Monday, September 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Lodge 49' - The Past and Present Weave Together as Blaise and Liz Travel Long Distances in 'Circles'

AMC's Lodge 49 - Episode 2.06 "Circles"

As the Lynx prepare for The Mystic Chords of Memory, Dud's wound worsens. Blaise glimpses the past. Liz goes on a journey at Orbis.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AMC's Lodge 49.

"Circles" was written by Peter Ocko and directed by Alethea Jones

Fear and anxiety can absolutely be paralyzing. So many people in this world stress out about possibly being a fake. They may not actually know anything. They are trusted with responsibilities. People look to them as a source of authority. That connection is valued because other people count on them. And yet, they may not have the answers. No one in this world can say with absolute clarity what is true especially when it comes to human existence. The Lynx have a system of belief. Alchemy is a profession studied by the members of the lodge in order to achieve the Magnum Opus just like their founder did. However, Wallace Smith wasn't operating with any true sense of faith or conviction when he decided to seal himself off in the secret room. He saw it as rational and the only way to prove whether or not his beliefs were correct. But it was terrifying as well. He didn't know if it would hurt. He didn't know what would come next. He was often positioned as the man whose word needed to be validated and uplifted. He was a sad, pathetic man who took credit for Janice's accomplishments. Larry's mother was the true visionary who had the pleasure of experiencing so many different perspectives in life. To Larry, she was always the compassionate mother who would be there to care for him. Sure, it was a struggle because she was a single parent. But when he woke up in the middle of the night with a Vietnam War nightmare, she was right there to comfort him. That was her duty. He was the reason why she didn't join Wallace in this suicide-murder pact. She couldn't sever her connection with this world entirely. And yet, she was too often dismissed as unimportant to the story. She was the woman who always had to exist in the background. She was never the one driving the story forward. It was actually her journal discovered in the secret room on Wallace's body. He had nothing to do with it. Blaise has cracked the code. That does afford him the ability to transcend time. This hour does such a phenomenal job in showing how the past and present weave back and forth to tell stories that absolutely influence each other. Many characters have been yearning for the past for some sense of what their identity should be. Back in the day, Long Beach was a town defined by Orbis. That was the plant that offered the jobs to this community. But now, the Orbis facility is nothing more than a ghost town where squatters have taken over. It's pure chaos and confusion. It allows a certain extent of freedom. But it also creates more questions than answers. No one knows who owns this building. They don't know if it is condemned or not. It certainly should be because everyone knows that there is toxic waste there. And yet, that can't explain what Liz sees when she opened a door in the basement. Janice and Warner talked about his time researching in Antarctica. Meanwhile, Liz opens a door and seems to be transported to that continent. It has the perception of being a hallucination because of the drugs she has taken and the toxic fumes in this facility. However, her friends see the snow in her hair when she returns to them. It could be a group psychosis that plagues everyone in this facility. Or it could suggest that there truly is a government agency out there using alchemy to their benefit because Janice snuck the scrolls to them for a little while.

Sure, Janice eventually took the scrolls back. That suddenly makes the priority for their discovery even more vital to the proceedings. Ernie confesses to Dud that he made El Confidente refuse to take him to Mexico for this search. Everywhere Dud turns, he sees people who don't accept his ideas and beliefs about the world. His only kindred spirit may be Blaise, who is missing. Blaise is off in the past experiencing everything that Janice has done. It feels like the past and present are merging. The players can simply reach out and touch each other. But it's mostly a symbol for how people often occupy the same space without ever knowing what is going on in each other's lives. It's a completely different set of circumstances. There are some profound connections throughout this world that bonds so many people together. Many people in the present have some kind of connection to Orbis. But it's also a remnant of the past. One that no longer offers a way to prosperity for this community. Instead, its citizens feel adrift and lost. Sure, Janet and her various enterprises have come into this world hoping to start some lucrative franchises. But that too feels like someone else's story being told. Liz and her friends know that it isn't true. Janet just took Liz's story and applied it to her own life to create a more engaging backstory for Higher Steaks. And yet, Liz doesn't have direction or a purpose. She has her friends for support just like Dud has his community at the lodge. That is so crucial. It helps make life more bearable. It makes people feel like they are seen and valuable. They aren't all alone. But that may not help all that much with the existential crises that they are facing. Prospects for the future are grim. Dud believes he has newfound hope in the hunt for the scrolls. But that comes at a severe cost to his health. He has no issue with crawling through a secret tunnel in order to discover Blaise in another mystery room within the lodge. This building carries so many secrets to it. And yet, this remains a world coming apart. Liz falls through the floor only to come to a major discovery. Then, the same fate befalls Dud and Blaise. They see it as a sign that their motives are pure and they can achieve great things. They have the abilities to crack any alchemical code presented to them. That may not be enough though. Ernie constantly wants to protect Dud from going through the wrong door. He doesn't want him to ruin his chances at a happy life like so many others have before him. Ernie only has regrets about his past. Connie is concerned about him lingering too long on what once happened. They are changed people. Their split is amicable and understood. Meanwhile, Scott is still fighting passionately for Connie. He wants their marriage to work. His song may help thaw the tension between them. They may have a future together. It's so sweet and nice. It's ruined by Dud and Blaise's wild pursuits though. That's inherently dangerous. No one suffers any extreme injuries from these falls. But Dud had a shark tooth in his leg this entire time. He hasn't been getting the proper medical treatment. And yet, he can't because he is already too consumed by the hospital bills. That too is unsettling and daunting. It makes him latch onto the idea that fortune awaits him in Mexico. The show even teases that Daphne and her friends could be right about the scrolls allowing for the creation of bitcoin. But it remains a mystery to everyone because it's impossible to know the truth and what to believe in any given instance.