Lucifer – Season 1 Episode 3
“The Would Be Prince of Darkness”
Lucifer sees the title character working with Chloe to find out who murdered a young woman found face down in a swimming pool.
This is the third episode and it really looks like the show has settled into the format of Lucifer helping Chloe solve a case while she complains about him forcing his involvement before realising that he’s actually helpful when it comes to solving it. In that sense every episode of this show is predictable and incredibly boring. I don’t really care about the cases because I’m not invested in the person that has been murdered or those accused of it. iZombie has a similar issue with the procedural elements but that doesn’t really matter as that show focuses on the characters that we do care about. Lucifer has no such focus and tries to spread its time equally but fails to make it engaging. There is an interesting show trying to get out but it’s caged by such mediocrity that I fear it will never be seen.
Lucifer is the most interesting character the show has and, since the show is named after him, he really ought to be. Tom Ellis continues to embody the character really well and I’m surprisingly not growing tired of his smarmy childlike persona that encourages people to do bad things. Seeing him play the role of the devil on the shoulder twice in this episode really taps into the potential for the show to really have fun with the premise. He is shown to be persuasive and relentless when trying to convince people to take that plunge into what they want to do. He encourages the woman to leap off a ledge into a swimming pool -but the scene paints it as if she is going to kill her self- and he convinces virgin Quarterback Ty Huntley (Redaric Williams) to give into his sinful urges and have fun with an attractive girl.
His advice is what makes him a murder suspect and the whole procedural plot appears from there. To be blunt, it was boring. I wasn’t interested in who the murderer was or what work went into solving it. Redaric Williams gave a terrible performance that made it impossible to become invested in whether Ty was innocent or not. Since he’s one of the first suspects it was never going to be him anyway. That trick is something that will be pulled in a few episodes time to make it feel different to the other cases.
The case is supposed to exist to further the relationship between Lucifer and Chloe and it does to some degree. Lucifer finds her fascinating because he can’t figure her out and she is interested in him for the same reasons. The fact that they are drawn to one another for very similar reasons is interesting in itself but it needs to be developed while they still have some momentum. There’s also some merit in Chloe seeing Lucifer’s point of view around breaking the law to uphold it. Ends justifying the means could be an ongoing theme of this show if some work went into it.
I still don’t find Chloe that compelling but I find Lucifer’s fascination with her to be interesting. Right now there haven’t been any major steps towards answering those questions which is fine by me as it likely will be that she has some sort of supernatural origin which will be all too convenient and boring. It’s a shame that her character is so weak as the actors are starting to create a fairly fun dynamic and Lauren German brings some emotional range to her that doesn’t seem to appear in the script.
The most interesting story at work here was Lucifer chasing after someone who stole his identity. I’d rather have seen this be the main story as it would have moved away from the murder angle and allowed the episode to play out in different ways as a result. This is especially disappointing since the title of the episode alludes to this narrative as well as hinting at Lucifer’s own self doubt. Lucifer’s concern over the ruination of his brand was a nice touch and seeing how offended he got at the identity thief’s choice of entertainment was really amusing.
I can see what was intended with this plot since Lucifer spent much of the episode talking about how much he wanted to punish those who deserved it and he gives the guy masquerading as him a free pass. It’s supposed to show personal growth for him and the ability to recognise what is worth punishing and what isn’t. There’s a sense that Lucifer is supposed to be learning about human nature and viewing it from an outside perspective but the idea isn’t coming through powerfully enough. The show needs to decide whether Lucifer is going to be an antihero out to protect innocents and punish the corrupt or whether he’s doing everything he can to push the limits of human temptation. There are arguments for both but I’m not getting which way it should all lean.
I’m finding the therapy angle already feels as if it has been taken about as far as it can. There’s a revelation in this episode that Lucifer is apparently seeking justice for good people rather than bringing punishment to those who do evil. This suggests that the antihero path might be where this show is going. What more is there left to learn from therapy sessions other than repetition of what we’ve heard before? It feels as if the viewer is being treated as stupid if his motivations are spelled out every week rather than showing it through clever storytelling that isn’t all that difficult to understand. Subtext is powerful and can be easy to interpret if done correctly.
Much better than last week but there’s still a sense that there is a good show just dying to get out. Lucifer is theoretically an engaging character and there are some really interesting aspects to him that demand better explanation. Unfortunately the show gives too much focus to really dull procedural murder cases that do nothing to make the viewer care about the outcome.
• the hints of a better show just beneath the surface
• Tom Ellis’ still engaging performance
• the dull procedural elements
• a lack of indication of what the show wants to be