Lucifer: “St. Lucifer” is a mess of rape culture and mediocre-to-poor writing

I can’t help but feel as if Lucifer shot its wad a little early this week. Last night’s episode was an overall okay hour of television, but “St. Lucifer” somehow managed to feel both as if it rushed through story and as if nothing much significant happened. With just two episodes left in the first season, this one ends on a curiously ambiguous and frustratingly dull note. First, though, let’s talk a bit about how this episode is actually a pretty vile piece of rape culture.

The hour opens with Chloe waking up naked and hungover in Lucifer’s bed, which I guess seems like an obvious follow-up to the events at the end of the previous episode, but it’s a situation played for laughs that I just don’t find at all funny. The more I’ve thought about the ending of “Pops,” the more I hate that we’re supposed to think at all highly of Lucifer’s “self-sacrifice” in refusing Chloe’s drunken advances. This opening scene only highlights how awful it would have been for Lucifer to have had sex with her in that condition, as Chloe was apparently so drunk that she barely even remembers what happened and needs his help with making sense out of what little she does remember. That this is framed as her having a fear of doing something she would regret rather than concern that she may have been taken advantage of is actually disgusting. Because, make no mistake about it, a sober person having sex with someone who is blackout, passing-out drunk—especially if the sober party knows that the drunk one would not ordinarily be down to bang—is rape.

It may have been easier to overlook this gross, victim-blaming, rape-enabling messaging if it didn’t form most of the basis for the thematic arc of the episode. Basically, Lucifer feels so good having done something nice that he wants to repeat the experience. It just doesn’t work the way it seems to be intended to. Or, rather, it doesn’t work if you recognize taking advantage of a drunk and incapacitated person as rape, since in that case Lucifer’s managing to, you know, not rape his friend isn’t a particularly good or heroic act as the show’s writers seem to want us to believe. Unfortunately for the foundational premise of this episode, not raping someone is not a good deed that one should feel self-congratulatory about—especially not to the degree that Lucifer is self-congratulatory. It’s just basic human decency. Not raping is literally the least you can do when your drunk and distraught friend shows up unexpectedly looking for comfort, and, frankly, not being quite human is really no excuse.

This is made even worse by the fact that, while Lucifer has been shown to enjoy a great deal of sex, often in party situations where drugs and alcohol are being consumed, there’s been no actual evidence put forward on the show that he’s a rapist. In fact, he seems to be generally considerate and nonjudgmental of his sex partners, and the show has always presented all the sex Lucifer is having as situations where a good time is had by all. To suggest that Lucifer taking advantage of a very drunk Chloe is on the same ethical level as a bunch of people having fun sexy times with substances shows a creepily bizarre lack of judgment and good taste on the part of the show’s writers. It feeds into rape culture myths that muddy the definition of rape and shame women into silence, and this undermines all of Lucifer’s supposed character growth this week.

The case of the week involves the murder of a wealthy philanthropist, and Lucifer identifies strongly with the dead man, who was someone who had reformed his life after a misspent youth. Lucifer sees himself on a similar journey, but instead of wanting to change for truly other-focused reasons, Lucifer is more concerned with rehabilitating his image and is only doing good if and because it gives him a bit of an emotional high. Through the investigation of the murder, Lucifer ought to learn that goodness comes from a sincere desire to be decent and helpful to others, but that lesson seems lost on the Devil, and it’s honestly not clear what Lucifer has learned from this experience by the end of the episode. This is half due to the writers’ seeming confusion over what rape and basic human decency are, but it’s compounded by the fact that any Lucifer character growth this week is totally upstaged by the episode’s other significant events and revelations.

First, Maze—still on the outs with Lucifer—seeks out Amenadiel, ostensibly looking to ruin his night since she blames him for her current woes. Their dinner at a fancy restaurant ends up being the standout scene of the episode, and their later getting it on in the back seat of a car is probably the most unexpected and pleasantly surprising event of the night. I said weeks ago that I shipped this pair, but I didn’t really think it would happen. Sure, Maze later tells Lucifer that she’s using Amenadiel (her revelation that she had sex with his brother should definitely have elicited a more comical spit take from Lucifer than it did), but there’s real chemistry here, and the angel and the demon steaming up the car was nicely done, sexy but understated and just the right amount of wryly funny.

The other big event of the week is that Malcolm makes his move to kill Lucifer. However, this whole plot seems to have simply fizzled. After all the buildup of making it a bit of a mystery at first why Amenadiel brought Malcolm back in the first place and then having Malcolm abduct Dan and plan to frame the other man for Lucifer’s murder, the whole thing was resolved very quickly and with remarkably little fuss. Malcolm comes at Lucifer with a gun, Lucifer sets Malcolm straight about Amenadiel’s false promises, and Malcolm is sent on his way with a get out of Hell free coin. Sure, it seems like this coin might be more important to Lucifer than he lets on, and I’m certain this is somehow going to come back and haunt him at some point, but it’s definitely a little anticlimactic after so much time in the last couple of episodes was dedicated to this stuff.

Even Dan manages to escape on his own, and arrives just in time to see Lucifer recovering from being shot by someone else entirely. Instead of focusing on Dan’s having just seen Lucifer return from the dead, or even taking a moment to pause and talk about why Dan looks so awful, Lucifer rushes off to catch the murderer, and his miraculous survival goes pretty much uncommented on, even though it ought to be pretty incontrovertible evidence that something weird is going on. This might be addressed next week, but Chloe doesn’t even bring it up in the last scene of the episode when Lucifer shows up at her house to test his new theory of what causes him to be physically vulnerable (it’s Chloe, obviously). On the one hand, it’s good to have this information confirmed (although it shouldn’t be a big surprise to viewers). On the other hand, Chloe didn’t mention Dan’s return or Lucifer’s bullet hole-riddled suit, which makes her seem a little stupid. At the very least, her wanting to talk about feelings makes it seem as if she’s inexplicably completely ignored some very important things that maybe she ought to be bringing up instead.

That said, it really could be the case that all this stuff is going to be dealt with next week, or even the week after, but it feels jumbled, and the confused ordering of events, revelations, and emotional moments only serves to weaken the overall impact of the episode. It could have been worse, and this show has certainly been worse in the past, but “St. Lucifer” was not good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s