Lucifer Season 3 Episode 20 Review: The Angel of San Bernardino

Lucifer returns to find its namesake distraught over his apparent sleepwalking habits, and Pierce steps up his game with Chloe.

This Lucifer review contains spoilers.

Lucifer Season 3 Episode 20

“I don’t care who I have to hurt as long as it allows me to finally die.”

Needless to say, Lucifer fans were handsomely rewarded for their patience after the three week hiatus leading into the season three’s final five episodes. We don’t often see Lucifer suffer extreme emotional distress, but “The Angel of San Bernardino” reveals a side of the Devil heretofore kept hidden. And while Pierce’s relationship con with Chloe apparently gives him what he truly desires, whether or not he’ll be able to live with the guilt of what he’s done remains to be seen. Of course, therein lies part of the mystery; we still don’t really know what it is he’s done.

Another in a long line of strong episodes, tonight’s tale uncovers the truth, at least partially, about Pierce’s seduction of Chloe, and Mazikeen’s role in the subterfuge that also draws Lucifer into an affair whose self-serving subtext will likely lead to a fracturing of the close knit group of friends and coworkers. Though we know Chloe will be devastated should she learn that Pierce’s manipulation of her feelings was done solely for his benefit, it’s Tom Ellis’ portrayal of a “deeply confused angel” struggling to cope with unfamiliar feelings that truly dominates the story. At times manic from drugs and lack of sleep, Lucifer’s quest to learn the truth about his supposed nocturnal travels fits in nicely with the episode’s murder investigation. 

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We’re often reminded that Lucifer takes place in Los Angeles, and when we learn that the murder victim led a double life of sorts, it’s not at all surprising. However, solving the murder becomes an afterthought though it does provide neatly integrated parallel hidden agendas. Whether Pierce actually cares for Chloe isn’t clear, and when the killer turns out to have been hired as a fill-in husband, much of the goodwill the lieutenant has built up during his courting of Chloe begins to dissipate rather quickly. Has he been acting on a hunch this entire time, or is this the last gasp of a desperate man? Regardless, in the end, it’s his decision to do the right thing that seemingly will allow him to finally embrace a newfound mortality.

But how do we arrive at this point in the narrative? What Pierce hopes to gain by drawing Chloe close only to be cut loose is still unclear. Though Pierce has clearly returned to his theory that Chloe is the key to removing his curse, the mechanics are still fuzzy. His words to Lucifer only add to the confusion. “For the first time, I had it. It was right there in my grasp. The one thing I always wanted. I just had to have her say the words. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t hurt her like that.”

Is there significance to her uttering the words “I love you?” or is it the act of her admitting her love for him that he’s after? In a way, Pierce seems as confused as Lucifer. Does the lieutenant want a relationship with Chloe or not because the undertone of deception remains even though we still don’t have a clear picture of its actual meaning. In a sense, Lucifer gets what he truly desires: Pierce away from the detective. But at what cost? We’re now left to ponder the reason his mark disappears. Has he, through this selfless act, finally offered up to God true contrition for his sins, and more to the point, has God responded?

While all of this transpires, Charlotte Richards seems to have taken a wrong turn and reverts to some of the habits we thought she left behind after her life changing experience. It does appear that Amenadiel is right to be concerned about having brought her into the loop and tells his brother that “divinity is too big for humans to handle.” After all she’s learned and experienced, why does Charlotte choose to embrace the darker side of her personality? Simple human weakness? While the brutal honesty she directs at her coworkers draws a smile from the audience, it’s immediately obvious that there’s something else at play. When she tells Dan that “you only live once, or twice in my case,” it seems she’s taking on a devil-may-care attitude to which she feels entitled.

Charlotte’s assumption that she can squeeze whatever she desires out of life no matter the cost to others because she “knows a guy” who can get her into heaven when the time finally arrives, speaks eloquently to the accuracy of Amenadiel’s assessment of human beings. They can’t handle the truth. Nevertheless, there is hope for Charlotte. When the brothers inform her that they don’t wield that kind of celestial power, their reminder that what matters is “who you truly are,” gives her pause. In an episode fraught with soul searching, hers is perhaps the most heartwrenching. “There’s no hope for me. I can’t change. I’m going to Hell.” But it’s precisely those words and to whom she says them that we hold out hope that Charlotte Richards can, one day, avoid the fiery pits of Hell.

While we’re not certain about Hell’s residency requirements, Mazikeen’s personal struggles continue to plague her. Just when we think she’s turned a corner, typically in the company of Trixie, she falls prey to the seven deadly sins and chooses to remain on Earth rather than return to Hell. Though it appears she’s going to take a crack at killing Pierce, her involvement looks to be nothing more than a diversion to keep Lucifer and Chloe apart so that Pierce can do whatever it is he plans to do. Does Maze also buy into the “Chloe is the key” theory? Though at one time there appeared to be a developing synchronicity among the group, those days are long gone, and self preservation the order of the day.

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Even though the light touch Lucifer often displays is less evident here, that doesn’t mean we’re without humor. After a quick snog in the evidence room, Chloe and Pierce arrive at the crime scene, and almost immediately, Lucifer notes that the detective has some “DNA on your shirt.” Horrified at what that might mean, Laura German plays the naughty schoolgirl caught by her father perfectly. On the other hand, Dan naked in the restaurant storeroom, not so much.

Unquestionably, though, the highlight of the evening occurs when Lucifer decides that the only way to avoid his avenging angel exploits is remain awake and lucid. Employing a combination of cocaine, alcohol, women, and television, he succeeds in really accomplishing only one thing: binge watching all twelve seasons of Fox’s crime drama Bones starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. The incessant partying and time spent in front of the television clearly take a toll on Lucifer’s lucidity. He makes the obvious connection between Brennan and Booth and Chloe and himself, but it’s left up to the viewer to note the real treat in the scene. Boreanaz broke onto the genre television scene as Angel, the vampire in love with the titular hero in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That Lucifer momentarily confuses reality with scenes from the show only adds to the fun.

As we step back from “The Angel of San Bernardino,” Lucifer appears headed for a crossroads from which all characters cannot return intact. It seems inevitable that Chloe will bear the brunt of Marcus Pierce’s attempts to rid himself of his mark and finally meet his maker in the afterlife. And while Pierce seems to have finally succeeded in his multi-millennial quest, that’s not going to make things easier on the detective. Will Lucifer get the opening he’s been waiting for and tell Chloe how he really feels? Can Maze accept herself for who she is and realize that everyone in her circle really does care about her? But most importantly, are we approaching the point at which Detective Chloe Decker finally accepts the truth about those populating her inner circle? It’s a lot to take in, but the writers manage to keep everything on track.

With only four episodes to go and Chloe and Pierce’s relationship facing its first major hurdle, Lucifer stands ready to take us on a fiery ride. They say the truth will set you free; that remains to be seen.


4.5 out of 5