Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lucifer, Season One, Episode Thirteen: Take Me Back To Hell

After all of the build up, the season finale is anticlimactic.  Lucifer and Amenadiel team up to find Malcolm and Dan comes clean about his dirty work.  I should have been cheering. I should have been at the edge of me seat, yet somehow it sort of fizzled away into a buddy type episode that went nowhere slowly.

When last we saw Lucifer, Chloe was pointing a gun at him and informing that he was under arrest. Lucifer took this particularly hard feeling that Chloe had become just like everyone else, believing that that he is the cause for evil.  Lucifer responds by taunting the cops, even as Chloe gives the order not to fire because Lucifer is unarmed.  Lucifer then puts his hand in his pocket questioning how they know that he doesn't have a gun.  Given Chloe's presence, if the cop had fired that would have meant death and a return to hell.  Fortunately for Lucifer, this is when a still bruised and battered Amenadiel shows up to whisk him away. At this point, Lucifer feels completely defeated and tells Amenadiel to just take him back to hell. Maze is angry at him, Chloe thinks that he is a murderer and so for Lucifer, there seems to be nowhere left to turn.   It seems that Amenadiel has decided that he wants to make things right and feels responsible for all of the evil Malcolm has committed since returning to life. Amenadiel even says that he agrees with Maze and that they both used her. This is a big step for the self righteous angel.

With Amenadiel on side they head to his office to figure out what to do.  Their argument is overheard by Doctor Linda, who initially believes that Amenadiel is poaching her clients.  Linda is not made any happier when she discovers that Lucifer and Amenadiel are brothers and that Amenadiel used her so that he could manipulate Lucifer.  For the first time, Linda drops her professional veneer long enough to be able to tell both men off but it doesn't get her anywhere because they quickly leave having figured out what to do next.

This was a long time coming for Linda because she has been used by both Lucifer and Amenadiel and yet she is not painted as the sympathetic figure that Maze has been. Both men violated her trust in real and meaningful ways and Lucifer even threatened her this season.  As much as I enjoyed Linda finally speaking her mind, it was undermined by how quickly both Amenadiel and Lucifer quickly left her office, as though her anger or good opinion of them meant absolutely nothing.  Lucifer as a person in need of counselling is a gimmick but if the writers are going to go with it, Linda needs to given some respect and her character needs to be more forceful on a regular basis.

When Amenadiel is stabbed by a hell blade by Malcolm, instead of chasing down Malcolm, Lucifer actually turns back to help his brother.  It serves as yet another clue about how much these two mean to each other despite being on opposite sides.  They love each other as only brothers can. Amenadiel's injury is also used to show just how close he and Maze have become.  Just like his brother, Amenadiel makes peace with his death, even though he cannot be sure whether he is going to heaven or hell. Maze uses a feather from Lucifer's wings to save him though this means that she cannot assure a path back to her home Hell.  This is a sacrifice of epic proportions.  My issue here is that Amenadiel really has done nothing to earn this sort of sacrifice from Maze, nor has he apologised for the way that he used her.  Our only indication that Amenadiel actually cares for Maze is his pain at her betrayal.  Maze has the appearance of a strong character but she is just as much of a pawn as Linda.

Chloe might not be a pawn to be played with in the manner of Linda or Maze, but she like the other female characters is not a strong character.  Throughout this season, Lucifer continually rode rough shod over her agency.  Lucifer enters Chloe's home without permission and continually violates her personal space with no regard for Chloe's feelings about it.   Lucifer cannot even accept that Chloe doesn't want to have sex with him and exposes himself to her and continues to make passes at her. Somehow, this is all supposed to be okay because Lucifer supposedly cares about her.  Unfortunately, Lucifer's feelings don't amount to respecting her.  On some level, there are problems with each of the female characters on Lucifer.

One of the problems with Lucifer is that despite all of the things the ensemble cast has seen, they are still very much in the dark so to speak about the fact that Lucifer really is the devil.  Chloe, Dan and Linda continue operate as though Lucifer is delusional and therefore they just play along to keep him happy.  Lucifer disappears right in front of Chloe at Lux and she doesn't question how he accomplished this.  Lucifer and Amenadiel show up in Dan's office and he simply accepts their presence.  Lucifer and Amenadiel also disappear from Dan's office and he still doesn't put the pieces together. At the end of the episode, Malcolm even shoots Lucifer to death and he returns to hell yet somehow, Chloe just accepts Lucifer's explanation that he got better without asking any further questions.  What more does Chloe need to see to figure out that Lucifer is telling her the truth? The disbelief in Lucifer's identity has been an ongoing gag all season and at this point, it's tired old and ridiculous.  It's almost as though the writers believe that they would have to give up all of the snark and comedy if the rest of the cast knew the truth.  It's nonsensical.

Much of this season involved Lucifer's discontent with God.  He makes it clear that he views God as an absentee father who failed to show him any kind of attention or love.  Lucifer feels that he was punished for using the free will that God granted his creations.  We saw his pain when Chloe noticed the scars on his back from the removal of his wings. Any communication Lucifer had with God should have been epic.  It should have sought to answer some questions about their relationship but instead all it did was give Lucifer another reason to stay on earth.  When Lucifer returned to hell after Malcolm killed him, he learned that the gates were open and that someone had escaped.  Pressed to explain who, a terrified Lucifer says. "Mom".

It's clear that the hunt for Mom is going to bring Lucifer and Amenadiel together but I cannot help but believe that it will all be fraught with problems.  Dad apparently is God and he resides in heaven, making him the leader of team good and Mom lived in hell as a prisoner.  Given that there's so many links between women being a source of evil and temptation that misogyny really could play a role in this potential new character.  For this to work, Mom needs to be cast as sympathetic and given that Mom is probably going to be Lilith, it will take a new interpretation on her identity to make this happen. It's going to have to be a careful dance and given that Lucifer (the show) isn't big on nuance, I predict that this won't go well.

At it's heart, Lucifer is a police procedural filled with glorious cheese and far removed from its original source material (read: the comics). Tom Ellis is perfect as the devil and the entire show each week depends on his performance.  The problem with cheese, is that even the best of cheese sometimes actually gets into the way of the larger narrative.  There are times when Lucifer, (read: tv show) just doesn't know when to drop the snark and get serious.  Lucifer's interaction with God is a good example of this. Sometimes the charm and cheese is not enough and I just want Lucifer (tv show) to get out if its own way and really just go for it. Ellis certainly has the chops for it, so I see no reason to hold back.