This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer Season 3 Episode 8
“Not like a demented witch on crack!”
After last week’s rare standalone episode, Lucifer follows up with a thought provoking tale examining the struggle to remain true to oneself amidst a world obsessed with image. Featuring an exclusive dating app at the heart of the murder investigation and Monopoly metaphors woven throughout, “Chloe Does Lucifer” gets about as close to perfection as possible.
The cold open beautifully crystallizes the essence of the episode. The image of Lucifer, Chloe, and Trixie, faces adorned with painted on designs, playing the omnipresent family game Monopoly in front of a roaring fire presents a life that each has fantasized about even though one of them may be loathe to admit it. As Amenadiel later tells him, “Boring suits you, brother.” During the series’ run, Lucifer has slowly come to accept that there are other sides to him besides the punisher persona he so tenaciously hangs onto. But at some point he is just going to have to put all of his baggage aside and decide who he really is and who he really wants to be.
Structurally, it’s a nice touch that we end where we begin, minus Lucifer in the epilogue, as the warmth of the hearth reinforces the idea that family can be themselves around each other. Using such an iconic image as the Monopoly game enables the writers to extend that metaphor well beyond the individual pieces. We know Trixie (Scarlett Estevez) loves having Lucifer around, so it’s wonderful to see the three of them relaxed enjoying each other’s company. That Lucifer allowed himself to have his face painted shows that his superficiality can be breached when he’s around those he cares for and who care about him. If he can eventually move past feeling that there’s something disingenuous about his relationship with Chloe, then this is a picture of what life on Earth could hold for him. Whether or not his Father did put the detective in his path is irrelevant at this point.
Lucifer’s insistence that he be the top hat while playing Monopoly coincides nicely with the murder of a woman connected to the elite dating app Top Meet, and when Chloe and Lucifer find the dead woman’s roommate taking selfies at the crime scene to post and cement her social media maven status, we’re not sure whether to respond with laughter or horror because we know there are people like her out there. That millions create and manipulate an online presence simply to say “Hey, look at me” rings regretfully true. The Kardashianesque Esther (Mikaela Hoover) represents the self-absorbed “Me Generation” that has become so consumed with its smartphones and the notion that the world cares about their every move that true human interaction has begun to disappear. Hoover does a wonderful job taking Esther to the edge and then stepping back at the end. Lucifer’s “Tell me what you desire” gives Esther a chance to unburden herself and finally admit that the image she presents of herself is a lie setting up the possibility that she has changed.
After last week’s episode which focused on punishing charlatans, learning that the face of Top Meet is just that, merely a face, and not the computer genius he purports to be, keeps the motif going. Whether or not Mack Slater (Michael Rady) has truly lost sight of himself doesn’t really matter; he stands as a cautionary tale of the dangers inherent in believing one’s own social profile. Of course, there’s still the issue of Lucifer losing control of his devil face which in his mind represents his true self. It’s just a face; is it really who he is?
But this is Lucifer so let’s not get too serious here. Both Lucifer and Chloe decide independently of each other to seductively approach Mack at his home to search for the murder weapon. It’s always fun to watch the detective step outside of her comfort zone, but more importantly, know that she can pull off alluring and sexy if she wants to. That’s not who she is, but it’s who she can be when the mood strikes. And that is a woman confident in her own skin.
Ella (Aimee Lopez) continues to delight, and though she doesn’t get to science anything tonight, her pairing with lawyer Charlotte Richards (Tricia Helfer) may be the episode’s highlight, especially in light of Charlotte’s crisis of conscience. Ella’s spirituality frequently plays a role, and tonight is no different as Charlotte demands that Ella teach her how to avoid being sent to Hell. There’s a desperation here that even though Helfer plays it with humor through her fictitious shadow program, the fear of being consumed by the “darkness” is weighing her down. That said, these two are magic together.
This sub-plot freaks Ella out to the point that she tries to physically hide whenever Charlotte enters the precinct, but what is it about Charlotte that puts Ella off so much? Charlotte’s a powerful, confident woman who dresses and carries herself to intimidate those around her, and the one scene in which the camera focuses on her stiletto heels enhances that attitude. But this is Ella we’re talking about. Finally, she gives in and tells Charlotte that “connecting with people isn’t a waste,” which when you think about it, is the same problem Lucifer’s mother faced – an inability to share on a human level. And with Charlotte taking a pay cut for a job in the DA’s office, imagine the narrative possibilities now that she has even more reason to spend time at the precinct. Think about it: who’s going to be more unsettled, Lucifer or Dan?
Another pairing the writers so deftly employ as part of the “be yourself” theme is Dr. Linda and Amenadiel. In the aftermath of her husband’s death (nice segue from last week’s story), Linda agonizes over plans for Reese’s funeral service, and though her struggle seemingly embodies the guilt she feels for not feeling terrible about his death, her conversation on the beach with Amenadiel reveals a much more deep seated anxiety. Her brush with death aside, the truth she carries about the brothers and their mother weighs heavily, and she admits that “being a celestial insider really sucks.” I’m not sure which is more poignant: that Linda doesn’t see herself as a good person, and like Charlotte, feels she’s doomed to an afterlife in Hell, or Amenadiel ministering to her emotional needs. Nonetheless, he helps her understand that it’s okay to feel the way she does and pulls her out of the darkness plaguing her.
Unfortunately, there may be an entire generation that doesn’t grasp the full impact of the extended metaphor in “Chloe Does Lucifer.” The top hat is so much more than just a marker moved around the Monopoly board as players collect money. Though he’s slowly learning, Lucifer’s obsession with the top hat as a symbol of sophistication and status mirrors much of society at large. All of which brings us to the shoe token which to Lucifer represents the mundane, boring aspects of life he seeks to avoid. It is a bit disappointing that he makes such a point in associating Chloe with the shoe when he knows that any parts of her life he sees as boring more than likely tie to her being a good mother to her daughter. Ending with a powerful image of the tiny metal shoe resting on Lucifer’s trademark grand piano, innuendo aside, perhaps tonight’s tale should have been titled “Lucifer Does Chloe.” Has the Devil seen that there’s more to him than he’s willing to admit and taken a page from his partner’s playbook?
Lucifer continues to have its characters focus on their journeys of self-discovery, and while we never want to get away from the show’s light tone, when the acting is this good, it opens a wealth of possibilities for the writers.