope of Meyerism is that it's definitely bigger than this one compound-Miranda Frank is from the Midwest division, and I believe there have been references to other regions. The show is centered at a small upstate New York compound that seems to be where the founder and the "important" original member families (like Sarah's) are based. But it's definitely not as big as Scientology, given how relatively unknown it still is and that Cal is still dealing with people like the hedge fund manager in order to bring in money. And that's about all I got.

 

I agree that the intentional vagueness of this show is frustrating, and puzzling in the extreme. Do they not want us to understand what the hell is going on half the time? Do they want us to feel distant and disconnected from the characters? Do they want us constantly pulled out of the narrative as we try to answer these basic questions that they could easily help us out with?

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Having lived in a non-cult commune in the 70s and attended a few one-day seminars at actual cults, I have no problem seeing what's going on here. But it's all too dark for me at this time in my life, so I'll just read the recaps from here on out.

The acting is good, the premise is coming together, but without a little humor, the reality of it all is too much for me.

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This is going to be one of the shows where nobody smiles, though, isn't it.

Maybe it's a show you have to be in just the right mood for.

Yeah, and it's certainly not while you and your parents are dying.

The show is very well put together, the next episode even moreso, but I just can't watch anymore.

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So Jesse Pinkman left Albuquerque and landed in New Hampshire.  Because aside from the name & geography change, everything this guy touches turns to crap in the same way.  Are we sure Miranda's real name isn't Jane?  The constant lying, justifying and delusions are just way too familiar only 3 episodes in and I don't think I can go all 10 episodes of Jesse 2.0  Alternately blindly following, then pushing against his charismatic "leader" is also way too familiar. 

 

Sorry Aaron, too many other things to watch where I won't be comparing.  

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Odd, it seems to me that Eddie wouldn't follow Cal out a fire exit during a fire. But it sure seems like he's determined to stay in the group because he sees it and his marriage and family as inseparable. Following Sarah, in other words.

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Hugh Dancy. Aaron Paul.

What's not to love!???

 

I watched the very beginning of the first episode, and thought I wasn't going to like it at all.  A week later, I watched a little further and saw Hugh Dancy.  Now I have to watch it.  Thank goodness for no Hannibal. 

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So Jesse Pinkman left Albuquerque and landed in New Hampshire.  Because aside from the name & geography change, everything this guy touches turns to crap in the same way.  Are we sure Miranda's real name isn't Jane?  The constant lying, justifying and delusions are just way too familiar only 3 episodes in and I don't think I can go all 10 episodes of Jesse 2.0  Alternately blindly following, then pushing against his charismatic "leader" is also way too familiar. 

 

Sorry Aaron, too many other things to watch where I won't be comparing.  

 

Interesting point. I find a sameness in Paul's performances from project to project, though I missed Triple 9. Maybe BrBad was a rare perfect fit for his limited capabilities, like Mad Men was a perfect fit for January Jones.

Edited by numbnut
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Interesting point. I find a sameness in Paul's performances from project to project, though I missed Triple 9. Maybe BrBad was a rare perfect fit for his limited capabilities, like Mad Men was a perfect fit for January Jones.

 

To make matters worse, Aaron Paul appears in a T-Mobile commercial shown during breaks in The Path -- and he's virtually the same character in the commercials that he plays on the show.

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You don't just pull up a generator to a house and suddenly all the lights go on.   It doesn't work like that.   The house has to be specifically wired for a generator, the generator cable has to run to an adapter on the electric box in the basement, and a generator that size -- it can crank out maybe 5000 watts, which is nowhere near enough to power a whole house ... maybe a refrigerator, the television and a few lights, but that's it.   If the house isn't wired for the generator, then you have to run extension cords from the generator to the individual appliances/lights/etc you want to use (until you max out the 5000 watts).   Either way, Hawk would have had to sneak into the house to make it happen.

 

Another thing is, there was nothing, not a single hair out of place, in the portrayal of the girl's mother that would make you believe a woman like that would just let everything go until her family was homeless.

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I really like Hugh Dancy and Aaron Paul, but this show seems to be going off in many directions. I have a lot of questions, based on this episode:  This cult was started by hippies who smoke pot and drink wine and who think it's ok to have sex, but teenagers are forbidden to have sexual thoughts without 'unburdening' to their parents? Also, why would you send your teen to a public school yet forbid them to make friends or even associate with non-cult kids? Usually, religions that don't want their kids to mingle homeschool or set up special religious schools.

 

Sara, is annoying and smug. Are we supposed to like her? Again, they keep implying she is perfect because she is a high level, but what does that really mean? Since Eddie is a lower level, does he have to answer to her about all aspects of his life? It just doesn't seem that a marriage would work under this type of hierarchy.  Are we supposed to like or not like Cal? He seems kind of nuts, but I liked him stopping the forced medication. I also felt for him in dealing with his alcoholic mother. 

 

The 'royalty' couple who came to visit seemed suspicious because of Miranda not being in the hospital. How do they know about Miranda? Are all members who are placed on 14 day readjustments (or whatever they are called) somehow listed in some data base? Is Miranda special? Then when she says she;s fine, they seemed ok with everything but still took her away with them.

 

What is the deal with Cal and his weird sexual activities? Is he not supposed to be having sex? I didn't get the scene where he was just masturbating next to Mary.I also don't know how this people make money. I'm sure they get some donations, but that wouldn't be enough for an entire compound. Do any of them have real jobs? By episode four, we shouldn't have so many questions. 

Finally: i thought this was about Eddie finding out the cult was evil and exposing all of their secrets. Now it seems he forgot about all that. Confusing.

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The Young Luv is, well, young. Alas, this is not a good thing. 

 

The disconnect from the world of work is the standard for supposedly serious dramas. The thing about The Path is that it's flirting with portraying the Path as like all religions in essential ways. I expect that in the end they will of course opt for, it's all just EVILNESS unique to cults which are EVILNESS but religions of course are not. 

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I'm not aware of any dramas where none of the cast appear to have jobs.  Most of the dramas I see are about people who are in the workplace in some way . Of course, they don't seem to actually do a lot of work, but we do see that they have jobs. I'm not sure if this is about anything evil. I don't think they are portraying the cult as being bad in all aspects, but certainly kidnapping and drugging people is not a good thing!

Edited by Madding crowd

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I love this show. And a bit disappointed it hasn't caught on. Perhaps I'm SUPER into it because I'm fascinated by cults -- but yeah, loving it.

 

I'm not aware of any dramas where none of the cast appear to have jobs.  Most of the dramas I see are about people who are in the workplace in some way .

 

 

They all work for the cult. Kinda like how some families work for Scientology.....

Edited by Lady Grump
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i thought this was about Eddie finding out the cult was evil and exposing all of their secrets. Now it seems he forgot about all that. Confusing.

 

IKR? I can't figure out his agenda or what he needs. Is he trying to hide his vision because it would make him a nonbeliever? No one else of the 6,000 members had a questionable vision while getting high as a freakin' kite in Peru?

 

They all work for the cult. Kinda like how some families work for Scientology.....

 

According to Leah Remini's book, Scientology makes big money from charging people ridiculous fees for every educational tool, session and deprogramming to get higher on the "bridge" (this show calls it a ladder), and the longtime members and "workers" live off of those profits. Since the people on this show don't have jobs and they're not running a racket, I don't know how they're staying afloat.

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Yes, in Scientology they get their money from tons of people who do have jobs, like all of the actors and business people who are members. It doesn't seem to be the case here, especially since they take in random people after some tragedy hits. They do show the one guy saying he would give them a million dollars but that wouldn't be enough to support the entire compound. And what do they do all day?

Edited by Madding crowd

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According to Leah Remini's book, Scientology makes big money from charging people ridiculous fees for every educational tool, session and deprogramming to get higher on the "bridge" (this show calls it a ladder), and the longtime members and "workers" live off of those profits. Since the people on this show don't have jobs and they're not running a racket, I don't know how they're staying afloat.

 

Yep, I read Leah's book, too. So, to use it as reference: Leah and her family were in the Sea Org for some time. People in the Sea Org work full time for the church and are "hatted" for different tasks. So, for example, in Leah's case, she was tasked with nursery duty -- that was her *job*.

 

Another example is Tommy Davis; he's since left the organization, but was Scientology's PR spokesperson for years. He, perhaps, is the best standard for comparison to Eddie and Sarah, because like Tommy Davis, Sarah's family is very "high up" in the COS -- so he had a very cushy "job" working for the church. In the show, Sarah seems to be some sort of enrollment executive and counselor for incoming members; Eddie seems to be on the recruiting end of things as is Sarah's father; and Sarah's mother works in the compound's admin office (scene where she looks up the name).

 

The Meyerism compound staff, like Scientology's sea org, is probably supported by donations from "public members" -- donations like the $1 million from the hedge fund drug family. That's essentially how Scientology works, too. They get wealthy members to make GIGANTIC donations -- and also hound "normal" members -- who aren't in the Sea Org -- for money on a daily basis; tithing is no joke, an organization can amass a LOT of money that way...and people like the Lanes, Cal, Felicia, Sarah, Eddie, Et Cetera are the ones that benefit the most (Kinda like how Scientology's David Miscavige lives in the lap of uber-luxury). But everyone else on that compound is basically living in camp bunks and gardening the food they need to live.

 

But perhaps you're right, the show should have probably made this dynamic more clear...maybe they will in a future episode.

Edited by Lady Grump
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Tithing, monetary donations, donations in kind (especially food,) bequests in wills, income from donated properties are all typical practices for all religions, not just cults. Much admired TV preachers in particular do much better than the likes of Bill and Felicia, who have just one home but no private plane. Cal may think he's hot stuff for being able to pay for his mother's retirement apartment after she got kicked out, but the Bakkers could afford an air conditioned dog house for the family pet. 

 

Meyerism is being portrayed as pretty moderate in the money grubbing department. I suspect that the producers are tacitly assuming the audience will automatically put socially acceptable religions in a different mental category, and use a double standard in looking at the Meyerists, though. 

 

All religions rely on a great deal of free labor, or nominally paid labor. I suspect Cal could make a lot more money selling used cars or insurance, or doing advertising or political consultancy, so even his may be considerably underpaid in a sense. Sarah, if she were to develop some ethics, could likely make a decent income as a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I imagine she too may be underpaid in this hypothetical view. One of the few things that comes any where near providing an objective difference between a religion and a cult is the intensity of exploitation of free labor. But Meyerism doesn't seem to be operating any boiler rooms, or Moonie-style sales ops, or sweat shops. They're gardening, not commercial farming, I think.

 

PS I think the series is evidently serious enough in its approach that it's cutting a little deeper than a thriller about EVIL cultists. And this is really pushing them up against the fact that religions and cults are not really different in any fundamental way. I mean, when did Mormonism turn from a cult into a religious denomination more respectable than Unitarians? (Or, in many quarters, than so-called liberal denominations?)

Edited by sjohnson
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PS I think the series is evidently serious enough in its approach that it's cutting a little deeper than a thriller about EVIL cultists. And this is really pushing them up against the fact that religions and cults are not really different in any fundamental way. I mean, when did Mormonism turn from a cult into a religious denomination more respectable than Unitarians? (Or, in many quarters, than so-called liberal denominations?)

 

Personally, I think all religions fall into the "cult" category -- and pretty much agree with everything you said. I guess I just associate Meyerism MOST with Scientology (yes, I know Meyerism is a mishmash of many different faiths -- but the stuff lifted from RL Scientology are standing out the most, to me). And I don't think anyone is painting *cults* as EVIL -- but cults sure are fascinating; which is why I, personally, am enjoying this show. Seeing the relationship drama unfold, against the backdrop of a cult at a crossroad, is exceptionally intriguing. Nothing to do with EVIL -- just engrossing.

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Guest

Really the only part that bothers me so far is the blond's desperation about Eddie helping her.  I guess she needs to turn an insider, with access to the leaders' ears?  I want to say, "Go find that FBI guy!  Go to the police!  Forget Eddie!"   

 

I didn't love the Eddie-breaks-down-in-a-cell scene but I guess it got the point across.  That weird dwarf(?) man who does the sessions creeps me out.  

 

So did Sarah kill the Minka Kelly character or did the cult?  

 

I know this is a mish-mash of other religious/movements/cults but the upstate NY roots are also part of Mormonism.  And both were started by one American man (Meyer and Joseph Smith) with a unique line of communication to a divine entity (or so they claim), telling the followers what the truth is.  

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