Lucifer S03E09: The Sinnerman
What an episode!
I’ve seen a few complaints here and there about the pacing of this season of Lucifer. As people might have guessed, I’ve been a big fan of this season of Lucifer; I love the thematic elements and as a writer and reviewer I love episodes that are more character-based rather than plot-based so I haven’t complained. But as much as I have loved them I’m not above admitting the pacing has been a little wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey. Well this episode, entitled “The Sinnerman” gets us back on track with the season’s plot. And when Lucifer picks up the pace, things get intense real fast. “The Sinnerman” was written by Jenn Kao and directed by Marisol Adler, and let’s just say they did a fantastic job.
Since most of this review will be dedicated to the fascinating relationship between Lucifer and the Sinnerman, I wanted to take some time before we got into it to talk about one of my favorite scenes and performances in this episode. Tricia Helfer is doing a truly wonderful job with the role of Charlotte Richards. We spent a year with Mom and she wasn’t exactly the most trustworthy character. She was entertaining as hell but whenever she came on screen we, and Lucifer, were always trying to find out what her angle was.
Charlotte Richards, post-Mom, is a very endearing character. You can’t help but feel for her, especially in this episode. I found Mom entertaining but you always knew at one point Mom would have to go, even if that scene between Helfer and Tom Ellis in the season 2 finale still breaks my heart into a million pieces. And rooting for Mom wasn’t exactly ideal because most of the time that meant not-so-great things for our favorites: remember the car bomb?
The difference here is that seeing everything Charlotte is doing and how hard she is trying makes you want to root for her, which is a testament to how incredible Helfer’s performance is.
If the overarching theme for the characters this season is identity and finding out exactly who we are, then the sub-theme is definitely change, and how hard it is. We talked about Lucifer’s refusal to admit that he’s changed during last week’s episode. Even when you want to change it’s still a hard and painful process, as Charlotte is finding out. We get why Chloe personally doesn’t trust her. Mom tried to kill her, tried to get her to betray Lucifer, and oh yeah, the big one: she made sure her father’s killer avoided prison, and used Dan to do it. Even one of them is a valid reason not to trust her, but all of them? It’s no wonder Chloe reacts to Charlotte the way she does. Here’s hoping that Charlotte does some digging and realizes why exactly it is that people don’t trust her, because she’s got a long way ahead of her. At least she’s doing better than Lucifer in this subject.
Helfer adds a vulnerability to Charlotte that wasn’t there before; we see how nervous she is during the meeting and how eager she is to help out. And then we see her reaction when things don’t go the way she thought they would. This brings us to the scene with Dan in the men’s bathroom, which was beautiful and meaningful. Dan was the perfect person to have this conversation with Charlotte, not only because of their past but because Dan is in a very peculiar place where he understands exactly what she’s going through.
Dan in season 1 was a corrupt cop who didn’t spend time with his family, made a lot of wrong choices in the workplace, and let his at-the-time wife (Chloe) become a pariah while letting her think she was just seeing things in the Palmetto case, when she was actually in the right. The nickname Detective Douche wasn’t just for kicks. As I pointed out in last week’s review, I’m a big fan of how Dan has developed as a character and how much he has grown since then. I like the show’s reminder that hey, maybe Dan’s actions weren’t as bad as some of Charlotte’s, but if Dan can do it so can she.
It’s quite intriguing to see how different the atmosphere is between Kevin Alejandro and Tricia Helfer from the time of season 2 to now. You’d think since it’s the same actors that their chemistry would be similar and yet there are a few subtle differences between then and now. In season 2 the power imbalance was very much in her favor–Helfer did a fantastic job of making the character feel otherworldly–while now in season two they’re on semi-equal ground. It’s a dynamic I wasn’t sure I would be interested in when it was promoted but I am definitely anxious to see where it goes from here.
Oh, Sinnerman. Where You Gonna Run?
This was a stellar episode that left us with a bit more questions than answers, but in a good way. Obviously, we weren’t going to learn everything about the Sinnerman during his first appearance, but we know just enough to keep us on the edge of our seats until next Monday comes along. I don’t know if there are enough words to describe how good and sinister Kevin Carroll is as the Sinnerman. Pretty damn perfect casting.
What did we learn about him? He’s very intelligent, has an awful fashion sense (according to Lucifer), he knows Lucifer is the real devilish deal and, oh yeah, he’s not afraid to cut up his own eyes. This show has a very good track record of surprising me but that was just another level. I’ll analyze the scene later; for now, let’s talk Lucifer vs Sinnerman Round 2. Carroll and Ellis both have a majestic screen presence and when you put them together it’s just pure gold.
First we get Sinnerman taunting Lucifer by killing people who got favors from Lucifer and then arranging them according to said favor after they’ve been killed. Chloe finally finds out that the Sinnerman is the real deal but, as seems to be the case this season, Lucifer runs off on his own. Is it the vulnerability thing or is it a misguided attempt at protecting her? Either way, him trying to go and do this his own way backfires spectacularly. He falls right into the Sinnerman’s trap and if it wasn’t for Maze he’d still be stuck inside the freezer.
One of the questions that this episode opens up is how does the Sinnerman know all of this about Lucifer? We will probably get an answer or two about Lucifer’s devil face next week so we’re going to table that for now. The scene in the freezer is one of the best of the episode. Not only does Lucifer fall into his trap but Carroll’s Sinnerman has the upper hand throughout the scene, despite only appearing via a small television.
It’s through that scene and the ones following it that you get a sense of who the Sinnerman is. He is not someone to be toyed with and he seems to be on equal footing with Lucifer, and considering our main character is a fallen angel who recently got his wings back that’s not exactly an easy task. Even before the pivotal scene at the end we get this wonderful scene where Lucifer threatens to find out the Sinnerman’s weaknesses, and we know it’s not a threat, it’s a promise. It’s also a new bit of information about his power that explains a lot about his role as ruler of hell. People’s desires allow him to know what their weaknesses are and therefore know the best way to punish them.
The relationship between them is daunting and you’re at the edge of the seat throughout their interaction, which, again, is a feat itself considering one of the characters is on a small screen rather than being present then and there. If this is how the relationship and the character were introduced I can’t wait to see how they up the stakes.
In the Shadows
I’m going to dedicate the last section of this review to that scene in the end. It was a masterful scene no matter which way you look at it. Marisol Adler and the rest of the Lucifer team are true geniuses because that scene delighted my inner film student.
It starts with a montage of Lucifer just standing still while everyone else walks around him. He looks at Pierce talking to other officials, and Chloe smiling while looking at Pierce (something he doesn’t know how to feel about), he sees Charlotte walking past him and then Chloe and Dan talking. It’s like he is in his own world, and he is. His primary focus right now is in fulfilling his promise to the Sinnerman that he’d find his weakness. The song in the background is “In the Shadows” by Amy Stroup, a fantastic song by itself but when you put it in the scene it adds so much more to it. As the song is playing this feeling of dread just overwhelms you and it’s extremely ominous.
He goes in and goes to do his usual Lucifer shtick but there’s a severity that isn’t usually there. The devil in him was in the forefront, something Ellis portrayed masterfully. He gets ignored and Lucifer goes to turn him around and then we see the bloody knife appear and we see he has cut out his own eyes. It chills you to the bone and just goes to show how phenomenal this show truly is.
Next week’s mid season finale will be interesting because, as we know from this episode, Lucifer thinks his power is connected to his sense of self and now he can’t use it on the Sinnerman. Not only that, but this is the second time that Pierce and Chloe have worked together on a case, both of which were his own fault, but still. He might just be wondering what his role is in all of this, if he can’t use his power and Pierce is there seemingly doing his job for him. Add that to his current emotional problems and we’re in for a rollercoaster of an episode.
Lucifer Morningstar: All I know is that my powers are perfect for me. Desire is the ultimate expression of free will, I help people do whatever or whomever they want.
Lucifer Morningstar: What do you want with a personal day anyway?
Chloe Decker: It’s personal.
Sinnerman: Well you can’t have a trap without bait, can you now?
Lucifer Morningstar: When I find out what someone truly desires, I find out their greatest weakness and that’s not a parlor trick, Sinnerman, it’s power.
Maze: She’s just my best friend and he’s my ex, I don’t like it.
Dan Espinoza: Don’t want to pry, but you don’t seem fine.
Charlotte Richards: I’m not, I switched to prosecution to try and be a better person, I’m not helping anyone, I just keep screwing things up. I was really good at being the old me, the best, but I know I need to make a change and I suck.
Dan Espinoza: No one expects you to change overnight. It’s hard to be one of the good guys. Look, I screw up too, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, believe me. But I don’t quit and I know that counts for something. At least you’re trying, right?
*We got the official return of Maze in this episode and it’s so great to see her back on Lucifer. Of course it seems she might be heading into a love triangle herself. But who is it that Maze truly wants? Is she jealous because of Amenadiel or Linda? My shipper heart says Linda; after all, when Lucifer asked what she desired deep down, she ended up at Linda’s office.
* We got one of the best scenes between Lucifer and Maze during this week. Maze finds him because she thinks he is avoiding her, but doesn’t let him out of the freezer until he listens to her and her situation. They talk about the issue and Lucifer tells her she needs to be honest with herself about what she truly desires and figure it out. It’s good advice and he should take it himself.
*We got to see a great bonding scene between Chloe and Pierce during a stakeout. Lauren German and Tom Welling have a very easy chemistry so their scenes are very enjoyable. I do find it interesting that Chloe and Lucifer gave what was practically the same advice to different people.
*Speaking of Pierce, I’m glad my prediction earlier in the season was right, even though the detail wasn’t completely exact, as he lost his brother, not a child. I want to trust Pierce but I’m still giving him a double-take sometimes.
*Linda pointed out something quite interesting about the angels and their powers. Does an angel’s power shape their personality, or does their personality shape their power? It gives both Lucifer and us something to think about. It was a nice bookend to start with Linda asking Lucifer about how his power works and how it’s connected to his sense of self and yet at the very end we see that he can’t use it on the Sinnerman, so it will be interesting to see what exactly he does next.