by Billie Doux
[Some spoilers below! There will be a spoiler kitten before I go into massive spoilers.]
Lucifer Morningstar left Hell five years ago and opened a nightclub in Los Angeles called "Lux." When a friend of his is murdered in the pilot episode, he meets Detective Chloe Decker and discovers that he has a talent for crime-solving. Lucifer becomes a consultant to the LAPD and starts to develop a friendship as well as a working relationship with Chloe, who is divorced (from another detective, Dan Espinoza, played by Kevin Alejandro) and raising an adorable daughter named Trixie.
When it began, I thought Lucifer would be a one-joke procedural. The Devil is a nightclub owner in Los Angeles who also solves crimes, ha ha. And at first, that appeared to be what it was. (Which is why I stopped with the second episode.) But Lucifer is an investment series. It slowly improved and drew me in.
The heart of this series is Lucifer himself, played by Welsh actor Tom Ellis, who crossed the pond for the role. He's become my latest television crush. Even though he is physically imposing with piercing dark eyes enhanced with guyliner, it's more how Ellis plays the part that works for me -- particularly the vulnerability he shows whenever that exaggerated smirk leaves his face.
It is obvious early on that Lucifer isn't evil. He acts out with partying and sex (I particularly liked the three Brittanys and the jacuzzi), but when the mask comes down, which it often does, we see Lucifer as a hurt, angry little boy rejected by his father and forced into a role that he despises. His main "superpower" is a helpful one for a detective in training: he can get anyone to talk about their secret desires. Except for Chloe Decker, who is somehow impervious to Lucifer's supernatural charm.
It took me awhile to warm up to Chloe (Lauren German), but I eventually did. The most enjoyable thing about Chloe as a character is that she made a terrible, raunchy movie called Hot Tub High School before she decided on a police career. I also really liked the episode where she got drunk and threw herself at Lucifer, who surprised himself by turning her down.
I have to say that Scarlett Estevez as Chloe's daughter Trixie is the most talented and adorable child actor I've seen in years. Her delivery is perfect and in season one, she held her own in many complicated scenes with adult actors. They even gave her a truly funny plot thread about her own secret desire (secret desires are an ongoing series theme) and a particularly wonderful scene at the Lux with the demon Mazikeen.
I wasn't sure I was all that crazy about Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), Lucifer's demon protector and friend, but she became a lot more fun as the season progressed, especially when she became involved with Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside, whom I loved as Principal Wood on Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Ditto for Amenadiel. He was sort of a bore at the beginning of the season when he kept showing up with his wings outspread to tell Lucifer to go back to Hell. Later, he lost the ugly dress and became a lot more fun, especially when he moved into the office next door to Dr. Martin and picked up the nickname "Amenadude."
And Rachael Harris is so wonderfully droll as Lucifer's psychiatrist, Dr. Linda Martin. When the season began, she was so physically drawn to Lucifer that she agreed to exchange psychotherapy for sex with him. It worked because Lucifer actually needs therapy. I really loved that Dr. Martin decided that sleeping with Lucifer was unethical and started treating him as a patient. Adorable.
Like Chloe, Dr. Martin doesn't believe Lucifer is who he says he is. (She's willing to work "within his metaphor.") I kept expecting that to change during the first season, but it didn't.
What doesn't work
Crime of the week. Enough said. And the Palmetto shooting, the big arc of the season, didn't interest me at all, even though Kevin Rankin did his best to elevate the key character of Malcolm Graham.
I like the talented Kevin Alejandro, and I very much appreciated that they gave Dan Espinoza more than just "annoying ex-husband and co-worker" to play. But it still feels as if Dan's character exists solely to assist with the detective scenes and to act as a romantic buffer between Lucifer and Chloe, and that's all. If they wrote him out next season, I wouldn't miss him.
This top section has been light-ish on the spoilers, but I'm going to talk more about specifics below. Beware the spoiler kitten!
As I said, Lucifer is an investment series. It took a few "crime of the week" episodes before they got to one that intrigued me. Which was...
1.4 "Manly Whatnots": Okay, it's not a great episode or anything, but it got me thinking that this show has potential. In "Manly Whatnots," Lucifer accidentally sees Chloe naked and later deliberately lets her see him naked, too. Instead of it being a will-they-or-won't-they thing, the nudity was to show us that Lucifer has two large scars on his back where he had Mazikeen cut off his wings. Lucifer also taunts Chloe into shooting him, and surprise! he is injured, and alarmed that he can be hurt, although he at first doesn't connect it to Chloe.
1.6 "Favorite Son" and 1.7 "Wingman": Which is the story of what happened to Lucifer's wings.
"Favorite Son" began with two terrific scenes: an oddly powerful one of Lucifer singing "Sinnerman" (yes, Tom Ellis sings)...
... followed by an exceptionally adorable scene where Chloe gently interrogated Trixie about some missing chocolate birthday cake.
The Russian nesting dolls (matryoshka) were this season's Most Obvious Symbolism for Lucifer himself. I couldn't guess what Lucifer could possibly be hiding in the shipping container that could be so important to him, until it became obvious. Those wings were a gorgeous prop, and that moment where Lucifer sat on the beach in front of his discarded wings before he set them on fire was a scene that stayed with me. (Lucifer and Amenadiel in tuxes didn't hurt.)
1.9 "A Priest Walks Into a Bar": Definitely the best episode of the season. Colman Domingo, who is currently playing one of the two best characters on Fear the Walking Dead, played Frank, a man with a tragic and criminal past who had found God. Lucifer desperately wanted Father Frank to be a hypocrite and guilty of murder, but of course, there was an obvious parallel between Father Frank and Lucifer himself. Lucifer began to like Father Frank in spite of himself and Tom Ellis and Colman Domingo played off each other beautifully, especially in the piano scene.
This episode introduced the possibility that God wanted Lucifer to rebel, and that Lucifer was acting out because he still wanted God's love. We also got one of the best Lucifer/Chloe scenes when she showed up to give him support as a friend, and they played "Heart and Soul" together on the piano.
1.12 "#TeamLucifer" and 1.13 "Take Me Back to Hell": Which began with a fraudulent Satanist cult that of course Lucifer found wildly offensive, and ended with Lucifer praying for Chloe, and dying for her. (Fortunately, not permanently.) Lucifer and Amenadiel in Dr. Martin's office talking about their problems as brothers was adorable, and so was the way they teamed up to fight a warehouse full of bad guys. I also really enjoyed Chloe teaming up with Mazikeen, sort of like Cagney and Dirty Harry.
-- Chloe's eyebrows seem to defy gravity, but the character and the producers get points for her casual clothes, lack of makeup and untidy ponytail. I assume most real detectives would want to keep their hair out of their eyes.
-- I've lived in Los Angeles, and a detective who isn't independently wealthy couldn't afford Chloe's large, well-decorated house. It actually belongs to her mother, a famous B-movie actress named Penelope Decker (played by Rebecca de Mornay). Which also explained why Chloe made a bad movie when she was young.
-- The big unanswered question in season one is, what is going on with Chloe in a supernatural sense? Why does she make Lucifer vulnerable to harm? One obvious theory is that Chloe's not yet discussed father could be a supernatural being. Is Chloe's father an angel, perhaps? Or does Chloe make Lucifer vulnerable simply because he cares about her? (Any theories? Post a comment!)
-- I liked the 999 key (obviously, they were going for 666) and the "subway token for the damned."
-- I also liked that Lucifer didn't just call Dan Espinoza "Detective Douche" once, but constantly throughout the season.
Lucifer ended the season much better than it began, but it is still mostly potential, and I hope that season two will start fulfilling that potential. (They left us with a huge hint that next season's Big Bad is going to be supernatural, not criminal, and I'm cool with that.)
Unfortunately, as Thomas Ijon Tichy recently posted in a comment here on the site, "Fox as a network is a dumpster fire." I hope Fox doesn't screw up this property, but I wouldn't put it past them.
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.