Lucky Hank (Season 1) Episode 2: The first episode of the AMC+ series ‘Lucky Hank’ introduced us to the mid-life crisis of its college professor character. It presented different reasons for Hank’s anguish and ennui, ranging from his father’s neglect to the feeling of worthlessness for teaching in ‘mediocrity’s capital.’
Despite being a ‘white man’s angst’ narrative, it resonated due to its universal themes. Now the new episode digs deeper into his issues with his father. William Sr. is still revered for his work as an author, while Hank has not received fame or recognition. We see him navigating this pressure of being a celebrated author’s son and never receiving an iota of that love or recognition.
The writing of this episode delves into the nature of this ‘breed of writers’. Before digging into how Hank deals with his worries, be aware of spoilers.
Lucky Hank (Season 1) Episode 2 Recap:
Episode 2: George Saunders
Hank (Bob Odenkirk) sits in a café, hoping to write the first word on a blank document. He tries to conjure his childhood memories that are filled with loneliness. He recalls sitting by himself in a room filled with books, occasionally writing on a typewriter. However, as a middle-aged man, he is continually interrupted by a man sitting at another table. This man is so amused by himself that he expresses it loudly! Hank notices a book sitting next to him – Your Novel In 30 Days. If only Hank had that unabashed confidence to wholeheartedly believe in such cheap tricks and not be bothered by the thought of whether he measures up to his father’s caliber.
Since the man does not stop chortling due to his bloated sense of self-worth, Hank goes back to an on-stage conversation he once had with a fellow writer – George Saunders (Brian Huskey). Both were fairly young at the time and spoke about the process of writing and the ‘secret of success’ with fervor. While George joked about sleeping with Hank’s established-writer father, Hank had nothing to add to the discussion. Was he successful? Is he now? He ponders on it.
Later in the office, Hank argues with Dean Rose (Oscar Nuñez) for bringing George for a live, onstage conversation at their Railton college. Dean argues, stating all the accolades George has received, which Hank finds worthless. After all the years of distance, he does not want to be put in that spot with George now that he is a ‘celebrated writer.’ Dean somehow convinces him to do so.
Right outside, Hank sees posters of the event pasted on walls. He does not like his name written along with George’s. Seeing George as a ‘hack who made it big’ makes Hank feel good about himself. He wants pity, attention, or just some recognition for ‘his’ misery. So he fakes his muscle pain and asks the radiologist whether it is a sign of a kidney stone. He rejects Hank’s self-diagnosis. But Hank stubbornly believes it since his past generations had the disease. The doctor wonders why Hank willingly wants this burden.
Later, Hank opens up about his anguish with Lily (Mireille Enos). He and George started out on the same level. Now, George is a celebrated writer, whereas Hank is a failed one. In his regular ruminations about writing, Hank wonders why writing attracts so many ‘dickheads’. He wonders why so many feel uncontrollable to speak about their rich inner lives if their outer lives do not mirror that richness.
Gracie DuBois (Suzanne Cryer) teaches her students about the need to go beyond the obvious and explore unexplored parts of their minds. Paul Rourke (Cedric Yarbrough) interrupts her class by constantly revving his car engine. She shuts the window and decides to avoid speaking against it. Gracie sees it as a sign of an undeveloped male brain to care for someone beyond themselves. However, her student – Solange (Sierra Sidwell) makes her see it as a clear case of bullying.
Meanwhile, George comes into the college, and Hank gives him the expected ‘warm welcome.’ The writing faculty convey their utmost admiration for this celebrated writer. Gracie goes to the length of even inviting him back to her guesthouse. George acknowledges their praise but stays away from accepting any of their requests. But he invites them to his upcoming event. Unlike their buttering, Emma (Shannon DeVido) goes on a limb to say she is busy and won’t attend it, creating an awkward silence in the staffroom.
Then George goes to meet the young, impressionable writers from Hank’s class, who get mighty impressed by his eloquent suggestions. Bartow (Jackson Kelly), who is still not over not getting an apology from Hank, taunts him for his incompetence as a professor. Meanwhile, Gracie goes to confront Paul’s selfishness. He keeps defending it proudly, calling it his right. He continues to taunt her and make her feel that she is wrong to argue with him.
While speaking with June (Alvina August), Emma speaks about her unnecessarily rude behavior with George earlier. She says that she cannot control her impulse and even unknowingly insults June. Meanwhile, Hank gets jealous of George’s popularity among his students and tries to make him leave. But George decides to stay. He continues answering students’ queries even if they are as tone-deaf as asking what kind of paper George uses to write. In the end, he endows one piece of advice – to trust that their taste is good and to write every day.
The needle moves to Hank, who takes this statement personally and makes a self-deprecating remark. He mentions his struggle to do it day after day. George stays sympathetic even toward him and says how even great writers such as Hank struggle with writer’s block. Then he asks Hank what keeps him from writing, which pains him. He answers by saying ‘lunch,’ asking George to have a lunch break.
It almost seems like Hanks stumbles into the truth since maintaining the mundane routine of normal adult life is what keeps him from writing. He does not think his life is interesting enough to write about. Meanwhile, his desire for ‘normalcy’ stems from his father, who made his old family act as per his whims. Hank is still stuck with that feeling of neglect.
During the lunch break, Bartow keeps bickering about Hank, saying how just an hour of a lesson from George was more fruitful than months of lectures from Hank. Solange calls out Bartow’s entitlement and failure despite all the privileges. Later, Ava (Lilah Fitzgerald) meets him to form an alliance. They go meet Dean Rose with Lester (Jason Sakaki) and ask to form ‘the Excellence committee’ to hold their professors accountable for their inadequacies. Dean sees where Bartow’s anger stems from. However, Bartow stays firm on his request and says that he does not need Hank’s apology if Dean agrees with this request. Dean sees it as a win-win and decides to allot them a common room on the campus twice a week for an hour.
Outside the classroom, Hank confronts George for putting him in a tough spot before – making him speak about his writer’s block. George says that Hank need not be so sensitive about it. Back at home, Hank bickers to Julie about not having time to write. She sees it as trivial and tells him to find time instead of being bitter about his life. She updates him about the news that their daughter Julie (Olivia Scott Welch) and her partner Russell (Daniel Doheny) want to give them. They immediately conclude that the young couple wants to tell them they are pregnant.
While Hank goes out to write in solitude, his junior colleague Meg Quigley (Sara Amini) asks him if she is invited to the Saunders’ convention. While initiating a dialogue about George and Hank’s relationship with him, she asks if he has read her dissertation. He says he skimmed through it. More than anything, he is just so consumed with thoughts of inadequacies when compared to George to answer her kindly. He takes out one of George’s books that he describes as ‘some notes on kindness.’
Hank opens it to find a blurb by his father, who calls George the voice of his generation. ‘There is no one – no one – who comes anywhere near the depth of his talent,’ Hank’s father says. It adds to Hank’s misery. Meanwhile, Gracie bribes a university officer into getting Paul’s car towed. Paul barges into the staffroom to question her. She says it is due to his own reluctance to pay the parking tickets. George sees this commotion in person right after telling Hank about the fond letter exchange between him and Hank’s father.
Later, he apologizes to Hank for putting him on the spot. They exchange thoughts on how there is no need for everyone to write down their lives. It is his way of consoling Hank. Meanwhile, still hurt by Gracie’s insult, Paul decides to humiliate her work by putting it next to Walt Whitman’s. He makes fun of her poem and makes her a laughingstock for the students. On the other hand, Hank meets his mother, who still has a review for his first book framed and hanging on her wall.
Hank self-deprecatingly says that the reviewer must have said it out of fondness for his father. His mother says that the reviewer did, in fact, ‘love his father.’ ‘Maybe the second book’s the charm,’ she says. After speaking with George about how Harper Lee’s second book always remained a draft, he questions whether he should even think of writing. Seeing their family photos on the wall then takes him back to thoughts about his familial duties.
Later at night, Hank and Lily go to a restaurant, all dressed up, to meet Julie & Russell, hoping to hear about their grandchild. Unfortunately, ‘the news’ turns out to be about a silly business plan Russel came up with for a swimming pool in their backyard. Besides Russel’s incompetent revenue plans, the young couple’s absolute confidence about it pains Hank. The disappointment is crystal clear on his face, how his son-in-law refuses to take any responsibility as an adult. Hank even pitches the bartender to hire Russell.
Meanwhile, Solange informs Gracie about Paul humiliating her in front of the entire class. She says that they need to be like rhinos (have tough skin) since inconsiderate people like Paul continue to be inconsiderate despite bringing it to their notice. She comes back to teach her students and sits on a chair that has a past. Her father used to allow her to sit in that very chair after putting her through a grueling exercise. Only she did not understand how sad it was as a child. She saw it as him acknowledging her worth. The students point out the strangeness of what she considered to be a pleasant memory. Meanwhile, we can see where her constant need for approval comes from.
Lucky Hank (Season 1), Episode 2 Ending Explained:
How does Hank’s conversation with George go?
Hank gets very drunk during the convention and starts yapping about his anger toward George and his fame. Julie gets concerned and thinks he will make a fool of himself if he goes on stage to speak with George. So, she tells him to return home. He walks up to a school hockey game and meets his pal, Tony (Diedrich Bader), to discuss Geroge’s demeaning treatment. Tony incites Hank to tell George that he is an asshole.
So, Hank walks back to the college and goes up to the stage to speak with George. While backstage, he confronts George for disrespecting him and thinking that he is a hack. George then notes how much he loved Hank’s first book and even recites a particular section from it. Hank gets the recognition he always craved from someone. Then these old friends go on stage to have an informal conversation with clever insights about writing. It makes Hank feel revitalized.
By that time, Julie decides to throw away the chair that she believed to be a fond memory of her childhood. Maybe that is her way of getting rid of constantly seeking validation. Hank walks back with Julie, who is elated by his jovial spirit. He says that he should have kept writing like Saunders. However, it would not have mattered since his father would never have approved of him. The night ends on this morbid note for this troubled man, where Julie feels every bit protective of him. The trouble for him is not whether he will write well or not. The trouble is that his father will never approve of it or him.
In this new episode, we see almost every character gradually develop to form a rounded identity. It brings up some clever insights about them. There is a fantastic deconstruction of Hank & Julie’s unresolved or undiagnosed parental traumas. Besides that, young couples also show some troubling relationship patterns. Wide-eyed Ava gets attracted to pretentious & rebellious Bartow almost like Lady Bird did to Kyle (Timothee Chalamet’s character). You see a relationship bound to be based on her attraction to her male partner’s utter assholery. Julie is also left doing emotional labor for her incompetent partner, possibly due to her anger toward her father. So, almost every other character screams at you through their behavior, saying – ‘Work on your issues before it’s too late!’