Lucifer Takes Us Back to the Beginning
Time may change me, but I can’t trace time
So here we are again, a new year and it’s starting off with a stellar episode of Lucifer. Before we get into it, I apologize for the lateness of this review coming out. I was out of town when this episode aired and only now got the chance to really get into it. Jenn Kao and Jason Ning wrote City of Angels? and it was the last of the season 2 holdover episodes. Out of the 4 episodes, it was the only one that truly felt like a stand-alone episode, especially since it’s told completely in flashback form with no flashes to modern day. It’s a bold move for the writers and one that definitely paid off. Outside of “Vegas with Some Radish” I think City of Angels? was my favorite of the stand-alones. It was a mostly-perfect episode by my standards.
Despite the fact that the episode does a good job of standing on its own feet, it still fits with the theme of season 3 which, as you readers know, is identity. I’m aware of how much I’ve talked about the subject. But it’s important, especially since we get to see the other side of everything in this episode. Here we get to see the characters before they’ve changed. It’s a mighty trip, especially in terms of Lucifer and Amenadiel.
The Amenadiel we see in this episode is miles away from the Amenadiel we’ve grown to love in season 3. The Amenadiel who laid down on a beach and told Linda he truly knew nothing. This Amenadiel thinks he knows everything there is to know about life and Lucifer. He gets mugged, shot, and mistaken for a porn star throughout the episode. DB Woodside portrays the confusion Amenadiel has around humans beautifully while still giving us a peek inside this version of Amenadiel.
Amenadiel’s necklace gets stolen, and that drives Lucifer and Amenadiel’s part of the story. Neither of the brothers knows how important the necklace is, or rather how important it will be. But Amenadiel argues that they need to find it because humanity can’t have proof of divinity. Later we find out, through some incredible acting by Woodside, that the necklace is so important because his father gave it to him. This makes it clear to us that long before his fall from grace in season 2, Amenadiel had a lot of unresolved “daddy issues” just like his little brother. This version of Amenadiel clearly has problems with his dad that he takes out on his little brother. Because holy shit is he a terrible brother in this episode.
If there is one thing that hasn’t changed with Amenadiel it is his inability to read the room, especially where Lucifer is involved. He is always projecting an image of who he thinks Lucifer should be. Then he does the worst thing possible and actually tells Lucifer about it. You would think after eons of being siblings Amenadiel would know that the best way to get Lucifer to turn against you is to tell him who you think he is.
It takes us back (or forward in this case) to their scenes together in What Would Lucifer Do? earlier this season. In City of Angels? Amenadiel calls Lucifer evil and he fully believes it. This makes the scene where he tells Lucifer he is not evil in What Would Lucifer Do? all the more poignant. The scenes in both episodes are meant as foils to each other (plus they were both written by Jason Ning). The scenes prove how far Amenadiel has come, but how, like Lucifer, he still has a way to go.
The confrontation scene in WWLD shows us an Amenadiel that is coming from a good place, sort of. He’s still a bit selfish and tries to put Lucifer in a box. But in this episode his views are very black-and-white, not to mention cruel. We’ve talked a lot about what Amenadiel’s task is this season. After watching this episode I fully believe that his mission is to fully accept his brother, warts and all. It is to be a real brother to him, not just when it benefits him.
A Soldier No Longer
Which is a great segue to talk about Lucifer himself–funny how that happens. The Lucifer Morningstar we see in this episode is a very different Lucifer to the one we saw in the pilot and the one we know now. This Lucifer had more of innocence to him, which Tom Ellis is masterful at, and he’s in a post-Samael but still pre-Lux stage. Despite the fact that he’s mostly dealing with sex and porn in the episode he still has a bit of a childish innocence and joy throughout, as we see when he gets excited over porn stars and a piano.
He is still the dutiful soldier trying to please his Father. He does his job without complaints and only takes small breaks here and there. In these breaks, he kind of lets his humanity come out by indulging in sex and drugs, and nothing more, because that’s all he thinks he deserves. He was willing to go back to Hell until that scene with Amenadiel happened and you see Lucifer’s heart break in pieces. We know from Lucifer’s own words in Weaponizer back in season 2 that he idolized his older brother. So here was a chance to actually spend time with the brother he idolized. Not only that but it was probably the first time in eons that he actually got to spend time with family. And yet Amenadiel calls him evil and then laughs about it not realizing how much this hurt his brother.
For the brother he so admired to truly believe he is evil? It’s another seismic shift in his worldview. That is the moment he decides to stay and to stop caring what his father or brother think of him. He spends 5 years convincing himself that he doesn’t want nor need their approval. Ellis gives a wonderful performance and you catch a lot of subtle nuances throughout it. It’s the moment that the need to please turns into the bitterness that we saw clear as day during season 1.
Take Me Back to the Start
Flashback episodes can be a hit or a miss. Sometimes you can tell it’s writers trying to fill in the plot holes, while other times they give a bit of backstory. This episode is not without its plot holes. But for the most part, it did a good job of recalling earlier events in the earlier seasons and filling in gaps. The seeds are planted for why Lucifer and Amenadiel have such a terrible relationship when we first see them.
But Lucifer and Amenadiel aren’t the only ones in this episode. The other half of the episode focuses on Dan and Chloe–well, mostly Chloe. We see the creation of Taco Tuesday and the seeds are planted for why Chloe and Dan would later separate. Even though they seem to be happy we see the hints of the things that separated them. (For those that don’t remember, they originally separated because Dan couldn’t make time for Chloe and Trixie.) Dan gives the illusion of support while doubting her skills throughout the episode. Props to Kevin Alejandro for flawlessly stepping back into full-on Detective Douche mode.
As much as I appreciated Charlotte Richards in this episode, her appearance was a bit plot-holey. I could understand Charlotte not remembering Chloe, but Chloe not remembering Charlotte after this was a big case for her? But it’s been 5 years, memories can be faulty so it’s not a big problem. Also, I hope that in those five years she stopped representing the Sokolovs because that makes the mess with Boris a bit messier. I mean, I doubt the Russians would be happy about their lawyer defending the man who took out one of their own without permission.
Meant to Be
No matter how you view Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship, you can’t deny they are the heart of the show. They are not all that matters, as it’s an ensemble show, but they’re still a pretty big part of it. This was proven once again in this episode, despite the fact that they don’t actually cross paths at all. Lucifer and Chloe are meant to be in each other’s lives because they make each other better people, and this episode proved that.
One of the ways the episode did that was on focusing on their individual selves, and most importantly on the fact that both Lucifer and Chloe have pretty good instincts. Throughout the case they are always one step in front or one step behind the other. In fact, there’s a moment where they are standing right next to each other and you know Lucifer senses she is there but doesn’t know what it is he’s sensing. It’s a wonderful moment of confusion that Ellis portrays beautifully. Also in a strange case of fate, if we’re to believe that this is the case that made Chloe a detective, then Lucifer ironically helped her become a detective. So he did get her deepest desire after all.
I think it’s very curious how both their actions in this episode set the stage to take them on the path that leads to them meeting. After a fight with his brother, Lucifer decides to stay on earth and gets to buy Lux and defy his father and his brother in that way. Amenadiel can’t stop him because he and Lucifer made a deal about it. Chloe is on her path to becoming a detective. If this case helped her become one or made her path easier, then it means in about five years she’ll show up at Lux asking a certain club owner about Delilah.
Wings No More
I’m going to take a moment to talk about that final scene. Not only is it one of the best performances that both Tom Ellis and Lesley-Ann Brandt have given, but it says a lot about both their states of mind. We’ve been hearing about this scene since the first episodes and we know Maze refused to do something like it again. And we can see why, because it was a damn powerful scene. Their faces tell a million stories; Maze doesn’t want to hurt the person she’s bound to protect but knows she has to do as he asked. Lucifer clearly loved his wings but cutting them off was necessary if he was truly going to rebel against Amenadiel and his Father.
Brandt is crying throughout the performance and you know it’s hurting Maze as much as it is hurting Lucifer. Then we focus on Ellis’ face; he looks both scared and traumatized as she is cutting off the wings, and you can tell by his expression that he is in a world of pain. Not only physical pain but emotional pain as well. Until the moment where he smirks up at the heavens, like yes this hurts me but if it’s what I have to do to prove to you that you can’t control me I’ll do it. And this makes the scenes earlier this season even more gruesome because we know how much this hurts him.
Misty Canyons: And if you really want to rebel move to L.A. right?
Lucifer Morningstar: I haven’t heard music like that since, well…since the silver city.
Amenadiel: What, there’s no music in hell?
Lucifer Morningstar: So how about
Lucifer Morningstar: Say it properly… Say it
Lucifer Morningstar: Deal
Lucifer Morningstar: I can turn anything on.
*I loved seeing the little quirks like Lucifer stealing his iconic Corvette, the creation of Taco Tuesday or the place that would one day become Lux, and of course, Lucifer watching Hot Tub High School.
*Amenadiel tells him that Father will be furious but considering what we know, is that really true? I mean, staying on earth brought Lucifer to people who truly care about him and want what’s best for him (Maze, Linda, Ella, Trixie and ironically Dan) and it brought the love of his life, Chloe, into his life. So he seems to be doing quite well for himself.
*The fight scene was wonderfully choreographed. Both Tom Ellis and DB Woodside did a wonderful job of showing how their characters were faring. Lucifer lets his emotions get the best of him. Meanwhile, Amenadiel is the prideful man he used to be, who doesn’t care who he hurts.
*Maze’s costume was very comic-appropriate but I have to say that wig was tragic.
*I don’t know if it was intentional or just proof that I’ve rewatched this show so many times, but during their very first conversation Lucifer asks Amenadiel “Do you think I’m the devil because I’m inherently evil or just because dear old dad decided I was?” It’s great reference (accidental or not) to Amenadiel calling him evil and how that sets off the chain that makes it so Lucifer stays in L.A. In that same vein, we get Lucifer complaining here about “playing a part in his play” when that’s the same wording he used during this same first conversation with Amenadiel.
*Since I promised I’d be honest and say when I don’t like something… I have to admit the scene with Maze and the guy was very iffy. Like I think I get what the point was supposed to be, but the matter of consent was still not there. Then it was played for laughs, so that was slightly disappointing on an otherwise fantastic episode.