This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer Season 3 Episode 4
“I’m your substitute counselor and resident bad influence.”
Lucifer has spent a significant amount of time exploring the identity crisis suffered by the Lord of Darkness himself, but “What Would Lucifer Do?” draws the rest of the gang into the mix as the search for purpose spotlighted thus far in season three continues. While there’s still plenty of subtext to decipher, much of the persistent concern felt by the characters is laid bare, out in the open for all to see. And while this thematic expansion is done well, the poignant final scene may be the most heart wrenching of the series.
The murder of a counselor at an elite reform program for young criminal offenders forms the basis of this week’s procedural as the Firehawk Ranch provides a “place of transformation” for those seeking to rebuild their lives. Arriving at the crime scene, Lucifer immediately espouses his belief that individuals don’t change; they are who they are. Of course, that’s Lucifer’s problem – he refuses to admit that he has changed and insists on reliving his former torturous hits. His dilemma isn’t that he can’t change, but that he’s uncomfortable with the man he’s become. “Once bad always bad,” is his mantra, but it’s clearly more complicated than that. Still at the heart of his distress is the feeling that his Father has constructed an elaborate strategy to return Lucifer to his throne in Hell so that he can pick up where he left off. In the grand scheme of things, this dispute with “dear old dad” has grown a bit tiresome, and we need to see some real progress sooner rather than later.
However, this chapter is not without its charm, and when Lucifer goes undercover at the ranch to attempt to smoke out the killer, Tom Ellis is at his devilish best. After directing a lesson explaining how to be a drug dealer, Lucifer rides a white horse into the barn where his charges are harvesting and packaging the weed that’s being grown on the premises. Smoking a joint while atop his steed magnifies his quandary. It’s difficult to be simultaneously seen as the hero and the villain. There’s a bit of fire imagery in this episode, and the smoky haze around him plays into this, but we have to wonder why he’s so intent on being perceived as a bad person. His desire to “embrace the Devil I used to be” seems to run contrary to the dispute he’s having with his Father, but is it simply a fear of change? And why is he so insistent that people don’t change?
Despite the fact that he’s proven his worth with the LAPD time and again, Lucifer continues to struggle with his desire to punish those who deserve to be punished. He seems unable to distinguish between retribution on Earth and that in Hell. Nevertheless, the scene in which he tracks down Jerry Blackcrow trying to escape prosecution addresses the internal battle he’s been having as he loses control and begins physically beating the man. “Your punishment will be far worse than jail,” he plainly tells him, but if Lucifer’s not in Hell to do the punishing, then how does he know this will be the man’s fate? Who’s down there in his stead?
Wrestling with his own misunderstood sense of purpose, Amenadiel stops his brother from killing the man, and then gets to the heart of Lucifer’s angst. “You’re not evil. You’re the Devil; you punish people.” And therein lies the dichotomy. Why can’t Lucifer see that working with Detective Decker allows him to punish those actions deserving of punishment instead of focusing solely on who he was as lord of the underworld? He does though reach an understanding when he says that wings or not, devil face or not, he is at heart a punisher, but it’s clear to everybody including Amenadiel, that Lucifer is primarily punishing himself. Has he been told he’s evil for so long that he now sees no other future for himself?
Amenadiel has his own demons to battle, and whether Lucifer wants to admit it or not, his brother appreciates that Chloe remains at the core of Lucifer’s struggle. He has changed, and whether it’s that he consciously chose a white horse to ride or beat himself up for not being with the detective when she nearly got shot, this battle reaches its height with the haunting image of Lucifer staring at himself in the broken mirror. This is a man whose identity has been shattered, but if he allows those around him to help, he can once again find contentment. And yes, punishing can be part of this new life. But there’s a cruelty surrounding Lucifer that’s surfaced, and the story he tells his brother does nothing more than reinforce his own self-loathing.
There’s a certain sadness that surrounds Amenadiel and his desire to figure out his role in all of this. Unlike his brother, he sees God’s role as testing rather than manipulating, and even though Lucifer mocks him for it, he accepts that having his brother’s back is how he’s best meant to serve their Father. When you examine this line of thinking, it’s understandable that Lucifer would react as he does since it can reasonably be interpreted as God saying that Lucifer needs to be watched over. Regardless, Amenadiel appears satisfied that he now knows his mission.
Since Lt. Marcus Pierce arrived at the precinct, the subtle, sexually tinged interplay between the eager to please Detective Decker and the painfully candid commander has been one of the season’s strongest elements. Watching Chloe inform Pierce that she wants to expand her identity within the department, Ella later teases the detective that the two of them put out some “scorching fire” when they’re in close quarters, and that the lieutenant is definitely into her. Now it may be reading too much into Ella’s fire imagery by taking her description as an allusion to Hell, but Pierce is worth keeping an eye on even if he does turn out to be a good guy. It’s not clear whether Chloe’s trying to impress Pierce or advance her career, but his response to her applying for the union rep job is telling.
However, the scene in the hospital when Chloe and Pierce talk about facing the possibility of death leads to a conclusion that would certainly make Ella happy. Agreeing that life should be lived to the fullest can only mean one thing – these two are headed for a relationship. But when he tells her he knows she’s special, do his words carry more than their superficial meaning? Does he know something concrete about the effect she has on Lucifer?
Even though Chloe and Lucifer continue to work together, there’s a bit of a wedge that stands between them leaving room for outsiders to infiltrate their relationship, working or otherwise. Like Lucifer, she too needs to know that she’s valued for who she is, and Pierce’s plain talk leaves no room for interpretation. Decker’s the best he has.
While not as obvious as the others, Dan’s desire to better himself in Pierce’s eyes also becomes part of the text, and of all the principals, Daniel Espinoza may have the most to overcome. In the lieutenant’s eyes, he’s the crooked cop who got off easy, and though Pierce appears to be letting him prove himself, Dan’s identity goes far beyond that serious misstep. Professionally, he’s at a crossroads, but in the back of our minds looms that nagging question about his feelings for Chloe. Has he moved on, and did his fling with Charlotte Richards raise his profile in Lucifer’s eyes as well as his own? The Detective Douche moniker has been noticeably absent, so that’s something.
A solid if unremarkable episode, “What Would Lucifer Do” comes across as a bit too obvious in places, but the final conversation between the brothers more than makes up for any shortcomings. Firehawk wings awarded to those at the ranch who have truly reformed may be a bit much, but there’s enough here to overcome the absence of Maze and Dr. Linda. That said, even a mention or off hand remark about the Sinnerman would have been nice, but at the end of the day, no one should be punished for those omissions.
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