“The universe is good and I’m on the right path.”
Lodge 49 is almost like a magic trick of a television show. It’s not about what you’re looking at, but what’s brewing underneath the seemingly impossible events that grow out of it. This is a series that turns misdirection and fancy showmanship into deceptively deep serialized storytelling.
There have been many comparisons drawn between Lodge 49 and the work of the Coen Brothers, but it also greatly resembles the tone and universe of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a lot of the time. It’s able to take these inspirations and delivers a unique meditation on the importance and dangers of faith.
This is a show that knows what it is, isn’t afraid to unabashedly be that, and it’s best to just let it do its thing, trust it, and enjoy the ride. This season is bigger, crazier, and scarier than the show’s first year, yet it still retains its eccentric heart that grounds it all. This season also inserts a fantastical spiritual quest at its core. If there’s anything more satisfying than watching these strange disparate individuals interact with each other, it’s putting them on a massive adventure. Now, more than ever, is the time to be watching Lodge 49.
Lodge 49 season 2 continues to look at how the world unfolds in complex, mysterious ways that shape and change us by means that we don’t fully understand and so it’s better to just trust that this “living alchemy” is actually turning you and others into what you’re supposed to be. It explores the synchronicity and balance of the universe and how one negative event can sometimes cancel out another.
As much as Lodge 49 is about accepting the absurdity of life and its wild left turns, it also explores the dangers of blindly putting trust in something and throwing your whole life into it. There’s a very thin, dangerous line between these two radically different ideals. Faith is both an inspiring and destructive force.
Season one of the series ends on a truly terrifying note when Dud gets attacked by a shark, but rather than be petrified in fear, Dud is now more in love with life than ever before. “Life is good,”becomes Dud’s surprisingly upbeat mantra for the season. He declares, “Now we’re free. We’re in open water,” in regards to the positive position that both he and Liz are now in. However, the question turns to whether this attitude is sustainable or if Dud will eventually drown in this freer, open water.
This is a season that throws many new responsibilities and challenges at its cast, yet Dud continues to seemingly fail upwards as the universe guides him to success. He’s finally acquired the title of Squire at the Lodge, but it’s his sanctuary of pool cleaning that’s presently under attack and causing frustrations.
A yuppie family moves into Dudley’s Pool Supply and instantly begins to clash with their new neighbors in the community, chiefly Dud, who’s perpetually belittled by the newcomers to the point of needing to retaliate in a very cathartic way. This rivalry gets to explore a competitive side of Dud that really hasn’t been seen before and the fact that there’s so much passion and energy funneled into cleaning pools is the perfect breakdown of this character. Dud is a man of incredibly simple needs.
Dud could use some help through all of this, but his usual support system, Ernie, has largely removed himself from both Dud and Lodge business in general in the hopes of regaining some semblance of a normal life. Unfortunately, this comes at a time where the Lodge is in need of his help more than ever after the new leader’s questionable management of the society. Ernie’s out to prove himself more than ever before and he’s vulnerable in whole new ways this season.
The wholesome friendship between Dud and Ernie is still such a fundamental dynamic in the series and season 2 treats it with even more respect. You want to see these two regain their bond, but the unrequited nature of this friendship drives a lot of the season’s events. It makes their limited time together have all the more impact. The series is still very interested in how life can throw people together and form unintentional bonds as well as the understated power of friendship and community.
This year provides many curious pivots for characters and Liz finds herself transition away from corporate life, which puts her on a trajectory that’s not unlike Dud’s occupational journey in the first season. Liz’s downfall and rebirth remains one of the most entertaining aspects of the series. Her uneventful expulsion into the workforce yields entirely different results than Dud’s time as a temp. She winds up in a highly farcical situation, which works, but still feels like a retread of her struggle through season one, especially with where she ends up.
Granted, that’s a bit of the point here as Liz needs to be pushed to rock bottom to get herself to new ground, but it certainly feels like she reached that point in the first season. There’s also a freefloating destructive force to this season that is best expressed through Liz. Even though Liz is still largely the show’s punching bag, some good luck finally starts to come her way.
Every character experiences changes this year, but the growth that Dud and Liz go through is the most significant and satisfying. Both Sonya Cassidy and Wyatt Russell seriously kill it with their performances and bring even more to their roles this season. The way in which they both experience this push and pull from life as they simultaneously pine for and resist change feels so genuine and continues to add amazing depth to these characters. It’s one of the better, more believable sibling relationships on television and while this show is brimming with heart, these two continue to help ground the looser enigmatic strands of the series.
Lodge 49 season 2 is all about moving on in life and looking forward (it even begins with a very tantalizing flash-forward), but it also touches on the past and has a conversation with these characters’ history and how it’s informed who they are. Season one had glimpses into the Lodge’s history and how it came together. There’s even more of that this season and the show digs deeper into the Lodge’s mysterious lore and the people behind it. On that note, the show made inspired use of Bruce Campbell in its first season and they do the same thing this season with Mary Elizabeth Ellis and series producer Paul Giamatti who both play important weirdos who enter the Lodge’s orbit.
The series’ surreal dream-like sequences have become one of the show’s signature features and Lodge 49 has only become more confident with them in its second season. These imaginative scenes have turned into massive moments that are full of subliminal hints as to what’s to come. The series naturally interweaves reality and fantasy in a way that could be very disorienting to inexperienced viewers, but that fearless quality is part of its charm. It’s exciting to see the show get even more ambitious in this regard and pull off impressive, abstract camerawork that mirrors the confusion. It’s a lot more prevalent than it was before and this time it affects the entire cast, rather than just Dud.
Lodge 49 season 2 is a consistent joy. It expertly doles out surreal, interconnected storytelling that creates a mosaic of a narrative that involves spies, bitcoin, and psychic painters, that all comes together in a clever, unexpected way. Much like life, you just need to trust this series at times, even if the journey itself is still worthwhile.
Lodge 49 remains the home to some of the most surprising and remarkable images on television. The show’s second season pushes its story to new heights, but on top of the engaging mystery and lovable characters, Lodge 49 is a wonderfully funny series that wields a strange, dark wit for big laughs. Once you check in and start hanging out in this world you will not want to leave.
Lodge 49 season 2 premieres on Monday, August 12 at 10 p.m. on AMC
This review is based on the first four episodes of Lodge 49’s ten-episode second season
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.
Read and download the Den of Geek SDCC 2019 Special Edition Magazine right here!