Stan Lee’s Lucky Man – Season 1 Episode 2
“Win Some Lose Some”
Stan Lee’s Lucky Man episode two picks up directly after last week’s events. Clayton and D.S. Ben Grady (Ben Aldridge) are overboard in the Thames, and Clayton must use his newfound luck to extricate them both from the clutches of a menacing henchman of indistinct Eastern European origin. Clayton and D.S. Chohan investigate Lily-Anne Lau’s (Jing Lusi) connection to the man wanted for her father’s murder. It turns out that she had been putting up the money to allow the suspect, Kevin Grey (Stephen Thompson) to flee the country. Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Winter is alerted to Clayton’s debt to the Chinese casino, and is determined to bring him to heel. In the course of searching for Grey, Clayton meets Eve once again, and is warned that he must start using his luck responsibly, as his actions will always have consequences.
The investigation into Grey’s disappearance takes Clayton and Chohan back to the banks of the Thames where a gang running a 3 card Monte racket is also known to be dealing in fake passports. The scenes involving the gang, and in particular, the dealer, work well as the camera is pulled in tight, making the viewer feel part of the huddled group of marks and shills observing the game. Clayton plays the dealer for information, betting that if he is able to beat the game, the dealer will give up Grey’s whereabouts. It’s interesting to see the dealer approach the situation from his position of power – normally he holds all the cards in this scenario – but of course, Clayton’s bracelet allows him to ‘find the lady’ every time. The frustration always felt by the scammed player is now amusingly flipped onto the dealer, who is exasperated at being unable to work out how Clayton has conned him.
Harry’s brother Rich (Stephen Hagan), the antiques dealer introduced in the pilot makes another appearance as Clayton and Chohan turn to him for advice on smuggling people out of the country. This seems like a stretch – last week Rich had a convenient yet realistic role to play in helping his brother identify his newest piece of ancient jewellery – but coming back to him for this sort of information doesn’t scan. This is compounded by the fact that it was D.S. Chohan that had to suggest the cops visit Rich in the first place. What does this say about Harry Clayton’s detective skills if he was unable to come up with his own brother as a potential source of vital information? Hagan’s performance as Rich is actually pretty good; he convinces as a slick and confident trader, highlighting his similarity to his brother, despite their divergent career paths.
The tone of this episode is darker than last week’s, although there are a couple of missteps in attempting to establish this. Clayton visits a gambling addicts support group, and we can see what the writers were going for here – a look at the damage that can be caused by compulsive gambling – but the scene feels morbid and out of place. When asked to speak, Clayton asks the group about what it would be like to control your luck; an interesting concept to introduce to people convinced they can win, and who are compelled to do so. Some members of the group perk up, but a woman who has just told a story about being unable to support her son tells Clayton that she wouldn’t want the power. If you’ve seen support groups represented on film before, you will be familiar with this setup – a circle of chairs under a spotlight; recovering addicts with heads bowed listen to the cautionary tales of the others in the group. The scenario allows Clayton to consider his actions, and the effects they are having on those around him – it’s just unfortunate that the overall result is quite jarring when compared to the rest of the narrative.
There are some nice touches sprinkled throughout the episode. At the funeral of the stripper whose murder is being investigated, two women (presumably her colleagues) pause to take a selfie with the coffin. It’s a humorous moment and fits more within the established tone of the show than some of the sombre scenes. Another example is during Kevin Grey’s police interview; he’s willing to proceed without a lawyer (for narrative reasons) when suddenly Anna Clayton shows up to represent him. She intimates that she was assigned to Grey’s case, suggesting someone higher up in her firm has a vested interest in the murders.
Chohan and Grady’s relationship is given more screen time, and as with Rich Clayton, it’s good to see the development of these secondary characters, even if they do get in a shameless cross promotion for Sky 1’s Modern Family.
The episode suffers in a similar manner to its predecessor in that its defining action sequence is a bit of a letdown. After discovering Grey at the funeral, Clayton gives chase on foot, and unfortunately Nesbitt’s shortcomings as an athlete are evident. He’s not a convincing runner and no amount of shakey-cam™ can cover this up. The culmination of the chase takes place at a busy motorway, where Clayton is able to use his luck to dodge through several lanes of speeding traffic as Grey looks on, amazed. It’s a nice idea that’s poorly executed and leaves you wishing more could have been done to make the shot convincing.
Earlier, Clayton used his new ability to win money betting on greyhounds. Eve appeared and warned him that “luck like this has a price”. Concerned, and remembering the unfortunate woman at the support group, Clayton finds her and gives her his money, perhaps hoping that not only would he be helping her son, he’d be sorting out his own karma in the process. Misfortune befalls Grady and Chohan at the end of the episode, however, and we may be led to believe that this is a consequence of Clayton’s actions. It seems that doing the right thing might not be that straightforward after all.
There’s good and bad here. The mixed tone throughout the episode is offputting, and never really seems to settle. Several scenes don’t fit within the (admittedly briefly) established style.
Clayton’s control of luck is used interestingly again – the writers may need to dig deep to keep finding new and inventive games of chance for him to win. The wider consequences of his decisions are beginning to become apparent and provide almost all of the intrigue to be found in the show.
Not much more was revealed about the origin of the bracelet, or about those that seek it – this is frustrating as, like the pilot, the crime narrative isn’t all that compelling. The introduction of the possibility of sinister forces at Anna’s law firm is encouraging however.
Once again, what could’ve been a defining action sequence falls short. If this pattern continues you’d be wise to start betting on the occurrence of disappointing set pieces in future episodes.