TV & Movies

So about that ‘Lucifer’ finale. Spoilers, y’all.

Obviously we’re going to talk about the Lucifer finale, because it was awesome, and Fox just canceled the show, and it ended on a cliffhanger, and that is some serious BS.

Lucifer is based on an objectively silly premise. “He’s the actual Devil. She’s an LA cop. They fight crime!” When I first heard about it, I rolled my eyes so hard I pulled a muscle. Particularly after finding out it was supposed to be based on the Neil Gaiman comics, which I read about a hundred years ago and barely remember, but definitely didn’t involve an LA cop or any zany crime-solving shenanigans.

But then the pilot leaked and it was a pretty boring night so we checked it out, and you guys. This show. It’s hilarious.

Not only is it hilarious, but it’s also more than its silly premise suggests. Our protagonists are deeply flawed characters who are very human, for all their celestial origins. Lucifer is a frequently-skeevy narcissist with literally all of the daddy issues. Amenadiel is a sanctimonious, prideful prick. Mazikeen is a straight-up sociopath.

And while the show occasionally showed us a Lucifer who was only a charming rogue, or an Amenadiel with a hint of compassion, or a softer side to Mazikeen, in the first season, these hints were more the exception to the rule. The show made a point of showing us that these characters were assholes, but that there might be something worthwhile in them, and then put them all on a redemptive arc.

The redemption story is a pretty tried-and-true trope in writing. I can’t be bothered to go Google it at the moment, but I’m pretty sure the redemption story is one of the most basic and oldest narrative arcs in storytelling. Your character is a flawed asshole, damned, possibly even actually evil. Trials are faced. The character grows and becomes something more decent. We’ve been telling this story for thousands of years.

We’ve been telling it for so long that it’s basically trotted out in shorthand these days. We don’t often get to see the work and effort and trauma a character has to face to achieve redemption, particularly not in a prime time, network TV show. And we don’t often get a character so flawed as Lucifer (and Amenadiel and Mazikeen) to work with.

So it was pretty wild to sit down to “LA cop + actual Devil = zany crime-solving shenanigans” on prime time network TV and get… Lucifer.

One of the stand-out characters on the show is Dr. Linda, a therapist we meet in season one. Lucifer starts seeing her to work on his entire magazine stand of issues. This is often played for laughs, and you’d be forgiven for missing what’s going on here: actual therapy. Lucifer grows through these sessions. Dr. Linda’s advice is often cast as a punchline, but by the end of any given episode or story arc, she’s proven right, and Lucifer learns. The character grows.

By the end of season three Dr. Linda is gently shepherding all three celestials through their various flaws and traumas, and with her help, they’re becoming better people.

Plot forces these characters through other trials, and they face them, together. They triumph. They grow. They, step by painful, difficult step, redeem themselves.

This show tackles issues of family, betrayal, love, trauma, and shows its characters a path through and forward, and it does that while winking and laughing and telling you this is all a punchline. It’s just a joke. It’s only meant to be funny. That’s why season three’s whole story arc was about the weighty implications of free will and self-determination vs. divine will and predestined fate. Because it’s a joke. Right?

One of the main themes this season is the idea that you can’t escape “God’s will,” that your fate is set in stone, that you are what you are and there’s no other way you can be. This is set against the idea that these characters are all already becoming more and better than they were. The easy way out of this story arc would be to tie a tidy bow on the idea that “God” was putting the characters through all this hardship to make them better, but the show stepped away from that.

Lucifer said, no. It’s on you. It’s not carved in stone and you can be better, but it’s up to you to do that. You judge yourself. You make of yourself what you want. And the characters actually got to learn that, and make better people of themselves. Or start to, anyway.

Sure, the show wasn’t perfect. Season three got a bit messy plot- and theme-wise, and Chloe Decker has been grossly under-served as a character. She’s barely a character at all – Decker is arguably the least interesting and least developed character on the show and that absolutely needs to change if the show finds a new network.

Sometimes Lucifer spends too much time on the joke and not enough on the serious stuff, which is a detriment, because the serious stuff is where this show shines. I mean, that finale. Those last few minutes with the whole Lucifer vs. Cain fight scene? Holy crap. That was amazing.

And they really need to fix that makeup for the “Devil face” thing. Ug. I mean, it works in blurred flashes and low light tolerably, but on the rare occasion when you actually get to see it dead on in good light, it’s just corny as hell. Like, “Oh, the Devil is Freddy Krueger. Great. That hasn’t been scary since I was 10.” That has to get fixed because Tom Ellis is too good at doing scary to be saddled with that crap make-up job.

Another thing about Lucifer is the actors – they are way, way better than “LA cop + actual Devil = zany crime-solving shenanigans.” Tom Ellis, Kevin Alejandro, and Rachel Harris are standouts in a standout cast.

Lucifer deserves more time. It should, bare minimum, get a fourth season to put a bow on things, but I think there’s enough here for two-three more seasons, to wrap things up for each character.

I think Netflix and Lucifer could really do some favors for each other here. Netflix could get a good series show, and it would be pretty easy to turn Lucifer into 13-episode binge-able arcs.

(I think 13-episode binge-able arcs would actually dramatically improve the show’s handful of storytelling flaws. Not everything needs to be a full 20+ episode season, TV people.)

Plus, the show wrapped up on a huge – although patently obvious – cliffhanger: Chloe finding out all of Lucifer’s BS was actually true. (We totally knew that was going to be the cliffhanger heading in.) I’m pretty annoyed that we don’t get to see how that plays out.