Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – Season 1 Episode 9
“The House Always Wins”
Stan Lee’s Lucky Man continues to build up steam, as it accelerates towards the conclusion of its first season. All the set-up from last week’s episode seems to pay off (or at least begin to pay off) here. Many of the apparently disparate narrative threads found throughout the series are woven together in this episode, as slivers of light are shed on the greater conspiracy behind Harry Clayton’s investigations.
The episode begins where the last left off – in Clayton’s flat. Becker’s head is found next to some garden peas, and probably a bottle of vodka in Clayton’s freezer. Naturally, Clayton is the prime suspect; Chohan and Winter, suspicions already raised by Clayton’s recent behaviour, press on with the case against him. Despite Clayton’s protests that as a murder detective, he should really be able to conceal a crime of his own, he is remanded in custody to Whitecross prison, joining his brother Rich, who is still languishing there after a set-up of his own last week. Clayton does his best to unearth more information about Golding from the inside, whilst Chohan and Winter begin to suspect that all is not as it seems on the outside.
There’s lots to like about this episode. If you’ve been following the series from the beginning (and if you’ve stuck with it this far, well done) you’ll recognise many of the faces and names from investigations past. Part of the point of the ‘cop goes to jail’ trope is our protagonist coming face to face with all the crooks he put away. Yes, it’s been done hundreds of times before, but it really works well here, as it serves as a reminder that all of Clayton’s cases are linked to Golding. Indeed, as Clayton discovers, Golding appears to control everyone in the prison, inmates and guards alike. This creates an incredibly oppressive atmosphere, especially as Clayton attempts to protect his brother against threats from all sides. Some of the prison scenes could have been slightly darker, as they never truly achieve the really gritty tone you can tell the show is aiming for.
Just as he was throughout last week’s investigation into Rich’s murder charge, Clayton is stripped of his agency – which again works well as the stakes are raised. We’ve grown used to seeing him thrive in his element, but here he’s thrown to the sharks and has to use every ounce of his ingenuity to survive. The luck he’s been relying on has suddenly dried up and it’s fun to see him have to get by without the power he had only recently begun to embrace. The way we’ve learned it works – a balance maintained at all times – points to an abundance of good fortune for Clayton in next week’s finale and hopefully, after two straight weeks of nothing but bad luck, he’ll dish out the justice with plenty of good fortune on his side.
The development allowed to Chohan and Winter is a nice touch that runs throughout the episode. They’ve been through a lot with Clayton – Chohan’s began as Clayton’s plucky sidekick, only to see her faith in him falter as he spun further and further out of control. The lowest point of their relationship came as she informed Winter of the evidence linking Clayton to Freddie Lau and the Green Dragon Casino. Winter, on the other hand, was introduced early as Clayton’s hard-nosed boss, willing to stymie the maverick detective wherever possible, and even having Orwell monitor him in order to find any reason to bring him down. Now, realising that Clayton may have been on to something with his pursuit of the elusive Golding, both cops find themselves back on Clayton’s side, determined to bring the truth to light. The arcs for both characters have been entertaining to watch, and it helps that Amara Karan and Steven Mackintosh have done such good work brining them to life.
The writing should be praised as there are a number of red herrings thrown into the mystery, none of which feel forced, as they all seem to make sense based on what we’ve seen in previous episodes. The real twist at the end is great (even if you worked it out through a process of elimination) and the staging of the reveal is tense, sinister, slightly camp, but ultimately very entertaining.
What last week’s episode lacked in conclusion or cliffhanger, this week’s makes up for in abundance. It’s great to see Chohan and Winter team up to take down the big bad as well as Clayton struggling to get by without his powers.
- the equation: (Clayton–luck)=more fun
- the performances of Karan and Mackintosh
- that twist
- certain prison scenes that might be more at home in a musical