So. I had other things to focus on this weekend and forgot to watch Cult! All caught up now though, and very ready to recap/discuss it. And all I have to say is... YES. YES YES YES. SO MUCH YES!
I'll be honest; I wasn't looking forward to this episode. I thought it was going to be the worst yet. Instead it's quite the opposite. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it's the best episode of Cult yet!
Last week ended with the hunt for Jeff's brother begging him, via a videoclip, not to look for him. We learned that these True Believers wanted something from Nate, something they refuse to tell Jeff about. And if Jeff continues to look for Nate, they'll kill both of them. This happened in episode five. It's a pretty gutsy move, stopping the main plotline of the entire show dead that early. It's going to start up again for sure, probably in the next episode already - perhaps with the discovery of Nate's body? - but for now, it's dead as a doornail.
In addition to this, Skye had been slipped a Cult-drug, distributed by the True Believers at the party. This drug is the center of "The Good Fight", which is split in two; Jeff is trying to find a sample of the drug to help Skye wake up. Skye, on the other hand, is deep inside her own mind's version of Cultville.
The whole episode is dipped in desperation. Finally there are real stakes and urgency, something that's been missing up to this point. Sure, it's been a lot of fun watching these mysteries unfold, to learn about the show, the True Believers and the whole Steven Rae-business, but this episode has a quiet feel, with Skye's life hanging in the balance. Jeff is desperate to save it, while we're learning more about Skye's past, feelings, father and CultVille in her mind.
It's all a bit cheesy, of course, but at the same time it's suspenseful. This is the first episode that shows what this series is capable of; using the True Believers and all these other elements into telling thriller-stories where the main characteres break into the home of cops and True Belivers to save each other. We're getting to understand these characters, to understand why they're dead-set on solving these mysteries and what they'll do for each other.
In this episode, Cult goes from being a silly show with tons of good ideas that don't quite mesh into a cohesive whole and turns into a show that's using these good ideas into crafting a suspenseful story with intriguing mysteries, while getting into the characters' head. Sure, it's still silly, but it seems to either be aware of this or just ignore it in a way that, weirdly, works. Some of those dream sequences should've been way too on-the-nose and just plain laughable, but they worked - I think because they were so on-the-nose and up-front about the characters' problems and what she had to work through. Cult is a big, obvious, silly show that spells out what it's trying to do and that's alright. They don't all need to be The Wire or Girls in terms of either subtle plotmovements or characters' intentions and thoughts. Right?
At one point in the episode, Skye's father says "You have to give me up" or something of the sorts. This only makes her more determined to find out the truth; find out what happened to him. In a way, this is cleverly done; instead of Jeff pushing on to find Nate, knowing it could end in death for both of them - a plot that would be incredibly stupid for the writers to try to pull - the attention will now shift onto Skye's hunt for her father which just might be the key to everything. Yes, the theory of the week is that Steven Rae is Skye's father. It'd make sense, wouldn't it?
Anyway, by shifting the focus from Nate to Skye's father gives us further insight into her character, her past and, going forward, another way "in" to the show's mysteries. We've spent five episodes with Jeff trying to find Nate. This episode was about Skye coming to terms with herself while continuing other threads and tightening the noose in terms of the True Believers, leaving the next five episodes to be about the hunt for Skye's father and the continuation of deciphering Nate's clues on the "Wall of Cult". This is a good way to go, with the first season having thirteen episodes confirmed; if they do five episodes with Skye's father, they can then in the last two episodes return to the Nate-plotline, or find him somewhere in those episodes, just in time for the revealing (mid-?)season finale.
So yeah. The mysteries just keep coming, but this was a solid episode with good and much-needed character-work. This week it's "Suffer the Children". I'll be seeing you then - hopefully Sunday.