Lucifer

⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 5 reviews.

tl;dr: Devilishly good fun with a great lead, some surprisingly deep analysis of the Biblical character of Satan, great characters, and a format that triumphs despite its absurdity. Well worth a watch.

Season One

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Lucifer isn't going to be winning any awards (or likely even nominations) for its initial season, but I'd definitely recommend it. I have never read the source material – either the directly influential Lucifer graphic novel series or the more broadly involved Sandman series – but there is a hint of Neil Gaiman remaining in the TV show from time to time that reveals its roots. The premise is a distinctly unusual one, what with Satan himself being the protagonist rather than antagonist, but this worked better than I had hoped. I really didn't feel the need for another supernatural detective thriller; indeed, when I saw the first trailer I openly laughed and wrote off the entire plot as ridiculous.

Luckily, a couple of friends recommended it to me and Amazon Prime secured the UK rights, which meant no/little delay in release dates, so I decided to give it a shot. I found the whole cop-show element lacklustre but surprisingly warranted. Lucifer takes no risks in the murder homicide, LA cop side of its plot, which is just another by-the-numbers police show that pales in comparison to certain other series (*cough*Mentalist*cough*), but this seems to work in the show's favour. The whole heaven/hell dichotomy, analysis of the cultural and Biblical renditions of the devil and the general supernatural subplots are actually very entertaining, well scripted and genuinely interesting, with the "cop show" effectively becoming a plot device to advance the more interesting events transpiring around it. Tom Ellis's portrayal of the Prince of Hell is fantastic throughout, with a duel personality combining total irreverence for everyone around him, which feels distinctly satanic, yet with a clear moral code and resultant superiority complex. The end result is a character that feels incredibly nuanced and intriguing and helps tie most of the less than perfect elements of the show back together.

The writers are also not interested in taking it slow or teasing out reveals. I had assumed that the first half (or possibly the whole) of this season would be a "is he, isn't he?" scenario where the audience is forced to question whether Lucifer is the genuine artefact or just delusional. I feel that this would have gotten old, fast and luckily the showrunners must have agreed as by about episode 3 we had received definitive evidence that Lucifer was immortal, routinely interacted with angels and could scare the (very literal) crap out of people with the flick of an eyebrow. With the show then firmly set on expanding the pseudo-Christian mythology and digging into the deeper philosophical questions a "risen" devil would logically run into, Lucifer actually had a surprisingly complex and layered variety of subplots, all of which were neatly and clearly tied up by the finale. Quite where this leaves us for a second season isn't exactly clear, with the final big reveal leaving me a little cold. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely returning for more, but "Mum" is going to have to be handled extremely well for the show not to feel like its teetering towards either becoming another Grimm (all the factions! all the backstabs! all the deus ex machinima!*) or just deeply sexist. Only time will tell which transpires.

* in this case, in a very literal sense.

Season Two

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Lucifer continues to evolve into an extremely fun and surprisingly intelligent TV show. Despite the much-lauded source material, I never really thought that a series about the Devil helping to solve crimes would actually work. Luckily, the crime-solving elements continue to be used more as counterpoints to a much broader, celestial plotline, which works well. Chloe and the police force serve as a grounding and humanising factor in a show that is far more Supernatural then it is CSI, allowing the scriptwriters a lot more leeway when it comes to the angelic characters.

The various twists are largely pulled off well and it feels like the production team have a goal in sight when it comes to the whole War of Heaven that is brewing. Certainly, mixing Chloe up directly into the heavenly machinations could have felt like a cop-out (hehe) but somehow seems to work. It validates both the first season's larger plotline and Lucifer's involvement in her life by presenting a plausible (within the greater context of the show) solution to her powers of will. It also leaves us with almost as many unanswered questions as season one, which feels surprisingly nice.

A show with this much kept under wraps can have the tendency to become a little Lost (hoho), but so far Lucifer has rewarded viewers by never leaving threads dangling too long. The big reveal over "Mom", her (known) plans and Amenadiel's fall, which were the main open questions at the end of season one, were all dealt with so swiftly that I actually forgot they weren't a part of that first season! I genuinely don't think Lucifer would work without this fast-paced narrative, so hopefully they keep it up.

Otherwise, very little has changed since season one. The actors and subplots are all still solid, Lucifer himself remains an absolute delight to watch and the script retains that fine balance of humour and drama which ties everything together. A solid continuation from the first series, still oozing as much charm and charisma as ever. Overall, I would still thoroughly recommend Lucifer and am definitely looking forward to season three!

Season Three

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Season three certainly kicked off with a bang. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole "Lucifer gets wings, loses face" arc and the way it forces his character to really dissect what he wants, what that means now, and where he fits into the wider theological construct. If Lucifer has always been a fun meta-analysis of the concept of the Christian devil, season three is where they double-down on that and flesh out the implications of a fallen angel and angelic rebellion in a universe where they lacked free will.

As for the Sinnerman, boy that was a fun plotline. I was worried that having gone from Devil -> Goddess in the previous seasons we were going to keep upping the ante, so having Cain pop up instead was a much more interesting direction. Making him a detective and a morally grey character was a good decision. The whole "immortal curse" element was great, too, though I enjoyed the Chloe love triangle and sudden reversion of his desire to die a little infuriating. The bonding between Amenadiel and Dan was also fun, and I really liked that they brought back Charlotte now that she's no longer inhabited by the Goddess of Creation.

Overall, the season is a little too heavy on the inter-character romances, but for the most part these end up enjoyable. Maze feels a little at a loose end and there are two bizarre episodes near the end that felt like they had found out the show was being cancelled and just wanted to run with a couple of ideas. In particular, the whole Rae-Rae angel guardian with Ella was bizarre and definitely felt like a longer plotline that would have been in season four*. That said, the ending is great. Charlotte's death, Amenadiel's wings letting her take her to heaven, Pierce's revelations, and Lucifer's rage – plus the fact that Chloe actually sees his face – are all some big swings to take and the show lands each one. I think it may be the best finale to date.

Continues the winning formula, develops the characters meaningfully, and is generally an extremely fun watch.

* It turns out that this episode and the "alt-history" one (also really weird, but fun in a quirky way) were intended for season four and had been filmed before the show was cancelled. In the US they were actually never part of season three, instead aired months later as a "special feature". I guess Prime just arbitrarily chose a point in the plot to drop them in and left it at that. Does explain why they have zero repercussions and Ella's idea to move is never mentioned again.

Season Four

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Well, the show may have jumped ship to Netflix, but thankfully it hasn't jumped the shark. Season four is a solid return to the elements that make Lucifer work best. I was a little unsure about the introduction of the priest (and Chloe working with him) but he ended up being a solid and interesting character that added to the overall season arc well. I also thought they dealt with the whole "Chloe seeing his face" thing well. She's understandably freaked out by it, but ultimately it turns into a solid growth arc for both of them. Plus it gives us a fun ride with Eve, who is a great character and another fun pick to keep the whole "theological exploration" angle going.

I also found Linda's pregnancy and Amenadiels respective freakout very funny and charming. Linda has become one of my favourites on the show and I love seeing where they take her to each season, and I'm glad her and Maze are back to being friends.

And then there's the episode where Amenadiel tries to help a young black man. It's one of the show's best to date and treats a tricky subject – police brutality and societal racism – head-on in a positive way. That it ends in the young man's death was a powerful move and, in my opinion, the right one for the show to make. I'm less sure about the result that Amenadiel almost kidnaps his son though.

As for Lucifer's own descent into devilry, it was great. I really liked how they used it to bring him and Chloe back together, tie up the prophecy, and help explain his whole wings, no-wings, face, no-face thing from the previous season. The final pivot, with Lucifer back in Hell, was a bold decision though. I like where it left Eve and Chloe, plus the whole demon-invasion angle was a lot of fun (and a great fight sequence), but I don't quite know where the show goes from here. Season five, I guess, will answer that.

Season Five

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Whilst I prefer mid-season breaks to weekly episodes, I'm still annoyed that classically "binge-focused" services like Netflix have started utilising them. As a result, we're only halfway through season five, but without any further episodes in the immediate future I may as well write down some thoughts whilst I can still remember them. At the close of the previous season, I was a little unsure how the cliffhanger was going to work; well, the answer was to basically just ignore it. Almost. Like, 80% ignored.

Yes, the first episode sees Lucifer firmly back in Hell, ruling his kingdom as God intended, whilst Chloe deal with the fact that a month ago the person she has recently realised that she loves has left for an indeterminate amount of time. We also (re)learn that time in Hell is out of sync with reality, so Lucifer has actually been away for thousands of years. On the one hand, that could be a neat trick to allow him to come and go with relative frequency, preventing demon uprisings by just popping back for a day our time, a few millennia his. Of course, if a day is several thousand years in Hell, that's still plenty time for the demons to get miffed and start plotting again, so I guess that plot point wouldn't really have stood up to scrutiny.

Instead, we see Lucifer choosing his duty over his love for Chloe. It's a fun first episode with some poignant moments (and a surprisingly great single-shot character in the murdered person that Lucifer is tormenting/rediscovering his feelings for the surface world alongside) and sets up a very confusing plot thread, as we see someone who looks exactly like Lucifer step into his shoes and taking on his life. That gives the real Lucifer plenty of reasons to need to go back up top, which we rapidly get to with Amenadiel filling him on pretty much immediately. That said, the show rapidly answers all of its own questions and slightly ruins the suspense in doing so: Chloe works it out (yay), then everyone else does, in doing so giving us the backstory to Lucifer's (never previously mentioned) twin brother, who happens to currently also be the most highly ranked angel in Heaven, hence why he can seemingly just play havoc on Earth without oversight from the rest of the heavenly host. It's a bit irritatingly neat, but I will say it gives Tom Ellis a fantastic opportunity to really flex his acting muscles and as the season progressed I warmed to the meddling increasingly, particularly when Michael tricks Dan into (finally) finding out the truth about Lucifer. I think that only leaves Trixie as a "main" character (though her role appears to be increasingly downsized) that isn't actually aware that their friend is the literal devil, which is fun.

In fact, season five seems hell-bent (heh) on wrapping up loose threads. Michael's skills in manipulation are a clever device to unearth so many secrets so rapidly, but it does move a little too fast at times. Still, it's a little refreshing for a show to burn through so many potential snags and I'm glad they've done so whilst allowing Chloe and Lucifer to continue growing and keep being together (even with quite a lot of interim drama). She knows about her divine intervention, Maze finally learns about her mother, even the reality of baby Charlie's divinity (or lack thereof) comes out. That it all leads to a big reveal of, well, actually God this time around is pretty huge, but also feels like they may be wrapping the story up.

I mean, on the one hand, Michael feels like he's a character set up to fail and take over Hell, giving Lucifer the final moment in his aeons-long redemption arc. It's even possible that the opening gambit – that Hell is really Lucifer's torture, nothing else – could be true, and as he finally comes to realise that he (and all the demons, lost souls etc.) can find peace. After all, they're going hard on the whole "angels self-actualise their fate" thing this season. But I hope they don't. For one thing, whilst this feels like a weaker season than we've had for a while, it's also still a really fun show and one where each of the characters keep going from strength-to-strength. I've already mentioned how much fun Ellis remains, but all of the core cast seem to have stepped up their game this season and it's been a lot of fun to watch. Plus, the black and white episode to learn of Lillith's story was some great world-building and I feel like there's a lot more potential there. But more importantly, the core element of Lucifer that I've always enjoyed is the way it pokes holes in Christian theology. Giving it all a neat little bow at the end just feels like a disservice to that theme. I guess we'll find out in part two of season five, whenever that happens.

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