“Take Me Back to Hell” is strong finish to Lucifer’s first season, smartly written and well-acted, with a satisfying conclusion, just enough left unresolved to make us want more, and a last-minute introduction of next season’s probable major plot. It’s not great television, but it’s solidly good and highly enjoyable fluff of exactly the sort the previous twelve episodes prepared us for. In short, it’s exactly what it ought to be, a fitting end to this season and an excellent teaser for the show’s second season.
The episode opens where last week’s hour ended, with Lucifer surrounded by cops and under suspicion of murder. Not for long, though. Before Lucifer is arrested, and just in the nick of time to keep him from getting shot, Amenadiel swoops in—literally—to rescue his brother. It turns out that Amenadiel has had an attack of conscience over the whole Malcolm situation, and he wants Lucifer to help him put things right. Meanwhile, Chloe goes to Maze for help in finding Lucifer, so the first half of the episode is split between these two pairs before the second half of the episode draws everything together.
While the setup isn’t particularly intricate, there’s a good deal of story crammed in here, interspersed with smartly written and performed character work. Lucifer and Amenadiel are always wonderful together—Tom Ellis and D.B. Woodside have a great chemistry, are remarkably believable as brothers, and become great fun to watch when they’re friends—but Chloe and Maze are surprisingly good together as well. It’s nice to see the two most important women in Lucifer’s life getting to spend some quality time together, and Lauren German and Lesley-Ann Brandt work well together. Dan (Kevin Alejandro) fades a little into the background, though he does get a big moment as he tries to redeem himself, and Dr. Martin (Rachael Harris) is as sadly superfluous and ill-utilized as usual, but in general all the show’s parts are in perfect concert.
Malcolm (Kevin Rankin) is still delightfully villainous, but the episode almost goes overboard with including his implied sexual abuse of his wife, especially since late in the episode he holds Trixie hostage. The scene in which Chloe and Maze speak with Mrs. Graham is handled relatively sensitively, however. Mrs. Graham’s trauma is treated seriously, and while the word “rape” isn’t actually used, it’s obvious that the audience is meant to understand it as such, but the scene passes quickly and the topic is never revisited so it just doesn’t seem very important. Sure, it’s consistent with what we know about how Malcolm was changed by his time in Hell, and it serves in a way to further establish the mythology of the show (Maze has seen this affliction before), but I’m just not sure that it was warranted. Murder and kidnapping are plenty of evil for us to root for Malcolm’s demise without adding rape into the mix as well, but it could have been handled far worse than it was.
Though the episode starts with shaking things up and separating characters, in the end it’s about solidifying the bonds between all of them. Lucifer and Amenadiel discover a new closeness and come to perhaps a better understanding of their father’s plans—or at least a better understanding of the fact that they don’t understand His plans. Chloe and Dan are more complicated than ever, but the secrets Dan was keeping are all out in the open now. Maze is missing in action after healing Amenadiel, so I expect her fate to figure largely in the first part of season two. The central relationship of the show, of course, between Chloe and Lucifer, has matured into something quite deep, though, and it’s their reconciliation that carries most of the emotional heft this week. It’s not that I expect their friendship to be untroubled from now on, and I do expect for the will-they-won’t-they aspect to be heightened in season two, but a relationship that seemed shallow and laughable early in this season has become something that feels real, with emotional payoff that feels natural and earned.
The biggest question to be answered in season two, though, is who is Mum? I can’t wait.