Jim Gavin and Peter Ocko, executive producers of AMC’s Lodge 49, discuss the meaning behind that final image, why Dud and Liz are finally able to move past their father’s death, and what’s next for the Ernie-Connie-Scott triangle.
Q: Was the ending something you had in mind throughout the season? How did you land on that as the final image?
Jim Gavin: We were working toward that moment. I had that image in my head soon after I finished the pilot three or four years ago. In Dud’s cracked view of things, the shark is the best thing that could have happened to him. It opens the possibility that his father didn’t kill himself and that his father wanted to live. It’s almost like a glorious message from the universe and confirms his optimistic world view in the most disastrous way.
Q: Despite the horror that has just happened to him, is Dud in a place of serenity?
JG: I think he’s overwhelmed with the good news at that moment. [Laughs] At that moment, he’s drinking deep from the cup of the universe. He’s in a timeless moment of communion with the world and with his father.
Peter Ocko: It was important to us to not bring it to a tidy close where Dud is now healed and full and whole. We wanted to literally and figuratively take a piece out of him again.
Q: What do you think it means for Dud and Liz to finally talk honestly about their father? Can they move on?
JG: It’s a very important scene. Wyatt [Russell] and Sonya [Cassidy] are just absolutely amazing in that scene. It is a scene we were building towards of brother and sister in the ruins of the pool shop and the family business. They’re both kind of washed up on the shore. They each have an opinion and, in the end – and this is the hardest reality for anybody to swallow – they don’t know. They will never know what happened to their father. I think it’s just a moment between two people who care about each other finally getting to a place where they can say many things they’ve been holding back. For Liz, just admitting that she misses her father is a huge thing. I think Dud finally reveals the guilt he’s been carrying through all this. Being in the room while they were filming that was a very special moment.
PO: We wanted to point the audience towards what could be a very mature and tremendously unsatisfying ending for Dud, which is that he shaves his beard and grows up. We wanted the audience to be in an uncomfortable position of seeing that maybe he was putting his life together and missing him with his life apart.
Q: What led Dud to that decision to grow up?
JG: I would say his conversation with Ernie, who clearly says to Dud, “Get your life together. Start thinking long-term.” Ernie almost feels obliged to tell a young man, who seems to be very scattered and in danger of going down many wrong paths, to button up a little bit. The world is not there to reward eccentricity. I think, in that moment, Dud feels like he has to take a step. Shaving kind of embodies that decision.
Q: How do you think Liz freeing herself from the debt changes her?
JG: I think the great American dream, for most Americans, is to just get to zero. In some fashion, Liz has accomplished this in a very spectacular fashion. Also, the debt was shielding her from her grief. When the debt is taken from her, she has to face the reality of her life and what she’s lost. Everything she’s held back suddenly rushes to the surface.
Q: Ernie also hits a bottom in the finale. Does the appearance of El Confidente give Ernie some new hope?
PO: The ray of hope for us is the existence of a sillier magical layer of the world. I think Ernie had given up on that. To give him that back in the last stroke of the finale is absolutely hopeful. More importantly, he now realizes that Larry wasn’t lying about everything. I think that betrayal for him towards the end of the season was earth-shaking. While the adventure certainly presents some excitement for him, it’s also confirmation that even though Larry was losing his mind and seemed to have cheated everybody in the lodge, there was a part of that story that was real. I think that’s a real ray of hope.
Q: How did it feel to finally let Ernie and Scott have it out?
JG: Generally, on our show, violence is more of a vaudeville expression. It was a scene we were all looking forward to and Eric [Kramer] and Brett [Jennings] relished the challenge.
PO: Just the equation of a small man and a big man – it was such an unfair fight that staging it in a way that gave Ernie a chance was challenging and fun.
JG: Ernie’s a scrapper. In our world, the fight itself is comical, but it is a thing that needed to happen to get those two men to a difficult truth. Scott reveals something about Connie to Ernie that is shattering.
Q: How does having all the cards on the table about Connie’s illness impact that particular triangle?
JG: Connie has removed herself from the triangle and I think she needs something else besides this choice between two men. She’s on a more personal odyssey when we leave her. These three people are going to be in each other’s lives. How are they going to resolve this and live with each other? We’re excited to tell that story.
Q: Connie is, in some ways, once again chasing a story. Is that perhaps the thing that brings her true happiness?
PO: Absolutely. For her, it’s searching for purpose, which I think is pretty relatable. She’s a very powerful engine and she needs something to affect in the world. We see her story is continuing with that energy, although the journalistic quest may adjust moving forward. She’s got to find her purpose.
Q: Blaise finds some alchemical tools hidden in the lodge. Is that enough to reignite his belief in the magic of the universe?
JG: I would say so. I think a door is open to him. He is our alchemist and our philosopher. It’s painful to watch someone who’s so gleefully searching for answers hit a dead end and feel nothingness around him. That’s what Jocelyn sees and what motivates him to fight for the lodge. Blaise embodies a huge aspect of the lodge, which is the belief or faith in a mystery and the unseen. When Blaise finds that little cupboard, I think it is setting him up for this longer quest to complete – as he would say – the magnum opus.
PO: On our show, when fate opens a door, it’s just as likely to be a Wile E. Coyote fall as it is a wonderful new chapter in someone’s life.
Q: Jocelyn gives an impassioned speech to the London lodge. In some ways, are his words really what the show was about for you guys?
PO: It was important. The excitement for us was knowing that Adam [Godley] was going to knock it out. He’s so great. In many ways, that character in particular is the opposite of Blaise and deals with the mundane world exclusively. Coming to Long Beach has opened his eyes to this other meaning of the lodge, which is a place of refuge and community and a place where people share the same faith, which is a rare thing. In that speech, you can really feel all of Jocelyn’s journey to Long Beach and who he’s met and who he’s talked to. It’s a rallying cry in that moment and a rallying cry for our show in general.
Q: What was it like to see Bruce Campbell bring Captain to life?
PO: We couldn’t have been happier. He had an innate instinct for Captain. I would almost say he was the only promise we kept on Lodge 49. In general, we would promise the audience so much and then pull the carpet out. But he, in fact, delivered that answer that everybody wanted to see when they imagined Captain.
JG: Bruce is a genius. He makes it look really easy. You can just watch his performances over and over. We built that character up, so we needed someone with that type of gravitas. In Episodes 8 and 9, we kind of chartered a course through insanity. It’s important to note that he lived through this terrible ordeal, so who knows?
PO: Captain lives!
Q: What about the response to the show were you most gratified to see?
JG: It is satisfying that critics are seeing what we’re up to. For better or worse, we’re making a show we want to make and we’re really proud of it. Just hearing from people, I think the relatability of the characters and the notion that they’re falling in love with our characters makes me really happy.
PO: It feels like we’re just starting to get some momentum in the world of conversation about this. As it spreads, we look forward to that conversation growing. There is much more story to tell.
Read a Q&A with Bruce Campbell, who plays Captain.
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