The first season of Hulu’s religious drama “The Path” ended with several cliffhangers, and when season two resumes on Jan. 25, those questions will get answered.
Is Dr. Steven Meyer alive, or was Eddie (Aaron Paul) hallucinating? Will Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) tell anyone her discovery about Cal (Hugh Dancy) having written the final rungs, or will he get away with Silas’ murder? Will Sarah and Eddie reconcile, or will he forever be shunned from his children?
But beyond those plot twists, season two will delve deeper into the themes of faith and religion that drove the complex drama.
“I think we’re grappling with these questions of what people believe when people corrupt their power,” creator and executive Jessica Goldberg tells Variety, referring to Meyerist Movement leader Cal, who’s on the verge of being exposed. “It’s also just about human beings dealing with being broken, and dealing with the damage.” While last season may felt more atheistic, she says, this season more fully embraces the mysticism of the movement at the center of “The Path.”
Variety talked to Goldberg as well as the rest of the cast — Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy and Michelle Monaghan — to get a sneak peek at what’s to come this “intense” season. “I think the second half of season two, we just take it up a notch in a really great way,” says Paul.
Whether or not Eddie was hallucinating will get answered right away, promises Goldberg. “The second season sets up a mystery of what happened with Eddie and Dr. Meyer in Peru,” she says, “and it does play itself out.”
We’ll find a role reversal for most of the characters this season, she says. Last season Eddie was a “complete downer,” she says, and “now he’s actually becoming the one being drawn much more towards truth, towards faith.” Cal, who was always the most pragmatic and cocky, “is really struggling with what he did last year, and he’s looking for atonement, repentance, and trying to get back on track. It’s a different side of him.”
And Sarah, who was the zealot, “she just gets dark,” she teases. “As the pragmatic person trying to keep this whole thing together, she takes a lot of crazy moves.” How dark does she get? “The darkest thing she could do, she does, at a certain point,” says Goldberg.
Adds Monaghan, “Morally, she’s sort of struggling a little bit. She becomes slightly unhinged, and I think that she starts to go down the path that you see Cal’s character go down.”
Although it goes against Sarah’s instincts, she decides to protect Cal’s secret. “I think she understands that if there’s a murder in this movement, that the movement’s over,” explains Goldberg. “As a leader, she starts to understand the stakes of the lives in this place, and that keeping them afloat sometimes means not covering up the crime.”
That decision isolates Sarah from the rest of her community —divorced from Eddie, and lying to her parents about her relationship with him. “Her whole thing has always been about transparency,” says Monaghan. “Now she’s unable to unburden to anybody and so she is slightly unraveling and heading toward a meltdown.”
That leaves Cal as her only ally. “Like it or not, Cal has dragged Sarah kicking and screaming into this next stage of his journey, doubt and pragmatic compromise,” says Dancy. “Really, in that respect, they’ve only got each other.”
We’ll also explore more of Cal’s background and his childhood. “It’s all rich and disturbing stuff,” promises Dancy.
He credits Goldberg with keeping the characters relatable so that Cal doesn’t end up a cartoon villain.
“It’s just seeing a man as a victim to his own demons,” says Dancy. “We can all understand that. We maybe haven’t run cults and killed people, but we can all understand what it is to be at service to our own compulsions or our own failures. So I do feel some compassion for him.”
As for Eddie, because he’s living on the outside, Paul said he felt disconnected from his castmates — but that helped with the character. “He feels being away from the movement is the right choice, but he is constantly being haunted by these visions,” he says. “Something is calling at him.”
And while he concedes he’s at the center of the Steve mystery, years of training on “Breaking Bad” have taught him well about avoiding spoilers. “What happened to Steve? I don’t know,” he teases. “But I think we do find out.”