Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – Season 1 Episode 10
“Leap of Faith”
The first season of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man reaches its conclusion this week after quite a few ups and downs along the way. Last week built towards a thrilling climax, with a clever twist ending, setting up a desperate situation for Harry Clayton – stuck behind bars with everyone he loves in jeopardy on the outside. Like much of the rest of the season, you can see the potential, but unfortunately the finale doesn’t quite seem to hit the same highs as its predecessor.
With Anna and Daisy in the clutches of arch-villain Nikhail Julian (aka Golding), Clayton must escape Whitecross prison and race across London to save them. Meanwhile there’s plenty of exposition from Eve, Paul Lermontov and Julian to bring us up to speed on why any of what been been watching for the last nine weeks has happened. It turns out almost everyone is related to Vincent Lermontov, which is convenient, and a bit unsatisfying when it comes to explaining the motivations of each character. Yes, they’re all after the lucky bracelet, but it would’ve been nice to have had a bit of variety when it comes to backstory. Clayton’s friends on the force, Winter and Chohan, having discovered the truth about Golding last week, do their best to aid him in secret. Along the way, Clayton must deal with Golding’s henchman, Collins and also approach Rich for help one more time. It all leads to a showdown at Julian’s mansion, where Clayton is forced to make an impossible choice.
Some of the writing throughout the season has been particularly strong, especially when it comes to character and dialogue. There are some good lines to be found in this episode too, which, whilst commendable, also serve to highlight the failings of the narrative from week to week. The Clayton brothers have been fun to watch whenever they’re on screen together; their earliest exchanges punctuated with fraternal banter and sarcastic digs at one another. This character development skilfully set up the rift that eventually forms between the brothers, as Rich blames Harry for surviving unscathed all the misfortune that has befallen their family.
In terms of Clayton’s colleagues, a sort of closure is reached with Winter, however Chohan is given short shrift. As a foil to Clayton’s maverick methods, Amara Karan provided a grounded presence; a character to which the audience could relate, but she’s been somewhat sidelined recently, which is definitely disappointing.
Sendhil Ramamurthy has been a simmering malevolent presence as Nikhail Julian since his introduction a couple of episodes into the season. Back then he appeared slick and smarmy, but was able to win Anna Clayton over with his inherent charm. In this episode Ramamurthy really gets to ham it up, as Julian goes full-blown pantomime villain; his performance no doubt visible in the cheap seats, and beyond. He does well with the material he’s given and definitely brings a sort of comic-book presence to a show that has always attempted to straddle the line between reality and fantasy.
The cinematography is also great, and has been consistently so over the course of the season. London looks like you’ve never seen it before, but it’s a sort of uncanny appearance that somehow fits well with the feel of the show.
One of the biggest disappointments of the series is that the same problems occur over and over again without ever being fixed. Dodgy CGI rears its head during Clayton’s prison escape – the effect used during his leap from the roof of the prison would’ve been embarrassing in 1988, let alone 2016. Another repeat offender is the unconvincing James Nesbitt foot-chase™ – he doesn’t look like he could outrun anyone, and yet every other episode calls for him to leap fences and scamper through the back alleys of London.
The arc for the last third of Lucky Man’s initial season has centred on Golding, and this means that in this episode, the brief sections of plot involving Eve and Paul Lermontov feel rushed, and almost unnecessary. The characters and their storylines have been woven in throughout the season but here they almost serve as a reminder that there will be a second season and that we shouldn’t forget about ‘Torches’ and the younger Lermontov’s desire to own the bracelet.
After last week’s twist, we anticipated a thrilling conclusion to Lucky Man’s first season. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite hit those highs. The stumbling blocks are all too familiar and this is frustrating. If nothing else, the show has stuck to its guns. The open-ended nature of this season’s plot, and the strong cast of characters (most of which must surely return) mean that there’s definitely room on which to build for season two. For now though, Stan Lee (or perhaps more appropriately, Neil Biswas) must reflect on the various hits and misses of season one in order to really hit the jackpot.