Lucifer – Season 3 Episode 4
“What Would Lucifer Do?”
Lucifer deals with the question of whether people can change and reform after past misdeeds or if they’re stuck in an endless cycle.
This show has largely been focused on the growth of Lucifer as a character. When he first came to Earth to live among the Humans he got by on his reputation as a morally murky individual granting favours for people and taking them back in return. Since then he has been changed by his relationship with Chloe and the work he does with her. Various familial influences have helped shape him into an arguably better version of himself.
Now we’re in season 3 and Lucifer is experiencing an identity crisis. The restoration of his wings and the loss of his “Devil face” serve as a reminder of his past and cause him to question whether any of his efforts to become a better person have been worth anything. A major bone of contention for him is that his father forced his wings on him and took away his “Devil face” which suggests to him that he actually has no control over anything he does. He can try to defy his father all he wants but ultimately God has all of the power. That’s what Lucifer is really about this season; a man trying to escape his father’s shadow and failing to do so. The implication is that Lucifer is an abused child; at least from his perspective and his self destructive behaviour is a reaction to the treatment he faces from a father who refuses to understand or respect him.
Naturally the case of the week backs up Lucifer’s arc in some way. This case was among the weakest in recent memory as no effort was made to flesh out those involved. The Fire Hawk Transformation Centre was simply a place for the characters to go and served as a backdrop for the investigation without having any real character on its own. The case itself did little more than enable Lucifer to explore how people attempt to change. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself but there should have been plenty of scope to use this setting to provide commentary on people bettering themselves.
Ultimately the Centre acts a a backdrop for comedy instead of being something meaningful. Don’t get me wrong; seeing Lucifer teach a group of teenagers how to be better criminals while getting high and riding a horse was hilarious but the comedy felt like it existed for the sake of itself rather than feeding into anything more meaningful. The best episodes of Lucifer use comedy to illustrate a point but this was just killing time to get a few laughs.
It does somewhat feed into the lesson of the episode as far as Lucifer sees it is that people should concentrate on embracing their true natures rather than working to alter them. Lucifer teaching the kids how to be better criminals while they attend a reform centre is just the kind of dark comedy that the show is known for so it’s a shame it wasn’t explored more than it was.
Lucifer’s identity crisis has a lot to do with him not being sure of his purpose any more. Is he the Devil? Does he punish evil? Is he a guy who uses his influence to grant people favours? He’s genuinely not sure so is trying everything to see what sticks. Having the character be so disjointed is interesting to a point but it’s also problematic in that it messes with the dynamic of the show in a way that doesn’t work. There are less meaningful interactions between Chloe and Lucifer who do share screen time but most of their scenes are the same. In most of them Lucifer behaves inappropriately while Chloe struggles to maintain her credibility. It feels like a long time since we have seen the nuanced friendship where Lucifer is afraid of his feelings for her. Hopefully it’ll get back to that but for now it’s superficial.
The most engaging relationship for Lucifer currently is with Amenadiel. In many ways Lucifer acts as if Amenadiel is a nuisance who needs to be distracted so that he doesn’t have to deal with whatever his brother is up to this week. This pays off by the end of the episode where Lucifer recounts a story about a soul he once tortured in Hell who was most upset when Lucifer forgot about him for a day. Being noticed by the Devil even to be brutally tortured gave the soul some sense of validation and purpose. Lucifer compares Amenadiel to this soul because everything Amenadiel does is motivated by Lucifer in some way. It feels like an obsession in Lucifer’s mind and he clearly doesn’t want to be anyone’s project so harshly tells Amenadiel to seek validation somewhere else. It’s a brutal scene wonderfully played by Tom Ellis who starts off quiet and contemplative as he tells the story before being consumed by a fiery rage directed solely at Amenadiel who is visibly affected by this though he is willing to wait for Lucifer to come to his senses.
Amenadiel defining himself by his connection to Lucifer is problematic but in a way that’s good for the character. In many ways he’s suffering his own identity crisis as he thinks his purpose is linked to Lucifer’s in some way. Maze had the same problem but managed to find her own method of self definition. This is something that Amenadiel needs to find and he’s a long way off at this stage. This episode has him attempting to understand Lucifer by literally walking a mile in his shoes. He puts on the clothes and goes out looking to hook up with a beautiful woman. This goes spectacularly wrong and he ends up with a prostitute who demands payment. The whole ordeal has him wind up in prison and Dan bails him out.
Two things can be taken from Amenadiel’s scenes in this episode. The first is that he’s no good at being Lucifer. His attempt to copy his brother goes spectacularly wrong which tells us that he can’t live that sort of life. The second is that he has more in common with Dan than anyone else. Dan is characterised as a loveable loser of late which allows him to pass comment on what the other characters are doing because he isn’t really a part of it. This isn’t a negative for Dan as a character as his place in the show is well defined and the writers often find ways to work with it in interesting ways. Amenadiel embodying a similar role could help him find his place within the show. He’s an Angel but not the star of the show in the same way that Dan is a cop but will always play second string to Chloe. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing as it’s part of the tapestry of what makes Lucifer work as a show. Giving characters a defined purpose is something many shows fail at but this one seems to be on the right track.
Chloe unfortunately often takes a back seat in the absence of meaningful scenes with Lucifer and this definitely shows in this episode. There has been an ongoing subplot involving Pierce apparently not appreciating her. From Chloe’s point of view he constantly questions her decisions and appears to favour Lucifer’s lack of professionalism over her skills as a detective. This episode is where it reaches a tipping point for her and she eventually confronts him about it. Part of the sore spot is that she wants to put her name forward as a Union Rep which is denied. This causes Chloe frustration which is compounded when Pierce eventually goes with her on a ride along.
The confrontation of course reveals that Chloe has been completely wrong about him. He actually greatly values her skills and turned her down for the Union Rep position because she feels that the job isn’t suited to someone with her talents as it’s essentially a useless figurehead position. Amusingly he puts Dan forward for it showing exactly what he thinks of him.
While Pierce’s admission technically counts as development in their relationship it feels a lot like a tick box exercise. The way it plays out is as if there’s a collection of conflicts that Chloe has with Pierce that need to be resolved by the end of the episode so that something else can be done next week. As such the whole thing feels inorganic and is a clear signpost to some kind of romantic plot for these characters which may work though it’s hard to tell since they don’t share much in the way of chemistry at this point.
A solid episode that has its share of problems. Lucifer’s self destructive behaviour and the seeming lack of acceptance of the fact that he is evolving as a person is an interesting arc and I like that he is convinced that people are unable to escape their true nature. The case of the week is designed to back up that lesson and technically does so though isn’t developed as well as it could be. Amenadiel’s arc involves him discovering that being more like Lucifer definitely isn’t for him and the final scene between them where Lucifer makes it clear that Amenadiel should look for validation elsewhere is really cutting.
Chloe’s scenes involve her proving that she is worthy of better treatment than Pierce is giving her. It plays out to the point that Pierce tells her he actually values her skills and greatly appreciates her. It’s fine but feels like a tick box exercise that moves them onto the next stage of their relationship. Chloe is losing out on meaningful interactions with Lucifer at this point and its holding back her character.
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up.
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.