Warning: This post contains spoilers from Hulu’s The Path.
A dedicated, longing and still-mourning fan of Breaking Bad, I shamelessly, and perhaps shallowly, followed my favorite actor from the series, Aaron Paul, to Hulu to support the introductory season of his next TV endeavor.
Now, it’s been 16 episodes, and I don’t know why I watch still The Path.
After enduring a number of sex scenes that can be described as nothing but uncomfortable, filtering through confusing visions, premonitions and/or hallucinations by Aaron’s character Eddie, and a season finale that left me asking so what, who cares, and what’s next all at the same time, it’s hard to say I “loved” Season 1.
The obvious answer as to why I continued on into Season 2 is Aaron. For the rest of this post I’m going to demonstrate an earnest effort to avoid talking about Breaking Bad unnecessarily, yet I’d be remiss if I did not further proclaim my love for Aaron as Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad, Breaking Bad, Breaking Bad. There, it should be out of my system now.) and acknowledge that I would never have hit play on my first Hulu original series if he wasn’t in it.
Obviously, I have an affinity for The Path‘s Eddie. Breaking Bad‘s Jesse was embodied by trashy vices reminiscent of my Long Island origins and will always have a place in my heart, but it’s nice to see Aaron grow into a more adult role differing from some of his other post-Breaking Bad deals, such as the Need for Speed movie. Seeing Aaron in a mature role makes me feel as if I don’t have to worry about the actor staying in a respectable spotlight that allows me to continue my fandom.
But is there more to my inclination towards The Path than Aaron? The show has survived Season 1, so I’ve gone past the point of just “supporting Aaron” and appear committed to this show. Well into Season 2, isn’t there something that makes me keep pressing play on new episodes of The Path besides Aaron?
Is it the other, non-Aaron Paul characters?
When I think about the other characters – thosenot played by Aaron – what stands out?
Well, Hawk (Kyle Allen) looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt to me. And, interestingly, both Allen and Gordon-Levitt have played cosmic-like characters – Hawk’s floating these days, and Levitt was an alien in 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Cal’s (Hugh Dancy) creepiness is obvious fun, but what really entertains me is wondering how the actor wound up on two opposing sides of the cult fence in two different pieces of media (the other being Martha Marcy May Marlene, where Hugh plays an outsider).
Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) certainly appeals to me. For one, she’s married to someone who looks exactly like Jesse Pinkman (sorry, just one more Breaking Bad reference) and is magnetized to the movement in a way I can almost understand.
Recently, however, I’ve been told I’m more like Mary (Emma Greenwell). And come to think of it, feedback from a personality test I recently took at the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles seems to agree (think insultingly hyperbolic traits like “unstable”). And, similar to Mary, I did sort of wander into a questionable “movement” and was instantly tempted (no, I am not a Scientologist, but the poignancy of their 200-question exam does make me wonder …)
So it looks like it’s not the non-Aaron-related characters that have got me hooked. My feelings associated with Hawk and Cal are rather shallow, my alignment with a character is undefined, and even if it was clearer, I’ve been placing myself in the shoes of TV characters since Trini in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, so it’s nothing special.
With the answer failing to come from within, I turn to the actors and creators of The Path for answers as to why I watch their show.
Is it because I care about Silas? No.
Last week, Hugh suggested that part of the allure of Season 2 is learning more about Silas’ (Steve Mones) death.
“Obviously, the thing hanging over the end of the season and hanging over Cal was Silas’ death. What [creator Jessica Goldberg] made clear to me was that they had to find a way to not lay that to rest, but to have Sarah learn about that, so that the story could move forward,” he told Collider.
But, when I recalled The Path‘s characters a moment ago, I never even thought about Silas. And while he is certainly a crucial element to whatever secrets the show is still hiding, his tale’s ending and its impact on the cult crosses my mind far less often than the ultimate impact of Cal, Sarah, or Eddie.
But Hugh brings up another aspect worth considering.
“It’s so interesting to see these characters, who are very sure-footed in their own enclosed world, having to step out into a bigger world,” he continued. “That’s always going to be the part of the second season of any story. You’ve got to expand the limits, but it’s so unnatural to these characters. Suddenly, they’re uncomfortable, and I loved that.”
Indeed, it’s been a noticeable and appreciated change seeing a variety of cult members go beyond the walls, so to speak, into the beach, crappy apartments, fancy mansions, forests, and cocktail parties throughout Season 2.
Hugh may be on to something.
Is it Cult Fiction addiction?
You’ve already seen my mild fascination for cults, so it’s logical that a yearning for deeper exploration and experimentation with fictional cult members may just be what’s got me to watch roughly 13 hours (not counting commercials) of The Path.
And when you put it that way – that I spent over half a day of my real life watching characters I see my real self and a real adored stranger in – could it be that this cult fiction is less fictional than a TV show would suggest?
“I felt relieved looking back on the show that it felt very relevant. A lot of these movements did start during the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, and it feels like something like that may be starting to happen [again] in America,” Goldberg said at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour last month, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Looking at what people do when they’re not feeling included in their country, I think our show deals with a lot of those questions. We’re living in a country where faith is much more important [now]. Some of the questions our show grapples with are relevant and deal with hope.”
While this does give me a deeper appreciation for the show and the numerous layers of themes The Path is attempting to weave, is this really why I press play?
Am I really looking for another reason to think about how Donald Trump is impacting the world and its individuals? No, in fact, his address to Congress is on right now, and I’m writing this blog.
Am I really looking for another reason to think society is becoming weirder, creepier and more polarized? No, I think I’m looking for something a little less all-encompassing. You have to remember, I’m imagining myself as Sarah and Mary – watching The Path is all about me.
Which brings me to my anti-climatic, yet valuable, conclusion.
It was always about Aaron Paul.
And to prove it, here’s what the former Breaking Bad (that should really be the last one. That wasn’t too bad, right?) star has to say about continuing the journey of The Path.
“I love this journey. I’m so curious to see where we’re going to begin in Season 3. I’m very excited. There’s the tug-of-war, back-and-forth with where Eddie is at and then where he lands at the end of the season,” he told Collider. “I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a crazy journey that he goes on. I wouldn’t say he comes full circle, but he’s much more clear-headed and with a very powerful driving force.”
See? We both used the word journey.
Not enough? I’ve checked out numerous interviews on Season 2 of The Path, and no teaser piques more interest than the above. Especially the part about seeing Eddie become “clear-headed” because I am so confused – and curious – about his visions. And when it comes down to it, clarity on what those mean – or do not mean – is what I’m most invested in when it comes to The Path’s story.
So I’ve come full circle. I started with Aaron Paul and now I’m finishing with Aaron Paul. And, to be honest, I could not think of a better path to be on.
Follow me on Twitter: @ScharHar