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The Path is an American television drama series starring Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, and Hugh Dancy. The show portrays members of a fictional religion known as Meyerism.

The series was ordered by Hulu in March 2015 with a straight 10 episode order. The series was originally titled The Way, but was changed to The Path in September 2015 due to its similarity to real-life ministry and alleged cult The Way International. The show debuted on March 30, 2016. On May 4, 2016, Hulu renewed the series for a second season. In April 2017 a third season was announced beginning in early 2018. In April 2018, The Path was officially declared cancelled, with a number of loose ends unfinished.

In many ways it is a Soap Opera. It is the story of the Lane family, devotees of Meyerism, a spiritual philosophy founded in 1974 by psychiatrist Steve Meyer with fellow seekers including Hank and Gaby, the parents of Sara Armstrong Lane, now the community's chief counselor and midwife. Her husband Eddie Lane is a convert who was helped by Meyerism after the suicide of his brother Johnny. With their children Hawk, 16, and Summer, 9, along with Sara's brother Russell, his wife Nicole and their five children, they live on a seemingly idyllic communal farm in New York state. Complicating matters is the fact that Steve is dying in Peru and almost nobody knows it — they think he's just working on another book — and that the pro tem leader, Cal Roberts, is an alcoholic con man consumed by his own ego and self-interest. During an initiation rite with entheogenic drugs, Eddie sees something he wasn't meant to see — and everything starts to come apart.

Creator Jessica Goldberg and producer Russell Barnes did extensive Worldbuilding for the setting. The faith has a detailed structure, environment, and vocabulary.

Brushstrokes McGee's Tumblr blog The Light & the Ladder has a lot of detailed analysis of the series, the characters, and what Meyerism is and isn't, and somewhat follows the actors if you'd like to see them in other things.

This series provides examples of:

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  • Above the Influence: Cal refuses to have sex with Mary Cox, recently rescued by the Meyerists from her tornado-destroyed home. In gratitude she offers herself naked to him, but he senses she's psychologically damaged (and a recovering drug addict). Instead, he counsels her to have a relationship with Sean Egan, another novice, whom she later marries.
    • However, this is quickly subverted only a few episodes later, when he comes into her bedroom at night and asks her about her experiences with Sean while he masturbates in front of her. He later sleeps with her the night before her wedding to Sean, effectively confirming the subversion.
  • Aerith and Bob: Meet the Lane family! Eddie, Sarah, Summer and... Hawk.
  • All According to Plan: Cal's triumphalist speech to the membership gathered for the yearly Ascension Festival is upstaged by the return of Eddie's followers — still-believing "Deniers" who had been thrown out or quit of their own accord. Cal quickly recovers and pretends he was in on Eddie's plan all along. (Watch the guy behind and to the left of Cal as he speaks. He's not falling for it.)
  • Ambiguously Bi: Hawk, perhaps.
  • And Starring: Hugh Dancy receives this credit in the title sequence.
  • Arc Words: "There is no Light". Eddie begins to say this as he questions his faith. When he speaks with former member Alison Kemp, she says "There is no Light, there is only us." Even the Peruvian shaman Silas, a founding member of deep devotion, ends up saying this as, apparently, does founder Steve Meyer, speaking to two other elders from the great beyond.
  • Artistic License – Medicine - Averted. Chloe reads Eddie the instructions for the anti-anxiety pills he's been prescribed, and later he's shown reading them for himself and taking his pills carefully as directed.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Believers are confident Steve will do this. He didn't. He's also said to live so fully in Truth that he's surrounded by a Holy Halo. He isn't.
  • Badass Boast: Cal and Eddie throw these at one another during a confrontation over Cal and Sarah's affair in "Defiance". Eddie walks away with the win.
    Cal: "You really gonna do this? Hmm? In my house? You're a denier, Eddie; I say the word, there'll be twenty kids in here to throw you on the street in seconds."
    Eddie: "...You think I can't touch you? No, you can't touch me, asshole, because I am the one. I say the word, and those twenty kids will throw you out because I am the fucking chosen son, Cal."
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Mary seduces Betsy, the technician in the dispensary, but it's just to get drugs while Sean is away. When Sean returns, Mary reunites with him and drops Betsy, who is not happy and delivers one Howitzer of a Precision F-Strike in the refectory for all to hear.
    Betsy. "She FUCKED me!!! That's what she did!"
    • Betsy apparently left after that; she is among the still-believing group of outcasts that gathers around Eddie as he seeks to reform the faith. Ironically, Betsy was the first Meyerist Mary actually met. Half-insane from drugs and thirst, Mary's first contact with a Meyerist is Betsy reaching up to her with a bottle of clear, pure water.
  • Blackmail: Honesty and openness are supposed to be part of the foundation of Meyerism, and you must "unburden" troubling secrets, including crimes — yet almost no one is telling the whole truth. Unburdening sessions are taped and in one episode a former member is threatened with her tape. Cal overheard something as a child and has been blackmailing Steve Meyer with it ever since. In a financial crisis, Sarah begins going through tapes to find more guilty parties who might be willing to, er, make a love donation.
  • Blind Obedience: One of the things that makes Meyerism a cult is that any type of questioning or doubt is forbidden. Any hint that you're having trouble with your faith or the decisions made by the Guardians of the Light, and you'll end up in Realignment Lockdown, if you're lucky, or expelled as a Denier, if you're not. (Later episodes confirm Cal exploited this to cement his control position.) One of Eddie's first steps when he takes charge is to abolish this.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: And evil. Oh, Sarah.
  • The Chosen One: Steve Meyer tells Eddie that he, not Cal, is his true spiritual "chosen son", and the right person to take his place as leader of the Meyerist movement. Unfortunately, not only does Steve fall off a cliff right after saying this, but Eddie doesn't even believe in the metaphysical aspects of Meyerism any more, making him more like The Chosen Zero. At least until near the end of season two.
  • Church of Happyology: Jessica Goldberg says she wasn't thinking of Scientology when she created Meyerism and its devotees, but drew on life experience and her familiarity with Eastern faiths and alternative and esoteric doctrines.
    • Meyerism's "rungs" are like the degree systems common to esoteric schools and mystic lodges e.g. Rosicrucians or Masons; Scientology adopted this system for its OT levels. Theosophists believe anyone can undertake initiatory levels to evolve into higher states of being. These were described in massive detail in a series of popular books by C.W. Leadbeater. The adoption and molestation of Cal by Steve may have been based on Leadbeater's known behavior with boys, and his adoption of J. Krishnamurti.
    • Closer to Scientology are abbreviations like "3R" (third rung), "TG" (transgress; and there are levels of transgression also), "HS" (hypersensitized, something adolescents are prone to) or "IS" (Ignorant Systemite). Meyerism has special terminologies, as most religions do.
    • The draconian "contracts" reluctantly implemented by Eddie on the advice of his new draconian lawyer, hoping to prevent frivolous lawsuits, are like Scientology's four legal waivers. They all presume bad faith, and they strip members of their legal rights. These make Meyerism back into a cult again after all Eddie's hard work to de-cult it.
    • The mystery of Steve's "last three rungs", actually written by Cal since Steve was in a coma, may reflect the claim of Scientology's Pat Broeker, appointed by Hubbard to succeed him, to have access to the final set of OT level instructions. In this case, there weren't any and Broeker was simply bluffing.
    • Although many faiths have confession, "unburdening" resembles Scientology's auditing in that it's taped and can be used to Blackmail you later.
    • Scientology audits with E-meters; Meyerism doesn't but has a meditation exercise with a small biofeedback device. These were common in the 1970s and may simply reflect Meyerism's links to that era.
    • Meyerism's "lockdown programs" are similar to Scientology's Introspection Rundownnote . And the "juice cleanse" might be based either on the Purification Rundownnote  or on the water curesnote  employed by Seventh-Day Adventists and other faiths to purge toxins.
    • In Meyerism, counseling begins with finding your "damage". In Scientology, you look for your "ruin". A Meyer counselor says "What has hurt you?" or as Cal says "Find your original wound." A Scientologist says "What is ruining you?"
    • Meyerists who leave must sign "denier forms". Scientologists who leave must sign confessions of "crimes" against the faith.
    • Ex-Scientologists, and those who question, report being followed and threatened as Alison is; Eddie is set up and savagely beaten. Cal's rage and violence (he punches through a wall in one episode) might resemble Scientology leader David Miscavige's reported behavior. Believing Scientologists who question Miscavige form splinter groups similar to Eddie's.
    • And when Eddie begins to question his faith, he goes to a public library to search on "Is Meyerism real?", finding Alison's site with its challenge to current Meyerist leadership. Scientology is well known for restricting online access so members won't see sites like that or be in any contact with people who have.
    • Meyerists look to "The Light", divine inspiration and guidance; God is the source of Light within "these vessels, our bodies". Visions and dreams are important because they could be the Light communicating with you. Many religions, spiritual traditions and esoteric belief systems say that God is Light (1 John 1:5, for instancenote ) and Christ famously said "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Unfortunately the Meyerists also believe that Dark Is Evil, rather than forming a philosophy of balance as some '70s-era neopagan movements did. Lilith Asan, the first founding member with Steve whom we begin to see in season 3, does believe in acknowledging and even celebrating darkness, so perhaps balance will be achieved.
    • The Ladder of Enlightenment is taught (often by that name) in some New Age and Hindu-Buddhist metaphysical systems, and in Jewish mysticism (Jacob's Ladder in the Bible). Scientology's bridge of progress is occasionally spoken of as a ladder.
    • The solemn festival of Restitution, with its fasting and atonement, will be familiar to Jewish viewers as Yom Kippur.
    • Cal says that Steve referred to most people as "sleepwalkers" and "pawns", urging Meyerists to become "awake". Spiritual writer G.I. Gurdjieff didn't invent this philosophy, but gave it a lot of promotion and visibility. It has been used (and misused) by Baghwan Shri Rajneesh (Osho) among others. It's common to a lot of esoteric teachings and popular today from The Matrix.
    • Meyerism resembles the Shaker Movement in its emphasis on relieving emotional burdens and freeing oneself of the customs and notions of modern society, to live separately and differently from the outside world.
    • Also well-known for declaring the modern world to be evil and calling upon believers to withdraw from it, prepare for The End and encourage children not to pursue an education past high school are the Jehovah's Witnesses. They too believe in helping others in times of need, especially disaster relief, and that the faithful will one day live forever in an earthly paradise. They have designations for spiritual conditions, and levels of devotion similar to the Rungs. note 
    • The commemoration of a modern-day world-changing spiritual breakthrough, along with the disappearance of an enshrined founder amid revelations of a cult atmosphere, violence and abuse, were central to Enlightennext (with this article and film about the group leading off with a photo from the series) although Andrew Cohen returned and apologized.
    • There's even some Carlos Castaneda / Cleargreen in the mix. His "family" were told he wouldn't die, but would burn from within, turn into a ball of light, and ascend to the heavens. It was a closely guarded secret that he actually had liver cancer. He ended up bedridden, on a morphine drip, watching TV.Minus the TV, this is exactly how Steve Meyer dies. When he died, devotees burned his papers. Three of his "witches", female acolytes, disappeared, likely committing suicide to be with him. The skeleton of Pat Partin was found eight years later; the other two are still missing.
    • Shunning is practiced by many faiths including some Christian and Jewish denominations.
    • Emphasis on family and marital fidelity are part of most mainstream religions.
    • The community resembles a Jewish kibbutznote  and believe to a certain extent that Ludd Was Right. Fans have also noticed similarities to Jehovah's Witnesses (who also shun), some aspects of Landmark Forum and 12-step, Stephen Gaskin's The Farm commune in the early years (especially the emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, the prohibition on questioning or pointing out problems needing to be fixed, and a respected leader who is gone a lot — they're also known for helping disaster victims), and the Zendik Farm experiment.
  • Con Man: Cal is much more of this than he is a spiritual leader. He forged the last three sacred documents that were supposed to come from Steve. Who knows what else he phonied up and attributed to Our Founder?!
  • Cool Old Lady: Gaby and founding member Felicia are both this. Felicia has an authoritative Black Boss Lady ambiance (she runs the West Coast Meyerist center with her husband Bill). Hank is definitely a Cool Old Guy and there are several others.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Of a sort, when Nicole's baby is born dead and Sarah revives her through both neonatal resuscitation and prayer. This incident is possibly based on the birth in 1972 of Solomon Aquarian, the son of Heaven and Sunflower Aquarian of the Source Family, who was revived in a similar fashion by their leader Father Yod. He was fine.
  • Crisis of Faith: Eddie starts to have one regarding Meyerism, his religion, when the series starts. Ironically enough, the Inciting Incident is an experience he has during his initiation to the Sixth Rung ("Explorer").
    • Silas, the Peruvian shaman, seems to have one of these as well given what Eddie told him during that ceremonynote  and what he's had to go through maintaining Steve's hospice rooms at the Cuzco Meyerist center while the other founders and elders are pretending everything is okay and proceeding as Steve had foreseen.
    • Sarah experiences a devastating one over the revelations about Steve and especially after her father's death.
  • Cult: Meyerism, which at best is a closed faith community. It's a cult due to required Blind Obedience and worship of charismatic leaders; Steve as saint/demigod, and Cal's narcissistic manipulation. Eddie's third-season behavior — especially the massive contracts members must now sign — cements it. There is a complete lack of privacy, including "sourcing" — periodic interrogations and inspections for contraband.note  Members are pressured to either convert family members or to break all contact with them. Anyone who so much as questions or has any trouble with their faith are put in "lockdown" programs or kicked out after signing a "denier" form affirming their disbeliefnote . Lockdown is also used to force people to confess "transgressions". Cal forges "new revelations from Steve", allowing Deniers who change their minds to return. Much later, Eddie discovers that shunning was not in the original doctrine, and many of these other practices have been misused or were created by Cal, not Steve.
  • Cure Your Gays: What Pastor Billy Matthews wants to do to his son Caleb after finding out he's having an affair with Hawk. OTOH, Meyerists don't give a rip if you're LGBTQ; viz. Gaby's priceless "Oh! Oh!! OH!!!" on finding her grandson in bed with Caleb. Followed immediately by: "I bet you guys are hungry. I am making pancakes."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: One of Meyerism's main focuses is healing Damage — the pain and trauma we all have. Mary is a victim of extreme child sexual abuse. Her husband Sean Egan witnessed the murder of his twin sister in the Marysville Pilchuck massacre. note  The Lane boys witnessed Domestic Abuse and were probably beaten by their father: Johnny's suicide leads Eddie to Meyerism. Richard, in "The Father and the Son", speaks of his time in an Orphanage of Fear. Kodiak, a Vietnam vet, has PTSD, has been in jail and eventually went to Siberia to escape a marijuana charge. Cal's parents were The Alcoholic (as is Cal) and severely neglectful; Steve Meyer ended up with custody, raised him in the faith, and, it seems, molested him One of Cal's good traits is his instinctive ability to help people "find the original wound" so they can begin to work on healing themselves..
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nicole. Coerced into the Meyerists when she married Russell Armstrong (who turns out to be a Jerkass), uprooted from her home in Michigan, disowned by her parents and forced to have more children than she wants, her nasty little asides and snipes get louder and less subtle as things get worse.
  • Deprogram: What Sean's parents apparently have planned for him and his family.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The opening credits. Background info here.
  • Diagonal Billing: Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan are billed this way during the opening credits.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Bizarre dreams are seemingly commonplace among members of the movement, and some of them do foreshadow events or encounters that take place later in the episodes.
    • Taken farther with Eddie, whose dream at the beginning of "Providence" is realized in the closing scene, with few details altered or missing. It's unknown if this — along with his sporadic visions, seeing his dead brother, and his Wound That Will Not Heal — is due to his status as The Chosen One or if he actually has some type of precognitive or supernatural ability that he's unaware of.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eddie's brother hanged himself in the past, which led to him finding and joining Meyerism.
    • Richard after his banishment in season 2.
    • Cal Is driven to attempt suicide at the end of season 3.

  • Erudite Stoner and Higher Understanding Through Drugs: All the elders and founding members can be said to be/engage in this. Marijuana is very accepted as a meditative aidnote  and recreational drug. Hank Armstrong is almost never seen without a joint.note  Ayahuasca is a sacrament and the group has an outpost in Cuzco, Peru, where the shaman Silas serves as a guide for Meyerist-centered ayahuasca ceremonies.
    • Truth in Television as ayahuasca healing is very well known and some westerners really have teamed up with traditional shamans to learn its use and administer it properly. The Peruvian spiritual retreat Ayahuasca Healings has recently been granted church status in the United States.note 
    • When original founding member Lilith Asan is revealed in season 3, she shares with Sarah one of her own visions by giving her kambo. Derived from tree frog venomnote  it is usually used for pain relief, as a "cleanse", or often in preparation for an ayahuasca ceremony. Meyerists are probably familiar with it.
    • One way in which Cal's leadership raises a serious warning flag to founding members is the fact that he wants to stop the use of these drugs, not because he thinks they're harmful but because he wants to give Meyerism more mainstream appeal.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Cal forges sacred texts but attempts to Willing Channeler Steve (according to Richard and Kodiak, he didn't succeed). In these writings, Cal calls Jesus a prophet of the Light and proclaims repentant deniers may be forgiven and restored to the community. This is long before Eddie's denier group converges on the community on Ascension Day, so Cal's All According to Plan reaction is based on the alleged teaching.
  • Eye Motifs: Designed by producer Russell Barnes, Meyerism's symbol is an eye surrounded by rays of light, done in a quasi-tribal/Egyptian style. It means spiritual insight, but also "you're being watched — you're ALWAYS being watched." The designers created a huge range of props, decor and set dressing, making it look completely real.
    Hugh Dancy, who plays Cal: "You find little Meyerist pamphlets and articles around that they’ve just written because [the design team] take pride in it. And they’re really convincing. So we shot a scene in a park in Brooklyn, and we shot another scene, later on in the season, where there’s an outpost, a little Meyerist outpost that has its own little office and these posters on the front window, and the designs kind of draw you in. By the time I had got there, several people had stopped in and expressed interest in joining."
    • Today, you can get the Meyerist Eye on everything from t-shirts to iPhone cases. Fans are creating jewelry, art, and even perfumes. There are probably people starting to practice Meyerism for real right now.
    • Lilith Asan's life and devotion are full of broken, damaged eyes. She's got a distressed, incomplete Meyerist Eye on her wall, and she literally loses an eye to cancer.
  • Fake Guest Star: The entire recurring cast are credited as guest stars even though they are, technically, main cast members. They should be in the Starring part of the credits, but in this case, it was ignored, probably for Rule of Funny or Irony. Perhaps it's also because many of these "guest stars" are old-style stage actors, not film or screen specialists (explaining the moderately Large Ham some of them engage in throughout).
  • Fanservice: Equal opportunity. The majority of the cast members are very good looking and many of them, male and female alike, are often seen in various states of undress.
    • Mary's full frontal topless scene in the first episode straddles the line between this and Fan Disservice — not because she's unattractive, but because of the circumstances surrounding it.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Steve, of a sort. He stopped Vera (his daughter) playing with Cal (his adopted son) as little children. Cal was a gifted artist as a child (his mom had his drawings framed and still hanging on her walls in her elder years) and has a deeply educated appreciation for fine art, but will only say "I used to be interested in art but now all I need is The Eye." As his memories of abuse resurface, he takes up art again to try to draw the place it happened.
    • Theres a Nightmare Fuel aspect to this as its implied in Season 2 that Steve took Cal to the cave just after his father left and "taught him to paint flowers on his walls of doom." Ie. The last time Cal painted was just before Steve drugged and raped him for the first time.
  • Fish out of Water: A downplayed example with Eddie in season two. Due to being largely cut off from the outside world for so long, he's unprepared for some of the changes that have sprung up since he joined the movement, which leads to him suffering from depression and the occasional anxiety attack if it all becomes too much. When he goes to buy his first television in twenty years, he almost has a meltdown in the middle of the aisle after being overwhelmed by the salesman and the number of selections. On another occasion, he accompanies his girlfriend to a party and she has to coach him beforehand on what's been happening on The Bachelor so that he'll have a current topic to fall back on if he finds himself in the awkward position of having to make small talk.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Meyerists are vegetarians. (They're not vegans; Hawk speaks of eating corn bread with butter.) When Hawk Lane visits his non-Meyerist girlfriend and her family, they offer him a bit of steak. After some hesitation, he eats it. As his relationship with her progresses, he's seriously tempted to leave the movement.
    • After Eddie has left the movement, Sarah secretly reunites with him occasionally. On one of these afternoon delight sessions, Eddie feeds Sarah a bit of Chocolate of Romance. Meyerists don't eat chocolate, either. Sarah accepts, though.note 
    • Sarah's dream of eating poisoned bacon from Marshall Small's farm counts too.
  • Gaussian Girl: Michelle Monaghan as Sarah is filmed this way in the third-season episode "The Gardens at Giverny" which is supposed to take place on a French nobleman's palatial estate. (It was really filmed at Oheka Castle on Long Island.) The cinematography, lighting, camera angles and some of the situations (intentionally?) resemble a classic 1960s French film, with Monaghan where you'd normally expect to see Anouk Aimee or Catherine Deneuve.
  • The Hermit: Kodiak, another founding member and Vietnam vet who's been living as this in Siberia for the last twelve years. Perhaps he studied with actual shamans there, he is certainly a mystic and Willing Channeler, possibly a Friend to All Living Thingsnote . He is described as "gifted" and a 10R, the highest position. Sarah calls him back to the community, knowing he's trustworthy, both to sit on the Council and to help her investigate and hopefully stop or alter Cal's schemes. He and Richard begin by looking into Steve's death.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: In season two, Cal asks Sam/Abe to assist in their hunt for the FBI mole. He accepts and uses the opportunity to frame another member so that he can continue his investigation into the cult.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted by Hawk and Eddie after Eddie leaves the movement. Despite having had his own crisis of faith only a short time before, Hawk throws himself back into the movement with a passion and finally cuts contact with Eddie after deciding that spending time with a "Denier" will only hold him back. A tense confrontation between the two late in the second season ends with Hawk calling his father "Eddie" and then walking out, leaving Eddie devastated.
    • Hawk later realizes that he was being manipulated by Cal, and the end of season two sees him making a tentative effort to reconnect with his father.
    • Averted with Hank and his daughter Tessa, a Denier who left the movement years before, and who he has secretly been in contact with ever since.
  • Important Haircut: Hawk cuts his shoulder-length hair mid-way through season two, having decided it was time for a change. Another character notes that it makes him look more like Cal, and it also marks the point where he starts following Cal's lead more closely.
  • Insistent Terminology: Meyerism is not a cult, it's a movement. At least until season two when Eddie joins a support group and explicitly calls it a cult for the first time.
  • I See Dead People: Eddie sees his dead brother during a spiritual ritual, though it's ambiguous at first if he's just hallucinating due to a mind-altering drug. He believes his brother shows him something of vital importance (later confirmed). This then leads him to information on the internet questioning his religion, Meyerism. It sparks the beginning of his doubts. He sees Johnny again in later episodes, indicating that he's on the right track.
  • Karmic Death: Mary kills her dad by giving him $20 worth of heroin, right after he reminds her of the time she made $200 as a child prostitute, he gave her $20, went to Atlantic City to blow the rest on roulette, and then asked for the $20 back when he returned home so he could buy heroin.
  • Light Is Not Good: Meyerism focuses on God as Light. However, given some of the coercive and punitive aspects of the core doctrine, and then what Cal and Sarah get up to...
  • Love Dodecahedron: Cal is in love with Sarah who is married to Eddie who is distrustful of Cal who is also having a sexual relationship with Mary who is in a relationship with Sean and also seduces at least one other person during the first season.
    • Moving into season two, we have Cal still pining over Sarah who is now separated from Eddie (but still secretly sleeping with him) who is also seeing his dead brother's old girlfriend Chloe on the side when Cal finally succeeds in getting Sarah to sleep with him. Also, Mary is pregnant and doesn't know whether Sean or Cal is the father.
    • In season 3, Eddie and Sarah seem permanently on the outs. She has an affair with a comparative religion professor, and he has one with Vera Asan, the former Meyer publicist.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Eddie's girlfriend Chloe is somewhat of this to him, although she's mature and sensible. It's mostly due to the fact that he's been so isolated from the real world for almost two decades that now even a normal mature, sensible woman is capable of being this for him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cal, Cal, CAL!
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Several times, characters have spiritual experiences and spontaneous healings; it's left up to us to decide.
  • Meaningful Name: Quite a few.
    • Mary Cox was prostituted by her dad from childhood and still uses sex to get what she wants.
    • Sarah means "princess" and she is Meyer royalty. Miranda describes the Armstrong family as being like the Kennedys.
    • Meyer is Old English for "one in charge" — and in Judaism it means "one who enlightens".
    • Siberia (where Kodiak's been living) is across the Bering Sea from Kodiak Island and the Bering Peninsula. Fairly easy to get from one to the other. Kodiak's real name is John Kordjak, so it could also be a nickname from his military days.
    • Silas means "the one who was called". It also means "of the forest". Well, he is buried there now. In-universe: Cal names Mary's son Forest, he was born there.
    • Marshall Small runs a small farm.
    • The show is called The Path, but Meyerists go up the Ladder. The breakaway group is led by Eddie Lane.
    • In season 3, a woman comes forth as the first to have seen the visions that became Meyerism. She and Steve worked together on it and even had a child together. Then Steve kicked her out and later made up the Garden (she thinks; we've seen evidence that the Garden is real). This is so close to the story of Lilith in Babylonian/Jewish mythology that the character could have no other name. The child's name is Vera, the Latin word for truth. She becomes Meyerism's secular publicist, without anyone knowing about her mother's role in the faith.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Eddie and his visits to denier Alison Kemp as he begins to question his faith. The denier policy means he can't reveal that he's even having a crisis of faith. This is why he "confesses" to an affair with Silas' assistant Miranda, causing her to be dragged from her home and forced into Infidelity Rehab.note 
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Present in every sex scene that occurs on a bed. Which happens pretty much every episode. Any sex scene that doesn't feature a bed will usually cut away before all of the clothes are fully removed.
  • Murder by Mistake: From season one: Cal's killing of Silas was clearly unintentional. From season three: Lilith tries to fulfill what she thinks is a prophetic vision; she's seen Eddie shot while addressing a crowd of devotees. She misses him and hits his friend Vera — her own beloved daughter. Cal secretly buries Silas in the woods on the property; his body is uncovered at the same time Vera is buried with full Meyerist honors in a beautifully decorated shroud.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Steve Meyer himself is said to have felt this when he stopped his psychological experiments on military subjects. Vera becomes this as she works as Meyerism's secular publicist — secretly sent by her mother Lilith with the intention of destroying it all; she comes to respect Eddie and later joins the faith and tells him all.
  • Naïve Newcomer: FBI Agent Gaines pretends to be one of these so he can investigate. As he goes along, he finds himself coming to believe in it, somewhat.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: The community could look like the back-to-the-land version at first, especially the older members. The group started as an experimental Commune in the early 1970s.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Cal spends $5M the group doesn't have on a huge old buildingnote  that can serve as a Meyerist city center that will include expanded services for the homeless. This building has been a homeless shelter for decadesand he throws every one of them out when he takes possession! Naturally, they are pissed.
    • Cal doesn't give a shit that by banishing Meyerist elder and counselor Richard at the end of season 2, he's made him homeless and caused further breakdown among the Meyerists when they refuse to accept the shunning. Hank declares, "The Movement was everything to Richard, and vice versa. He was Meyerism's favorite uncle, and hearing him described as this monster is —" His wife Gaby shuts him up with "Shh. You're gonna find yourself in a program." At least one person leaves during the memorial. Cal is losing people and doesn't know what to do about it.
    • In late season two, Eddie seems to be unable to have a conversation with Sarah without inadvertently revealing something that he — as a Denier who has been shunned by the entire movement — shouldn't know. This ends up directly leading her to the discovery that Richard has been helping him, resulting in Richard being kicked out of the movement and briefly homeless.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Cal delivers one to Mary's father when he refused to apologize for mistreating her. He gets one later from financier John Ridge, when he discovers that Mrs. Ridge, a sometime Meyerist, has taken their drug-addict son, against his wishes, for an ayahuasca ceremony - believing Cal orchestrated it. It was actually done by Sarah without Cal's knowledge. Also, it worked. Cal hires Ridge later as an investment consultant for the group.
    • Eddie is on the receiving end of one from three large Meyerist's after Cal learns that he's trying to meet with Hawk.
  • Old Flame: Sarah is Cal's. Gaby is Kodiak's. Ashley is Hawk's. Jeremiah is Richard's.
  • Our Founder: Dr. Steve Meyer doesn't really have a statue but there are posters and displays with his picture all over the place. Meyerism's founding story is told many times including in a folk song straight out of Peter, Paul and Mary.note  Dr. Meyer worked for the Army, doing experiments on veterans (perhaps MK-Ultra, although this fan thinks possibly Edgewood Arsenal given Meyer's later activities). One day he realized the harm he was doing and quit. He took a 250-mile walk back to his family's farm, living homeless.note  At some point, he and his friends (now elders in the faith) climbed Huayna Picchu. At the top they found a ladder into the clouds.note  It burned their hands, but Meyer made it to the top, where he discovered that humanity has two futures; a manmade apocalypse, and a lovely Garden filled with light. It's the Meyerists' mission to create the Garden on earth and practice kindness, caring and love toward all living things. He wrote several books detailing his insights.
  • Passion Play: The Awakening, a sacred drama performed yearly by the children, re-enacting Steve's story. Children who wish to take vows of life service at 16 must participate. Gaby directs and Summer plays Steve in the version we see. No two productions are quite alike and the direction can vary wildly. One of the songs, in which Steve responds to a question about the last three rungs, contains clues leading to the old cave where Steve and Lilith's journals were hidden.
    Summer. I know some of it didn't happen exactly the way Grandma's got us doing it. But what's important is true.
  • Platonic Cave: Cal tells the story of Plato's original allegory, which Meyerism apparently agrees with, their "ladder" being the path of the title that leads "into the light" from the cave.
  • The Poorly Chosen One: Eddie begins acting like such a jackass through his leadership period in season 3 that it looks like he wasn't Steve's best choice, either. Then again, Cal did warn him that the "business" of religious leadership was terribly difficult...
  • Product Placement: There's a Chemex coffee pitcher in the Lanes' kitchen and a bottle of Bronner peppermint soap in their utility room. Sarah has a La Bassine birthing pool in her clinic and drives a Prius. A Porsche figures in a season 3 episode. The crab rolls Eddie has at Coney Island are the venerable Nathan's, although the name isn't mentioned. Cal and Mary take every opportunity to mention Forest's Sophie giraffe toy by name.
  • Rape as Backstory: Mary's father pimped her out starting when she was eleven. Cal was molested by Steve and suffers terribly when buried memories resurface.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cal gets one from Silas, and later a short one from a homeless man. Much later, Sarah gets one from Hawk, while he's temporary leader of the city center, when he finds out about the group's massive debts.
  • Scenery Porn: This is filmed on location outside of Nyack in southern New York state, one of the most beautiful parts of the Hudson Valley, on a campground run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine. Jean-Paul's massive estate and palace in France (actually on Long Island, played by the Oheka Castle!) are featured in "The Gardens at Giverny," so beautifully photographed and art-directed that fans have compared it to classic French films of the 1960s with Sarah as a veritable Gaussian Girl.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The dreadlocked young black woman marching off with her knapsack and suitcase — glimpsed behind Cal during Richard's memorial service. You can expect more of them after Eddie establishes the "legal contract" all Meyerists must sign toward the end of season 3.
    • Sean begins to question his faith in season two but, at Eddie's urging, he hides his doubts and stays in the movement so that he can be with Mary... and then he finds out that it's possible her baby might be Cal's instead of his. He eventually contacts his parents who begin making arrangements to him and Mary to leave the cult, but Mary backs out at the last minute. Sean realizes that she's made her choice and chooses to go ahead and leave without her.
    • Chloe breaks up with Eddie after his kidnapping by Richard and Kodiak results in her eight year old son being abandoned in a car on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. She's not unsympathetic to what Eddie's going through, she just knows it's not going to stop and she chooses her son's safety over him.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: Cal and Sarah, who know truths that would kill Meyerism (along with all the sincerely good work it's doing) if known, form this at the end of season 1.
  • Secret Diary: Ex- (and then returning) member Alison's husband Dr. Jason Kemp kept one until his death in Peru. Sarah gives it to Alison. Alison thought he tried to quit and was murdered, but the diary proves he was a heartfelt devotee, determined to climb the Ladder "if it killed him". If anything, it was unintentional suicide. (He was also Steve's doctor during his battle with pancreatic cancer, making him a Secret-Keeper as well since nobody's supposed to know about that.) Alison considers suicide after reading it, but returns to the community.
  • Seekers: Richard, Meyerist mystic in charge of hearing unburdening and Realignment sessions (so he's also The Confidant), becomes this along with fellow founding member Kodiak as they investigate what is really going on, how Steve Meyer really died, and what happened to Silas.
  • Sex Starts, Story Stops: Eddie and Sarah are married, but even so, the number of times they're shown having sex can seem a little excessive. Simply put, if they're in a room together alone then odds are good that they're going to end up at least making out before the scene is over. Cal and Mary have this as well, with Hugh Dancy and Emma Greenwell portraying it as a near-unwilling compulsion. Add in the numerous other characters who are also shown hooking up and the show seems to be going out of its way to fall into this trope.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran and The Atoner: Kodiak. He is deeply repentant of having destroyed villages and killed civilians in The Vietnam War. He had been one of Steve's experimental volunteers and the one he was working with when he decided to quit. The two stayed supportive friends, and Meyerist practices helped Kodiak find redemption, hence why he wants to solve Steve's death and also why he distrusts Cal. He warns Richard that he will not act out of anger or rage as they question Eddie.
    • Steve was The Atoner also, as the reason he began his search for a healing philosophy for humanity was to right the wrongs he and others had done in the military.
    • Richard becomes The Atoner when he sets fire to the archive room (with himself inside) and its thousands of taped confessions from members — tapes he made but believed were sacrosanct — after discovering they were used for blackmail.
    • Vera is The Atoner also when she disconnects from her mother, comes to Eddie declaring her intention to become a Meyerist, and tells all regarding Lilith's plans.
  • Shower Scene: Several. Mary gets one when she's rescued from the ruins of her home; there's an ambience of baptism and renewal. Cal takes a Shower of Angst to wash off the blood from his accidental murder of Silas. Both Sarah and Eddie get one (not together, alas) somewhere along the way.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Security at the Meyerist compound and the city center is not the best and despite the "heightened" security measures after learning they have a mole, some characters are still able to end up in places they shouldn't be without being seen or stopped.
  • Tap on the Head: Kodiak hits Eddie on the back of the head to knock him out while kidnapping him with Richard. Eddie apparently suffers no ill effects from this and doesn't go to the hospital after they release him even though they also drugged him to the point that he passed out and stopped breathing for a time.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Hawk throws up after returning home and overhearing his parents having sex in their room, and on another occasion Sarah throws up after the full weight of her blackmailing scheme hits her. Neither time was shown in detail. On the other hand...
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: ... Upon realizing that Kodiak and Richard have drugged him in "Return", Eddie promptly vomits onscreen. In an earlier episode this happens with Freddie Ridge as he takes the medicine voluntarily with Silas guiding him. And Lilith is all ready for Sarah to puke reacting to the kambo Lilith gave her so she could share her vision.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: Eddie removes his wedding ring when he's about to take The Walk; it seems to be part of the protocol for that exercise as he leaves his driver's license and other important things behind as well. He also removes the ring while trying to move on from Sarah in season two.
    • Experiencing her own crisis of faith in season three, Sarah believes she's found answers with Lilith's visions, but then realizes Lilith is a Crazy Survivalist with bunkers around the world filled with Survivalist Stash (including good old guns) and can't be trusted; only then does she remove her Meyerist Eye necklace, and it's played as significant in the same way.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sarah gives Cal several of these as she finds out what he's been up to.
  • White Void Room: Sarah interviews and threatens the IRS worker Lisa in one of these. These isolation rooms are for "lockdown" programs where you are supposed to meditate, have counseling and cleanse your soul. Eddie stops the use of them at first, but when some Meyerists let him know they actually found them helpful, he reinstates them, putting Nicole in one to think things over before deciding whether to divorce Russell.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Mary becomes pregnant shortly after having sex with Cal and later Sean, and she spends most of the second season worrying that the baby's parentage will be revealed after it's born. The end of the season makes it clear that it was definitely not Sean's.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Season two reveals that Eddie was struck by lightning while in Peru, leaving a large lightning-shaped scar that covers most of the left side of his back. While it appears to have healed just fine, there's a notable occasion in the later part of the season where the scar begins bleeding for no discernible reason.