Monday, December 19, 2016

Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 10: Quid Pro Quo

Ok, I am almost torn on this episode. By the first half I was vaguely annoyed. Last episode we had some pretty major things happening in Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship and then we seemed to have a huge distraction with a resurrected storyline suddenly ambushing this excellent development

And then we’re quickly back on track onto the story again, hitting this relationship development hard and awesomely with some truly excellent character moments and development blowing the whole series wide open so well that left me applauding this episode.

So obviously there’s a bit of a rift between Chloe and Lucifer after last episode when Lucifer skipped out on their date because of his ultimate avoidance issues. (Lucifer goes to see Linda over this who, excellently, pinpoints why Lucifer fled from this dinner with Chloe)

Building on that rift we now have the court case where Perry Smith, the man who orchestrated the murder of Chloe’s father. And it all goes kind of sideways when a) the key witness on trial gets brutally murdered and b) Charlotte decides to step in on the side of the defence using inside knowledge of the case.

Things go sideways quickly – Lucifer steps up as a witness to prove to Chloe how much he’s dedicated to her, using his supernatural charm (which we seem to have skipped for a few episodes) to make the whole court love him (including the judge). But Charlotte, Perry’s defence lawyer, is of course immune to his charm and uses insider knowledge and Lucifer’s utter refusal to lie, to cast blame on Chloe, imply she was the real one who murdered her father’s!not murderer.

Chloe is obviously furious with Lucifer because who else could possibly have fed Charlotte this compromising information?

This is because Chloe doesn’t know that Dan has slept with Charlotte (Ella knows. Because Ella is awesome and fun) and while he was asleep she went through his phone. Dan now has All The Guilts.

I wonder what Charlotte’s play is here. I mean, ostensibly she says it’s to destroy the link between Chloe and Lucifer so Lucifer will join her and Amandiel in heaven. But Amandiel has already convinced Charlotte that killing Chloe will make Lucifer hate her forever and ever. So does she really think that Lucifer is going to let her sabotage of his relationship with Chloe go? That doesn’t really fit.

Anyway, Charlotte offers Chloe one chance to get her father’s killer in prison, an offer to completely sabotage her own client. Chloe has to go up on the stand and call Lucifer a liar. Lucifer’s honour, his adamant refusal not to lie, is a key part of his identity. To have Chloe disparage that honour in open court and have her declare how terrible he is as a partner, she doesn’t value him and how, basically, the court should deny everything he says

I think this is true but also needed foreshadowing a bit more – how Lucifer’s honesty is not only constant but so vital to him and how much impugning that would affect him. They could have built it into his deals – a deal with the devil is sacrosanct because Lucifer’s word is inherent to his sense of self. I don’t think they’ve really done that good a job of establishing Lucifer’s sense of honour

Chloe is faced with a real choice – does she stand up for Lucifer, his honesty and how much she values him but see the case against her dad’s killer collapse. Or does she disparage and dismiss him and see her dad’s murderer go free

It could go either way since Chloe and Lucifer rebuilding their relationship after this would perpetuate the endless “will they won’t they” – but instead we have a really beautiful moment where Chloe emotionally declares how much Lucifer means to her.

I think this is made more poignant but the lack of a Hail Mary Pass. We don’t get a last minute save. Perry isn’t found guilty. He walks free. It was legitimately a choice, a sacrifice, for Chloe that had meaning and wasn’t just magically put right

However, I think an element is missed of this episode. Sure we have Chloe faced with the choice between condemning Lucifer or not. But it’s also a choice between lying under oath, in court or not. This whole conflict is focused on Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship and his sense of self. But not on her sense of self. Even if the relationship is not on the line, this would require Chloe to lie in court. A woman who was derided by most of the police force for much of season 1 because she was convinced a perceived hero was actually a dirty cop. Lying in court is another conflict that should matter to her beyond “will Lucifer hate me for this” or “my dad’s killer will get away”. There’s something integral Chloe here – not just to the relationships she has/had with 2 men.

The episode ends with Lucifer and Chloe near kissing before cliffhanger – so let’s see how that foes. But I think it’s also worth drawing attention to another subtly excellent bit of character development – in the beginning of the episode Lucifer goes to Chloe to try and make up to her about ditching her – and Chloe’s mother assumes he’s there to support them for the trial. Lucifer at the beginning of season 1 would totally have just said “nah, I’m here to convince Chloe to love me” or something similar. Because social cues and what people think don’t matter to him, especially with the supernatural charm. Now he switches, genuinely, to support because Chloe does matter.

Amandiel also gets some interesting beginnings of development – since he also drops in to see Linda and have her point out how he’s treated Maze is shoddy and his whole “for the greater good” schtick is a totally unacceptable way to treat people.

Which may feed into one of the biggest bombshells of this episode. Amandiel recognises Chloe’s mother as a woman he once blessed along with her husband. Blessing them to have a miracle child – an unprecedented act instructed by god. That child was Chloe (which may put a whole new spin on why Chloe makes Lucifer human).

While Charlotte (somehow) sees this as adding to her plan to get Lucifer back to heaven, Amandiel is outraged. In his eyes that means all of this is part of god’s plan and he’s basically been used as a pawn – creating Chloe, setting Chloe in Lucifer’s path maybe even Amandiel losing his wings. Go back to Linda just making him realise how “for the greater good” is a really shitty way of treating people? Well who is a greater purveyor of greater good thinking than god himself?

The second character bombshell comes with Dan. Dan, Lucifer and Maze follow more clues to try and find out who really killed the key witness that so collapsed the case. This leads them to some terrible Chinese gangsters

Really, Lucifer, swords, pretty Asian gardens and challenges? Really? Did your research of Chinese gangs come from watching Kill Bill? What nonsense is this?

For some damn reason they leader of the gang challenges them to a duel for information – and Lucifer chooses Maze to fight it because she’s terrifyingly good. The chain ends up going cold though with several more bodies as the various organised crime syndicates clean up the mess. There’s no way to win the case

So, instead, Dan feeds Perry Smith to the Russian mob. He tells the Russian mob Perry had one of their men murdered and they kidnap Perry off the street to do Unpleasant Things to him.

Dan just used criminal gangs to outright murder a guy. And the look on his face (and an impressed/shocked Mazikeen) doesn’t remotely downplay what a massive character moment this is.

That’s a lot to happen this episode – and beyond the awful Chinese gang scene (really, that is absolutely appalling), I am impressed. That’s a way to end a mid-season finale.