Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – Season 1 Episode 3
In episode three of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, the threads of an overarching narrative are beginning to come together. D.S. Ben Grady, seen last week collapsing in the arms of love interest D.S. Suri Chohan, dies as a result of injuries suffered in the pilot episode’s boat chase. Despite her protestation, Chohan is given a leave of absence from her duties. Meanwhile, due to his estranged wife’s representation of Kevin Gray, D.I. Harry Clayton has been taken off the Lau/Fenchurch murder case and is investigating a series of smash and grab diamond robberies under the watchful eye of D.I. Steve Orwell (Darren Boyd).
Clayton is once again contacted by Eve, the mysterious woman that gave him the lucky bracelet, and she leads him to the location of one of the diamond robberies. His proximity to the crime allows him to be first on the scene, but this wasn’t a lucky decision, he was told to there, so we have to wonder what part Eve is playing in the grand scheme. Throughout the series so far, Clayton has been helped in one of two ways; by using the bracelet to control his luck, or being directed by, or fed information from Eve. At this point we still aren’t sure of her relationship to the bracelet, her interest in Clayton, or even her link to our world. She has been presented as fleeting, ghostly and ethereal; Clayton seems to be the only one who can see her. When they meet again, Eve feeds Clayton enticing information about the shadowy figures controlling events, even revealing that they killed her mother. Now we are aware of her motivation, but she remains an enigma, as she always seems to disappear before Clayton can ask any questions.
The power (and subsequent responsibility) of the bracelet seemed ridiculous to Clayton at first, but there are signs now that he is beginning to accept his abilities and the consequences of his decisions. Clayton’s actions in connection with Grady’s death and its affect on Clayton’s partner and friend Chohan are supposed to be linked. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line here. Does every fortuitous development in Clayton’s life have a trickle-down effect somewhere else? He’s certainly experienced plenty of good luck since acquiring the bracelet, but which are the decisions and actions that result in bad luck elsewhere. The yin and yang motif is an interesting device, but if it isn’t managed carefully, it could lead to sloppy storytelling, and a narrative quagmire. It is interesting to note that a late stage in this episode, Clayton is seen to actively encourage the bracelet to bring him luck – properly acknowledging and embracing its powers for the first time.
Clayton’s brother, Rich (Stephen Hagan), represents and speaks for the incredulous outsider in a nice scene in which the pair attempt to remove the bracelet. The interplay between Nesbitt and Hagan is natural and funny; despite bearing no resemblance to one another, you can absolutely buy these two as squabbling siblings. As Rich bears down on his brother’s wrist with a circular saw, he reassures Clayton that he knows what he’s doing – he watched an online tutorial! The look on Clayton’s face is priceless. Rich felt a bit shoe-horned into last week’s episode, but he’s quickly becoming one of the highlights of the series, and as long as the writers can keep coming up with credible narrative reasons for his inclusion, we should look forward to his future appearances.
Along with the Clayton brothers, we learn about the origins of the bracelet from a very breathy and enthusiastic museum curator. This character seemed out of place in what is supposed to be a gritty crime story, and would’ve been more at home delivering exposition in a campy romp like the Mummy film series. Nonetheless, it turns out the bracelet is linked to an ancient Chinese story about a misforged piece of jewellery that brought fortune to a peasant woman, who was able to use it to gain influence and power. Now we have some historical context for the charm, and a link to the Triads of the Chinese underworld, who may be among those that seek it.
The backdrop of the diamond heists is interesting enough, if a little plodding pace-wise. Orwell being despatched to keep an eye on Clayton is a nice dynamic, and exerts further pressure on Clayton from his superiors. Despite this, Clayton is able to exhibit his skills as he deftly works suspects for information and begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Superintendent Winter even reprimands Orwell for being unable to keep up with Clayton – revealing his frustration at being unable to scupper the maverick detective.
Chohan gets to do some sleuthing in her absence from police duties as she investigates the Green Dragon casino and unearths a money laundering plot that seems to tie in to the overarching conspiracy. It’s good to see her out from under Clayton’s wing and not only helps develop the strength of her character’s abilities as a detective, but showcases her drive to take action, even when she’s supposed to be off grieving. As ever, Lily-Anne Lau is prowling the casino floor and she and Chohan square off in a head to head that may give a tip-off about Lau’s involvement with Kevin Gray.
There’s a twist at the end of the episode that we won’t have seen coming, further muddying the waters and making us wonder where allegiances lie. This and the money laundering/organised crime plot are beginning to come together, and make up for the more pedestrian aspects of the week to week investigations.
A slight improvement on previous outings that gives the show a sense of finding its feet. The exploration of the mythology of the bracelet is intriguing but the investigation plots slow the pacing right down and are still the least interesting aspects of the episode. Stan Lee’s Lucky Man may be finding its feet, but for now it remains more of a rough diamond than a polished gem.