Lucifer – Season 3 Episode 20
“The Angel of San Bernadino”
Lucifer returns from hiatus to develop the Chloe/Cain relationship as the title character worries about his night time activities.
This episode picks up around a month after the previous one which makes it roughly real time for storytelling purposes. The time lapse is taken into account by allowing things to move on in different ways. In one particular case this allows us to skip the early stages of Chloe and Cain relationship meaning that the story can focus on them as a couple who are growing every closer. The trade off is that it’s difficult to accept that closeness as we haven’t seen it develop since they started seeing each other but Lauren German and Tom Welling have good enough chemistry to make it work for the purposes of the story being told.
Their relationship isn’t really the story though it is part of it. Cain’s plan to use her in order to remove his mark and finally die is always in the background and sours their connection in a very deliberate way. Us as viewers see nothing but heartache in Chloe’s future because we know that everything Cain says to her is a lie in order to further his own interests. This is made worse by the fact that Chloe is clearly really invested in this relationship as there is a significant shift in attitude on her part. Lauren German plays her with a softer demeanour than she normally while also showing that Chloe is genuinely happy rather than being the reserved and guarded person that the audience will be familiar with.
Watching this play out is waiting for a bomb to go off and the episode plays around with this nicely. Tom Welling’s performance is as if Cain has genuine feelings for Chloe which was certainly good enough to almost fool me into thinking that his investment in the relationship might not be entirely artificial. The episode certainly supplies enough evidence to suggest that a change of heart may be in his future and this pays off at the end of the episode when he admits to Lucifer that he couldn’t go through with his plan if it meant hurting Chloe.
This is where this starts to fall apart slightly. I really like the idea of Cain as the perfect conman who is so skilled in manipulating others that his intentions always come across as genuine. Tom Welling has a good deal as an actor because he doesn’t have to play the part in a suspicious way because Cain is just that good at playing his part. There are other scenes to show a more accurate reflection of who he is.
I mentioned in a previous review that Chloe being an object of desire for two immortal characters strained credibility somewhat as it turns her into a special case among humans that only seems to exist for dramatic convenience. Cain manipulating her to further his own interests fixed that problem as the infatuation only included Lucifer at this point which works because it’s one of the pillars of the show. This episode confirms that Cain’s feelings for her were at least genuine enough to make him have second thoughts about hurting her. He mentions that he was so close to having everything he wanted but couldn’t go through it in the end because causing Chloe pain was too high a price. It doesn’t really match up nor does the relationship have enough development to make this as believable as it needs to be.
Another thing I struggle with is Cain’s plan in the first place. It’s unclear why getting Chloe to declare her love for him would lift the curse. If he’s mistaken then fair enough as a lot of this arc has been about both Cain and Lucifer being mistaken about what would work but how he reaches this conclusion isn’t covered. If it was just a theory he was testing out then what drove him to test it out? The episode ending on the removal of the mark is interesting as it suggests the curse was self inflicted to be lifted at the point he feels guilty about something. The show has been very careful to establish Cain as a self serving opportunist who is motivated to climb the ranks in the police force because he wants to be in a position of authority. Helping people never comes into the equation so it’s easy to see why he wouldn’t have felt remorse before now.
Now that the curse has lifted and Cain has potentially learned humility in some profound way then that makes what comes next for his character very interesting. If he truly does care about Chloe then does he make a choice to pursue a relationship with her that might lead to him growing old with her or does he still want to kill himself? Passion for life is something he might have gained from all of this so I’m intrigued to see what comes next.
Lucifer is somewhere between the jealous ex-boyfriend persona and concerned older brother. Tom Ellis combines these in a really entertaining way with his confusion as to the extent of the relationship playing out in the early scenes. Lucifer knows that Cain can’t be trusted but has no idea how to convey that to Chloe in a way she will believe since it’s likely she would just assume that he’s jealous at worst or overreacting at best. As such Lucifer spends a good chunk of the episode really strung out and concerned about what Cain has planned for her. Chloe is ignorant to Cain’s true intentions but the audience is right with Lucifer and hoping the other shoe will drop before it’s too late.
He also has his own problems when he considers the possibility that he is flying around helping people in his sleep. It seems to be confirmed when he handcuffs himself to the bed and wakes up the next morning having apparently escaped. Naturally this feeds into his already massive daddy issues as he assumes that God has something to do about it and is controlling him once again. God has restored his Angel Wings and is now forcing him to behave like an Angel to torture him further.
Based on the available evidence it’s almost believable and leads Lucifer to the conclusion that if he never sleeps then he can’t help people in his sleep. Lucifer’s “staying awake” montage is wonderfully off the wall with a wide variety of imagery showing Lucifer’s attempts to keep himself from sleeping as time slowly passes. It includes drugs, sex, cleaning, joining a fight club and binge watching Bones. Following this montage Lucifer looks dishevelled and behaves more erratically than usual. Tom Ellis goes full lunatic and allows Lucifer’s paranoia to come right to the surface.
The striking thing is that his paranoia brings clarity as he is able to figure out that he is being stitched up by putting information together in an unconventional way. What leads him there is hilarious and involves an actor who actually appeared in the referenced episode of Bones which allows for an amazingly detailed meta gag.
Lucifer manages to figure almost everything out in his scene with Maze where he has his most profound moment of clarity when realising that Maze is working with Cain to mess with him and hurt Chloe. Pretending that an Angel is playing Good Samaritan around L.A. is a clever way to keel Lucifer distracted and Maze delights in admitting the plan because she’s fairly certain that it’s too late for him to do anything about it by then. Lesley Ann-Brandt’s performance as she fills Lucifer in on the plan is brilliantly disturbing. She takes a different sort of joy than we’re used to for inflicting this suffering.
It shows that everything Maze has experienced has corrupted her viewpoint in a really significant way as she takes delight in causing Chloe as well as Trixie heartache even though they’ve done nothing but try to help her. It feels like every time I review this show I point out that Maze is at her lowest point but it feels like she can keep going lower and having her emotional state allow her to take pleasure in the suffering of those she cares about is excellent stuff.
Charlotte is still processing the knowledge that Heaven, Hell, Angels, Demons, God and the Devil are all things that are real. This causes her to revert to the bad habits that she worked so hard to get rid of. She tells those she works with what she really thinks about them, buys expensive jewellery and propositions Dan in a way that she knows he will find difficult to resist. Tricia Helfer clearly delights in her performance of the unhinged Charlotte and snaps right back into the insufferable arrogance that defined her early on.
She has come to the conclusion that she won’t end up in Hell again because God is on he side. She seems to think that Lucifer and Amenadiel have the power to keep her out of Hell and she uses that as an excuse to do whatever she wants because there will be no consequences to her negative actions as far as she sees it. Her having no reason to think this is actually something I really like because Amenadiel has pointed out in the past that mortals can’t handle Divinity. Linda seems to be an exception to this but Charlotte is the sort of person who would believably have her own issues magnified by learning something that just doesn’t make sense to her.
There has to be a reality check at some point which comes when she is told that they don’t have that kind of power or influence and what really matters is how she lives her live. Charlotte’s conclusion is that she is unable to change because it took very little to reawaken the version of her she was trying to alter though it’s possible that her attempts to change who she is speak for themselves and continued work at that will prove that she deserves redemption in the form of dodging permanent residency in Hell.
Another strong episode that continues to focus on the character relationships that inform the ongoing story. The time skip allows the Chloe and Cain relationship to progress in the background which may seem rushed though their relationship isn’t the real story so skipping over that can be forgiven. Cain’s inability to go through with his plan because he can’t bring himself to hurt Chloe is problematic because it puts Chloe in the bizarre position where two immortals have managed to fall for her which does strain credibility even in this show. Why Cain thought that getting Chloe to tell him she loves him would break his curse is never explained; even if it is an experiment that might not work then the reasons he tries it are never discussed. It does seem that guilt is what breaks the curse which puts Cain in an interesting position in the coming episodes as his genuine feelings for Chloe could have an impact on his desire to die.
Lucifer comes across as something between the jealous ex-boyfriend and the concerned older brother. The audience knows that Cain can’t be trusted as does Lucifer but he can’t tell her that because she would never believe him. The dilemma escalates as Lucifer also deals with the possibility that God is controlling him by making him fly around to help people in his sleep. His conclusion that not sleeping is how he can overcome that leads to an excellent off the wall montage showing all of his attempts to stay awake as time slowly passes. The reveal that it’s all part of Cain and Maze’s plan is brilliantly handled complete with a disturbing performance from Lesley Ann-Brandt who depicts Maze as taking great pleasure in revealing how she fooled Lucifer by exploiting his daddy issues. No matter how low Maze gets it seems there is further for her to fall and it makes for compelling viewing. Charlotte’s assumption that she can behave how she wants because Hell is no longer in her future is really entertaining and feels like a natural reaction to having her mind blown in this way. It’s tempered by her being told that Lucifer and Amenadiel have no say in this leading her to conclude that she can’t change since it took no time for her old self to come back though this can be seen as hopeful as the effort put in to be better should be noteworthy.
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