As we’ve all noted at one point or another, Lodge 49's collection of symbols, prophecies, and journals don’t need to amount to any real mythology or even a destination in order for this season to feel like it’s paid off. We tune in (or stream) every week to watch this group of bowed but unbroken spirits gather to weather storms together, to help each other stand tall again. The series remains as bracing as sea air, genuine in its warmth and its desire to show us all a different way to live—or rather, remind us of a way of living that’s almost become a myth. Which isn’t to say that the plotting and pacing haven’t kept up with the performances. The more observant among us will likely be rewarded for putting together this verbal clue with that symbolic tableau; the trail of breadcrumbs is definitely leading somewhere, starting with Guadalajara, Mexico.
Last week saw several groups of Lynx members—plus an Omni contingent, led by an unconvinced Liz—head south in search of the scrolls and/or a good time. “Le Rêve Impossible” picks up just outside of Lodge 55, which is where El Confidente first confided in Ernie about his prognosticating painting skills earlier this season. The old lodge serves as a strategy post for the reunited Lynx: Ernie, Dud, Lamar, Blaise, Scott, Connie, and Clara. Daphne is there, too; her time with El Confidente has ostensibly shown her the error of her ways, and she now claims to only find value in the lore of the scrolls, not their purported ability to transform world markets.
Time and again, Lodge 49 has explored the value we ascribe to things; most recently, we watched Dud hand over what he believes is an $8,000 watch to keep Ernie out of Burt’s debt. But there’s another side to that transaction; the watch isn’t worth half of that, a fact that Burt is aware of that nonetheless doesn’t prevent him from accepting Dud’s offer. (The show stops short of framing all currency as mass delusion, but it’s not hard to see how it could arrive at that conclusion. I’m just saying.) The power of storytelling, whether it’s the lore of the lodge or of Tom Stone, is also ever-present. So we understand what made everyone so desperate—and just plain eager—to make this run to Mexico, where they attempt a heist in the requisite ludicrous Lodge 49 fashion.
I love an auction scene, whether it’s Maggie Smith helping to swindle Sarah Jessica Parker in First Wives Club, or Bob Balaban buying back multimillion-dollar mementos from his ex-wife played by Gwyneth Paltrow on The Politician. But the auction centerpiece of “Le Rêve Impossible”—“cried” by none other than Paul F. Tompkins—might be my new favorite. When everyone reconvenes at a nice hotel, they begin to strategize. It seems the antiquarian from El Confidente’s story of the stolen scrolls was named Tomás Villalobos. And Tomás’ sudden death has left many antiquities up for sale, including Larry Loomis’ old bowling bag, which has the scrolls inside. So Lamar concocts a plan: He will bid on the bag, whose value everyone agrees will be overlooked by the rest of the people at the auction, and they’ll return the scrolls to their rightful owners, i.e., the Lynx.
No one even cares if the scrolls are worthless; though, in the event that they’re not, Liz thinks Dud should accept a finder’s fee to cover his medical bills (there’s our practical girl). To prove it, the night before the auction, everyone gathers for dinner at what Lamar calls the best restaurant in Guadalajara, and shares what they’re grateful for. Ernie is thankful for the road, Liz is grateful she had a pool growing up, Tarquin “refuses to share any details about his personal life,” and from the grin on his face, we all know what Dud is grateful to have in his life, along with some advice from his dad. But the night soon takes a raucous turn, as Lamar and Clara hook up, Scott gets shot, and Ernie finally gets his hands on a mariachi outfit—just a little debauchery before the big game. The auction is every bit the fiasco we hoped it would be—despite Paul F. Tompkins’ insistence on decorum, the event ends with a torch song (I think? I couldn’t really make out the French lyrics), arson, and a mad dash. But the scrolls are safe with Dud and Ernie, though they’re briefly endangered by Lamar’s overbearing ego, which turns out to be the cause of the aviation disaster we first saw in the premiere.
Director Jake Schreier captures the sun-dappled Mexican exteriors as beautifully as the suffused glow of the ballroom where centuries-old relics and curiosities are made available to the highest bidder. He and writer Andy Siara know their way around this sprawling story and these colorful characters, so they make the most of the momentum from “Zugzwang.” Everything is now in place for the finale—at least, it looks that way. Connie and Clara seem to have found some measure of peace, Scott is on the mend, and Blaise is getting sleep. Dud and Ernie are the dynamic duo again and, minus a Lamar-related flub or two, on their way to figure out what the scrolls have to offer.
The road is now set for the finale, though we still don’t really know what’s coming. Liz and Dud’s team-up fulfills some prophecy, but wasn’t Liz also advised to forge her own path? Janet didn’t end up framing Liz, but given how desperate she was to make the Bitcoin thing work, is she really going to let something like Liz’s possible testimony against her just go? And even though the gang professes not to care about money, if it turns out that the scrolls can create some direct doorway to the South Pole, surely someone will want to make that trip? Even now, the show works its subtle magic on me, taking me from abiding to waiting anxiously for the rest of the story to unfold. Part of me hopes there’s a huge change coming, one of global proportions, but I’ll be just as content to find everyone drinking in the lodge again—minus those awful TVs Scott installed.
- Apologies for posting this later than usual; my carpal tunnel has been really bad of late.
- This was certainly a horny episode for the show. I fully expected more people to get some than just Lamar.
- All of the poolside stuff was great, but the standout moment was Dud’s scoffing agreement with Scott’s self-assessment as “just another divorced asshole.” Dud has lived, man.
- I’ll admit, I got a little emotional when Ernie talked about how proud Larry would feel, seeing his knights and their squire gearing up to reclaim an important part of the lodge’s history.
- Speaking of knights and treasure, has anyone kept track of Arthurian legend references? Aside from Larry telling Dud about the “holy grail” in a vision/hallucination, I’m blanking on specific references.
- I think someone mentioned this last week, but if Ludibrium is the Parabola Group, then is El Confidente right about his divination powers?
- “Spies, oligarchs, men with eyepatches—that’s the world of antiquities.” Paul Giamatti didn’t just make himself at home in the lodge this season, he damn near ran off with the show.
- Final theories before the finale proves us all wrong/right—let’s have ’em.
- I know what I’ve said about the meandering being the point, but I think the mystery/quest elements are powerful engines, too, in case AMC is reading this while wondering if there’s enough story left for a third season.