Lucifer – Season 3 Episode 14
“My Brother’s Keeper”
Lucifer explores the concept of brotherhood and the dangers of family loyalty when various characters find their brothers to be disappointing.
Taking the limelight this week is the sometimes neglected Ella. She’s around in most episodes and her contribution is always entertaining but she is rarely in the meat of the story. It’s the nature of the beast as far as Lucifer is concerned as by nature the show is very busy so there isn’t always a lot of time to explore the entirety of the ensemble. Eventually the writers get around to giving everyone their time in the Sun and now it’s Ella’s turn.
As with everything in this show her story revolves around Lucifer but not in an outwardly obvious way. She goes to Maze to hire her as a Bounty Hunter in order to track down her wayward brother Jay (Rey Valentin). She’s concerned about his well being and wants to use the best resource she can find. Immediately this is a delight because Ella and Maze don’t spend a lot of time together; in fact I struggle to recall a time they actually did share the screen. She clearly hasn’t made a huge impression on Maze either considering she keeps calling her Ellen. It’s excellently consistent how ignorant Maze is largely by choice. She knows what she plans to care about and doesn’t focus her attention on anything else. The rampant disinterest she shows in Ella’s reason for being there until money is mentioned confirms that and an engaging partnership is born. Ella also has a great moment with Trixie where they bond over wearing the same shirt. It’s a quick yet sweet moment that adds so much dimension to this show.
The Ella/Maze team-up never stops being entertaining. It’s interesting to see how these characters interact with their unique yet complimentary way of looking at the world. It’s a great way to fill in some more of the gaps that make up Ella as a character. There’s still a lot we don’t know about her but the more we learn the more fascinating she gets.
Ultimately Ella’s problem here is that she holds her brother up to a really high standard that he just can’t live up to. There’s an air of tragic comedy to it as her brother is a criminal but not a very good criminal and Ella has a blind spot for him. It’s a shame to see such an intelligent character so blinded by familial loyalty to miss the obvious and provide unconditional support. Her behaviour in this episode adds layers to the character and her acceptance of Jay’s innocence even though it’s obvious that he has at least some measure of responsibility even if he is an idiot. He makes a lot of fundamental and hilarious mistakes not least of which is telling Lucifer that what he’s doing isn’t what it looks like. In true Lucifer fashion his ineptitude is a constant source of amusement while making Ella more sympathetic that she can’t really see past the image she has of her brother.
Jay is a really well developed character despite having very little screen time in which to flourish. His conversation with Lucifer towards the end of the episode where he tries to justify what he’s done as the desperate acts of a man relied on by his entire family. Lucifer sees right through this to the lavish clothes and false persona going so far as to make a deal with him. The deal is that he simply gets his act together and doesn’t disappoint Ella ever again with the threat of consequences from Lucifer if he fails to live up to his end of the bargain. Tom Ellis is chilling in this scene showing how vengeful the Devil can be while reinforcing the fierce loyalty he has to those he considers friends. There’s even a flash of the Devil eyes hinting that his Devil face may not be as inaccessible as he thinks.
The notion of family is something Ella discusses with Maze which helps her get to the root of her own issues. Ella’s outlook on family is simple enough yet really clear in how she expects familial relationships to work. As far as Maze is concerned she should cut her losses and push the bad aspects of her life aside which would mean distancing herself from her brother. Ella’s response to Maze’s suggestion is a simple declaration that family are supposed to help each other no matter what that requirement is. That simple declaration helps Maze put into context what upsets her most about the Linda/Amenadiel relationship. She feels betrayed by both of them -Linda in particular- and hurt that they ignored her specific request to not pursue that relationship. Does Maze really have any right to ask that of them? Perhaps not but she does have a right to not be lied to by those she considers close friends. Maze has a breakthrough in this episode by realising that she considers Linda and Amenadiel family more so than all of the Demon siblings she mentioned.
Naturally Lucifer finds a way to make this all about him. It just so happens that he is having trouble with Amenadiel and isn’t feeling too good about brothers at this point in time which means his automatic assumption is that Jay is guilty. Chloe has clearly been watching the show and has figured out the formula of Lucifer projecting his personal feelings onto the case. As such Chloe is more concerned with the facts, wants to remove the conflict of interest that Ella represents and generally takes Lucifer’s suggestions under advisement while carefully considering the case as a whole. It’s a little too obvious as signposting goes but amusing nonetheless. The worst thing is that Lucifer is proven right about Jay’s guilt when he makes the deal with him.
Lucifer’s issues with Amenadiel stem from his attempts to help Cain kill himself. Amenadiel carried out God’s wishes by branding him with the infamous Mark of Cain and has no idea how to remove it because all he did was put it there as a representation of God’s punishment. He isn’t willing to defy his father by removing the curse and helping Lucifer on his quest to remove himself from God’s influence.
The interesting thing is that Lucifer is entirely delusional when it comes to dealing with Amenadiel. He mentions that he thought they were getting along while completely ignoring the horrible things he said back in “What Would Lucifer Do?” and taking no responsibility for how that made his brother feel. Since then Lucifer has worked through the issues he was experiencing at the time and never made amends for how he made his brother feel. Amenadiel only seems to tolerate Lucifer at this stage because he feels that he has to which shows a massive strain in their relationship only made worse by the fact that Lucifer is spending all of his time forging a connection with Cain rather than him. He basically feels betrayed by his brother and has chosen to keep him at arms length only regarding him as a test from God. As it sits at the moment Amenadiel favours his father over his brother and sees no reason to change that outlook much less do favours for someone who doesn’t appreciate him.
Cain’s interactions with Amenadiel made for some really interesting moments. Amenadiel sees the eternal punishment being fitting for the crime committed even though it’s clear that Cain has suffered enough. There’s an interesting debate to be had about God forgiving all sins that may be approached if Jesus ever becomes a factor in the show but this isn’t the time for that. The conflict is over Amenadiel’s black and white attitude about branding Cain and cursing him for eternity. The point made about killing innocents being meaningless to Cain after killing his brother is interesting because it suggests that God’s punishment might have been wrong because it created an even worse monster than the one who existed before. The eternal torment caused by making Cain immortal has been responsible for many terrible things in the world, most recently the Sinnerman.
As Amenadiel and Cain talk they also fight and it’s really impressive to behold. There’s a mixture of different fighting styles and watching two immortals beat each other senseless while matching wits though some really cutting remarks is endlessly entertaining. Cain’s point about all of the innocents he has put in danger to test his immortality is designed to make Amenadiel think that the world might be a better place without him in it. If Cain dies then someone who has no regard for fleeting Human life is gone and the world is a little bit safer than it once was. The point is that there may be no line Cain isn’t willing to cross in pursuit of his goal.
He also reminds Amenadiel of an uncomfortable home truth by pointing out that he also tried to kill his brother even if he petitioned someone else to do it. Cain sees that as a cowardly tactic and questions Amenadiel on what punishment he feels that he deserves. This isn’t something that Amenadiel is comfortable facing and is clearly given something to think about but can’t get past his desire to please his father. That’s the opposite of what Cain wants and definitely the opposite of what Lucifer wants. The episode ends with Lucifer and Amenadiel on opposite sides of the issue with a warning from each of them about staying out of the other’s way.
One thing occurs to me with all this talk of killing brothers. The fact that Lucifer killed his brother Uriel last season isn’t directly addressed though I feel that it is a large part of the subtext of everything that is going on here. Beyond his desire to defy God Lucifer could also feel sympathy for Cain because he knows what it’s like to kill a brother and the long term effects that has. Last season Lucifer almost went insane with grief and the memory of what he did will never go away so he has to suffer with that for an eternity just as Cain does which creates a kindred connection between them. It’s something Amenadiel doesn’t understand and I find it fascinating that he doesn’t actually bring it up.
Charlotte continues her journey back to mental health by asking Linda to be her therapist. Linda can’t get past the fact that Lucifer’s mother in Charlotte’s body tried to kill her. It’s a very small but important subplot that helps both Charlotte and Linda move on in some way. Linda hasn’t interacted with the real Charlotte yet so hasn’t had any opportunity to process her own feelings about what happened to her. Naturally her first instinct is to turn Charlotte away which makes her feel like she is irredeemable. Lucifer is on hand to help Linda realise that Charlotte isn’t his mother and what happened wasn’t her fault which does help and Linda agrees to take her on as a client. This allows Charlotte to feel that there is some hope of doing something to make up for past misdeeds and Linda is able to work through her issues at the same time.
An excellent episode that nails the characterisation consistently. Ella taking the limelight makes for some really entertaining scenes and her partnership with Maze is a lot of fun as well as being revelatory for Maze’s confused feelings over Linda and Amenadiel. The case surrounding Ella’s brother Jay fills in some of the gaps to Ella’s backstory and show the blind spot that she has for family that keeps her from seeing the truth about him. Jay is a well developed character from the outset and the scene he shares with Lucifer towards the end of the episode where Lucifer threatens him to get his act together is really chilling.
Amenadiel’s contribution to the episode is excellent as it explores the strained relationship that Lucifer is oblivious of at this stage. His refusal to defy God shows where his loyalties are and the confrontation he has with Cain over the lunacy of eternal torture is excellent. All the talk of how Cain doesn’t value the lives of innocents and confronting Amenadiel with the fact that he tried to kill Lucifer by proxy adds such complexity to the issue. Charlotte going to Linda for therapy is a nice touch because it allows Charlotte to feel hopeful about some form of redemption while Linda deals with the lingering issues over what Lucifer’s mother in Charlotte’s body did to her.
- a great showcase for Ella
- the Maze/Ella team-up
- Maze getting context on the issues she has with Amendadiel and Linda’s relationship
- compelling exploration of brotherly relationships
- the Cain/Amenadiel interactions and fight
- Tom Ellis’ chilling performance when Lucifer threatens Jay
- Charlotte and Linda getting the opportunity to deal with their feelings
- clumsy signposting of the show’s formula from Chloe
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