This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer Season 4 Episode 8
“Of course it failed, Lucifer, because that’s not who you are.”
Lucifer journeys down the social commentary path with “Super Bad Boyfriend” and somehow manages to avoid the seemingly inevitable browbeating approach most shows end up employing. That’s not to say we don’t leave with a sick feeling at the end, but it’s a testament to the writers and actors that they serve the story as well as our hearts.
With the relationship drama surrounding Lucifer and Eve’s relationship woes, the significance of Linda’s angel baby gets pushed into the background. Though Amenadiel has clearly enjoyed a more positive relationship with their Father than has his brother, perhaps that’s really at the heart of his distress over whether or not he’ll be a good father. We could spot it coming a mile away, but his request of Lucifer to act as the child’s godfather still produces a smile and presents Lucifer another opportunity to lay the groundwork for his forthcoming profession during his session with Linda.
Set against a murder that has its genesis in a high school student’s obsession with achieving success through acceptance to a prestigious university, Amenadiel’s connection with and support of the young man unjustly accused of the crime plays at the heart of the narrative. The immediate chemistry between Caleb (Denny Love) and Amenadiel as they cross paths at Lux leads to some of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking moments in the series. It’s not clear why Amenadiel seeks parenting advice from total strangers rather than Chloe who’s obviously done a wonderful job with Trixie, but that’s no matter once he meets Caleb.
There’s a wealth of societal baggage buried within Caleb’s story, and ordinarily, from a narrative perspective, we’d question his sincerity regarding the desire to get out of the drug dealing life he claims he’s been pressured into leading. Consciously or not, it doesn’t take Amenadiel long to connect with the teenager because it’s plain from the start that his interest in Caleb is genuine, and the feeling is mutual. The confrontation with Caleb’s stereotypical supplier Tahir (Antwon Tanner) offers Amenadiel the opportunity to experience life outside his sheltered environment, and while he’s crossed paths with bad people before, this is a segment of society that ultimately opens his eyes to the dangers his unborn child faces. While his brother’s self-doubts are warranted, there’s no reason to think the big guy won’t make a great father, and that point is driven home as we watch Amenadiel and Caleb walk down the street eating ice cream cones further cementing the pure innocence both embody.
Nevertheless, even though he’s a black man living within a predominantly white environment, Amenadiel has, for the most part, remained untouched by the racial and economic prejudices that exist in the world outside his bubble. That, however, changes in a hurry as police officers confront them on the street, and Amenadiel suddenly finds himself watching his young friend thrown to the ground as a gun is pointed at his head. He truly doesn’t understand what’s happening, and had Dan not arrived to de-escalate the situation, it seems clear that this incident would end even worse than it does.
Truly puzzled, Amenadiel echoes a refrain we hear far too often in the real world. “Why wouldn’t those officers listen to me?” Though Dan explains that the evidence they have at the moment points towards Caleb’s guilt, the impact of what just happened continues to resonate with Amenadiel. “It’s like they already made up their minds.” Coming from any other character, this might seem a touch heavy handed in a show like Lucifer, but the scene works not only because Amenadiel is black but because he’s pure.
Unfortunately, Amenadiel’s life lesson continues, and the desperation we feel from Caleb as he sits in a jail cell makes the end result even more gut wrenching. The young man truly feels his life is over and sees no way back to the productive path he was on. “What kind of bullshit fantasy world do you be living in, man?” he asks the angel sitting on the other side of the bars, and when Amenadiel asks him to simply “have faith in me,” we do feel things will get better. They do, but not for long.
Coming on the heels of the well documented college admissions scandal, the admission that Ms. Baez’s murder results from a failed attempt to steal a copy of the SAT makes the teacher’s death feel even more tragic. We don’t learn whether Lexi’s desperate moves to gain acceptance into Harvard are motivated by a desire to please her parents or to buoy her own self-worth, but now that we know about the lengths real life parents like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman will go, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Sometimes it takes the wisdom of a child to cut through the nonsense, and things appear to be looking up for Caleb and Amenadiel once the young man is released.
Sadly, we don’t get the happy ending we feel we deserve, and it’s not often that a death affects Lucifer to any significant degree. With Caleb lying dead in the street, Chloe’s assertion that they’ll find Caleb’s killer falls on deaf ears as the brothers bond in a manner we rarely see. “I’ll drive,” Lucifer tells Amenadiel, acknowledging the shared, unspoken desire to punish those responsible for this heinous crime. Like Amenadiel and Lucifer, we receive some sense of satisfaction as the brothers pummel Tahir and his gang, but it’s short lived, especially for Amenadiel whose sudden epiphany drives his next move. “Earth is no place to raise my son.”
Early in the episode Amenadiel establishes the significance of the necklace he wears around his neck, and when he visits the morgue to take one last look at Caleb’, a wealth of emotions emerge. He places the necklace his Father gave him around Caleb’s neck and looks skyward. Though brief, it’s a moment filled with complexity as it’s not clear whether he questions God’s decision to allow something like this to happen or hopes for a sign to fly the Caleb home to the Silver City. Regardless, Amenadiel’s approach to life on Earth among humans has been irrevocably altered, and with a child on the way, things will only become more difficult.
Chloe’s rocky relationship with Lucifer causes her to lose focus even on the job, and having learned from her prior mistake, she tells Lucifer about the prophecy and her prison meeting with Father Kinley. “Perhaps winter is coming” he tells the detective, and if now’s not the time to insert a Game of Thrones reference into the conversation, then I don’t know when that time will arrive. But he sees this news as an opportunity to take matters into his own hands and shape his destiny and that of Earth. Break up with Eve and stop the prophecy dead in its tracks; what could be simpler.
In her short time on Earth, Eve manages to turn Lucifer’s world and view of himself around to the degree that he barely recognizes himself. And while we continue to question her motives and appearance on Earth, it’s becoming increasingly evident that she truly believes she’s in love with Lucifer. When he explains his reasons for breaking up with her, she completely misses the part about “evil shall be released,” seeing his fear as validation that he loves her too. Set against Caleb’s story, it offers some much needed emotional down time while still addressing Lucifer’s identity issues.
Once Lucifer decides to employ the “bad boyfriend” approach, this segment of the episode really takes off, and Inbar Lavi’s comic touch emerges. Eve returns to the penthouse expecting a romantic evening with her man only to find Lucifer and his friends conducting a fantasy football draft amidst the beer drinking and stereotypical snack food noshing. But this is a young woman who was married for a thousand years and knows how to fight fire with fire. If Lucifer’s going to make out with another woman, then Eve’s going to move in and make out with her as well. It’s a classic backfire and reminds us that despite her seeming naivete, this is a woman smarter than she appears.
Throughout much of the season Lucifer explores the difficulties all relationships face as partners must learn how much of themselves to conceal in deference to their significant other as they chart their own paths. Lucifer faces this issue, and now Eve finally comes to the realization that she deserves to be treated well, and the crux of their problems rises to the surface. “I don’t like who I am with you,” Lucifer tells a crushed Eve, but it’s the anger he turns on himself that’s positively agonizing. And after a soul searching session with Dr. Linda, Lucifer finally admits the truth he’s been holding in for so long. “Why do I hate myself so much?”
From a storytelling perspective there’s not much “Super Bad Boyfriend” lacks, and when we examine its individual components, Lucifer offers one of the season’s strongest episodes. What will it take for Lucifer to love himself, and can Amenadiel reconcile the fears he has for his child growing up on Earth? It’s been a helluva ride, and with only two episodes remaining, a number of loose ends need to be resolved. Or maybe the writers plan to address them in season five. Hells yeah.