Lucky Man S02E01 “Luck Be A Lady” REVIEW
- Harry is refusing to use his luck power for fear that bad luck will befall his family again.
- Eve is frustrated that he won’t use luck to track Golding (last year’s big bad who escaped custody)
- Harry and Suri are investigating a serial poisoner who’s targeting people with connections to Brick Lane, but they can’t seem to find what else links them.
- Harry chases a suspicious Japanese guy into a casino – a big thing for Harry as he hasn’t gambled (with money, at least) for 186 days.
- The guy doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the case but he does lead Harry to Isabella, a woman who has a luck bracelet just like Harry’s… only she’s far more hedonistic in her use of it.
- She tells Harry that she’s been wearing it for 10 years, and that Eve knows all about her. She also calls Eve’s ying and yang theory about the luck bracelets’ power complete nonsense.
- Later, Harry confronts Eve, and he’s not happy with her evasive responses. They don’t part on good terms.
- Through sheer luck (though Harry’s not using his bracelet) Harry and Suri find the poisoner’s den, and chase the guy into the streets. They lose him but identify him as Ajit Malhoptra, a young man who’s killing people he holds grudges against.
- Harry begins to suspect Isabella is using her luck somehow to influence his investigation.
- When he challenges her she smiles mysteriously, gives him the address of a warehouse where Ajit is now holed up and suggests Harry starts using his own luck because no harm will come to Anna and Daisy. She promises.
- Harry finds Ajit’s new lab, which is huge, then realises his next target is a big one – the entire university which turned him down for a place.
- Using his luck, Harry stops Ajit from spreading his poison via the ventilation system and arrests the guy.
- And no harm comes to Anna and Daisy.
- So he goes back to Isabella and says, tell me more.
- Somewhere, Eve gnashes her teeth.
- In other news:
- …Anna loses a case after freezing when she thinks she sees Golding. She tells Harry that she and Daisy are putting on a brave front but they’re both still affected badly by the trauma.
- …Winter returns to resume duties as DSI against doctor’s orders because Harry is really, really crap as acting DSI.
- …For his misconduct last season (and general surly attitude), Orwell is demoted and has to report to Suri.
- …Daisy says, “Bugger!”
- …a posh, expensive bar saves money by printing party invitations that looks like a parish council newsletter.
So, Lucky Man is back, and in the first scene Harry tells us that he’s not using his luck powers. To be honest, looking at the state of his driving, we’re not entirely convinced he isn’t using his powers, but if we take him on his word, you experience a sinking feeling.
We spent most of last season moaning about how the the show never really cut loose with the whole “luck as a superpower” concept; how the show should have fun taking Harry’s luck to its limits with at least one “Wow!” moment per episode. So the revelation that he’s deliberately not using his powers doesn’t bode well for this season. It’s actually a completely believable character development (his family was kidnapped an nearly killed because of the luck bracelet last year) but it’s not a terribly promising one for viewers wanting to see the show step up a gear.
Luckily (see what we did there) season two has a secret weapon waiting in the wings. And that secret weapon is Isabella Augustine, a woman who has a luck bracelet just like Harry’s but who appears to have freed herself from the ying and yang balance that means for all good luck, bad luck has to happen elsewhere.
Emphasis on “appears” because Isabella is clearly not revealing her full deck just yet, and the fact that the mere mention of her name drains all the colour out of Eve’s face means we need to keep an eye on this karma chameleon. Certainly her claim that there is no “ying and yang” when it comes to luck sounds deeply suspect, and the fact that she’s able to extend her luck to influence Harry is an intriguing development that raises a whole bunch of questions. What would happen, for instance, if they played a game of chance against each other, and they both decided to use their luck powers at the same time? Who would win? Would the outcome be a draw? Would a butterfly be killed by a hurricane on the opposite side of the world?
Annoying,ly even though Isabella looks like she’s the key to unlocking some real fun in season two, it’s typical of this show that she has a quite low-key introduction. Don’t get us wrong. With Thekla Reuten investing Isabella with a part-Bond girl, part-Bond villain, part-film noir femme fatale vibe, she’s by far the most colourful, comic-booky character the show has ever produced. Subtle she is not, and she’s instantly, effortlessly enjoyable as a result. But she still doesn’t exactly cut loose with her power, which is especially odd as a clip of her cutting loose with her powers was released as part of the pre-publicity for the season (it’s actually from episode two). Here, she does a bit of gambling, remotely dabbles with Harry’s case and archly hints at the extent of her powers, but it’s a little disappointing that she doesn’t straight-off dazzle Harry – and us – from the off.
(Spoiler alert – she does exactly that in episode two and especially episode three, which kicks off with a wonderfully visual scene that would have been a great, great way to introduce her here.)
But this is a transitional episode. You can understand why. Season two is going to develop into something much more fanciful than season one. We’ll let you into a secret – we’ve seen to episode four already by which time the bargain-basement The Sweeney feel of season one is replaced with plots more like something from Honor Blackman-era The Avengers. Not as stylised, sure, but way more outlandish than the Polish gangsters, corrupt prison bosses and small-time crims of last year.
So “Luck Be A Lady” is a stepping stone, a hybrid of season one and season two to prevent culture shock. It’s probably a sensible move but it does means there’s a little bit of a hangover of the listless feel of season one. This despite the fact the villain-of-the-week looks like he’s in training for Gotham – the Mad Poisoner! He even has a secret laboratory. A HUGE secret laboratory.
There are some good moments for Winter and Orwell, though. Now freed of their rather odd season one roles as the rubbish version of Line Of Duty meets the Spanish Inquisition, they both look like they have something more interesting to bring to the table. Demoting Orwell and making him work under Suri and Harry is a stroke of genius, loaded with potential conflict (though we wouldn’t rule out some Suri/Orwell romantic action by the end of the season…).
So, three stars may seem a little miserly, but we have a hunch there’s a lot better to come.
- Isabella looks like she could be a great addition to the show, especially if she gets Harry to loosen up and enjoy his powers a bit more. If she does, and injects some oomph into the show, we don’t really care if she does turn out to be a duplicitous temptress.
- You have to love the fact that Harry is utterly crap as acting DSI.
- James Nesbitt’s near Sid James-style “Phwaooarr” expression when Isabella walks offf after their conversation by the Thames is a peach.
- Nesbitt is effortlessly good value again.
- And we’d forgotten how much we adored Suri – it’s great to have her back and actinf as intelligently as ever.
- “You’re a brilliant cop, Harry, you just make it hard for us to remember that sometimes.”
- “Oh, Harry, we are going to have such fun.”
- The show’s still not fully embracing its ludicrous premise. Though there are signs of it loosening up slightly and beginning to enjoy itself a little, it still feels all too earnest at times.
- Tom Reed as Ajit is a real weird mix. He’s like a wannabe supervillain in the making with his wide, starey eyes, his comedy attempts to taunt Harry and his neon green “poison”. That’d be fine in The Flash, but it doesn’t quite fit with Lucky Man, and Reed doesn’t seem sure whether to go for a naturalistic approach or camp it up a bit.
- We’re not quite getting why Harry ever thought Ajit’s mum was one of his targets – it seems to be an educated guess without the education. Or why he suddenly guesses the police are the target not his mum; from the logic of the scene Harry should have had the bailiffs down as possible suspects.
- Harry’s “I’m back!” and his leap comedy leap for the poison was a downright cheesy.
- We actually started feeling sorry for Orwell, the way everybody was picking on him. He actually seems like an effective cop, and he does have a point about how Harry gets all the luck, even if he is a bit whiny going on about it.
And The Random:
- The opening title sequence has been altered to include Thekla Reuten as Isabella Augustine.
- In the casino when Isabella first meets Harry she places 12 chips on Black 13. Harry adds a chip of his own making it 13 chips on Black 13. Not unlucky for some, clearly.
- We see Harry pass floor 13 on his way up in the lift to bar where he meets Isabella at the end of the episode.
- During the stake-out, Suri stands in front of a “STA YLU CKY” sign.
- Orwell’s wrist tattoo isn’t some desperate attempt by the character to have his own luck bracelet – it’s actually actor Darren Boyd’s own real tattoo.
- Isabella’s line, “Ay, there’s the rub,” comes from Hamlet’s famous “To Be, Or Not To Be” soliloquy. “To sleep, perchance to dream, ay, there’s the rub.”
- This isn’t the last time we’ll be seeing a murmuration of starlings this season.
Review by Dave Golder