“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
– The Velveteen Rabbit
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go” ―
**SPOILERS- This Overview has some serious plot spoilers, so if you have not watched up to this point, I would catch up before reading.
Few things are more terrifying in this life than being real. To lay yourself bare for who you are and risk the result. In episode 6, the veil over of our characters has been cast aside. In our closer of episode 5, Larry literally puts it all out there with his last grand entrance. This new reality for the rest of the lodge is the struggle of how to deal with Larry’s growing senility. After talking, they decide to step in before something bad happens, and Ernie is the one they choose to deal with it.
Larry for his own part is looking to the past, the mysteries that made no sense to him as a child. The trauma of his mom abandoning him to fend for himself as she ran off with Wallace Smith. The difficulty of growing up in a community where your parent is involved in a known affair. The doubts after his own mother attempted to explain it away with crazy myths and loyalty to the lodge. These are all the memories that even now come back to haunt him.
For our other travelers on this journey, the road is long and questions continue. Connie going to the eye doctor, checking to make sure her vision is okay and to clarify the source of her increasing visions. Liz in the donut shop overhearing Alice arguing with her dad, warning her about the dangers of becoming like Liz and Dud. Embarrassed, her father apologies, but Liz agrees that he is right. Ernie, hot on the trail of Captain, gleans what leads he can from his customers, but in the neverending con by his boss, the ball is taken away. Beautiful Jeff is given the promise and chance at the Captain, and Ernie is left to deal with a dead end golf outing with little prospects.
Back at the apartment, Dud returns to grab his stuff. He and Liz sit down to sort out their big fight. Beyond their initial apologies, Liz shows her growing concern for her brother and his inability to face up to the reality of life. In all the sisterly concern and love she can muster, she tries to speak some truth to his fantasy. She has come to grips that bad things happen, and reminders her brother that he was the one always afraid of the dark. Dud flips it on her. While admitting that everyone is afraid of the dark, he wonders why she is so afraid of the light. On that, he declares he is on the right path and leaves her with her thoughts.
Back at the trailer, Larry shares his wild plans to meet El Confidente and go to Mexico to get back something he lost. He hopes it will reassure Ernie that he does not need assisted living. To further pull Ernie into his cause, he passes on the role of Sovereign Protector to Ernie as well. In the midst of dealing with Larry, Ernie meets with Connie for a two-fold purpose. First to fill her in on “El Confidente”, as crazy as it sounds, but also to see if she has made a decision on their relationship. He wants to know the future, and Connie can’t deal with the future. The here and now if where Connie is choosing to live, for in her future are things she does not wish to face.
Larry still feeling that Dud is something a special, passes on his Squire kit to him. Later as they stand on the road by Bluff Park on the Beach, waiting for El Confidente, Larry again tells Ernie, that Dud really is something special. Excited he sees what he thinks is the van, but as it blows by it is obvious that Larry is having another delusion. Ernie in filling in Connie comes clean on his frustration with their relationship. He doesn’t want to just be an escape from her real life. Years ago they had to hide their interracial relationship from her parents, and he can’t keep going through that, so he breaks it off.
Back at the Lodge, Ernie tries to talk to Larry again about getting into assisted living. Larry ignores Ernie and begins to tell Ernie the real story of the lodge. He reveals that Merril really did discover the holy grail of alchemy and that he used the lodge to hide in plain sight, as he completed his Magnum Opus. Larry goes on then reveal that his mother and Wallace Smith went to London and stole the ancient scrolls and brought them back to Long Beach. Ernie is finding all of this hard to believe, but then it gets even crazier. Larry tells him how his mother before her death passed the scrolls on to him and he stuffed them in an old bowling bag because he didn’t believe her. He thought it was just old junk she used to justify her affair and leaving him. He continues to share how he lost them in a poker game in the 1980’s to El Confidente, and that is why he needs to go to Mexico to get them back. As they are talking, we are given a parallel view of Dud trying to outrun would-be salvagers at the Orbis plant. Dud stumbles into a side passage and descends down a manhole to a subbasement area to hide. Larry says what awakened his belief in the scrolls was Dud. He explains how the story of Merril parallels that of Dud, as both were orphaned. Merril fell into a pit and was bitten by a viper that should have killed him, but he survived as did Dud. Larry believes that Dud was sent to him as a message. As Ernie expresses his doubt and explains that people can take anything that happens as a message, we see Dud in the subbasement look into the darkness and the floor comes alive as an astral field of stars. Larry shares that he has to get to Mexico to get the scrolls back. Ernie knowing that Larry is in no such condition for the trip. Shaken Larry shares his heart with Ernie and talks about how the lodge gave him a gift, but it was not the scrolls. The gift that it gave him was his friendship with Ernie.
In a side story, Alice stops by Liz’s house to apologize, and they end up hanging out. This leads to Alice challenging Liz on being weak, Liz ends up injuring herself on a glass table, prompting a visit to the emergency room. While sitting in the emergency room, Liz reconsiders her life options and decides to call the corporate executive.
As Ernie convinces Larry to let him help by taking the trip with him, Larry asks if they can stop by the lodge one last time. They end up sharing a beer, with Larry telling old war stories before they decide to go. As they head out, Ernie’s car will not start, so they go to jump it with Larry’s truck. At this time Larry looks up at sees the birdhouse he likely built many years ago for the lodge, that is now a broken shell of what it once was. Yet, the memory reminds him of those days, and with those thoughts of joy, he passes away. The episode closes with Ernie realizing he is gone, and Dud arriving on the scene.
“Though we spoke of many things, this he said to me, the greatest things You’ll ever learn. Is just to love and be loved in return” George McGrew – Nature Boy
In the children’s book, the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, a stuffed rabbit learns about going from being just a toy to become real to a young boy during his darkest days, and through that love, in the end, becoming a real rabbit. I read this story as a child, and I have shared it many times with my own children. Being real is hard because we crave so much to be accepted. That fear and pain of being rejected can linger on into adulthood. But for those who wish to live outside the darkness, we must not be afraid of the light. Only through being real to can we learn to truly love and be loved. “To love at all it to be vulnerable.” wrote C.S. Lewis. Within our tale, we see realness displayed and real love by our characters shown on many levels. Taking the steps to risk it all for a relationship, for family, or for a friend. Yes, it hurts, but a love that can endure the fires of life will have the strength to last it. Real love can bear any burden, endure any hardship, and withstand the truths and trials of life. To being real, may we all succeed.