“Hello, Pierce. It’s time for a reckoning.”
What a difference a week makes. Even though Lucifer finally comes clean to Chloe about his feelings for her in last week’s tale, reborn lawyer Charlotte Richards’ death appears to set up the hunt for her killer and the emotional fallout with which the characters will undoubtedly be forced to cope. And then the stunning news hit that Lucifer fell prey to Fox’s cancellation bloodbath casting a pall over what fans assumed would be another exciting season finale.
And while there is a fairly significant payoff at episode’s end, the long anticipated cliffhanger simply represents too much of a loose thread to function as a satisfying series conclusion. That said, it’s difficult to adequately assess “A Devil of My Word” since we can now only speculate what the writers had in mind for season four, and while it’s possible that another network could pick up the compelling fantasy drama and continue the story, we’ll just have to work with what we’ve been given. Thanks a lot, Fox.
As expected, the murder investigation dominates the episode, and immediately sets up a contrast that runs throughout. Pierce appears on the scene only to ensure that he left no loose ends tying him to Charlotte’s death, even as Lucifer comforts Chloe telling her that she’ll be reunited with Charlotte in Heaven. It’s a poignant opening that sets the stage for everything that follows, but of particular note is Lucifer mentioning to Chloe that he won’t be able to follow her into Heaven when the time comes. Of course, she’s preoccupied with the crime scene, but his continued self-deprecation remains one of those threads that we’ll never see developed.
Why does he see himself as he does? Tonight we get more of a concrete answer to that question as he explains that his self loathing carries over from the failed rebellion he led against his Father. Does he regret the attempt, or does he beat himself up because he failed? Either way, it’s an internal struggle that still has not resolved itself.
Tom Welling’s portrayal of Lt. Marcus Pierce has been one of the highlights of season three, and nothing changes here. Pierce has run the gamut from immortal punished by God to roam the Earth forever, to a man who’s fallen in love and seems content to live out his days with the woman who changed his life. Regardless of which Pierce presents itself, we’ve never seen him exhibit fear until tonight. “I’ve never been scared of dying before,” he tells one of his Sinnerman minions, but this fear goes far beyond what a normal person might experience. Unlike most procedurals, we already know the killer’s identity, so here we get to watch a cat and mouse game play out as each side attempts to out think the other. Though it has nothing to do with him being the boss, Pierce never really assimilates into the core group which makes it easier to see him as Charlotte’s killer once the evidence points in that direction.
Still in shock, Dan (Kevin Alejandro) goes to Charlotte’s apartment to grieve under the guise of putting her effects in order. Watching him throw the never used waffle maker into the glass table drives home the point that this is a fundamentally good man who can’t seem to catch a break despite his best efforts to find peace and happiness. There’s no one we feel more for than Dan, but at least this outburst produces the case’s first solid lead. Does he come by Pierce’s file a bit too easily? Perhaps, but the decision to speed things up here is a good one and followed in turn by Chloe’s assessment that the lieutenant’s emotional speech to his officers is clearly disingenuous. She makes the leap from liar to killer pretty quickly, but that’s okay too.
However, the leaps keep coming fast and furiously, and “A Devil of My Word” begins stretching its own credulity just a bit. The entertaining scene with the hedge fund manager under investigation by Charlotte’s office provides the only real banter of the evening, but once they move on from him, the already rapid pace gathers more steam. That Chloe is able to so quickly narrow the focus to Chamberlain’s driver seems a bit too convenient, but it does set the wheels in motion for Pierce’s eventual takedown.
Though there is certainly plenty of action in the episode, its strength lies in the dialogue rich exchanges between Lucifer, Chloe, and Pierce. Lucifer has explored the notion of free will vs God’s plan for the better part of three seasons, and when Lucifer finally recognizes that he, not his Father, gave him his devil face, his perception of himself may be irrevocably altered. Why then did he perceive himself to be a monster even before he became one? As usual, Linda’s words carry a wealth of wisdom, and we’re treated to a beautiful scene in which Mazikeen apologizes for the way she’s treated her friend. “Emotions are hard,” the doctor tells Maze, “that’s why they make you strong.” Like Lucifer, Maze has begun the process of coming to terms with the person she’s become, not the torturer she was. Nevertheless, Linda helps her take the first necessary steps, and it’s clear Maze has a support system in place.
Does man have the power to control who we are simply by how we perceive ourselves? What a heartfelt moment as Lucifer and Ella discuss why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Though it’s difficult find much to criticize about Chloe’s life choices, Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia) has always felt like the show’s moral center especially when God’s role in man’s life is at issue. Her conversation with Lucifer may finally convince him to abandon the notion that God has been manipulating him into making decisions, but it’s also fascinating to watch her struggle with her own crisis of faith. While Lucifer may remain estranged from his Father, regaining faith in himself should help with his flagging self-worth.
Nevertheless, it’s the detective who opens her heart and soul to God’s wayward son, and her judgement is not lost on him. “You may think that that’s what you are, but I don’t see you that way.” Lucifer now re-evaluates how he sees himself, and his once important devil face doesn’t carry the weight it once did. In turn this pointed exchange masterfully transitions into the episode’s climactic showdown between the power of good and evil.
Ella determines too late that Lucifer and Chloe are walking into Pierce’s trap, and when the lieutenant’s heavily armed men appear and take aim, we have to consider that perhaps God did put Chloe in Lucifer’s path for a reason. By standing up to Pierce and literally shielding Lucifer from harm’s way, Chloe epitomizes the selfless behavior displayed by Charlotte last week. After she shoots Pierce, all hell breaks loose as the automatic weapons of Pierce’s men now come into play, and it’s up to Lucifer to put his own life at risk. Does he consider his vulnerabilities when in close proximity to the detective before cradling her in his arms and protecting her with his wings?
Needless to say, it’s a bit of a surprise to see Lucifer’s wings emerge as shields against the gunfire, but to watch them bloodied as they take hit after hit presents a powerful image. While bullets won’t stop Lucifer, Cain has one of Maze’s blades and a tightly choreographed fight ensues culminating in the Devil embedding the steel into Cain’s chest. “I am a Devil of my word,” he tells the dying Cain who delusionally believes he’s headed for the good place. And even though we’ve anticipated the final scene for quite some time, its arrival, nonetheless, is no less shocking. Can Lucifer pull off his version of Karellen? Maybe he already has.
It seems important that Lucifer appears to have to force his wings to retract before taking on Pierce, as if hiding them reminds him of the bad man he sees when he looks in the mirror. But at the end, he does acknowledge that just maybe, as Pierce asserts, Lucifer fears being good. Chloe now faces the realization that Lucifer’s metaphors have indeed been statements of truth and not clever ways of coping with his reality. It appears she catches a glimpse of his wings at least once and maybe twice before he turns around at episode’s end to reveal his devil face. And what of that face? Is it a residual effect of his clash with Pierce, or has he learned nothing about himself? I think we have to go with the former and understand that even good men deal with anger and rage, but that’s not what defines them. Can Chloe, like Linda and Charlotte, cope with the celestial realities now confronting her?
As a season finale, “A Devil of My Word” is not without its flaws, but it overcomes them by giving us imperfect characters struggling to find peace not only in their lives but in their souls. Shipping Lucifer and Chloe for three seasons has certainly been a lot of fun, and to not get the chance to see how she handles the truth of his identity hurts. It’s just something fans will have to live with. Without a doubt, it’s the Fourth Circle of Hell for the Fox executives that made the decision to abandon this wonderful series. Say hi to Pierce while you’re down there.