Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – Season 1 Episode 8
“My Brother’s Keeper”
The first season of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man has lurched to and fro, wrestling with its own indecision. Does it want to be a British superhero romp or a gritty crime procedural? An alternative to cinematic universes of costumed vigilantes or a serious thriller based (mostly) in reality? As the show ramps up towards the conclusion of its debut season, it may finally be finding its feet, after stumbling several times along the way.
As in every other episode of the series, this week’s episode begins with a cold open, setting up a crime for the London police to investigate. The difference here is that the suspect is Harry Clayton’s brother Rich. He wakes in a daze, his clothes spattered with blood, an antique pistol in his hand. The camera work helps establish Rich’s disorientation, shifting in and out of focus and skewing at strange angles. Rich discovers the body of his girlfriend Babs and in shock takes off to look for help. Clayton and Chohan arrive at the scene of the murder, unaware that Rich is involved. In horror, Clayton realises that his brother’s partner is the victim and that the murder weapon came from Rich’s antiques dealership. This creates an interesting concept for the episode – Clayton can no longer work the case, due to his familial connection, but will stop at nothing to clear his brother’s name.
This set up works really well, stripping Clayton of his agency and confining him to the sidelines of the investigation for the first half of the episode. The story may be a familiar one – agent (or in this case, cop) has to work outside the system in order to achieve goal – but as a counterbalance to the formulaic structure of previous episodes, this development is much needed and eagerly received.
The narrative progresses as Winter asks Chohan to work the case with Orwell, while Clayton desperately tries to help Rich from the outside. Relationships are strained as Clayton appeals to Chohan to let him intervene, despite her insistence that his involvement is unethical. Nesbitt and Khan play off each other well; their characters benefitting from the backstory and rapport that they’ve built throughout the season. Similarly, Chohan’s proximity to Rich causes complications during her investigation and interrogation. The lines between cop/suspect and friends become blurred during an intense interview scene – Chohan is clearly moved by Rich’s pleas, but as a consummate professional she is forced to consider the facts that suggest his guilt. The balance of feelings of betrayal between Clayton and Chohan is continually shifting. Clayton can’t believe that Chohan won’t believe Rich, or allow her partner to surreptitiously assist in the investigation. At the same time, Chohan feels that Clayton’s behaviour is unprofessional, and is the culmination of all of the rule-bending (and breaking) she’s witnessed him commit during their time together.
As the episode rolls on, Clayton decides to take the law into his own hands, going rogue in an attempt to clear his brother’s name. Willing to infiltrate the crime scene and tamper with evidence, it seems he’ll stop at nothing to discover the truth. His illicit investigation leads him to Charles Collins, the man last seen working as a bodyguard for a Russian socialite, as well as a henchman for the elusive Golding. Clayton realises that framing Rich was merely a means to an end – leveraging the bracelet from Clayton. Collins is embodied well by John Hopkins – charming and menacing in equal parts – and appears to be behind much of what we’ve seen so far.
The second half of the episode can’t quite live up to the first, as it stumbles with familiar issues – undercooked action and underwhelming showdowns. Clayton going rogue works well, driving an ever bigger wedge between him and his partner, potentially setting up one of the greatest sources of conflict over the final two episodes. It’s a shame that overall this instalment feels unfinished as it clearly builds towards the season finale.
A familiar premise becomes a great one when it’s bucking the trends established through seven weeks of what has been a fairly formulaic show thus far. The drama hits close to home and the most interesting relationships developed in the series are pushed to their limits. We may have to accept that some issues are inbuilt and unavoidable at this point, and are probably going to be present from week to week.
- a strong premise, well delivered
- well written relationships paying off
- the effective opening
- familiar failings in action sequences
- episodes feeling unfinished (and not in the cliffhanger-y way)