This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer Season 5 Episode 10
“We celestials are pretty much the same as you.”
It’s the bold series that takes on the demands of producing a musical episode that manages to not only seamlessly blend lyrically into the overall narrative arc but also give fans a peek into another side of the characters and actors. Like it or not, any attempt to blend singing and dancing with an active storyline will be somehow measured against Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More, with Feeling,” long considered the gold standard of musical episodes. “Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam” more than holds its own, and Lucifer successfully continues its tale of familial discord and the universal, individual struggle with self worth.
It comes as no surprise that Tom Ellis (Lucifer Morningstar) and his glorious vocal talents help carry this delightful effort, but the rest of the crew displays a myriad of talents as we’re treated to renditions of everything from Queen to Les Miserables. Yes, the vocal dubbing could have been a bit tighter, and it’s somewhat disappointing that Laura German (Chloe Decker) chose not to sing, but from the opening scene in which Lucifer sits down at the piano amidst a tortured, sleepless night, it becomes instantly clear that the show has successfully gambled on the remarkably charismatic presence each character evokes.
Of course, the episode’s strength centers on the lyrical tie-ins to the self-esteem battles the characters face, not the least of which is Lucifer’s contention that he lacks the ability to love because of the way his Father raised him. Any time we get Lucifer at the piano, good things invariably occur, and his haunting performance of Chris Isaac’s 1989 anthem “Wicked Game” set against a visual montage of some of the highlights from his relationship with Chloe sets a deeply introspective tone that culminates in God’s shocking revelation. When the Devil sings “I wanna fall in love with you,” his plaintive cry transcends more than just his connection to the detective. The cracks in the celestial family’s foundation have shown themselves for a while now, but the opportunity now presents itself for Lucifer, Amenadiel, and Mazikeen to settle their differences with the Big Guy.
Perhaps the most surprising turn of events here is that Chloe refuses to accept Lucifer’s willingness to deprive them of the happiness they both know is possible. “All couples have problems,” she tells him as they begin to investigate the death of a high school football referee. She insists he’s capable of love, and this promising exchange fades when Ella briefs the partners on the intricacies of the man’s death by poison whistle. If you’re going to focus your murder on a high school football official, you might as well draw the cheerleaders and marching band into the musical mix. Perhaps a bit heavy handed but still amusing nonetheless, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” emerges, and Aimee Garcia (Ella Lopez) and Kevin Alejandro (Daniel Espinoza) go front and center among the tightly choreographed uniformed teenagers. More importantly, however, God’s role in this musical theater reveals itself when Lucifer notices his Father watching from the sideline. “It’s not what people do at a crime scene.”
Nevertheless, God’s presence at the murder scene gives Chloe the long awaited opportunity to confront Lucifer’s dad about his role not only in her life but his son’s as well. It’s one thing to hear Lucifer accuse his Father, but when she gets in God’s face and takes up Lucifer’s cause, we have to wonder whether she truly believes his side of the story or merely defends the man she loves in spite of the narrative inconsistencies. Dennis Haysbert continues to underplay an individual who’s often portrayed as someone to fear rather than someone who listens, and his interplay with his wayward son provides some of the episode’s best moments.
Dr. Linda often waltzes in and out of a story, yet never fails to leave an indelible mark. We’ve become accustomed to her sessions with Lucifer on the couch, and the image of Lucifer on one end and God on the other can’t help but elicit a smile. “It’s impossible to make him happy,” Lucifer tells the doctor who unexpectedly picks up where Chloe left off and sends God a similar message. With a wry smile firmly planted on his face, Lucifer’s Father agrees to unconditionally support the son who feels abandoned, abused, and misunderstood. Tossing a football to his son is another one of those sublime touches the series employs so well, and when it bounces unceremoniously off Lucifer’s chest, Dad’s response is classic. “Nice block?”
There are a number of other amusingly nuanced moments sprinkled throughout the episode, but my favorite may be Dan’s interaction with Lucifer’s dad at the precinct. “I know who you are. I believe you met my wife,” God tells the terrified detective before presenting one of his best zingers. “I’ll be seeing you later, or not.” Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Wearing way more makeup than usual, Mazikeen seems determined to embrace her bad girl image as she brings a good looking biker boy to meet Ella. In addition to the dancing, we’re treated to an apropos mashup featuring George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” and TLC’s “No Scrubs.” However, it’s the subtext surrounding Maze’s refusal to accept God’s prior admonition that she’s perfect as is. Past experience tells us that she’s on a self-destructive path that can only be stopped by those who love her. Unfortunately, like Lucifer, she feels she doesn’t deserve what others so willingly want to give her.
One the religious bedrocks is the acceptance, on faith, of that which can’t be seen. We can debate whether or not Lucifer makes a good faith attempt to reconcile with his Father, but it’s Chloe who sees through all of the baggage father and son have accumulated over millennia. “I have faith in you,” she tells Lucifer, and while that support might ordinarily be enough to continue the dialogue, at this point, we’re not certain.
Though Chloe leaves the singing to the others, Laura German’s dance moves prove up to the task. Still, as the detective muses reflectively over one of Trixie’s refrigerator art pieces, it’s the child who erupts in song. And boy does Scarlett Estevez nail it. God watches off to the side as Trixie innocently sings Natalie Cole’s “Smile” whose lyrics offer the hope that Chloe has not only for herself but her child’s future as well.
DB Woodside (Amenadiel) gets a nice moment with Dan as they contemplate their lives, but it’s the angel’s disappointment that his son is a mere mortal that hints at future conflicts with Linda. Mom is thrilled at the news that her son is mortal and enjoys a wonderful jaunt through the park as other moms push their strollers during a delightful performance of “Just the Two of Us.”
Ultimately, however, it’s the interaction between Lucifer and his Father that drives the episode and in many ways acts as a catalyst for the other relationships as well. Instead of the vengeful God Lucifer portrays him to be, his Father asks for a second chance with the son who feels he was rejected and banished to Hell. And in arguably the most poignant sequence in the episode, Haysbert and Ellis combine on a moving duet of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. There’s no question Lucifer has a right to feel ignored and maybe even mistreated, and it’s up to his father to explain His actions. But in this case, actions speak louder than words, and when God tenderly places his hand on his son’s shoulder, his words belie his intended message. While the lyric “There are dreams that cannot be” appears to run counter to what Lucifer desires, God’s message to his son offers multiple levels of meaning. “I cannot fix you, Lucifer.”
And then the controversial bombshell makes its appearance. Lucifer’s mood shifts dramatically when, with tears streaming down his face, God tells his son that he feels he’s losing control of his powers. Fans of the show understand that Lucifer is not meant to accurately mirror the biblical figure on which his character is based but rather to present an entertaining, alternate take on the world’s most famous fallen angel. Haters of the show will never be able to see beyond their contention that the series elevates evil when nothing could be further from the truth. Still, presenting the Almighty in a weakened position could be a bridge too far.
For better or worse, this is not Jonathan Edwards angry God, rather one shown on a more human level. For some that may be a problem, but we really need to see this unexpected revelation more as a metaphor for the decision by many to abandon organized religion and by extension, a deeply felt faith in God. Will Lucifer’s father entreat his son to help disseminate a message of love, which ironically, Lucifer feels he’s incapable of expressing?
There’s a lot to consider, but the power of “Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam” lies not in the marvelous theatrical conventions the episode employs but in the progress it makes highlighting the personal struggles the celestials and mortals face on a daily basis. Mortals experiencing a crisis of faith is nothing new; watching God’s family sort out its internal issues in much the same way imparts a sense of unease. But then, that’s what good television does.
Lucifer season 5 is available to stream on Netflix now.