Lucifer: “Pops” is all about Lucifer’s daddy issues, but it has other virtues

In “Pops,” Lucifer and Chloe investigate the murder of a well-known chef, and when the prime suspect turns out to be the man’s estranged son, it brings all of Lucifer’s festering issues with his own father even more to the surface than they usually are. I’ve been saying for weeks now that Lucifer is at its best when it deals more with its broader mythological ideas, and “Pops” is not an episode of Lucifer at its best. However, it’s surprisingly good nonetheless and proves that the show is capable of tackling family drama as well.

The murder mystery this week is slightly better than usual, and it actually has a couple of interesting twists and some nicely done misdirection before circling back around to its conclusion. As always, the case of the week is primarily a device with which to explore Lucifer’s copious existential crises, but this one works well as a self-contained plot in its own right and doesn’t distract too much from the family drama that is actually the main event in this episode as Chloe’s mother, Penelope Decker (guest Rebecca De Mornay), turns up for a surprise visit. When Penelope invites Lucifer to a family dinner, and Chloe invites Dan, and Lucifer invites their murder suspect, things go about as well as you might think. My favorite things about this episode, however, were all subplots, minor happenings, and set-up for the next couple of weeks and the season finale.

Hands down the best thing that happened this week was Maze finally getting some much-needed character development. Up to this point, we’ve almost exclusively seen her in scenes either with Lucifer or about Lucifer, and there’s been very little sense of who Mazikeen is as a person on her own. Now that she’s very much out of Lucifer’s good graces—and still very much stuck on Earth as long as he is—Maze finds herself at loose ends. She’s already said that she likes Lucifer’s therapist, Dr. Martin, and this week finds Maze seeking out the good doctor for some therapy of her own. When Dr. Martin suggests that perhaps Maze needs to try making some friends, Maze storms out in frustration, but she manages to make a friend after all: Chloe’s daughter, Trixie, who is goddamn adorable. Fresh from this success, a somewhat softened Maze returns to Dr. Martin and asks the other woman out for a drink, so maybe Maze has made an adult friend now as well. I’ve been overall very unhappy with the treatment of Maze on the show, so I can’t even say how excited I was to see her getting to just exist and have a little bit of story that is only about herself rather than revolving around Lucifer and his drama.

Before the episode ends, we also get an update on what’s going on with Dan and Malcolm. I don’t quite get why Dan would be so concerned with finding some reason to advocate for Lucifer’s life—I really just didn’t buy that whole situation at all—but I was interested to see the Malcolm and Dan stuff escalating so quickly. It’s safe to say, I’m sure, that Dan is still in the land of the living going into next week’s episode, but Malcolm has managed to, perhaps permanently, damage Dan’s relationship with Chloe and has driven her right into Lucifer’s arms. I don’t love the way that Lucifer’s unwillingness to take advantage of Chloe’s inebriated state is framed as character growth—because it suggests that maybe at some point he would have raped a drunk and vulnerable woman—but there’s still a good deal of sweetness in the way Chloe snuggles up next to her friend and passes out.

Overall, “Pops” is another solid hour of a show that I’ve really grown to love. It’s not perfect, but it continues to improve in multiple areas as it marches on towards the season finale.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

  • I have no idea at this point if we’re supposed to like and root for Dan or if we’re supposed to be hoping that he dies tragically in the season finale.
  • I would watch a whole show based around Mazikeen’s friendships with Trixie and Dr. Martin.
  • No Amenadiel this week, and I find that I didn’t miss him. Or, I did, but I think trying to squeeze him into this episode would have pushed it over the edge from jam-packed with story to straight-up overstuffed.
  • Lucifer’s narcissism was especially over the top as he tried to get someone, anyone, to admit to having daddy issues as big as his own.
  • Chloe’s relationship with Penelope was well-done considering how little screen time was actually dedicated to it. I thought their reconciliation over wine near the end was a little too neat, but not terribly so.
  • I wonder how much Uber is paying for all their product placement in shows these days?

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