This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer: Season 1, Episode 4
After last week’s not-bad “The Would-Be Prince of Darkness,” I came into tonight’s episode with high hopes — or at least higher hopes than one might expect for this tepid examination of history’s greatest villain. But one clunky plot contrivance later (how will Chloe and Lucifer be thrown together this week?), and said hopes were quickly dashed. Lucifer doesn’t seem too concerned about taking the airwaves by storm. It’s not compelling, must-watch television in the same vein as AMC’s The Walking Dead, which was a pretty strong show out the gate in its first season. No, Fox’s supernatural procedural seems almost content with its mainstream mediocrity — two words one doesn’t usually equate with Mr. Morningstar. And yet here we are, and Beelzebub’s your uncle, as it were.
As I’ve written before about this show, the crime of the week is beside the point. (This week’s case? An out-of-town girl has been kidnapped and held for ransom.) What’s meant to drive this show is the relationship between Lucifer and Chloe. They’re both still mysteries to one another, which is all well and good, but without the aforementioned plot contrivances that throw them together, I get the distinct feeling these two people would never have any real reason to pal around. The deliberate lack of sexual chemistry is also working against the show. Lucifer is all about temptation, and there’s just none to be found between him and Chloe. Not for lack of his trying, though. And that’s something else that deeply rankles me.
What Lucifer lacks in sexual tension, it makes up for with an odd power dynamic that gives Chloe an edge over the devil himself. This is not a comment on gender politics so much as it is about faith — or belief, if you will. She’s not threatened by the fear of eternal damnation because she doesn’t believe in hell. And while Chloe claims not to be an atheist, she does recognize the play between good and evil in the universe. If this gives her dominion over the devil, so be it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Her power over him is not something she actively exercises (or exorcises). She has skeletons in her closet (a sordid, short-lived movie career), but isn’t grappling with any demons — at least none that she knows of.
Which brings us right back to our titular antihero. Lucifer should not only be running things, he should be stealing every scene. Not that Tom Ellis doesn’t try. He’s charming enough, he just doesn’t make for a convincing devil. Instead, the soundtrack does a lot of the heavy lifting for him, conveying a sense of brash confidence that doesn’t quite exist on the written page. I realize Lucifer is going for a different kind of devil here, one that is so flawed he could be mistaken for human.
For all my issues with this show, I do enjoy when Lucifer “hulks out” by showing his true colors. When enraged, he doesn’t just see red, he becomes a faceless, red-eyed beast. And no one likes him when he’s angry — especially those who he deems deserving of his unholy wrath. In this case, he’s going after Lindsay herself, the “victim” who staged her own kidnapping to extort money from Carver Cruz. But Chloe interrupts Lucifer before he goes full devil — and in that crucial moment the scales fall from her eyes and she sees Mr. Morningstar for who he really is. Or does she? After all, he doesn’t shrug off being shot this time. No, this time, being shot hurts, much to his horror and hers.
Which brings us back to where we started the episode (and the season) — with Chloe wondering if Lucifer is truly who he claims to be, or is some kind of magician pulling the wool over her eyes. That being said, the episode’s best moment was also one of its briefest. Namely, when Chloe questions Lucifer about the scars on his back, where his wings used to be. He shrinks away from her touch and from her line of questioning. His fall from grace is not the stuff of small talk; he is defined by his paradise lost, and not the not-so-private hell he once inhabited. For this show to truly succeed, it needs to find the right balance between cop show and character study.
Some closing thoughts:
Does Maze really just spend her days…bartending at the club? At least she got to mix things up a bit with Amenadiel this week, but this brawl (if one could call it that) was over much too quickly. This was something the now-cancelled Dominion excelled at — wanton angel violence. I like that Maze is good with a blade — and her tongue. But her character needs some more depth.
Chloe’s daughter Trixie is a cute little kid who is guileless without being annoying. She accepts Lucifer at face value albeit as a nice man and not evil incarnate. But this week she conveniently revealed a character-defining epiphany that otherwise robs the audience of discovering these things for itself.