Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – Season 1 Episode 5
“The Last Chance”
Detective Harry Clayton begins episode 5 of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man as he ended episode four: with hitman Yury Becker’s gun to his head. The game of Russian roulette reaches its conclusion as we’re treated to another slow-mo sequence of events detailing Clayton’s lucky escape. In this case, an overflowing bath comes to his rescue, distracting Becker just long enough for Eve to do all the hard work. It’s another example of the tricky question of the rules surrounding Clayton’s ability to control luck. He had nothing to do with the actions that got him off the hook and yet they are attributed to him because he is the owner of the Ming bracelet. Eve has implored him to believe in his power, and we’ve seen him actively using his good luck in several situations, but his passive good fortune comes and goes, and as a viewer this can be frustrating. We aren’t sure when and why the balance is being redressed. Clayton decides to use luck to his advantage; something bad happens to a colleague or his family – fair enough. But when he is the beneficiary of events outwith his control, where is the corrective measure?
After Becker is dispatched and Clayton makes his getaway, he stumbles back out onto the London streets and straight into the crime of the week. What appears to be a rather mundane shooting is spiced up with the addition of a kabuki mask and the inherent exoticism that comes with it. This also foreshadows Lily-Anne Lau’s involvement (despite kabuki being a Japanese art form and Lau’s connection to Chinese triads, but you know, Asia, right?) The plot eventually ties back to the money laundering Chohan discovered at the Green Dragon, but in all honesty, this is one of the flattest episodes yet. Lily-Anne Lau is an interesting character, and is ably brought to life by Jing Lusi. She prowls the floors of her casino and simmers with a malevolent energy whenever confronted by the cops. Never intimidated and always in complete control, it’s good to see that the character is being utilised as one of the season’s main baddies; it’s just a shame that the narrative in which she’s placed is so uninspired.
Subplots from previous episodes receive some attention; Anna Clayton is developed further as she takes a greater involvement with her potential clients in the corrective system. Her failed attempts to find out more about Kevin Gray’s suicide hint at a larger conspiracy; possibly involving the prison warden, who has been presented as far too slick and smarmy thus far to avoid surfacing in a more villainous role further down the line.
Paul Lermontov also makes a brief appearance, although he doesn’t exhibit any of the abilities that were teased last week. For now he remains a narrative link to his father, the previous owner of the lucky bracelet, and he’ll no doubt have a part to play, probably as one of the shadowy factions seeking to take back the powerful totem.
There are one or two interesting ideas explored in this episode – the first being Harry Clayton’s past. In a conversation with Rich Clayton, Chohan discovers that Harry had an identical twin that died (most likely in the car crash flashback seen earlier in the series). Rich presents this as the reasoning for Clayton’s self-destructive behaviour. As the owner of the bracelet, Clayton is forced to consider the consequences of his decisions and yet since he lost his twin he feels like one half of an unbalanced duality. Perhaps he was always the lucky twin, and was predestined to receive the bracelet, despite Eve’s claim to have chosen to bestow it upon him.
Another of the interesting concepts introduced about midway through the episode is the underground gambling ring. Clayton tracks his murder suspect (who also happens to be a compulsive gambler) to a shady pseudo-casino, where anything can be placed as a stake, and the games are a little more outlandish that blackjack and roulette. The presentation of the gambling ring is well done; all shadowy corridors and mysterious gun-toting heavies clad in black. The patrons are also an interesting bunch. We’re supposed to believe that anyone with a big enough gambling problem could find their way here, just as the murder suspect has. And yet, as with so much of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, the scene falls flat when it comes to the details. Clayton, the murderer and two well-to-do looking types are playing in a casino in which they can bet anything. This is supposed to be the deepest underground and highest risk game in London, and what do the participants bet? A watch, a pearl necklace, and Clayton bets his car. It’s so underwhelming that when it turns out the murderer has somehow bet his tongue, all shock value is lost as you work out how that could be calculated as commensurate in value to these other mundane offerings. Predictably the tongue is placed at risk and Clayton must intervene to secure the suspect and his story in a game of chance, which is again undercut by our knowledge that Clayton is highly unlikely to lose at the roll of a dice.
Lily-Anne Lau is indeed implicated in the murder, bringing Clayton’s investigation by Internal Affairs back to the forefront of the narrative. In another astonishingly tedious use of his abilities, Clayton locates a file on a flash drive that Lily-Anne wants to use as leverage against him. Not since Jurassic Park has navigating computer menus been used as an action sequence, and even then there were raptors clawing at the door to raise the tension!
As flat an episode as we’ve seen yet. The inevitability of Clayton’s good luck is beginning to drag the show down. Uninspired writing and mundane situations are overshadowing some strong performances from the cast.
At the midway point of the season, it seems we know what to expect from Stan Lee’s Lucky Man. There’s a sliver of an interesting plot running throughout the season, held down by run-of-the-mill procedural business. The hope we can cling on to is that the underworld wheelings and dealings will all come together and pay off in a satisfying conclusion. Cross your fingers (And toes. And anything else you’ve got lying around, while you’re at it.)
• Jing Lusi – the smouldering femme fatale
• another strong outing by the cinematographer
• games of chance involving body parts
• predictable outcomes for every situation involving luck
• the poorly defined limitations of Clayton’s powers