Lucifer: After two steps forward, “Et Tu Doctor?” is a decided step back

After two very good, though decidedly not great, episodes, this week Lucifer falls back into the tired cop show trap it’s struggled in all season. Of the show’s more procedural type episodes, “Et Tu, Doctor?” is among the better ones, and there were a couple of developments that I really liked, but the reality is that Lucifer has a tendency to be dragged down by its procedural elements rather than elevating them. What made the last couple of episodes better than the first half of the season was their heavier focus on the mythology that ought to make Lucifer fresh and interesting, but this episode is mostly back to a humdrum case of the week that even guest star Al Madrigal can’t rescue.

When a therapist known for advising couples to cheat on each other (Is this a real thing?) turns up dead, Lucifer manages to get his own therapist in on the case because he’s convinced that Chloe’s consistent rejection of him and his jealousy over her relationship with Dan is a sign of a problem with Chloe. This whole bit—that Lucifer is so used to getting what he wants that he just can’t wrap his head around the idea that someone doesn’t want to bang him—is one of my least favorite things about this show, to be honest. Lucifer’s fixation on Chloe isn’t cute or endearing; it’s unhealthy and his level of selfish entitlement is slightly frightening. Occasionally the show manages to make this whole mess work, and the last couple of weeks saw some of Lucifer’s worst behaviors subsiding. However, this episode brings all of it back with a vengeance, and there’s not much more infuriating to see than Chloe’s patient indulgence of Lucifer’s nonsense.

However, I complained just last week that none of the women on the show ever get to talk to each other, and this week was actually mostly them talking to each other. Well, not mostly, but Lucifer himself did take a bit of a back seat in this episode. Chloe and Dr. Martin actually have a somewhat fun dynamic as they work the case of the murdered therapist together, and I think this episode finally manages to pass the Bechdel test. Dr. Martin also gets to meet Maze, though that interaction is less interesting, as the show still seems determined to write Maze as more of a very jealous, possessive, catty girlfriend of Lucifer’s than anything else. Still, and sadly, having these women interact with each other at all is a kind of progress for this program, even if it doesn’t entirely pay off.

In better news, this episode addresses Dr. Martin’s unethical behavior—which I’ve criticized before as highly unbelievable—more or less head on. Considering how little Lucifer’s sexual relationship with Dr. Martin has really figured into either of their characters’ development so far, I’m not sure why it was bothered with at all, but I’m happy to see that chapter of their interactions come to a close. Dr. Martin is a potentially very interesting character, but it’s been frustrating to watch her be mostly flustered by Lucifer and engaging in such clearly problematic behavior with a patient when she could be much better used as, well, Lucifer’s actual therapist. The idea of the Devil working through his feelings in talk therapy isn’t a bad one, but the running “joke” of Lucifer banging his hot therapist has made it difficult to take any of his sessions very seriously. Also, it’s not funny. Hopefully the change in their arrangement this week means that we’ll see some real improvements over the last few episodes of the season.

The other major development this week concerns the Palmetto case, which Chloe and Dan are still investigating together. Amenadiel, for some reason, resurrected Malcolm right as his life support was being disconnected, and this week Malcolm confronts Chloe about her investigation, claiming that he also wants to know who the dirty cop is who shot him. Their conversation gives Chloe the idea that Malcolm’s partner must have been the shooter, and this seems to be proven when the partner turns up dead of an apparent suicide, accompanied by a note confessing. Before the end of the hour, though, we learn that this is all a red herring meant to stop Chloe’s investigation. We also learn that it wasn’t Malcolm’s partner who shot him—it was Chloe’s ex, Dan. This is a legitimately surprising development, and promises some serious drama to come.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • No Amenadiel this week, though Lucifer did figure out some of what his brother is up to—as well as Maze’s betrayal.
  • Thematically, this episode worked, for the most part, as an exploration of jealousy, but I don’t think Lucifer really grew or learned anything about himself, which is a disappointment.
  • I think I would have an easier time buying into the Lucifer/Chloe will they or won’t they thing if these two characters had any discernable romantic chemistry or sexual tension.
  • The show has implied that Lucifer is not that choosy about the gender of his sexual partners, so is there a reason that every person he needs to fuck in order to get stuff has to be a beautiful woman? (A reason besides sexism and/or homophobia, that is.)

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