It’s still difficult to put a finger on exactly what Lodge 49 is or wants to be, and “Corpus” offers few new clues, but I can’t help but be intrigued by the show and its characters.
“Corpus”, the third episode of AMC’s Lodge 49, opens with Dud (Wyatt Russell) pledging allegiance to the Order of the Lynx. This entails reciting a wacky mantra while wearing a covering with embroidered gold eyes. And I think it says a lot about Dud and, indeed, the show, that when the veil is lifted to reveal Dud’s lolling tongue and excitable, bearded face, he looks even dumber than he did during the pledge.
Stupidity is a recurring theme in this show. Nothing works or happens as it’s supposed to, and I do wonder how long that can work as the sole source of humour. The only time I ever find myself laughing is at – or indeed with – Dud’s sister Liz (Sonya Cassidy), and even then mostly because she’s openly above it all.
Still, things are nonetheless getting on top of Liz in “Corpus”, which is why on a recommendation from a workmate she visits an apothecary and buys a psychedelic lollipop for $15 that she can’t really afford to part with. Munching on a burrito in church afterwards, she’s given the idea for a belated memorial for her late father.
Dud doesn’t like the idea. He’d much rather take out loans to pay for his membership at the lodge and earn a meagre wage working a temporary office job to chip away at his debts – coming to terms with his father’s death isn’t high on his agenda. But his newfound career isn’t exactly uplifting; he’s organising the release packages for laid-off employees. Oh, look, there’s Lodge 49’s totally subtle thematic commentary again.
“Corpus” introduces an appropriate avatar for the its meditations on America’s economic climate: Dud’s boss, a HR sourpuss driven to sheer self-loathing by spending twenty years ruining people’s lives. She eats a few tables away from Dud, but you can tell she wants to be closer – to him, to humanity in general, to anything, really. He can probably sense it too, which is how he ends up pimp-slapping a rat, getting a hard-on and being late to his dad’s memorial service. It’s a long story.
It’s difficult to know how to feel about Lodge 49, as it’s difficult to tell what it thinks about itself. Sometimes its content to be a laidback comedy, but now and again it flirts with real drama; what’s extremely odd is that it achieves the latter much more capably. That’s where the show works, and I hope it realises that as this first season progresses. The flailing, hit-and-miss comedy doesn’t do much for me, but small details like Liz stealing the donations from her father’s memorial are intriguing, dubious wrinkles in characters I can’t help but want to spend more time with. I have no idea what Lodge 49 will ultimately end up being. But I’m interested to find out.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.