Delightful. That's all I can say about the entire season of LODGE 49.
For the uninitiated, Lodge 49 is a lodge of a fraternal order, similar to the Elks, in Long Beach CA. But the CA it inhabits is not the glitzy reality of shallow, Hollywood shows, like BEVERLY HILLS, 90201. Instead, it inhabits what I called when I, a transplanted Rustbelt lad, lived in LA: "the city under The City." Which is to say, not Hollywood, not Burbank, not TV, records, movies. Disney or video games. Instead, LODGE 49 inhabits the world of salespeople, cops. shoe-leather journalists, waitresses and others who are just getting by.
And for all that, it's not oppressive. Because, well, this is life. Sure its hard. But deep, human connection are what pull us through.
This episode's plot, like much in the show, bucks what you think. Like many AMC ventures. But unlike some if its more comic book fare -- THE WALKING DEAD, PREACHER. etc. -- LODGE 49 seems more Pynchon to me.
The series' main character is an injured surfer unable to surf, Dud, who's simple and open and accepting and expecting a mystery to unfold at any second. Even when his dreams are dashed, and the world reveals itself as more mundane than magical, his faith burns, He's paired with a twin sister Liz who seems his opposite: driven, she works her tail off to repay the debt their deceased father saddled her with. And yet, when she lets down her hair, he's so spunky and quirky that she's every bit as off-the-beaten-path as Dud. Indeed, I found her story-line the most captivating, perhaps because it more resembles mine as a one-time corporate middle manager who "dropped out" to devote time to writing. salesman.
This all seems very Pynchon. From the name (an obvious allusion the THE CRYING OF LOT 49) to the characters, to the "twinning" of opposites. To the "secret" society of the Lynx. Which Dud joins, taking out a $2,000 title loan from a seedy pawnbroker and placing his sole possession, his car, at risk. All because he believes that the lodge will not only reveal to him the mysteries of the universe via the alchemical texts the lodge is "based" upon -- at least in theory -- but a rock-bottom belief in Ernie, a new friend that Dud has absolute faith in. Despite Ernie, for all his warmth and decency, being nothing but an everyman plumbing salesman.
The plot inhabits the gritty world 99% of Americans live. It's hard. But it also reveals a truth: the magic happens, not when we post crap online using post-industrial web 2.0 nonsense (like, sad to say, the IMDB). Not when we fall in with a tribe of like-thinkers, another danger that the web presents us. Those "communities" the show tells us, and for most of us reality has show, are fool's gold. Because the real gold comes when we connect with others. Like Dud and Ernie due via the lodge.
Which, in a truly remarkable fit of fancy, turns out to be nothing but a social club where people drink beer and host pancake breakfasts. And support each other through layoffs, plant closings and the loneliness that accompanies old age and illness.
But these seemingly mundane connections reveal magic. Which, int the LODGE 49 universe, can be quite bizarre.
Highly recommended. It's the most delightful yet realistic. gritty yet hopeful show I've watched for a long time.
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