Lucky Man S02E05 “What Lies Beneath” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Eve kidnaps Isabella’s “chauffeur”, Rui Hirota, and interrogates him (in a very polite fashion) until he admits on camera that Isabella is causing multiple deaths even if she’s not personally getting her hands dirty.
- Harry checks out Isabella on an Interpol database but she has no criminal record at all on any continent.
- An unknown man informs Isabella that Harry has performed this search; she asks the man to keep an eye on Harry’s movements and determines to get Harry back on her side again.
- Harry, Suri and Orwell investigate a death that at first seems like suicide – a cabbie drowning himself in a canal – until more apparent suicides surface with a connecting theme; they’re all people who have had organ transplants but who carried on indulging themselves in the addictions that lead their illnesses in the first place.
- It seems there’s a serial killer who’s targeting addicts who could not reform even after being given a second chance; a glutton, a smoker, an alcoholic.
- After following up a few false leads, Harry – through a stroke of luck – discovers that the killer is the sister of a woman who died of drug overdose – Claire Cartmell, an anaesthetist.
- However, Claire realises Harry is onto her and paralyses him uses anaesthetic drugs (where’s your luck bracelet now, Harry?)
- She then drives him to the canal and dumps him in…
- But Isabella is on hand to cause a near-car-accident which alerts Suri and Orwell to Harry’s plight.
- Orwell rescues Harry and Suri captures Claire.
- Harry attempts to mumble an apology to Orwell, but Orwell stops him, takes the piss out of the apology Harry was about to deliver and tells him to get over himself and be a better role model to Suri.
- Daisy asks her dad straight if his bracelet is magic; he says yes and she’s monumentally unimpressed when he tries to prove it with an act that Dynamo could pull off in his sleep.
- But she does believe him because she’s seen an illegal download of season one episode two, “Win Some, Lose Some” with her dad car-dodging on a motorway.
- Harry now briefly believes Isabella is a good’un again, until Eve delivers her footage of Rui calling her a monster.
With the arc plot going into a mid-season holding pattern (Harry is suspicious of Isabella; Harry is won over by Isabella; Harry is suspicious of Isabella; etc, etc…) it’s up to a stronger than usual crime-of-the-week and some exceptionally stylish direction to stop “What Lies Beneath” being so much filler.
First up, the episode looks fantastic, with some jazzy angles, lush lighting, striking imagery and a fresh way of shooting some of London’s less glamorous locations. But more than just making the show look slicker, director Dan O’Hara injects some real tension into proceedings, making serial killer Claire a much creepier, more effective villain of the week the usual on this show. By the time she’s apprehended by Suri she’s completely barking, looking like a supervillain in the making – just drop in radioactive goo for final transformation.
The procedural elements work well, and there’s some clever dramatic double-bluffing going on, especially when Suri and Orwell go to check out their prime suspect, but it’s Harry who knocks on the door of the real killer. It’s a classic scripting trick but it works exceptionally well here.
The show’s format, though, works against good old-fashioned procedural plotting, because whenever Harry’s involved, you never know whether the handy coincidences are just the kind of handy coincidences that you get in any crime series, or if his luck powers are at work. This is especially the case when he and Suri are questioning the guy at the clinic, which is a very odd series of “I can’t tell you because of patient confidentiality… oh, alright, I’ll tell you” exchanges. It’s unclear if we’re suppose to think that Harry is a canny cop, just doing his job, or if he’s lucky to be questioning the least ethically-minded doctor ever.
Also, Harry’s luck bracelet simply seems to stop working for large swathes of this episode. How come Harry can’t “luck” himself out of being dumped in the canal? Is Isabella’s bracelet cancelling his out? Did she, indeed, engineer his capture by Claire simply so she could be seen as his saviour to get him back on her side? Probably not, but the worrying thing is the suspicion that the series’ writers haven’t actually thought about these things.
Additionally, a couple of the “luck” stunts this week are suspiciously budget-friendly and banal. Coin tricks? Really? We’re with Daisy on that one! Plus, the real good fortune when Isabella steps into the traffic isn’t the fact that she’s not hit by a car but that she doesn’t trip over in those heels.
But that’s getting really nitpicky. Bottom line is, this series is becoming more fun and more adventurous. There is a real feeling of the show embracing its more outlandish aspects.
- Ralph the cheery forensic pathologist (“Difficult to do an autopsy on soup,” he says, clearly relishing the challenge) deserves much more screen time.
- Director Daniel O’Hara and Lucky Man are made for each other. He brings a much more interesting visual style the show, with askew angles, stylish framing and vibrant colours, that – while not exactly comic book – gives the show a feel of heightened reality. He even makes potentially workmanlike shots, such as the police dinghy, looks attractive.
- Like Orwell, we love new gobby Suri…
“Jesus, she’s killing addicts”
“What’s the matter? Think you’re next on the list?”
“No! I… I’m not an addict.”
“I’m… You’ve got a lot more gobby in the last month, you know?”
- Daisy in “not totally annoying” shocker! We actually liked her reaction to Harry admitting he did have a magic bracelet.
- Johnny: “The most incredible set of circumstances delayed me… you wouldn’t believe.” Nice subtle use of the luck powers.
- Not really “good” so much as gorily effective: the body that’s been mouldering in the bath for two weeks.
- “Dad this is pathetic. Can’t you jump off a building into a trifle or something?” Has Daisy been reading our reviews of this show? Maybe this is writer DC Jackson’s way of venting some spleen at not being allowed to really cut loose with the luck powers (presumably for budgetary reasons). Certainly, Daisy and Rich’s conversation about the use of CGI, while amusingly meta, could also be a swipe at the fact the budget for CGI isn’t available this week.
- While the police procedural plot was actually pretty tight this week, there business with Harry recognising Claire’s coat was a groan-inducing moment, even if you accept Harry’s luck powers may be in action.
- While it’s great to see Orwell finally being accepted by Harry, the whole plotline – from Winter urging Harry to give him a chance, to Suri championing him, to Orwell rescuing Harry – is a little on-the-nose. And no, Orwell’s final speech to Harry – welcome though it is – doesn’t totally balance that out.
- Anna is so dull this season. The show sags whenever she’s on screen and being paired with equally vapid Johnny doesn’t help.
- Eve’s “interrogation” of Rui has to be one of the politest, least exciting interrogation sequences ever. She may as well have tickled the information out of him. Actually, that would have been more fun.
- So, is Winter the mystery man phoning Isabella? It certainly sounds like him, and there’s a shot of Winter from behind that mirrors the earlier shot of the mystery man. But isn’t this all a little bit too obvious? Is there a double bluff going on?
- And here’s this week’s random sporty guy in black Lycra leggings. This is becoming a deliberate motif now, surely?
- Did you spot that two of this week’s suspects lived at number 13?
- If you think you recognise the actress playing Claire, that’s probably because you’ve been watching Ripper Street, on which Charlene McKenna played Rose Erskine.
- Director Daniel O’Hara has directed eight episodes of Being Human, two of the more watchable episodes of Houdini & Doyle and the two-part “Under The Lake”/“Before The Flood” for season nine of Doctor Who, among many other things.
Review by Dave Golder