Sunday, April 23, 2023

REVIEW: 'Lucky Hank' - Hank Accepts That He Can No Longer Avoid a Confrontation With His Father in 'The Arrival'

AMC's Lucky Hank - Episode 1.06 "The Arrival"

Hank and Tony travel to an academic conference, where their differing philosophies on work and life cause friction. Lily mediates trouble in Julie and Russell's marriage.

"The Arrival" was written by Jasmine Pierce and directed by Jude Weng

Hank is the child of narcissistic parents. William and Laurel always prioritize their emotional security over anything having to do with their son. He certainly questions their behavior. However, they rarely provide him with satisfying answers. He grew up having to accept the lies. He would never be told the full story. His parents were too caught up in themselves to tend to his emotional needs. Hank needs to know why his father left despite his suicide attempt. That image has been seared into his brain. That's the trauma he endured in his childhood. It continues to have a massive impact in his life. It's the root cause of so much dysfunction. That's the reason why he doesn't have a relationship with his father. It's why he has such low expectations in every single situation. He has only gotten more cruel and stubborn. He's on a downward trajectory that may eventually result in another attempt to end his life. It's directly because he chose to deflect from these issues earlier. And now, it may be too late. William has always existed as an imposing figure over Hank's life. It was inescapable. Hank also built up the myth of this man. That allowed him to grow more stuck in his ways. They don't communicate as adults. So many people have pushed him to simply talk with his father. Some did so believing Hank would let the mistakes of the past go upon seeing the extent of William's dementia. Others thought it would bring catharsis to Hank. That's only to a certain extent though. A lot has been constructed in his own mind over what the situation was and how everyone chose to respond. His misery was created because he stood his ground in this limited life. William arrives in Railton despite Hank's message warning him to stay away. When that happened, Hank was still trying to protect his mother. He always used her as a convenient excuse even though she was just as responsible for his issues. Laurel wants to care for William. She still believes in the overwhelming power of family caring for each other no matter what. Hank carries the betrayal of William moving away for a new job and a new family. Laurel forgave her husband a long time ago. She didn't tell Hank. Instead, she allowed him to continue suffering in silence. That didn't concern her. She seeks to be involved in every aspect of her family's lives. She's not entitled to that invasion. They deserve privacy from her. That simply amounts to Hank once again choosing to run away and deflect from his problems instead of facing them head on. That provides no relief. Everyone else has a significant experience at the conference. Meanwhile, Hank wanders from place to place with no purpose whatsoever. As such, he's not engaged in anything happening anywhere even with his closest friends and loved ones.

People tell Hank what his father is like and if he ever thought about his son. He seeks that clarity. It still doesn't resolve things. He projects these insecurities outward. He needs to understand. And yet, nothing is of merit unless it comes from his father. That's the ultimate reason why sits down with him. It's not good enough to simply see him from afar. He has to engage. That's true of all his relationships. He has pushed so many people away. It's miraculous that he is still trusted with authority. He constantly leaves people guessing how he will react. He disrupted a dinner party because he refused to move to New York to accommodate Lily's new job. He can't even engage in a genuine discussion on that until he confronts his father. That is always at the forefront of his mind. He obviously has been capable of making major life decisions elsewhere. He has lived a life since the childhood trauma. Lily and Julie are healthy and functional in some regards. Everything still pivots around Hank's stunted emotional growth. He doesn't consider how nervous Tony is before his presentation. He doesn't know how to provide comfort afterwards. He always saw Tony as a kindred spirit. They had the same outlook on life. In reality, Tony was passionate about his career. His presentation falling apart is more than embarrassment in front of a few people. It renders the last three years pointless. He is defeated over that. Hank reveals just how shallow their friendship has always been. He refuses to engage actively or understand why people put their all into things that may not matter. Gracie enjoys the upswing in her career. It's validation. She has always been hyper. But now, it comes with the recognition that she is worthy of that attention. She can still be a lot to handle. It doesn't come at the expense of anyone else. This conference is about more than who attends. It's about sharing ideas with people who are actually interested. It's a way to present concepts that people have put their hearts and souls into. Hank doesn't have that passion. It's why he has never been able to write his second novel. Again, it's miraculous he was even able to accomplish his first. This has been a lifelong problem. He's so fixated on the idea of how his father behaved that he can't look objectively at himself. He wants to know why his father left despite his suicide attempt. He never ponders why he made that attempt in the first place. That presented as a viable option to pursue. He failed. He has lived a long life after. Nothing provides him the immediate relief he seeks. Instead, only more questions are posed as William can no longer provide any clarity. He remembers Hank as stubborn. That's about it. That's all he can offer. Hank needs more and the one person he needs it from can't provide it. That will have costly effects on all of Hank's relationships unless he focuses on why this matters so much. He was conditioned to be this way. This doesn't have to be the only way he can live. Therapy is needed as Julie and Russell point out. That conversation only serves as a distraction from the existential dread present elsewhere in the narrative despite how sensible it seems.