Stan Lee’s Lucky Man S01E08 “My Brother’s Keeper” REVIEW

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man S01E08 “My Brother’s Keeper” REVIEW

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stars 3.5

Airing in the UK on Sky 1, Fridays, 9pm
Writer: Ben Schiffer
Director: Jon East

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • Harry’s brother is framed for the murder of his girlfriend Babs.
  • Winter assigns Orwell and Suri to the case and warns Harry not to get involved. Harry may as well reply, “Talk to the hand.”
  • With the help of his luck powers Harry learns that the real killer is Charles Collins, ex-military-man-turned security firm owner who was also the guy playing bodyguard to sulky, Stanley-knife-weilding Russian student Sasha last week.
  • Harry believes Collins is Golding. Collins certainly has a connection to Kalim and Lily-Anne Lau.
  • Collins orders a reluctant Lily to kill Kalim. She reluctantly agrees to.
  • Suri finally loses her rag with Harry keeping secrets and shows Winter the video of Harry winning big at Lau’s casino the night of Lau’s death. Winter still needs more evidence to nail Harry though.
  • Harry asks Winter for help in nailing Collins. Winter says he can’t because his hands are tied but does agree to investigate Collins and his link to the dodgy deputy mayor (and ex cop) Frierson further. Amazingly, he’s true to his word.
  • Rich is arrested for the murder and moved to White Cross Prison.

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  • Collins phones Harry and asks to meet him at the Millennium Dome. Harry goes there but gets a phone call from Rich in prison (he appears to be being coerced) telling Harry the plan has changed: he needs to take the cable car to the Victoria Docks.
  • Eve phones Harry to tell him it’s a trap (sadly she doesn’t do an Admiral Akbar impression). Harry says he knows this but his magic luck bracelet will protect him. Eve says it doesn’t work that way. Harry oddly doesn’t reply, “Well, it did last week.”
  • Collins is waiting in a van at the docks with a rifle. In the cable car Harry dodges Collins’s bullets but has to watch helpless when Eve attacks Collins, but she’s overpowered and is kidnapped by him.
  • Harry retaliates by breaking into Collins’s home and waiting for him to return. He finds bloodied evidence proving Collins killed Babs.
  • But Collins – who denies being Golding – manages to overpower Harry.
  • He bundles Harry into the boot of a car and is driving him somewhere (to Golding?) when Harry’s luck kicks in again. A lorry crashes into the car killing Collins and freeing Harry, who runs off with the bloodied evidence.
  • Winter receives an anonymous tip off  which give him grounds make a search of Harry’s flat. There, Suri discovers a severed head in the freezer.

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Review:

Last week we suggested that the reason Harry used his magical luck with such refreshing gay abandon in that episode may have been down to the fact that it was written by someone with a track record in telefantasy who was more comfortable with placing the supernatural in a natural setting than some of show’s other writers. Seems we were right. Because this week’s episode is courtesy of  one of the show’s regular writers (Ben Schiffer who’s penned two previous episodes) and, hey presto, the “luck” moments – with one exception – drop back to the level of “things that you’d dismiss as suspiciously handy coincidences” in other crime dramas. The one exception – Harry dodging bullets in the cable car – is definitely an exciting set-piece, but in essence just a repeat of the bullet-dodging scene from last week. There’s no new extraordinary example of Harry’s powers this week. Trucks unexpectedly hitting cars? That happens on some US drama pretty much every week.

But it’s becoming boring complaining about what Stan Lee’s Lucky Man isn’t, when it clearly has no intention of being that. By episode eight it’s obvious we’re never going to get really fanciful, visually stunning, comic-book-style examples of Harry’s powers. The show is never going to explore how the luck powers operate beyond some vague “it makes bad things happen too.” There’s never going to be a supervillain for our Lucky Man to fight.

Instead, Lucky Man just wants to be a conspiracy crime drama. It has an arc plot but it’s not concerned with the lore of the bracelet; it’s concerned with criminals from all levels of society doing extremely nasty things to get their hands on a MacGuffin. The magic bracelet may as well be priceless stegosaurus egg or a new laser spoon or a drug that makes EastEnders watchable or something. And you know what? As the season reaches its climax, it’s actually becoming quite gripping on that level. You find yourself excited about finding out who Golding might be and the complicated web of intrigue that links Frierson to someone like Lily-Anne. And how could you not want to tune in next week after a cliffhanger involving a severed head in a freezer?

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Of course, any conspiracy drama will get around to the “frame a friend” storyline at some point, but Lucky Man’s version is a decent stab at the trusty old trope. James Nesbitt holds everything together by being as effortlessly watchable as always as the bullish Harry; he’s one of those pig-headed guys you’d hate to have to work with in real life but who makes great telly (and probably always stands his round down the pub). This is turning into a blistering performance, even if Harry as a character is slightly hampered by being the only gambling addict in the world who doesn’t go terminally gung-ho with the addition of a magic luck bracelet. Stephen Hagan also gives a wonderfully broken performance as the rabbit-in-headlights Rich.

The show is also benefitting from showing Winter in a more sympathetic light. For him, it seems, last week wasn’t a blip. He is intelligent. He is a good cop. He’s not a two-dimensional angel of vengeance. Sure he wants to clip Harry’s wings but that doesn’t mean he’ll ignore evidence (or a good argument) when he’s presented with it. This is a very welcome development.

Not so much Suri’s betrayal. It’s not completely unmotivated – Harry must be really exasperating to work with – but she’s been shown to be so intelligent in the past that her volte-face feels a little sudden and extreme. It might have helped if she’d shown just a little more remorse, but instead she looks like an excited puppy when Winter asks her if she’s like to join him in the search of Harry’s flat.

Lucky Man may not be the show we wanted, but on its own terms it’s finally coming good. And, we have to admit, this week’s entertained us so much that we immediately needed to see the next episode. Which we did. And it’s a belter. Sorry you have to wait a week!

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The Good:

  • The elements are the arc plot are starting to build to a decently tense climax
  • The fact that Winter is turning out to be one of the good guys is a pleasant surprise.
  • There’s something a bit Hitchcockian about the cable car scene; using a famous location to heighten the tension. It’s not just a pretty backdrop; it becomes part of the drama by forcing Harry to watch Eve being kidnapped while being unable to do anything about it.
  • While “friend/colleague/relation is framed” storylines are ten-a-penny in crime dramas, Lucky Man still manages to ramp up the paranoia surrounding Rich’s arrest to a compelling level.
  • Desperation brings out a deliciously sarcastic tone in Harry: “Information is how I make my living.” “Oh so the killing… that’s just a hobby, is it?”
  • Oh yeah, and this cliffhanger…

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The Bad:

  • Does Charlie’s “Danger Dave from Derby” anecdote before hits Harry have to go on quite so long?
  • “She’s just a bit tied up.” Good grief, how many times have we had to endure that gag before? Then again, Harry is the kind of character who might think he’s being enormously witty saying it.
  • All the evidence against Rich is so convenient, surely the usually-smart Suri would smell a rat?
  • Why isn’t Harry surprised when Rich rings him from prison?
  • There are a couple of bits of Rich’s testimony that don’t make sense. Why can he not recall what Collins (or Duncan as he knew him at the time) looked like? And if, as he says, he returned to the flat to fetch his phone so he could phone Harry, why didn’t he phone Harry? Are these just little scripting lapses that we aren’t supposed to notice or is there something Rich hasn’t revealed yet?
  • Suri doesn’t seem to be quite so smart this week, mainly because the writers need her to suddenly betray Harry for arc plot reasons.
  • Could we please have some rationalisation about how the magic bracelet works, please?

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And The Random:

  • Harry says to Suri, “He’s not even a thief let alone a murderer,” but didn’t she note something dodgy about the artefacts in Rich’s shop in an earlier episode? Is that one of the reasons why she’s inclined to believe Rich may be capable of serious crime?
  • Collins’s car has the registration number M15 BTB but we assume this isn’t a subtle reference to him working for MI5 because that would be a twist too far.

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  • When  Harry is in the cable car being shot at, he raises his hand to reveal the magic bracelet. We assume this was just the director’s way of reminding us that magic luck was protecting Harry; however it did look suspiciously like Harry was using the bracelet to deflect the bullet, Wonder Woman-style.

Review by Dave Golder


Read our other Lucky Man reviews

 

 

 

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