Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lucifer, Season 3, Episode 2: The One With the Baby Carrot

Lucifer’s sexy time is interrupted by Premature Unfurling, his wings come out. And no he doesn’t want to cosplay with a woman wearing a devil costume. He is more determined to keep cutting his wings off

Linda, his therapist, is very very uncomfortable about this extreme, repeated self-mutilation. But Lucifer is insistent; he will not tolerate anyone, especially not dad, making him into something he isn’t. Of note here though is not just Lucifer showing concern for Linda’s own trauma at the hands of Charlotte - but Linda definitely avoids and deflects from that question.

Lucifer has a definite grudge against the Sinnerman - because he’s offering favours for future consideration just like Lucifer (Linda: You didn’t invent that… oh, the devil. Sorry, carry on). Which is the really forced and honestly clumsy theme of this episode - basically Lucifer is pouting because he thinks the Sinnerman is imitating him. It’s really forced and ridiculous  and doesn’t make a lot of sense and is just used to force Lucifer to act in extra silly manners.

At the police station Chloe pretty much considers the sinnerman to be a fictional boogeyman and doesn’t actually exist. And she’d rather Lucifer not talk about it in front of unpleasant Lieutenant Pierce and make them look bad. Also the case last week has been solved having found someone with a perfectly mundane motive for doing it.

We have a new case this week - a comedian is being murdered and the suspicion is that another, much more successful, wealthy comedian (much beloved by Ella) may have killed them to cover up stealing the failed comedian’s shtick. This is clumsily threaded into Lucifer’s own issues of being imitated and lead to lots of clumsy investigation, Lucifer being even more obtuse and loose-cannony than usual and finally settling on a red herring of someone hating both comedians for making micro-penis jokes (Chloe expects Lucifer to be every bit as childish about this as he is) before that is finally cast aside for Sheila: Rich Magician’s opening act. She doesn’t care that he’s stealing - even her own material - because she’s getting rich off it. When Lucifer tries to force his “this is your very identity being taken” she dismisses him - all work is stolen or derivative and not imaginative: what matters is how you use it not where it came from. Then Lucifer punches her to stop her shooting anyone.

Meanwhile Linda checks in with Amenadiel and, again, deflects any question about her wellbeing. Linda is definitely hurting here. She does thank Amenadiel for saving her along with Maze (and this is the second time we’ve had a lampshade moment that Maze is missing - why is she still missing? It’s not a plot reason, Lucifer talks to her - she’s just been plot boxed.

Amenadiel recruits her to help do something he really doesn’t want to do with all his talk of being tested: dispose of Lucifer’s wings so evidence of the divine isn’t just lying around. Linda is somewhat shaken by the whole thing - both by how bloody and real the severed wings are (which in turn horrifies her because it brings home just what a terrible, brutal act of self-mutilation Lucifer is performing again and again and again) and almost shock that Amenadiel is burning the wings with so little ceremony, treating them like rubbish

We also see what this is costing Amenadiel, how much it hurts him to see Heaven’s favour so discarded and abused. But, like Lucifer, he is almost masochistically embracing the pain in the name of the test he must face even as Linda questions how he knows he’s being tested and whether he is suffering without purpose. She also points out that Lucifer isn’t doing this to hurt him. Amenadiel scoffs that Lucifer never realises how what he’s doing hurt him which leads to them both suggesting LUCIFER is Amenadiel’s test

Ok, can I step in here. This is supposed to be a symbol of how selfish and self-absorbed Lucifer is - and it’s certainly true - but equally here so is Amenadiel. Lucifer’s actions hurt him? Lucifer’s actions are not about him. Lucifer has neither demanded his presence nor dictated how Amenadiel lives; but Amenadiel inserted himself and began making demands of Lucifer from the beginning. Lucifer’s wings, his own self-mutilation are NOT ABOUT AMENADIEL, honestly there’s something utterly horrifying about making an extreme act of self-wounding about the witnesses pain. Amenadiel can’t act all martyred by Lucifer’s actions when very very few of Lucifer’s actions involve him and, ultimately, come down to Lucifer choosing his own path.

“Everything he does seems designed to hurt me”

Everything he does is about his own life which you have decided to insert yourself into. It’s not about you Amenadiel.

Lucifer continues his mission against the Sinnerman and is confronted by Pierce - who has done a lot of research on Lucifer, who has coerced Dan to give him all his research on Lucifer (ok, second episode and so far I’m cringing a lot about how Dan is treated. Reducing him to this whipping boy is not great for the character at all… of course there is an issue I’ve touched before in just how utterly easily Dan got off being a corrupt cop. I actually completely support Pierce’s contempt: but the episode goes above and beyond that to make Dan shit on from all sides). He’s researching Lucifer… apparently because he DOES believe in the Sinnerman as a real threat. Someone who killed someone very important to him in Chicago. He’s out for revenge and if Lucifer doesn’t heed his warning to stay away (of course he doesn’t). He’s willing to recruit him. But not Chloe - because Chloe has a child

I’m not convinced Pierce isn’t the Sinnerman… and I don’t really get why he’d be researching Lucifer to this degree.

When Lucifer uses his woo-woo to question the murderer from last week, though, to try and prove his connection to Sinnerman it turns out he really is just a mundane murderer… who has never heard of the Sinnerman.

Manipulation? More woo-woo? Or maybe the Sinnerman doesn’t exist after all.

All that covered, Lucifer returns to Linda for some more self-analysis. Taking what he learned from Sheila, he makes a surprising breakthrough in recognising it’s not HAVING the wings that matters, so much as what he does with them. He’s not defined as having wings but by his behavious. Linda approves!

So he’s going to pretend the wings aren’t there. Linda does not approve

And make sure he out-Lucifers his imitator! Linda definitely doesn’t approve

Yes, Lucifer is getting back to his season 1 roots. The crafty manipulator who finds out what people truly desire and racks up lots of favours..

The theme is clumsy. Lucifer deciding he’s being imitated was a stretch. The very very limited and shallow way the idea of creativity theft was treated was just too narrow (hey make the point that the practicalities of making money matter more than principles, but conflating work and identity and then dismissing the appropriation of same is just… shaky). Ultimately it was forced to try and get a Lucifer reboot

And I approve. I mean even Pierce said it “Lucifer is short tempered with poor impulse control” which is true - but he used to be cunning, crafty, connected and influential as well, running a small empire of favours and friends. He’s more and more creeping into random comic relief territory with flashes of angst than having the more sinister and powerful side of him come to the surface. I welcome a reboot to bring some of these elements back. But it could have been done better (maybe as a way of him returning to HIS identity rather than that forced on him).