Lucifer: Still with the good looks and charm, but this show desperately needs substance

I really, really want to like this show. It’s got quite a few things going for it that I actually do like, if I look at them in isolation. Unfortunately, none of those things are working that well together yet.

Tom Ellis continues to shine in the titular role. He’s absurdly good-looking and quite funny, with an excellent sense of both comedic and dramatic timing. It’s an interesting balancing act he’s got to maintain, trying to create Lucifer as both the jaded, misanthropic ex-Lord of Hell and a compellingly human character that the audience can care about. This second episode finds him managing this with mixed success. There’s an excellent opening scene where Lucifer takes down an unscrupulous street preacher, and there’s a scene where he’s learning more about Chloe’s history that is nice. But then there’s also stuff like his interaction with Trixie Decker, which only retreads ground that was already covered in the pilot and which wasn’t very funny then, either.

Lauren German does the best she can with the shoddy-to-fair material she’s granted as Detective Chloe Decker. If her interest in Lucifer was prurient, that might make more sense than what’s going on here. I could understand why a beautiful, hot-blooded woman would want to bang this guy, but Chloe’s desire to explain the inexplicable things she’s seen would be much more believable if Lucifer wasn’t literally telling her exactly what’s going on all the time. Frankly, it makes her seem a little slow, especially when combined with her apparent complete lack of professionalism or adherence to police procedures. Her best scene this episode actually comes at the end and has nothing to do with Lucifer or the case of the week. Instead, it’s when she decides that she’s going to tell her daughter about her teen movie past—only to find out that Trixie already knows. It’s a sweet moment, and a cute reminder that kids are often smarter and better than people give them credit for.

The dynamic I was most interested to see this week was also the biggest letdown. I love the idea of Lucifer having a therapist, but the episode didn’t spend much time on his sessions. Both of the scenes with Dr. Martin felt rushed and inconsequential, and neither of them added much to the story or Lucifer’s character arc (such as it is). Similarly dull are Lucifer’s relationships with Amenadiel, who is little more than a laconic wet blanket so far, and Mazikeen, who is still sadly under-baked while also being kind of weirdly invested in Lucifer’s being evil. It could be that the show is simply ramping up its more supernatural plots instead of just throwing us into them, but so far none of this stuff has really grabbed me.

The biggest problem I have with the show so far is that it’s wildly entertaining, but not much else. It’s got slick production values, decent actors, a devilishly handsome lead, and good pacing, but there’s not a whole lot going on under the surface so far. It’s a concept that could lend itself well for exploring all kinds of interesting themes and ideas, but instead it wastes time joking about how big Lucifer’s dick is and leering about Chloe’s nude scene in a movie from fifteen years before the show even starts. The ending of this episode does hint at some deeper things going on, and it could be that we’re going to really get more substance going forward, but something needs to happen quick. As I said about the pilot, good looks and charm will only take this show so far. At some point it needs to have something to actually say.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • “King of Pain” is a little on the nose.
  • Lucifer, to an apple: “Hello, old friend.”
  • Lucifer, when he sees Chloe’s home: “Do you take bribes?”
  • Chloe’s ex, Dan, was surprisingly decent this week. I like when exes are friendly with each other like this. It’s much more interesting to me than when they just hate each other.
  • Trixie, about the dvd: “This isn’t even in HD.”

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