Cult Episode 104
“Get With the Program”
Written By: Craig Gore & Tim Walsh
Directed By: Rob Hardy
Original Airdate: 15 March 2013
In This Episode...
A woman reaches out to Jeff in a “Cult” chat room. Her husband disappeared under similar circumstances as Nate, and she wants to meet and work together. Skye joins Jeff at the cafe to wait for the mystery woman. Skye thinks this is a bad idea, especially because of a suspicious man watching them. He makes a move to them, but quickly reveals himself to be no threat. This is Terrence, a man who finds and rescues loved ones from cults. Jeff’s mystery date, Anya, hired him to find her husband, Romy. When Terrence deems that Jeff is not a True Believer, Anya joins the conversation. She has Romy’s notebook, exactly like Nate’s, and Skye finds the same mystery CD in it. Anya played the disc in her work computer, which means it didn’t get any of her personal information and didn’t self destruct.
The foursome go back to Nate’s place and meet up with EJ, who sets about cracking the code on the CD. She discovers an IP address hidden deep in the code that leads them to a hacker flophouse. Skye, Jeff, and Terrence take this leg of the journey, but the moment they enter, the hacker kids busy themselves clearing out. Jeff zeroes in on one kid, Shawn, with a “Cult” tattoo. A scuffle breaks out as the kids run. Shawn runs too - Terrence shoots him. It’s okay though - it was with rock salt or something, so he isn’t injured. Terrence kidnaps Shawn and Jeff goes with, against Skye’s protests.
Terrence, Shawn, Jeff, Skye, and Anya end up in a motel room. Skye waits outside while Jeff helps Terrence shoot Shawn up with truth serum - Skye wants no part in this. Most of what they get out of Shawn is nonsense: he keeps rambling about “under the tree” and “the ranch.” Skye puts it together: he is referring to a large tree on Billy Grimm’s farm - the location they shoot at is called Guthrie Ranch. (This is all blatantly based on Charlie Manson and his family. They famously lived on Spahn Ranch, a Los Angeles ranch that had been used to film westerns before falling into disrepair.) Terrence, Jeff, and Skye head out to the location. They find the tree and are totally befuddled. Terrence nearly trips over a deep divot (one that Skye tripped on at the top of the episode) and still they have no clues. Jeff recognizes it as a pipeline to a septic system. Still nothing. He tells a story of how, as a child, he used to play in abandoned septic tanks. Finally everyone is on the same page. They find a trapdoor, head inside, and find a gallery of photos, all taken in the septic tank. Many have an X drawn through them. Nate’s picture is up, with no X. They move through the tunnels and finally find Romy. Romy doesn’t want to go - this is “his last one.” He has a UV glowstick on him and once the group turns off their flashlights, they discover that every inch of the tank is covered in confused scrawlings, symbols, and codes. Skye hears cars above and they race out of the tank. Jeff wants to grab a peek at the intruders, but Skye convinces him to leave. When Skye returns to the ranch the next day for a shoot (she still, shockingly, has a job) she goes back to the trap door - and finds it has been cemented over.
Skye and Jeff decide that Nate, Romy, and all the other missing fans have been reading the clues in the show. When they solve the clues they can contact the True Believers, then they must go through an initiation to be part of these True Believers.
Dig It or Bury It?
I want to like Cult; I really do. But they thwart me at every turn. Tonight, that moment really hit when Jeff, Skye, and Terrence are at the ranch. It took way too long for them to arrive at the conclusion to look underground. It didn’t help that Skye tripped over that hole in the first few minutes of the episode, but even when the arrived, I was literally yelling, I was so frustrated.
Also, as the show progresses, there seems to be less connection between “Cult” and the events happening to the “Cult” followers. The first episode or two made a big deal out of the phrase “Well, hey, these things just snap off.” Now? Nothing.
Life Imitates Art
Interestingly, “Cult” had very little to do with what was happening in the show Cult. We do learn that Billy Grimm had a son, Michael, who died young and is buried under the tree. A professor is kidnapped and brought to Billy’s farm. He is writing Billy’s unauthorized biography, and Billy is mad that there is no mention of Michael anywhere in the manuscript he somehow obtained. For Billy, everything he does is for family, and he is furious that the professor ignores this. In order to get the professor to listen to him, Billy nails his hands to the table. He then makes less-than-veiled threats towards the professor’s family. When Kelly comes by the compound (on what I assume is her daily “I will expose you” visit) she begs the professor to sell out Billy. He won’t.
Jeff and Skye attend a “Cult” fan party dressed as Billy and Kelly. What could possibly go wrong?