Lucy Hank – Season 1 Episode 1 “Pilot” Recap & Review


Professor Hank Deveraux is the English Department Chair of Railton College. He is middle-aged and married with a single daughter. His wife’s name is Lily, who is the vice principal at the Railton School. Julie, Hank and Lily’s daughter live in the town with her boyfriend Russell.

In an after-school class, Hank seems disinterested in the story assignments the students in the workshop read out. Bartow, one of the students, takes offence at Hank’s lack of participation and input. Hank refuses to comment on the stories written by the students.

They argue about his story – how it changes direction mid-sentence, and characters communicate telepathically. Bartow compares himself to Chaucer and how his personal style distances the reader. Hank goes off on a rant and calls the students, the college, and the town mediocre. He does not spare himself either. Unbeknownst to him, another student records the tirade and it ends up in the school newspaper. Tony Conigula, Hank’s best friend, sends him the news article about him.

Gracie, a fellow professor in the English department, is angry with Hank for his choice to insult her and the other professors. The others include Paul Rourke, Billie, Emma Wheemer, and a couple, June and Teddy. Han’s father, Henry Deveraux, is an esteemed art critic in New York and the paper headlines his retirement news. The catch is that he and Hank have not spoken for fifteen years and Hank learns the news through the papers, not Henry.

Hank discusses the percentage of misery he is at in his life with Lily. He believes it is 80%, while Lily says she is happy at just 30%. “How about just getting through the day without caring if you’re happy or not?” wonders Hank.

Hank apologizes to Bartow the following day, who happens to be sitting outside his office. Bartow demands it in writing and that’s when Hank tells him to piss off. Dean Jacob Rose has called Hank to discuss the matter but he doesn’t call back.

Hank is Henry’s child from his second marriage. Rourke has jokingly submitted a new course request to the school website for public evaluation “the accidental wisdom of mediocre regional writers.” Gracie self-published a book once and accidentally slams it in Hanks’s face.

Hank’s assistant tells her that Jill from Rose’s office has called once again. Lily handles the situation at school where Michelle, the biology teacher, wants to expel a student in her class called Calvin, but his mother doesn’t. Lily gets to an amicable solution that Herb, her colleague, does not approve of.

Hank goes to Jacob’s office. Jill gives him a note where Jacob asks Hank to “go through with it.” When he peeps inside his office, Jacob tells Bartow’s parents that Hank is going through diverticulitis and has a tough time dealing with the disease, explaining why he was outraged. Parents have been calling Jacob all day asking them to fire Hank, but Hank retaliates that the parents should be told how powerless Jacobs’s position really is. Jacob asks him to apologize but Hank refuses. Hank has tenure but is he trying to get fired?

Julie is suggested by Russel that she should ask for money from her mother. She says she will ask Hank instead but he sneaks out when they come to their house. The board chair informs Jill that he has convened a meeting of the trustees with regard to something.

Gracie plots behind Hanks’s back. She wants him de-chaired. Hank gets a phone call from Billie who tells him about it late at night. She also asks him not to write a recommendation for her daughter Meg. If he is de-chaired he can be fired more easily and his academic career will be over… but Hank is excited about it.

Hank asks Lily if the promotion offered to her at Arlyle in New York would still be available but she isn’t sure. They’re excited at the prospect of starting a new life.

Marnie from Henry’s office calls the next morning. She tells Hank that Stephanie has left his father. Stephanie happens to be his third wife. Henry hasn’t called Hank in 15 years but before the vote, Hank makes a comedic speech. Hank is removed as a result of the vote but he is jubilant! Lily excitedly tells Hank that she might still have a shot at the Arlyle job, but then Hank expresses reservations and Lily is upset. She says he is not capable of leaving that town, ever.

Hank refuses to pay Julie. He also nitpicks Bartow’s open letter he wrote against Hank in his own class. Calvin breaks a window and Herb reprimands Lily. The situation needed hard action and not pacifying, which ironically sees Hank re-elected when the group sits down for a new chair. Hank confides in Tony that he fears Henry’s retirement will disturb the balance of things in their relationship: “he left and we don’t speak.” Hank feels regret for “the things he did not have all this while.”

As the episode closes out, Hank tells Lily that he got re-elected but she isn’t pleased.

The Episode Review

Lucky Hank is a more traditional dramatic setting for Bob Odenkirk’s new venture. One could see shades of Saul Goodman’s quirky and jolly personality in Hank, which seems more of Odenkirk’s personal supply to the characters. Instantly, an existential undertone is visible in the show. Being the pilot, the lacklustre editing and moments of unpolished final product are excusable.

Lucky Hank does not promise to be a visual or narrative spectacle. It is grounded in more realistic themes and settings and aims for a more deliberative messaging rather than something taut and pacy. The writing offered good dialogue and confrontation within the scenes. The humour part too was subtle, not overdone, and quietly effective, something we might expect the show to become in the next few episodes. A solid start considering all things!

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You can read our full season review for Lucky Hank here!

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