This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer Season 3 Episode 7
“You forgave the devil. Why can’t you forgive me?”
Life is all about second chances, and when a reporter for a local paper decides to expose the man sleeping with his wife as a fraud, his desire to win back the woman he loves produces an unexpected result. While not one of the season’s stronger episodes, “Off the Record” nonetheless gives us a tiny peek inside Dr. Linda’s life outside of Lucifer’s world.
Lucifer is at its best when the crime of the week parallels some personal angst that one of the characters experiences, and then forces that person to confront those demons. “Off the Record” departs from that formula by focusing not on an actual crime, but on a perceived moral misdeed not surprisingly committed by Lucifer. The year long circular structure, while providing a nice twist at the end, leaves a number of questions unanswered. However, at the heart of the episode lies the burning question: is Lucifer a fraud?
The serial killer case, once again, merely provides a jumping off point for Linda’s estranged husband reporter Reese (Patrick Fabian) to try to bring down the man he thinks is sleeping with his wife: Lucifer Morningstar. Fabian does a credible job playing the obsessed reporter who lets everything else in his life go as he pursues a story he thinks will bring him not only recognition but the satisfaction of punishing the man who’s taken his place. The wall-to-wall white crime boards are always a nice touch, but it seems a bit of a stretch that Reese is able to garner as many accurate details about Lucifer and his family as appear on the wall.
What starts out as a plan to expose Lucifer ends up leaving an innocent girl dead and Reese near death after being poisoned by the serial killer Kapitski (John Billingsley). In what turns out to be a Chloe-lite episode, Billingsley likewise turns in a fine performance as the tinfoil hat wearing weirdo who’s convinced people are not who they claim to be. Without Detective Decker, it’s up to the two guest stars to take on Lucifer and the LAPD. But while Reese is consumed with proving that Lucifer is not who he claims to be, we have to examine his motivations as well. He’s not who he says he is. He’s not simply a reporter exposing the truth. He’s a jealous husband hell bent on revenge.
Even so the greatest strength of “Off the Record” can be found in the conversations Reese has with Linda and Lucifer. However, all of that is predicated on a scene that at first glance leads us to believe Lucifer has his mojo back. When Reese observes Lucifer in full on devil face interrogate a prisoner, he is of course horrified and jumps to the conclusion that Lucifer is, in fact, the Devil. And we assume that whatever prevented him from accessing that part of his repertoire has departed leaving him once again in full control of his actions. But the placement of this episode in the overall timeline makes it just as likely that this all took place while Lucifer was still in control. Remember, this episode takes place over a full year.
Still, watching Reese try to convince Linda to stop seeing Lucifer because he’s the actual Devil is painful especially when we know that she already knows. Reese endures quite a lot during his quest to find out the truth about Lucifer, but he also learns a lot about himself as well. Lucifer’s explanation that humans send themselves to Hell brings up images of Sartre’s existentialism again, but his revelation that the “door’s not locked” acknowledges the possibility of redemption even in the worst of circumstances. In the end, the reporter actually does expose the Devil for who he is. He’s just not who he thought he was.
The one year time lapse doesn’t really add much other than to show how consumed Reese has become, so when Lucifer and Chloe go to see him to ask him for help on the serial killer case, it sets the stage for Reese to take drastic action. Lucifer brings up the fact that he still hasn’t destroyed his wife’s lover leading Reese to later barge into his wife’s session with the Devil and shoot him with a handgun. A bit predictable and doesn’t really push the story anywhere.
Linda’s explanation that she accepts Lucifer even though he is the Devil makes sense within the context of the theme of a second chance to show who you really are, and because Lucifer trusted Linda enough to show his true nature, she accepts him for who he is. Reese now has to accept who he is and let Linda move on with her life. Nevertheless, the bombshell of the evening comes in the form of a confession Linda makes not only to Reese but inadvertently to Lucifer. “He’s a good man. He’s my friend.” Lucifer looks stunned, but that’s been one of the major issues he’s been fighting. Can he accept that the Devil may be morally upright?
“Off the Record” probably qualifies as a bottle episode, and by their nature these are often viewed as filler during a long 22 episode season. As great as Tom Ellis has been as the show’s focal point, even he can’t carry the show alone. Patrick Fabian and John Billingsley make valiant efforts, but at the end of the day, what makes Lucifer work is the chemistry and history Lucifer has with Chloe.