Tag Archives: Lucifer

Lucifer: “Wingman” is another strong episode with some smart writing

I’m starting to think Lucifer might really be hitting its stride. “Wingman” proves that last week’s solid showing wasn’t a fluke, and it’s another strong episode with some great character work as we pass the midpoint of the season.

This is the first week that I really, really buy the burgeoning friendship between Lucifer and Chloe. The parallel development of their characters and their growing mutual affection seemed more organic this week than it has up to this point, and the dynamic between Lucifer, Chloe, and Dan was natural and, refreshingly, free of much bullshit male posturing. There’s definitely some jealousy there, but Dan is more concerned with sorting out his and Chloe’s relationship problems—which have nothing to do with Lucifer—and Lucifer has finally stopped being sexually aggressive with Chloe like he was in the first few episodes and is learning how to be a real friend.

For her part, Chloe got a huge dose of character development this week. The Palmetto case—Chloe is certain that it’s a case of a dirty cop—has been mentioned before, and it’s the reason why Chloe has problems with the other detectives at the precinct. In “Wingman,” we finally get to learn more about the situation, and there’s even a sort of resolution to it. I really enjoyed seeing Chloe struggle to balance her desire for truth at all costs with Dan’s argument that truth doesn’t always mean justice. Proving that Malcolm was dirty would deprive his family of the pension that they would normally get for an officer killed in the line of duty, and perhaps cause real hardship for them. Still, I loved the way that this conflict played out. Dan respects and supports Chloe, in spite of their disagreement, and when Chloe has a fresh idea about the case, it’s Dan who she shares her moment with. Their relationship is complex in some very interesting ways. I can see why their marriage is on the rocks, but there are also a lot of reasons to root for them to get back together.

The best thing about “Wingman,” however, is seeing Lucifer and Amenadiel work together. This is the first time these two have spent this much time with each other to date, and it’s excellent. They have a great on screen chemistry, and their dysfunctional familial dynamic is fascinating. This week, the show really digs into the divine aspects of that, setting up some clear consequences for both Lucifer and Amenadiel and taking a look at the wider-reaching effects Lucifer’s dereliction of duty might have. It also offered a much better and more philosophically sophisticated explanation for Lucifer’s decision to leave Hell in the first place. Last week, the show highlighted the “rebellious son” angle, but this week shows us both that Lucifer had something real to rebel against and that it didn’t come without some deep personal cost to himself.

Tom Ellis and D.B. Woodside were both at the top of their game in “Wingman,” and both of their characters got big injections of pathos that give them much more complexity than they had, say, two weeks ago. Amenadiel’s shock and sorrow when Lucifer burns his wings was a powerful moment, as was the anger that came on the heels of that pain. It’s tempting as a viewer to think that Lucifer deserved every punch, but his own lack of fighting back suggests that he thinks so, too, and only adds to the sense of tragedy here. The psychological, theological, and philosophical complexities of the show are slowly building up, and they’re being worked in in some smart and subtle ways, and if the show can keep it up it might turn into something really special and unique.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • This show’s episode titles have been very hit-or-miss, but this is a good one—an amusing play on words with multiple layers of meaning. Excellent job, person in charge of picking it.
  • Dr. Martin doesn’t appear this week, and I think the episode is actually better for it. Too many of her interactions with Lucifer are uncomfortable, and her lack of ethics makes her ability to be an effective therapist questionable.
  • It seems pretty heavily telegraphed that the downed officer’s partner is the guy who shot him, which is a bummer. I’d like a little more mystery, to be honest. We’ll see, though.
  • Who else suspects that Lucifer might have only burned the fake wings?
  • I feel like the show isn’t really quite sure what to do with Mazikeen. She’s an interesting character, but she doesn’t interact much with anyone besides Lucifer, and I hate that she seems to be so motivated right now by jealousy of Chloe.
  • Finally, if I have one major ongoing general criticism of the show, it’s that none of Lucifer’s female characters talk to other women at all. There’s been so much other stuff to criticize that I’ve never gotten around to it before now, but it would be great if Chloe had a girlfriend or two that she could talk with about things. It might be tough to work in friends for Maze or Dr. Martin, but Chloe could definitely do with a girls’ night out every once in a while.

Lucifer: “Favorite Son” finally lives up to some of this show’s potential

Lucifer has struggled for weeks now to bring its world to life, but with “Favorite Son” the show finally seems to be realizing some of its potential. It’s still not a perfect episode, but it is the first episode of the show that is actually unequivocally good. At the very least, it’s enough of an improvement over the first few episodes to make it worth coming back to see what happens next week.

While “Favorite Son” still adheres somewhat to the case of the week format, there’s almost no attention actually paid to the murder mystery. Most importantly, there’s a minimal amount of Chloe and Lucifer interrogating people, which means a minimal amount of Lucifer smirking at folks and creepily asking about their desires. This only happens once this week, actually, and it’s been toned down a good deal. It was nice to not feel like I needed to take a shower after the scene in question, to be honest. In any case, this tempering of some of Lucifer’s signature moves (he also manages to go a whole hour without propositioning Chloe once) is indicative of a broader shift in tone that seems to take place this week. Things took a darker turn, for sure, and it’s a hopeful sign that the show is maturing enough to be watchable.

Shoving the murder mystery to the back burner leaves plenty of room for actual themes to be developed, and “Favorite Son” is by far the most thematically compelling episode yet. Lucifer’s issues with his father have been simmering just under the surface since day one, so it’s nice to see them finally being articulated. Lucifer’s problems are cleverly highlighted by showing them in contrast to Dan—a flawed human who is at least trying to be a good father—and to the head of a criminal biker gang who has an eye on retirement but has to deal with his own rebellious subordinates. It’s a level of sophistication that I wouldn’t have expected from this show, but it’s exactly what has been needed all these weeks, and this episode was overall well-conceived and nicely executed.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I would definitely watch a straight hour of Tom Ellis just playing piano and singing.
  • I hated when Dan called Maze Lucifer’s “pet on a leash.” It was a really casually degrading and dehumanizing thing to say and that meanness wasn’t really warranted by the situation.
  • I’m still not sold on Dr. Martin, though her character worked better this week than she has previously.
  • D.B. Woodside is ridiculously good-looking. That smile!
  • I also don’t love Lucifer’s violence. He seems to have increasingly abusive tendencies the more he digs into things during his therapy sessions. It might be realistic for him to have these sorts of outbursts as he works through his issues and processes things, but when he’s menacing a woman half his size it’s actually frightening and I could see it becoming very difficult to watch if that behavior continues too long.

Lucifer: “Sweet Kicks” is a sour bore

Lucifer continues to disappoint, and “Sweet Kicks” is an almost entirely forgettable episode. I was moderately interested in this show before it first aired, even though I hadn’t read the comics, but after five episodes it’s only managed to be (mostly) inoffensively humdrum. There’s something to be said for a show playing its cards close to its chest, but there’s got to be something to keep people coming back week after week, and this show hasn’t really got it.

Tom Ellis’s charm has finally worn completely thin, and even his good humor wasn’t enough to elevate this episode to a bare minimum level of entertaining. Instead, Lucifer’s desire to “explore mortality” comes off as stupid, which is compounded when he proves himself essentially incapable of taking any responsibility for his own actions. Sure, I suppose the episode has something to say about his missing the forest of what it means to be mortal for the trees, but without any actual character growth, this isn’t particularly interesting.

Chloe is even more of a cold fish than usual this week, and spends nearly all her time on screen looking disapprovingly at Lucifer, accusing him of childishness (accurately), and devising petty and minor punishments for Lucifer’s irritating behaviors. It’s not cute or funny, though, and there’s no banter to their relationship. Lucifer is using her (although it was nice of him to not try and sleep with her this week), with no regard to how his presence might endanger her or jeopardize her career, and Chloe has a completely deadpan dislike for him that is the opposite of fun.

The character that I actually kind of liked best this week was Dan, who is somewhat useless in the narrative, but who is such a genuinely nice-seeming man that I can’t help but want good things to happen to him. While he doesn’t get a lot to do in terms of actually being part of the plot, he’s a piece of scenery in Chloe’s life that more or less works, and he’s one of the only characters who is consistently intelligent-seeming. I like that he seems to genuinely care about Chloe and isn’t afraid of Lucifer. That said, my bar for favorite character on this show is set pretty low at this point.

While Lucifer and Chloe are dealing with a deeply boring case of the week, Maze is meeting up with Amenadiel behind Lucifer’s back. Both of them want Lucifer to return to Hell, if for different reasons, so they’re going to plot together in order to get him to do what they want. These two are the only characters on the show who have any discernable sexual tension or chemistry, and they’re hands down more interesting to watch than anything Lucifer and Chloe get up to.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to continue to cover this show. It’s not really good or bad enough for me to have any strong feelings about it one way or the other, and there’s plenty of other things I could be working on instead. Next week’s episode title suggests something more mythology-laden than what we’ve had so far, so I will decide then if I’m going to stick it out until the end of the season. With The X-Files finished with, I’m sure next week I’ll feel less overloaded, but I could always drop Lucifer and start writing about my deep and abiding hatred of Quentin Coldwater (The Magicians) instead.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I don’t really “get” the sexy therapist character. Dr. Martin isn’t necessarily any specific misogynistic stereotype, but she seems more like a character from a crappy porno than a character who belongs in a prime time television show. Also, she doesn’t seem to exist for any particular purpose except to be funny, and she’s not.
  • Why did they have to kill the pig?
  • Maze is a legit badass, and I hate that she’s basically in an abusive relationship with Lucifer, who treats her like garbage. Tom Ellis isn’t nearly charming enough to make this okay.

Lucifer: “Manly Whatnots” is a string of missed opportunities

We’re now four episodes into Lucifer, and this show just can’t seem to manage anything better than mediocrity. Sure, it’s entertaining, but I can’t help but feel as if every episode so far has missed opportunities for adding some real depth and nuance to the characters and substance to the show. The ridiculously titled “Manly Whatnots” is the most frustrating episode yet on this score.

The case of the week involves the disappearance and supposed murder of a young woman who has gotten involved with a pickup artist guru, which is a great way to get Lucifer involved with a pickup artist guru, which ought to have made for an amazing and thematically resonant episode. Unfortunately, rather than exploring the issues of consent, coercion, abuse, rape and/or stalking this setup perfectly lends itself to, the show decides to play pretty much the whole thing for laughs and only examine a couple of these themes in the shallowest possible fashion. It’s honestly kind of unbelievable just how much the show missed the boat with this one when it should have been an easy slam dunk to tie things together and provide Lucifer with some interesting things to think about regarding his behavior towards Chloe (which is atrocious this week, by the way).

Lucifer’s denseness (the character’s and the show’s, frankly) is incredibly disappointing, and both character and show seem incapable of taking themselves very seriously. Here, the show even goes out of its way to identify the parallels between what Lucifer does and pickup guru Carver’s cult of toxic masculinity and misogynistic exploitation, only to pull all punches at the end of the episode and entirely sidestep any critical examination of Lucifer’s behavior. This might have worked better if the case itself were compelling enough to carry the episode, but there’s really not much going on here and the mystery, well, isn’t much of one.

Furthermore, the reveal of what really happened to Lindsay goes from groan-worthy to cringe-inducing as Lucifer turns on her when he learns about her revenge scheme against Carver, who it turns out was sexually predatory towards Lindsay several years before, wrote about it in his book, and didn’t even remember her name or face, which is why she was able to successfully trick him now. On the one hand, this could be intended to show that Lucifer has a very real character flaw—he believes himself to be the ultimate arbiter of justice and meting out appropriate punishments, but he’s not infallible. Here, even though I tend to agree with him that Carver probably doesn’t deserve to be actually murdered, his fury at Lindsay—who Carver violated and left deeply hurt and damaged by the experience—seems disproportionate. However, this show isn’t that subtle and doesn’t seem capable of handling that sort of nuance. Rather, Lucifer’s anger at Lindsay is portrayed as righteous and works to further elevate him in the narrative as a voice of reason and as the arbiter of justice he seems to see himself as.

It’s a missed opportunity at best and a piece of gross sexism at worst, since Lucifer’s character is established at Lindsay’s expense and to Carver’s benefit—even though Lindsay was treated poorly by the misogynistic Carver and Carver’s reformation is recent, conditional, and selective. He says that he’s fallen in love with Lindsay, but he literally can’t remember her name or face in spite of having taken her virginity. And he continues to profit off of selling his particular brand of aggressive rape culture to other men. So, yeah, sure, he doesn’t deserve to die, but Lindsay and her brother don’t seem to have intended to kill him. They just wanted to extort a ransom from him and break his heart, probably. In any case, the whole saga could have been a much more interesting critique of toxic masculinity and a compelling examination of this facet of Lucifer’s human-ish persona. Instead, it turns into a sort of mealy mouthed morality play that doesn’t have much to say about anything at all.

There are some strides made this week with Chloe’s continued disbelief of Lucifer’s claims about being the Lord of Hell. She’s not quite bought his story yet, but the best scenes of the night were regarding this story, and we learn that perhaps part of the reason Chloe isn’t susceptible to Lucifer’s “charms” is because she doesn’t actually believe in Hell at all, even if she’s not a complete atheist. In another scene, Chloe gets to see the terrible scars on Lucifer’s back where his wings were cut off, and it’s clear that this challenges her understanding, but it’s still not enough to convince her. Unfortunately, Lucifer’s final plan to prove his imperviousness by having her shoot him doesn’t turn out the way he hopes, but we’ll have to wait til next week to find out what happens next.

It’s nice to see the show relying somewhat less on Tom Ellis’s pretty face to carry the whole thing, but even as his charm begins to feel strained and the good humor seems increasingly forced, the writers haven’t managed to inject the show with anything more substantial. This episode totally squanders a promising concept without even scratching the surface of its potential, and with nearly a third of the season gone this doesn’t give me much hope for improvement in the coming weeks.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Who else is totally shipping Maze and Amenadiel after this episode?
  • I’m not sure if Lucifer presenting himself nude to Chloe is just a completely gross act of sexual harassment or if it’s redeemed by the fact that Lucifer is never actually sexually menacing. Also, this is the first time in the show that they’ve managed to have anything even resembling sexual tension between these two characters.
  • Lucifer is a total dick to Dr. Martin this week, and it’s not funny or endearing in any way.

Lucifer: “The Would-Be Prince of Darkness” shows marked improvement over the last couple weeks

“The Would-Be Prince of Darkness” opens with a profoundly stupid bait and switch, which is so obvious and heavy-handed that I was a little second-hand embarrassed for everyone involved in writing, performing and filming the scene. Even at this early stage of the show, we know that Lucifer isn’t actually encouraging a young woman to commit suicide. It’s not funny, there’s no real suspense, and it’s drawn out for several seconds longer than it ought to have been, even if I could agree that this little prologue should exist at all. Frankly, the whole thing is a little creepy, as Lucifer sounds very serious about getting this girl to jump into a pool at a party.

Which is, I think the biggest problem this show has in general—a tendency to take itself entirely too seriously without actually having anything substantive to say for itself. At some point Lucifer has to start just owning its absurd premise and either really having fun with it or using it to explore some deeper and more compelling ideas. The good news, however, is that although this newest episode starts off on a sour note, it does show some signs of moving in the right direction.

A largely forgettable case of the week is mostly made up for by Lucifer’s own investigation of a man who has been using Lucifer’s name to get laid. Lucifer’s decision to not actually punish the guy is telling, and it’s interesting to see him talk about it with his therapist after the fact. Lucifer’s sessions with Dr. Martin are a bit better integrated this week than they have been, although I’d like to see these scenes be a little less full of explanation. They would work better as a complement to well-developed ideas throughout the episode instead of sounding like an 8th grade report on the episode’s themes put into dialogue.

Much more than the previous episodes, this one felt like it was really about Lucifer, with all the rest of the show’s characters properly put into their places as characters in Lucifer’s story. Chloe seems to be coming closer to an epiphany about Lucifer’s true identity, and her ex seems to be finding his place in the show. Maze seemed to be making up for Amenadiel’s absence this week by being more unpleasant than usual, but it worked for the episode, even if she doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Lucifer. Tom Ellis is still carrying the show, but that’s starting to feel less strained, and hopefully things will continue to get better.

It’s nice to see that Lucifer is improving, even if it’s not exactly doing so in leaps and bounds. “The Would-Be Prince of Darkness” definitely works marginally better than either of the show’s first two episodes, though, even if it doesn’t manage to elevate itself to anything truly deserving the descriptor “good.”


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.”

Lucifer: Are charm and good looks enough to make this watchable? (Meh. Maybe?)

I’m honestly a little surprised that this show even got made, much less on Fox, and I have to admit that I’m very concerned about that network’s commitment to the project, which has apparently faced some opposition from concerned religious people with no sense of humor. Lucifer’s original start date was pushed back several months, and promotion for it has been nearly non-existent, which I heavily suspect does not bode well for the continued existence of the series. While this doesn’t quite fit Fox’s usual pattern of self-sabotaging their own shows, it’s not encouraging. All I’m saying is let’s not get too attached to it.

That said, the pilot was a mostly fun piece of television. Not good, mind you, but fun and with no deficit of charm, mostly because of the devil himself, played by Tom Ellis, who is really, really, ridiculously good-looking and seems to be playing this role with exactly the level of seriousness it deserves—not much. Unfortunately, the star’s charisma and absurd handsomeness are not going to be enough to carry this highly flawed series long term without the rest of the show stepping up its game.

What I’m mostly concerned with here, however, is the sexism on display in this first episode. It’s primarily targeted toward lady cop Chloe Dancer (Lauren German) and mostly played for laughs.

Chloe is a detective, following in the footsteps of her father, who was also an officer. She’s also divorced and a mother of one of the most adorable children I’ve seen on television in ages. However, a huge running joke throughout this episode is that lots of people (well, men, anyway) recognize her but can’t quite place her. Because—get this—she was an actress as a teenager, and she did a nude scene in a movie that is compared to Fast Times at Ridgemont High (a reference that almost no one under the age of thirty will even get). That’s it. That’s the whole joke. That a bunch of dudes recognize her because they’ve seen her boobs.

It’s suggested early on that maybe she’s a woman that Lucifer has had sex with and doesn’t remember, and then it’s implied that maybe she was a porn actress. It’s as if we’re supposed to feel relieved to find out that she isn’t actually a slut or a sex worker—she only committed a youthful indiscretion that has, you know, continued to affect her life as people shame and mock her for it, apparently just straight to her face. It’s also made clear that her actress past has made it difficult for her to progress in her chosen career and contributed to her marginalization on the police force. Obviously, this is hilarious. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Also, all women secretly want to bang Lucifer. And there’s a gold-digging woman marrying the episode’s murderer guy for his money. And every single woman in the show so far looks like a model (I know it’s L.A. but still). Perhaps the crowning moment of grossness in the episode, however, is when Lucifer, an adult man, tells a seven-year-old that her name—Trixie, short (adorably so) for Beatrice—is “a hooker’s name.” I get that he’s the actual devil, but yuck. Again, we’re supposed to laugh at how very, very funny and edgy this is. Ha.

Listen, Lucifer isn’t the worst, and I have actually read that the Chloe nude acting history stuff got scrapped between the pilot and being ordered to series, so I will be giving it another chance or two over the next few weeks. However, it’s not great. The concept could be interesting, but it seems a little too close to other odd couple police procedural shows. Lucifer is way too powerful for crime fighting to be anything like a challenge for him, so I don’t see how that’s going to be very interesting. The pilot has some laughs, when it’s not just mocking the female lead for showing her tits one time or making fun of a child’s cute nickname, and it’s got an interesting premise and a slightly silly and manic energy that I found endearing, but it remains to be seen if this will develop into a show worth coming back to watch every week. With several other genre shows airing on the same night, competition seems stiff, but we’ll see.