Lodge 49 continues to develop compelling characters in “Paradise”, and while the lack of an overarching plot hurts the show it is steadily improving.
Dud’s (Wyatt Russell) relationship with Gloria (Jocelyn Towne) is going well in “Paradise”. He’s lounging in her pool with his dodgy leg in a plastic bag, and giving her sour-faced sex within earshot of her catatonic mother. It’s a bit disrespectful, really, but what can you do?
Everyone seems to be having relationship woes in Lodge 49, even if they’re not entirely traditional ones. Ernie (Brent Jennings) is still getting over Connie (Linda Emond), which is especially difficult now she’s cosying up to the clearly-resentful Scott (Eric Allan Kramer) around the Lodge. Larry (Kenneth Welsh) is grappling with his relationship to the Order of the Lynx itself, and his looming retirement from the role of Sovereign Protector. Liz (Sonya Cassidy) has earned the unwanted affections of her boss at Shamrock’s, and Blaise (David Pasquesi) is beginning to realise that his so-called expertise in esoterica are mostly just bunk.
And then there’s the fallout from the discovery of the mummy, which has made national news and is once again fuelling rumours of the “true Lodge”. But in “Paradise” it’s a less pressing issue than the characters’ lingering anxieties. Dud, for instance, is still spiralling into more and more debt, and he’s clearly clinging to his relationship with Gloria since it finally gives him some semblance of normalcy after spending a year crippled by feelings of inadequacy thanks to his literally snake-bitten circumstances.
You can always rely on Liz to bring Dud back down to Earth, though. “You didn’t tell me she was 100 years old,” she says on meeting Gloria. “Makes sense though. She’s having a mid-life crisis, and you’re the office boy in a MILF movie.” And sometimes those anxieties are misplaced; fate conspires to save you from them. Blaise, while giving a lecture he didn’t feel capable of giving, luckily didn’t have to give it – instead, the parasitic worm that nobody believed actually lived inside him started dangling from his nose, and he pulled it free to the whoops and cheers of the audience.
This, I suppose, is the “Paradise” of the title – that sometimes life, even accidentally, turns out okay. For Liz it’s the opposite. She’s offered an opportunity to advance her career and potentially start a relationship with a high-flying corporate type who she schmoozed while under the influence, and she turns it down. For no reason, really. She clearly doesn’t feel as though she deserves a bigger lot in life; paradise was dangled in front of her and she slapped it aside. And Gloria tearfully kneeled in front of her oblivious mother and begged her to die; for her, paradise needs a sacrifice. She has spent so long living her life just waiting for her mother to pass on, to not be needed anymore, that she forgot to actually enjoy the one she had.
It all amounts to an argument between Dud and Liz in which they both invaded each other’s paradise and exposed it as no such thing. Liz can’t continue waiting tables at Shamrock’s if she wants to get out from underneath dad’s debt, but at the same time, Dud can’t keep stumbling through life and attributing it all to destiny. They both have to take on responsibility not for a paradise but for the real world. And that isn’t always ideal.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.