Sunday, April 16, 2023

REVIEW: 'Lucky Hank' - A Dinner Party Turns Into a Tense Confrontation Between Hank and Lily in 'The Clock'

AMC's Lucky Hank - Episode 1.05 "The Clock"

Hank and Lily host the annual English department dinner. Lily has a decision to make. Hank's past involving his troubled relationship with his father catches up to him.

"The Clock" was written by Jean Kyoung Frazier and directed by Jude Weng

Lily got the job at the school in New York. She told her friends she wasn't actually interested in the position. Tom then reassured her that the hiring committee was prioritizing diverse candidates. Everyone wanted to lower expectations as to what's possible. Hank does the exact same thing when it comes to the faculty dinner at this home. It's not something he wants to do. The school provides his family with the funding to host it. It matters to boost morale. And yet, life on campus is chaotic because of the pending budget cuts. Hank made a significant accusation. He carries responsibilities as chair of his department. The tenured professors are frequently off in their own worlds. They don't have to deal with those burdens. It's a quality Hank extends to every aspect of his life. He's not only miserable at work. Early on, he noted how unhappy he was. He's skeptical whenever anyone suggests they have found that perfect balance. It's impossible. Everyone should just accept the misery they endure on a daily basis. Living with that is more sensible than hoping for something better. That only creates false hope. Hank is content with life in Railton. He acknowledges that it isn't this phenomenal place. He encourages others to leave. He does so because they are young and can still plant down roots elsewhere. Hank is stuck here whether he likes it or not. He doesn't. His life was forever shaped by the day his father left. That was actually the day when he learned to constantly suppress his emotions. He thought there was something more he could do to keep his family together. Over time, he shifted the blame to his father as he never wanted to be involved in this family. The focus has shifted back to Hank because he learned his mother was still talking with his father. He feels these betrayals deeply. The pattern is emerging all over again. He believes Lily is on the same page about this job offer. It's just a tool to get more authority and respect at her current job. That's what she needs. It's also what she has accepted as her miserable life in Railton. This was the ultimate compromise for her. She would love to be at the forefront of schooling innovations. She sees so much passion and intrigue in New York. However, she accepted a smaller life in Railton because that's the community where Hank lives. He will never leave. As such, it's futile to ever believe that's possible. Lily always gets her hopes up. She denies her interest in the job because she knows Hank will never leave. This is meant to be a conversation between a couple in the privacy of their own home. Instead, they produce the inevitable drama that leaves everyone in awkward silence during the dinner party. Hank knew that was coming. He didn't realize it would result in him laying his rawest vulnerabilities on display. He just wants to get through the evening and have his father's grandfather clock moved into his home.

Hank fundamentally believes the world revolves around him. It's a fair assessment given the structure of the storytelling so far. Whenever the show tries to expand its focus to the rest of the faculty, it's a struggle. Their stories just aren't as inherently compelling or conductive to the overall narrative ambitions. That's on display in this episode too despite the intensity of the conflict between Hank and Lily. Tony tries to navigate the proper etiquette for flirting with June while Teddy is around. Ultimately, it requires both of their approval in their open marriage. It's mostly just a circular argument that never resolves whatsoever or reveals anything intriguing. Gracie's excitement about getting a poem published is merely to serve in contrast with how Hank never feels that excited about anything. That's damning news about how he feels towards Lily and Julie. He views them as convenient weapons to use against each other to ultimately get his way. It doesn't even matter what the two of them talk about. However, Julie's inclusion is the moment Lily decides to accept the job. She doesn't care how Hank reacts. She simply must exert her own priority. This matters to her. It shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. It's something she wants. The entire room eagerly encourages her. They immediately get back to discussing who will replace Hank as chair. It's up to Emma to share the rules. It's not even a pivotal point of the discussion that Paul would take over. That's just a piece of the argument Hank internalizes and hopes helps him make his case. It doesn't. Everyone tries their best to equally carry the burden of what a long distance relationship means. Hank refuses to move. He believes everyone should know that and not demand anything more from him. He positions it through the trauma of abandonment. His father left because of him. Lily is now doing the exact same thing. He refuses to acknowledge that she has her own personal reasons for making this decision. This is something she wants to do. It's the best possible opportunity for her career. It's something that excites her. Hank only focuses on himself. It's rational to believe the two could visit one another. They have the time and love to do that. Even that doesn't feel like a convincing argument. Paul shares a story of how he first thought he knew what love was. That changed after one conversation with someone else. That fate could befall Hank and Lily as well. They've gone through the motions of this life. It's been rather limited in the emotions offered. That's entirely because of Hank's baggage. He never addressed the impulse to attempt suicide. Instead, it was something left for his mother to deal with. She didn't want to acknowledge it happened. And so, Hank never did either. He learned to bottle his emotions up. Those have only restricted his potential. He's too selfish to see that. Moreover, Lily is in no rush to leave this relationship. They are still together despite Hank's struggles and inability to be empathetic. That could be a crushing blow. It's not immediately presented as such despite the argument throughout the dinner. That's just one moment. They still deal with the aftermath in the kitchen later.