This Lucifer review contains spoilers.
Lucifer Season 1 Episode 12
I want to say this up front: I loved Tom Ellis in this episode. He’s always good, delivering cheeky retorts with the occasional serious lines of dialogue. But in “TeamLucifer,” Ellis really got to show his dramatic chops. Throughout the season the Devil has been portrayed as a bit of a foppish playboy, a spoiled son rebelling against a powerful parent in the way a would-be musician rails against the father who wants him to become a doctor instead. In the excellent “TeamLucifer,” however, the Lucifer we’re seeing is one who is tired of being humanity’s punching bag, of constantly being blamed for mankind’s many misfortunes. As he tells Malcolm, who has become a fawning fanboy, “I’m not evil, I punish evil.” This isn’t semantics, it’s the truth. Lucifer Morningstar has been misunderstood for millennia—and now the recent murders in his name and Malcolm’s antihero worship have finally brought Lucifer’s simmering resentment to a boil.
So, yes, Tom Ellis is quite fantastic in the way he portrays the Devil’s anguish at being the scapegoat for the world’s many ills. His anger is deep and genuine, not petty or sarcastic. But this episode isn’t without its humorous moments. In addition to the usual devilish bon mots (“I manscape”), Lucifer has a hell of a time keeping his distance from Chloe. Lauren German is very good in these scenes, alternating between annoyance and exasperation with ease. Lucifer is more than just her partner, he’s also her friend—and in the last three weeks he’s been terrible in both roles. Naturally, she misinterprets his avoidance of her—she thinks it’s because she drunkenly threw herself at him, but of course that’s not it at all. Lucifer knows Chloe is walking Kryptonite, and he doesn’t want to risk becoming mortally wounded. So what we get in this episode is Lucifer trying his damnedest to keep his (possibly angelic) partner at arm’s length, even as they try to solve a case that involves bush-league Satanists.
And this is another thing I liked about “TeamLucifer”—the case in question is tied directly to Lucifer himself. It’s one thing to murder in his name, but it’s the Satanists’ cheap theatrics that truly chap his hide. To Chloe, it seems like Lucifer is really committed to his demonic delusion. The cult members are likewise impressed, citing that he’s the best devil role-player they’ve had in years. What makes these scenes with the devil worshippers work so well is how multilayered the writing is. Lucifer is essentially surrounded by people who talk about him as if he weren’t even in the room. Worse (or better yet), they have very unflattering opinions of the devil—which further offends him. His run-in with the street preacher only makes things worse by upping the emotional stakes. But the icing on this Devil’s food cake is everyone’s favorite bad guy, Malcolm.
Kudos to Kevin Rankin, who manages to make such a preening scumbag like Malcolm even remotely likable. I love the idea that Malcolm was trying to impress Lucifer by killing in his name. To him, he and Lucifer are simpatico, two of a kind. But to Lucifer, this is the bromance from hell. In his eyes, Malcolm is true evil, a delusional, murdering psychopath. Lucifer is making an important distinction here by defining what it considers as bona fide malevolence—and Lucifer himself isn’t it. And, honestly, he never really was. But Amenadiel doesn’t see it that way.
Which brings us to an unholy case of sibling rivalry between equally matched opponents. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to see this brawl until it unfolded onscreen, with both brothers going for broke. It’s fitting that Lux was pretty much trashed in the process, seeing how Lucifer is quickly running out of safe havens. Leave it to Lucifer to get an angel’s goat, though; what’s really upsetting his holier-than-thou brother is that Maze is still loyal to her true master. Of course, this betrayal only stings because Amenadiel has true affection for Maze—and she for him.
The big kicker, though, is seeing Chloe draw a gun on her partner and place Lucifer under arrest for the murder of Jacob Williams, the street preacher. I’ll admit, it looks bad for Lucifer, but it’s the perfect way to set up next week’s season finale.
Some closing thoughts:
For those familiar with the show’s source material, Lucifer Morningstar is blonde-haired in the comic. Which is why the Satanic doorman’s remark about expecting a blonde Devil is so great. Lucifer’s retort, “I get that a lot,” is even better.
I’ve never really been a fan of Dr. Martin (which is wholly separate and unrelated to Rachael Harris). Her character really grated on me in this episode, more because what would normally be sound advice for someone who thinks he’s the devil instead sounded like psychobabble. But I suppose that’s the point, especially because Lucifer has a much better grasp now of who he is.