The key to watching Lodge 49 is to just let go. It moves at its own pace, it does what it wants when it wants, and it’s never rushed. Thankfully, it also has just enough quirky interest to potentially hook busy viewers who (yours truly included) do not have time to wait for 4-5 episodes to see if a series “gets good.” Lodge 49 works on its own terms, and even when those terms aren’t particularly clear, it does so with enough charm to see it through.
The series, from author Jim Gavin and EP Peter Ocko (Pushing Daisies) focuses on a young man — Sean “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell) — who is adrift after his father’s death. He finds meaning unexpectedly (or perhaps it was destiny) in a fraternal lodge after stumbling across it one afternoon and befriending one of its officers, Ernie (Brent Jennings). Dud, who is currently out of work since the closure of his father’s pool business, has plenty of time to spend getting to know the other, exclusively middle-aged-and-older members of the lodge, for whom he has a deep and abiding affinity. Is he looking for a new father figure? Purpose? Meaning? A return to the idyllic Long Beach life he lived before his father’s death? It both does and doesn’t matter. The lodge provides.
Dud is essentially a lovable loser in a series fully populated with them, yet most match his sweet and positive outlook (particularly David Pasquesi’s Blaise St. John, a weed distributer and natural healer). It’s in contrast to Dud’s sardonic and depressed sister, Liz (Sonya Cassidy), with whom he bunks after he’s evicted from his apartment, because she is the one who inherited their father’s massive debts while only working as a waitress at an Irish-themed Hooters-esque restaurant. But Lodge 49 is all about facing up to life’s disappointments and finding a way through, something that the lodge helps Dud do almost immediately. He’s often full of esoteric musings, like “what is it about the light on Sundays? It’s brighter but … more empty.” Sometimes those around him are into it, sometimes they just shake their head and ignore him, but there is something magnetic about Dud’s existential considerations and general wandering that draws people to him. When it comes to that particular line of inquiry, Ernie matter-of-factly replies, “Sundays are haunted.”
Lodge 49 is at its best when it is focused on the lodge itself, its mysteries, and its amiable members. There is certainly a palpable mysticism to the series, one that connects with the ancient secrets of the lodge, which is headquartered in London. Mentions of the “true lodge,” as well as the paranoia of its current leader Larry (Kenneth Welsh), alongside whispers of alchemy all set against a backdrop of knights, tinkling bells, and astrological symbols gives the series a dreamy quality. It’s mirrored, in many ways, by Dud’s own desires to live a pool-centric life in the sunshine. “There’s no such thing as paradise,” he’s told. “But there is,” he replies.
The series meanders quite a bit, giving only shadowy hints of nefarious dealings by Orbis, a conglomerate that most of the members of the series are tied to in one way or another. There are in fact several mysteries afoot, but Lodge 49 doesn’t relish in them. Characters speak plainly, confide easily in one another, and while there are enough breadcrumbs that appear to lead to larger plot machinations, they don’t drive the story so much as just add another interesting layer to its weirdness. Lodge 49 is funny, occasionally dark, and very unique, but beyond that, it’s hard to define. Whatever it is, it’s certainly different. And worth the journey.
Lodge 49 premieres Monday, August 6th on AMC.