Lucifer – Season 3 Episode 10
“The Sin Bin”
Lucifer begins the winter hiatus by closing off the Sinnerman arc and delivering an unexpected twist ending to mull over until the show returns.
I mentioned last week that the Sinnerman reveal felt underwhelming considering the build-up. I’m not sure what could have made it any more satisfying but it felt at odds with the build-up across the season. There was still work to do to dig deeper into it but it wasn’t a great start.
Last week ended with the Sinnerman blinding himself so that Lucifer couldn’t use his ability to learn his deepest desire. It puts him in the rare position of having no real influence over a situation and that’s immensely frustrating for him. There’s also the fact that the Sinnerman knows a lot about Lucifer but is less than forthcoming on how he came about that knowledge or what he plans to do with it. All in all he’s a very frustrating adversary for the Prince of Darkness and the episode takes its time exploring that.
The main concern on Lucifer’s mind is that the Sinnerman is committed to taking everything that Lucifer holds dear away from him. It’s clear that Lucifer was being targeted for reasons that remain a mystery and this is largely represented though Chloe. The most interesting thing is that Lucifer stands to lose Chloe in a much less lethal sense down to his obsessive behaviour. He has gotten into the habit of leaving to do his own thing when she needs him. His obsession with the Sinnerman is destroying this relationship and Lucifer is too blinded by his singular focus to see it even when she calls him out on it repeatedly.
Chloe has an opportunity to raise her concerns in a way that they might be heard. Lucifer actively asks her for help and needs her to do something for him so she sees this as a chance to make him aware of how she’s feeling. This takes the form of setting conditions for the favour he asks of her in the form of stopping what he has been doing. Naturally Lucifer agrees and very quickly does the opposite showing that despite all of his personal growth there is a self centred streak that will never shift.
Lucifer is behaving this way for what he sees as the right reasons. He wants to protect Chloe and sees making sure that she’s as far away from danger as possible as the right way to do that. What he fails to realises is that being honest with Chloe would solve a lot of his problems. Not that he’s ever been dishonest but the show is still persisting with Chloe not actually knowing the truth about him because she writes it off as delusional thinking. In order to get Chloe to believe him all he would have to do is show her the wings and let her rational mind do the rest. It would be similar to the way Linda found out but it’s probably the only way to do it at this point. Instead Lucifer is wilfully putting himself in a position where Chloe is justified in being angry with him. The “Sin Bin” of the title can be partially attributed to Chloe’s perception of Lucifer because of what he presents to her. In effect he puts himself in the “Sin Bin” and refuses to take the obvious way out for reasons that have yet to be adequately explained.
The scenes Lucifer shares with the Sinnerman are very strong in terms of Tom Ellis’ and and Kevin Carroll’s acting. Tom Ellis plays Lucifer as vulnerable, uncertain and terrified because he is so far from having control of the situation. He’s used to being able to manipulate or scare people into doing what he wants but has absolutely no leverage over the Sinnerman. Ellis’ performance becomes more unhinged as the episode progresses until the point where Lucifer is willing to kill a human being.
His logic behind that decision is somewhat questionable. Angels aren’t allowed to kill Humans -though presumably nothing stops them- so doing that would merit a punishment from God. Lucifer is positive that his punishment will be the removal of his wings and the restoration of his Devil face though how does he not realise that this won’t be what happens because that’s what he wants? He more than anyone should know that punishment is typically the opposite of what people desire. Arguably the removal of his Devil face and the restoration of his wings is the punishment as he has no way of proving otherwise.
The Sinnerman gives Lucifer no ground at all and clearly wants to get under his skin. Lucifer’s assumption is that the Sinnerman wants to be free which turns out not to be the case at least in a literal sense. It turns out that he wants freedom in the form of death at the hands of Lucifer which seems like a twisted desire befitting a serial killer but doesn’t actually work in the execution. It’s a very strange transition as he goes from being stoic and in control to filled with desperation about Lucifer killing him. It’s perhaps all an act but to what end?
Kevin Carroll’s performance is great especially when considering how little he really has to work with here. He is playing a character with no name outside of his given Serial Killer moniker and a list of traits that don’t quite add up to a character. Everything about him is a mystery that keeps Lucifer asking questions. Repeated mentions to “the method” don’t really go anywhere and there is something of an aloof quality to Kevin Carroll’s acting in keeping with a character who doesn’t seem to care about anything that’s happening to him. As entertaining as it is to hear references to Hannibal Lecter and other such offhand comments it’s difficult to see what all of this is in service of.
As I’ve mentioned Lucifer’s belief is that God will punish the killing of a Human but Maze has a different perspective. She thinks that killing him will lead to Biblical consequences because she believes that he’s an emissary of God which comes across as bizarre to me as I’m not sure what leads her to that conclusion. Off screen torture does confirm to both Maze and Lucifer that he is in fact Human which is something that neither expected but helps to fuel the next stage of Lucifer’s obsession as explored above.
Ultimately the introduction of the Sinnerman was a bit of a bust despite the entertainment value of individual scenes in this particular episode. The only real way to salvage it was the route that was chosen; reveal that he’s actually the accomplice rather than having an accomplice. Having the brains behind the Sinnerman turn out to be Pierce who is actually the first murderer Cain was a great twist that adds so much more intrigue to the Pierce character.
The handling of the reveal was first rate. Lucifer attacking him with a knife to prove that he’s an immortal and lingering on the possibility that Lucifer might have made a mistake was a stroke of genius. The seconds felt endless as Pierce/Cain lay there motionless while Lucifer continued to drink. Tom Ellis played the wheels turning in Lucifer’s head as he considered what to tell Chloe if Pierce/Cain turned out to be a normal Human being who was now dead.
Fortunately for Lucifer that doesn’t come to pass and Pierce reveals himself to be who Lucifer thought he was. It’s an interesting development as it suddenly makes the case of the Sinnerman compelling again. Pierce previously mentioned that the Sinnerman killed his brother which turns out to be true with the added complexity that Cain was the man who killed Able. It’s possible that he sees himself as irredeemable and has created this alternate persona for himself so that he can live with the guilt. An eternity of shouldering that guilt is a really intense punishment and it’ll be interesting to see how that is explored.
There are still a number of questions such as what Cain’s true motivation is, why he orchestrated the Sinnerman murders, what interest he has in Lucifer and whether he’s actually responsible for Lucifer’s restored wings and lost Devil face. If he is then that obviously brings us onto how he did that. Diverting attention from the previous Sinnerman to Cain is a good move and I hope that satisfactory answers will be forthcoming. At the very least the similarities and differences are rife for exploration. Lucifer is open, brutally honest and public where Pierce/Cain is quiet, clandestine and operates in the shadows. These are two different approaches to immortality so there may well be some form of clash.
The main plot of the episode is really dark and intense but there are still really watchable lighter moments that prevent the episode from being too gloomy. It’s something that most episodes do very well and this is no exception. Relegating the case of the week to investigating a disappearance somewhat connected to the Sinnerman plot is uninteresting though the roller derby setting is visually unique and provides some humourous moments as well as allowing Chloe the chance to develop by revealing that a visit to the roller derby was a profound bonding moment between her and Trixie. It’s a small and intimate reveal that gives greater insight into Chloe as a character and as a mother.
These scenes also allow Lucifer to poke fun at the format of the show by outlining the typical steps in a procedural TV show investigation. It works for the character because he feels that the investigation is wasting time when there’s a much simpler answer evident to him and offers an intriguing piece of self aware commentary further cementing that Lucifer is a show that knows exactly what it is.
The whole sequence involving breaking the Sinnerman out of prison was hilarious as well. It was such an obviously terrible plan that it’s no wonder Pierce saw right through it. All of the elements come together from Ella being used as an unwitting diversion, rummaging for the holding cell key and a costume change to evade detection all sell the ridiculousness of the scene.
Another thing the episode boasts is a charming subplot involving Charlotte, Dan and Trixie. It could easily have been another “Charlotte learns a lesson about being good” sort of episode but this was far better as Trixie makes for an innocently blunt voice telling Charlotte what she needs to hear. Reminding her that she has children and has a right to see them is a good thing because it encourages her to do the right thing without making it a profound life lesson. Trixie’s simple declaration that being a mother means she makes the rules sums it up simply for her and helps her realise that being an absentee mother isn’t something that can really be forced upon her at this point. Trixie is a little too precocious in this episode especially when matchmaking for Charlotte and Dan but there’s no denying that this subplot really works and I like the idea that Dan gets a fresh start with Charlotte as well as some good luck for a change.
A compelling yet troubled episode that has excellent acting but fails to deliver reasonable justification for the motivations of the Sinnerman. His presence is a challenge for Lucifer as he is unable to manipulate or scare him but beyond that the plotting doesn’t quite add up to something that entirely makes sense. It’s more frustrating than anything though the most interesting thing is that the idea of the Sinnerman is enough to damage Lucifer’s relationship with Chloe due to his behaviour. Tom Ellis and Kevin Carroll both do a great job playing their roles and the twist reveal that the Sinnerman is only an accomplice for Pierce/Cain was an interesting surprise that has a lot of potential.
Despite the dark and intense storytelling the episode still managed to find levity. The roller derby subplot felt fairly inconsequential but that was very much the point and Lucifer pointing out the typical structure of procedural storytelling is both hilarious self aware commentary about the show and something that would come organically from Lucifer himself. The prison break sequence was also hilarious in how ridiculous it was. Charlotte, Dan and Trixie’s subplot was really charming and a different way for Charlotte to continue her journey to being a better person. Her matchmaking skills allow Dan and Charlotte to arrange a date which allows Dan some good luck for a change.
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