In Long Beach, California, Sean “Dud” Dudley is suffering from the recent loss of his father as well as a snake bite injury that’s prevented him from returning to his previous life as a surfer. While walking on the beach one day, he comes across a gold ring with a medieval animal etched onto it. Dealing with money struggles, he takes it to a pawn shop owned by Burt Semanza, but learns the ring belongs to a Lynx and is worth nothing since it’s not real gold.
An aerospace plant named Orbis is planning to shut down. Ernie Fontaine, who sells plumbing supplies, wants to get in on the development project. He knows he has to act fast before a notable developer named “Captain” does.
While out on a drive, Dud stumbles upon Lodge 49, the fraternity that Burt told him the Lynx ring is from, and tries to return the ring he found. Ernie is the one who opens the door. He tells Dud what the fraternity is all about and charges him a membership fee of $2,000 to join.
Dud moves in with his twin sister, Liz, though she’s drowning in $80,000 worth of debt that their father left behind. Her dead-end job as a waitress at Shamroxx isn’t making ends meet.
Larry Loomis serves as the current Sovereign Protector of the lodge, though he’s been exhibiting signs of mental instability and uttering mysterious allegations about their lodge not being the “true lodge.” When he meets Dud, he realizes Dud was sent by the “true lodge.” Both Ernie and Scott wish to succeed Larry, but Larry has promised the position to Ernie. Jocelyn Pugh, the emissary of Lodge 1 in London, plans to make a visit soon to oversee the transition.
Dud takes out a loan from Burt to afford the lodge’s membership fee. The members welcome him as he officially starts his probation phase as a postulant. Dud remains convinced it’s all happening by fate.
Dud starts meeting with Ernie and Blaise, the resident philosopher of the lodge, to learn more about the history of the place and Harwood Fritz Merrill, the lodge’s founder. Dud soon discovers that Ernie overcharged him for a membership fee in order to pocket the money and pay off some of his own debt. Instead of getting angry, Dud lets Ernie keep the money as his membership dues for the next 10 years. He also demands to bypass his probation stage and swear an oath to become a Squire. He remains convinced that he’s connected to Ernie for a reason.
Larry takes a sabbatical from the lodge and Ernie is put in charge while he’s out.
Liz decides to hold a memorial service for her late father. She and Dud have been putting it off because their father’s body has yet to turn up after he drowned. Liz takes up a special collection in honor of their father, but pockets the money.
Connie is fired from her job at the Long Beach newspaper because of a rebrand. She leans on Ernie during the hard times. Members of the lodge – many of whom work at Orbis – also support each other during their own job loss.
Ernie pretends to be a businessman and sits in on a meeting at Kaplan Development & Design where Captain is attending via phone. He’s escorted out when the jig is up. Later, the developers hunt him down to question him about what he heard in the meeting. Ernie knows nothing, so they leave him alone.
Connie starts struggling from seizures and distances herself from Ernie. Doctors aren’t able to give her a diagnosis.
Dud starts a temp job at Orbis and starts sleeping with his boss, an older woman named Gloria. Dud feels a connection with her, but she’s adamant about not being in a relationship.
Ernie and Dud discover a secret library in the lodge. They find a mummified corpse of Wallace Smith, a former Sovereign Protector. Wallace’s body is buried with a letter that mentions the “true” lodge.
Larry returns to the lodge after his sabbatical. His odd behavior has not improved, but he just laughs it all off.
Dud and Liz have a huge fight over how their father died. Liz thinks he committed suicide while Dud believes he was attacked by a shark. Liz accuses Dud of not living in reality, while Dud suggests Liz is so miserable that she wants to die. She guesses he’s afraid of “the dark,” but Dud thinks Liz is afraid of “the light.” Dud moves out to continue his own path.
After Dud and Gloria break it off, Dud starts a new temp job working as a nighttime security guard at Orbis. During one of his shifts, he finds a basement room. The space is lit momentarily by a flickering fluorescent fixture that resembles a galaxy, then blackness. He tries to find it again on a different day, but it’s disappeared.
Although they’re supposed to wait for the London emissary, Larry conducts the Sovereign Protector succession ceremony in private with Ernie. He tells Ernie that his mother, a former Sovereign Protector, infiltrated the true lodge along with Wallace Smith and stole scrolls from Harwood Fritz Merrill’s crypt in London to bring back to Long Beach. Larry needs to go to Mexico to get the ancient documents back from El Confidente, who Larry lost them to during a poker game. He likens the story of Dud’s snake bite to Merrill’s story of falling into a viper pit in Egypt. Ernie agrees to take Larry to Mexico, but Larry passes away before they can even leave the parking lot of the lodge. Dud moves into Larry’s trailer.
A man named Avery Hill shows up at the lodge and pretends to be the emissary from London. Blaise falls for it and is swayed by Avery’s charm. They sleep together and Avery uses the intimate connection to get more information about the lodge.
Liz meets an executive named Eugene during a visit from Shamroxx’s corporate parent company, Omni West. Eugene, who is romantically interested in Liz, encourages Liz to apply for the executive training program. Liz initially pushes Eugene away, unable to face the future or a new romance, but decides to apply. They start sleeping together.
When Jocelyn shows up at the lodge, the members realize Avery is a thief who’s been robbing lodges and trying to find the true one. Avery makes a run for it.
After Jocelyn goes through the lodge’s books, he discovers that Larry has committed major fraud and had been living off of membership dues. The lodge will be shut down. Jocelyn assumes Larry was trying to escape the country to avoid charges. Ernie is furious for ever trusting Larry, but Dud still believes what Larry said about the scrolls.
Following a lead from a colleague, Ernie ventures out to the desert to find Captain. He arrives at a mobile office and finds Dud there, who has just started a new day job working for Captain. Dud introduces the two and Ernie rushes into talking about business, but Captain wants to get to know the guys first. The three go out for a night on the town and come away with gambling winnings. Captain agrees to work with Ernie. At work, Ernie is praised for landing the biggest order in the history of the company.
Ernie heads to the Kaplan office, but finds it empty. A security guard tells him the business never existed. When he confronts Captain about the con, Captain admits that the whole Orbis deal is a scam. In fact, Captain works for the same guys who tracked Ernie down. The land under Orbis is toxic and nothing can be built on it, but the “Kaplan” guys paid a geologist to pitch a fake environmental report to the city in order to fund their development project. Captain admits he strung Ernie along because he wants friends. Captain thinks there is actually oil under the land and plans to get ahead of the Kaplan guys. He invites Ernie and Dud to invest in his idea and also asks to join the lodge. He’s even willing to financially support the lodge and save it from closing.
Liz advances in the Omni West training program and makes up with Dud. They’re both in really good places in their lives and anticipate coming into a lot of money.
Scott approaches Ernie and reveals he’s always known about his affair with Connie. Scott asks him to start sleeping with Connie again to make her happy. Ernie obliges and tells Connie about Scott’s request. Connie can’t deal with Scott knowing.
Liz attends a mingling event alongside finalists for the executive program who are all excited to climb the corporate ladder. During the night, Liz jumps off the boat and into the water. She swims back to shore and goes on a drinking binge upon returning home. Ernie is put off by her reckless behavior and breaks it off with her. Liz tries to return to her job at the restaurant, but her position has been filled.
Ernie and Dud meet Captain at his house, but find Captain being held hostage by Avery, who suspects Captain is financially backing the expedition to Mexico to find the scrolls. Captain manages to free himself and launches a harpoon at Avery, but misses. The recoil sends him flying over a balcony and causes him to become impaled on a narwhal statue’s horn.
Dud has his car taken away after failing to pay his debt to Burt. He lets it go.
At work, Ernie is punished for failing to deliver on Captain. His accounts are taken away. Dud tries to keep their relationship going, but Ernie suggests there is “no magic out there.” Dud shaves his face, ready for a new start, and begins searching for a long-term career.
After getting to know the community, Jocelyn calls Lodge 1 to advocate for it staying open.
Connie escapes to Lodge 1 in London. She calls to check in, but doesn’t tell anyone where she is. While in London, she asks other members about the true lodge. They laugh it off, but when Melinda – who Jocelyn reports to – hears about it, she tells a fellow lodge official that they have “a problem.” Melinda calls Jocelyn and allows Lodge 49 to stay open. Jocelyn will stay there for now.
Liz gives all of her money, $18,808, to her loan manager and demands that the rest of her debt be wiped out. She threatens to kill herself if it’s not. The loan manager obliges.
Blaise discovers a hidden compartment within the secret library room with ancient alchemical tools and gold dust inside.
Ernie discovers a trap door in Larry’s old office. He climbs down and is led into Larry’s trailer where he meets El Confidente. El Confidente has been waiting for Ernie. They head out to Mexico to go find the scrolls.
Dud gets back on his surfboard for the first time since his injury. While in the water, a shark attacks him and he’s hauled back to shore. Still, he manages to smile and tell Liz that he knew all along that it was a shark who killed their father.