Lucifer: A Priest Walks Into a Bar Review
Faith, redemption, and an unlikely bromance in Lucifer’s best episode yet.
This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer: Season 1, Episode 9
If this is what Lucifer is like when it’s firing on all cylinders, then I say hell yes to another season. There was a lot to love about “Priest,” so much that was handled well and done right that it’s easily the best episode so far. So let’s just jump into it and talk about what made this guilty pleasure a standout hour of television.
Malcolm. Yes, Malcolm. The dirty cop at the center of the big Palmetto case and Chloe’s white whale. The same Malcolm who Amenadiel resurrected on his deathbed a couple of episodes back. Bringing Malcolm back in both the literal and figurative sense created an unexpected twist that invigorated Lucifer, giving the show a true, recurring baddie, someone who could cause trouble for the rest of the cast in a way Lucifer himself would or could not.
Case in point: Malcolm knows he has Dan over a barrel, not just because he’s another dirty cop, but because he himself pulled that trigger. Now, Dan finds himself at his new partner’s mercy, as threats against Chloe and Trixie linger on Malcolm’s tongue. Lucifer may be evil incarnate, but there’s a real malice to the way Kevin Rankin portrays Malcolm, giving him a flinty-eyed purpose that makes one wish Amenadiel had never saved him.
But that second chance comes with strings attached, as we quickly find out, and Amenadiel is not shy about tugging at those strings. D.B. Woodside is fantastic in his scenes with Rankin. Malcolm may be dangerous, but he’s still only a man with a mortal’s small problems. Amenadiel, on the other hand, has the power of Heaven itself at his disposal, to use as he sees fit. Malcolm is a pawn in a much bigger game that transcends the earthly plane; he is simply a means to an end for returning Lucifer back to Hell where he rightfully belongs.
And if Malcolm is not willing to hold up his end of the bargain, he’ll find himself right back in that same Hell. Woodside puts enough bass into his performance that it’s easy to forget that Amenadiel is supposed to be the good brother. That he’s even devised such a nefarious plan speaks to his desperation for returning everything to the status quo. But who better than a dirty cop with an untraceable gun to send the Devil back to Hades?
And, speak of the Devil, Tom Ellis was given a lot to do this episode. I love the idea that Satan could form an unlikely friendship with a priest. But Father Frank is no ordinary man of the collar. He’s a man with a checkered past filled with petty crimes and life on the road as a musician. Frank’s led a full, troubled life that eventually led him to find meaning in God. Little does he know that he’s befriended Lucifer Morningstar himself.
Lucifer, on the other hand, is painfully aware of the man’s credentials. His first instinct is to rebuff Frank’s request for aid in what he suspects is a drug-trafficking ring being operated out of a youth center. If anything, Lucifer is more interested in sticking it to his old man by framing one of his holy men. This is exactly how you’d expect the Devil to react, and it’s handled quite deftly by Ellis and the writers. This request brings up bigger issues of faith and religion and even destiny. Lucifer is well aware of his role in the universe, but Frank believes we can’t truly understand God and His plans.
For a show with Satan as its main character, there hasn’t been much theology, at least not in the traditional sense. Frank’s character brings religion to the fore in a way that isn’t preachy so much as it is a logical leap of faith that a supreme being exists. Which is why it’s easy to accept that maybe Frank was brought into Lucifer’s life for a reason, that his own death would hold meaning for a being whose sole job is to bring eternal misery to the damned.
Of course, for Frank’s death to hold any meaning, his friendship with Lucifer has to be believable. Colman Domino is fantastic in this regard, imbuing Father Lawrence with jaded charm. He’s a man who’s trying to make more of his life, to move on from tragedy and hardship by embracing his faith. Lucifer is interested in none of this, but what draws these two together is a love for the piano. In a scene that calls to mind the old Charlie Daniels Band song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the holy man and Old Scratch try to outdo each other on Lucifer’s piano. Before long, the duel becomes a spirited accompaniment. It’s a heartfelt moment in a series that hasn’t had many of them. This one, though, is fully earned and plays out quite beautifully.
Which brings us to Chloe, who has the pleasure of interrupting the two at the piano. She sees a bond forming between the two men, which affords her a gentler side of Lucifer she hasn’t seen before. Yes, she has a lot going on in her own life, what with trying to work things out with Dan, but over the course of this season we’ve seen her come to like and appreciate Lucifer despite her better judgment. After Frank’s death, Chloe stops by the club to check in on her partner, who’s not doing so well. And in another nice scene, we see her and Lucifer tickling the ivories together. “Show, don’t tell” is an old storytelling adage, and this scene shows us quite effectively that these two people have the potential to make beautiful music together.
Some closing thoughts:
I don’t say this enough, but Lauren German is great as Chloe Decker, who makes the detective an incredibly likable, earnest character.
Has eating a jelly donut ever seemed so menacing — or gross?