TV

Paul Giamatti’s Mesmerizing Performance On ‘Lodge 49’: A Guide For Nonviewers

Are you watching Lodge 49? Are you seeing what Paul Giamatti is doing on Lodge 49? Hopefully, for your sake, the answer to both questions is either “yes” or a yes preceded by a long “yoooooooo” for emphasis. It’s been a blast. Lodge 49 was already a blast, to be fair. The show is a mix of fun and relaxing and sad and hopeful and profound and it’s not like anything else on television. It started as a story about some broken people looking for meaning in the artificial family of a Freemason-lite fraternal group called The Lodge. In the ensuing two seasons, it has somehow morphed into all of that plus a mad dash to Mexico to uncover a mysterious Lodge-related artifact. In the past, I have described it all as “Big Lebowski meets National Treasure.” There’s a tiny bit of The Leftovers in there, too. That’s close, I think.

This season, Lodge 49 added Giamatti to the cast in what appears to be an extended guest role. It wasn’t exactly a shocker of an addition, in large part because he’s an executive producer on the show and had appeared previously in voice-only form, but I was in no way prepared for what has transpired since. The character he’s playing is such a pompous maniac, such an unhinged weirdo, that it has turned my whole world upside down. It’s all I want to talk about. I have to tell people. People have to know. I’m going to tell you about it now.

Who is this maniac Paul Giamatti is playing?

Paul Giamatti plays a character named L. Marvin Metz. The L stands for “Lamar,” which is awesome. (You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone call Paul Giamatti “Lamar.”) L. Marvin Metz is the author of a series of novels about a cop/spy/vigilante-type named Tom Stone. Think like a combination of Bosch and James Bond with a touch of Michael Scott’s “Michael Scarn” character from The Office. Metz was mentioned frequently in the first season because one of the show’s main characters — Ernie, a toilet supply salesman and influential member of the Lodge — is a mega-fan and listens to the audiobooks while he drives around Long Beach. Metz never appeared on screen but the voice in the audiobooks was definitely and unmistakably Paul Giamatti. This brings us to season two.

The second season’s premiere opened with a flash-forward to a mustachioed Paul Giamatti as L. Marvin Metz clutching a typewriter and leaping out of a plane that appeared to be crashing. The story then backtracked to show how everything got there. Metz did not appear for a few episodes, but the first time he popped again he promptly fled a book signing and ran out of the store through a large window. This would not be the last time Metz heaved himself through a window or wall.

What do you mean by “heaved himself through a window or wall”?

Excellent question. What I mean is that, for reasons that have not been fully explained to this point but appear to have something to do with a mental breakdown that was brought on by a creative and career crisis, he occasionally feels compelled to launch himself headfirst through whatever nearby solid object catches his eye. Like this:

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And also like this:

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It is very much in character for a show like Lodge 49, which once introduced Bruce Campbell after a long and mysterious journey toward his character and then promptly stabbed him through the eye with the horn of a stuffed narwhal after an accidental fall, but please don’t take it for granted. There is a television show that is on the air right now that features Paul Giamatti hurling himself through windows and walls and out of airplanes. It’s not so much that people aren’t talking about it enough as it is that people are talking about anything else at all.

I’m sorry.

It’s okay. I’m not mad. There are a lot of shows and you can’t watch them all. And this is kind of my job anyway, to bring things like this to your attention. The big thing here is that the wrong gets corrected.

What else is up with this guy beside the window thing?

Well, there’s a whole backstory. Trying to explain it all would be impossible and make the show sound strange and bad, which it is not. (Strange: yes, delightfully; bad: not even a little.) Metz has revealed himself to be a mostly grandiose blowhard, a charming man who means well and who has a very inflated sense of his own importance, the kind of Writer who has a blond muse who only speaks in French sentences that the show never translates (the captions when she speaks read-only “speaking in French”), and the kind of writer who reveals to his loyal fans within an hour of meeting them that he hasn’t ejaculated in 10 years because he’s worried it will stifle his creativity.

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