Lucifer – Season 1 Episode 13
“Take Me Back to Hell”
It’s season finale time on Lucifer and the stakes are high as Malcolm becomes more unstable and Lucifer has to prove his innocence after being framed for murder.
This show has definitely had its ups and downs over the first season but has definitely showing signs of finding its feet and figuring out what the strengths of the setup are. There have been consistent improvements throughout the season to the point where the prospect of a second season seems like an interesting prospect rather than simply being something to point and laugh at.
The most compelling thing about the show has been Lucifer himself. He is a very tortured character who is running away from his responsibilities while trying to have some fun along the way. Being on Earth has changed his perception of humanity and his role in punishing them for what they have done wrong. When working with Chloe, Lucifer has seen what humanity are capable of and is better able to make decisions on who deserves punishment. He has had some trouble with what appropriate severity is but he definitely has learned a lot.
In this episode Malcolm becomes almost a case study for everything that Lucifer has learned when he goes too far by framing Lucifer for murder and kidnapping Chloe’s daughter, Trixie. Lucifer has a vested interest in punishing Malcolm for everything he has done and seems insulted at his misuse of his second chance at life. The scene where he confronts Malcolm is really well done as it shows how casually vengeful Malcolm is. Being armed with Maze’s knife that is capable of harming an Angel makes him a significant enough threat to make him a problem for Lucifer. Ultimately that knife is used on Amenadiel and Lucifer’s vulnerability around Chloe ends up creating the jeopardy for him but enough was done to establish Malcolm as a threat to both Lucifer and Chloe in equal measure.
The exploration of Malcolm as a villain has been really well done. It was established that he wasn’t a particularly nice guy to begin with and this was amplified when he was brought back from the dead. He was used to show what could happen to a human being if they experienced going to Hell and back. Malcolm returned from his brief visit to Hell in a really messed up state that manifested through him committing pretty much every sin he could. In previous episodes we see him eating food that isn’t very good for him and this one shows him trying to fill that void with material possessions. Essentially something is fundamentally broken inside him and there’s nothing he can do to fix it.
It’s also interesting that he finds himself overwhelmed by all of the higher powers at work around him and tries to take some ownership of that and deal with those himself. Stabbing Amenadiel is a really powerful example of that as it shows his unique place in the world that makes him a problem for powerful beings.
Amenadiel is the reason that Malcolm is alive and this is something that he has to take responsibility for. It’s acknowledged by him that all of this is happening as a direct result of his interference and now he has to accept the responsibility for it. When he is stabbed and appears to be mortally wounded it seems like a simple punishment and he tries to accept his death as being something he deserves. It’s not as simple as that thanks to Maze who uses the leftover feather from Lucifer’s wings to heal him. Now Amenadiel has to live with the consequences of his actions and find a way to atone for them in his own way. This should provide a decent arc for him to follow in the next season.
Maze has definitely been changed by her time on Earth. In a previous episode she was shown to be questioning her purpose and starting to find her own through making friends and moving away from what she was meant to do. This episode furthers that development as she does something selfless by using the feather to heal Amenadiel rather than keep it for an attempted return to Hell. Even she is surprised at this selfless act and isn’t quite sure what is happening to her.
Working with Chloe is another departure from the norm for her and shows that she is starting to see the value of human beings. She doesn’t lose her edge by any stretch but she starts to realise why Lucifer enjoys working with her and they make for a fun team in their scenes together. Maze’s casual remark about almost killing Chloe in her sleep was great and was made better by Chloe’s reaction showing that she heard it but is choosing to ignore it. The cast on this show really do work well together.
Chloe has a lot to deal with in this episode as she finally finds out the truth about Dan. Her reaction is more sedate than I expected but she expresses disappointment more than anger as well as questioning her own judge of character. She can’t believe that Dan would betray her like that and look on as she was humiliated in her occupation for knowing the truth for nobody to back her up. What this will mean for their relationship in the future as well as Dan’s involvement in Trixie’s life is still a question mark.
Dan does step up and do the right thing to clear Lucifer’s name which shows that he does have a sense of right and wrong. It is even recognised by Lucifer who thanks him sincerely by using his real name instead “douche” like he usually does.
In terms of the reasons for Dan doing what he did, I would say he was more overwhelmed by the circumstances and chose to look out for himself. It was the wrong choice but an understandable one. He knew what the consequences of coming clean would be and chose to preserve his career as well as his reputation. If Malcolm had died then he would have got away with it but having him around forced the truth to come out. I’ll be interested to see how Chloe deals with Dan’s betrayal and the direction their relationship will take next season.
When Trixie is kidnapped, Chloe takes it upon herself to break the rules and bring Malcolm the money he wants in exchange for her daughter. Interestingly this puts her in a similar position to the Dan was in. She has to break the rules for personal gain because Malcolm wants her to come alone. Her daughter’s life is at stake so she abuses her position to bring him what he wants. Chloe’s reasons are less selfish in that she wants to save the life of her daughter but she is still in a position where her personal and professional life clash and she has to choose what to do. Ultimately she decides that Trixie is more important to her than whatever consequences she will suffer and without hesitation she does what Malcolm says.
What she didn’t count on –but should have- was Lucifer forcing himself into the situation to change it. She specifically tells him that he can’t come with her but Lucifer follows her anyway and takes on Malcolm for her. It’s a really significant showing of the bond between Lucifer and Chloe that has grown over the season. Lucifer is willing to put himself at risk out of loyalty to her.
Chloe and Lucifer’s friendship is also covered well in this episode. Even though Chloe has to rescue him because of her job she refuses to accept that Lucifer might be guilty as she knows him better than that. Her primary focus is proving his innocence so they can keep working together as she admits. Lucifer seems genuinely touched by her reasoning and it makes him better able to put his trust in her.
Lucifer’s familial relationships become very significant through the course of this episode. Working with Amenadiel creates a lot of fun scenes full of childish bickering that really make them feel like brothers though the gag of people being confused since one is white and the other is black is really wearing thin. I really like the contrast in the childish jabs they take at one another with the grand scale of what they talk about. Having the mundane running side by side with the fantastical often makes for effective drama and this is certainly true here. There’s even a really cool action sequence where they work together to take down some thugs with their invincibility being played for laughs.
I found it interesting that both of them have had a shift in priorities. Lucifer’s arrest initially makes him ready to turn his back on humanity and return to Hell but Amenadiel has absolutely no desire to take him back there anymore. He has also been changed as a result of his time on Earth and his affair with Maze seems to have muddied his thinking on what his divine rights are.
Lucifer also has a shift in his relationship with God when he lies dying and appeals for a second chance so that he can save Chloe and Trixie. It’s something that clearly resonates with God who makes it clear that he wants Lucifer on Earth and reveals the reason behind that. Basically Lucifer is needed to return an escapee back to their cage. The gravity of this new threat is shown by how terrified Lucifer is when leaving the audience on the note that the escapee is his mother. Amenadiel is visibly afraid of this as well so it appears that their mother is something to be feared. The fact that God had her imprisoned in Hell and wants her back there says a lot as well so hopefully that will translate to a really interesting antagonist next season. Familial dysfunction is a major theme in this show so having Lucifer’s mother thrown into that should build on the already strong foundation.
Tying Lucifer’s second chance to the Pentecostal Coin that he gifted to Malcolm was a nice touch. Malcolm essentially felt immune to the threat of Hell because he knew that he could get out of there. He even taunts Lucifer with it when he is dying so having that taunt reversed when he lay dying by Lucifer revealing that he used it to escape Hell was incredibly satisfying. Malcolm’s final mortal thoughts are about the eternal torment he is about to face and it really couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. I wonder if the coin being used means that Lucifer can no longer use it to go back to Hell or leave if he finds himself sent back after being killed. Does this essentially mean that Lucifer always has that possibility hanging over him as long as he is around Chloe?
Tom Ellis delivers a rich and varied performance throughout this episode. He portrays Lucifer as visibly defeated by recent events but showing genuine concern for Chloe, Trixie and Amenadiel when they are placed in danger. This transitions to a sense of determination and loyalty as Lucifer decides what is important to him and does what he can to protect those he cares about. Ellis also manages to retain Lucifer’s quippy, arrogant nature on the surface with the emotional death creeping through the cracks consistently. He has really grown into the role throughout the season and has always been watchable. The writing is getting sharper which allows Ellis to show his significant range.
The weak link in this episode was Linda. Her appearance only serves as a summary of what is currently going on. She does call Lucifer and Amenadiel out on what she believes to be their metaphors but beyond that her presence slowed the episode down considerably. She is a good character but the show hasn’t found a place for her quite yet.
Having Linda address the “metaphors” that are constantly thrown her way draws focus to an issue with the show as a whole. Everyone close to Lucifer simply assumes that he is a crazy guy who believes that he is really the Devil and they all humour him. Chloe even finds that she is able to trust him despite the fact that he’s living out a really intense delusion as far as she is concerned. Having this in the background makes the characters seem more than a little odd for continuing to put up with this. Chloe has had plenty of evidence for her to at least figure out that something supernatural is going on so I feel that this should really go away by this point. The shocked reaction to Lucifer simply disappearing from rooms as paper billows only highlights how ridiculous this is at this point. I think for next season the core characters need to at least accept that there are supernatural forces at work around them.
The visualisation of Hell is also something that I could have done without. It wasn’t all that interesting to look at so came across as something of a let-down when it was shown. These concepts are far more effective when they seem beyond human understanding so I found the discussions of what hell was like to be more compelling than actually seeing it.
A satisfying finale that makes use of all of the strengths this show has to tell a compelling story. Malcolm proves to be a significant threat to all of the characters and Amenadiel’s guilt over being the direct cause of everything that Malcolm does is really well handled. Tom Ellis gives a wonderfully varied performance and Lucifer and it is highlighted how much he values the relationships he has built on Earth as well as how much he is valued. Maze is also shown to be developing a connection to her life on Earth and finds herself acting in ways she never thought possible. The show still doesn’t have a worthwhile place for Linda but the entire cast fire on all cylinders here and deliver an engaging end to the first season of a show that really has found its feet.