First off, this is a review of the TV series, not the comic, which I may or may not read someday. It has the same basic premise—the devil gets tired of Hell and moves to L.A. In the tv show, he helps the LAPD, specifically Detective Chloe Decker, solve crimes for shits and giggles.
Also, my mom asked me not to watch the show when she’s in the room because that kind of thing creeps her out, so if you can’t separate your personal religious views on the Devil from the Devil as a character or as an archetype, this is probably not the show for you. If you can, or might be able to, read on.
1—More Good Than Bad
I have mixed feelings about Lucifer, both the character and the show, though most of the mixed feelings do stem from said character. Lucifer is kind of sleazy, almost a slime-ball, but has redeeming qualities. He’s selfish and self-involved but also cares when his mortal friend…sort of…is gunned down in front of him. And while his dislike of children is probably supposed to fall in the negative trait column, I actually like that about him—I don’t know what to do with kids either.
Tempering Lucifer’s presence are a host of other interesting characters. Luci’s brother, Amenadiel, who tries to convince and manipulate his brother into returning to Hell for fear that he’ll be asked to take Luci’s place. Mazikeen, Luci’s bartender, bodyguard and formerly the head-torturer of Hell. Dr. Linda Martin, Luci’s therapist, who’s willing to “work within” her client’s chosen metaphor. And several others.
Especially Chloe Decker, a mortal immune to Luci’s charms, thus gaining Lucifer’s ongoing interest. Chloe walks a fine line between practical and principled, and between being a dedicated homicide detective and being a dedicated mom to her daughter Trixie. Though lower-key than most of the characters on Lucifer, I find Chloe character to be one of the most interesting—essential as she’s the co-star of the show and a needed balance to Luci’s over-the-top-ness.
There are some scenes that put me off though—like when Luci gets up in front of a group of wannabe pickup artists and asks them all, genuinely baffled, why Chloe won’t have sex with him. That was so uncomfortable to watch. Luci does undergo significant character development, while still leaving plenty of room for more—there’s a reason he needs a therapist—and that does help.
2—No Middle Ground
The Devil, if possibly not the show itself—I’m undecided as yet—has a very black and white morality, bordering on insanity. Chloe and Lucifer have a conversation where Luci states that there are no extenuating circumstances. I think this ties into the free-will thing, but as someone who struggles with mental illness and disorder and who has friends and family who do the same, I know that free will isn’t a black and white subject. No one can help the way their brain is wired, and while meds help, it’s not magic—all the bad wiring is still there, it’s just being mitigated.
And while I’m on the subject, no one can help how they were raised—children do not have fully functional free-will. I’d argue that even adults don’t—we’re all subject to the culture we live in and its morals, to the actions of others more powerful than we are, to the vagaries of all the things in the world that we have no control over that nonetheless have influence on who we are and become. Self-programming—exercising free will—is a massive and resource-consuming undertaking. And not everyone has, or has access to, the necessary resources.
None of which excuses people from taking responsibility for their actions, but maybe it all should be taken into account when deciding whether or not someone deserves to be tortured for all of eternity. Just saying. And while I do seem to be taking a somewhat silly tv show very seriously in this section, it’s the attitude inside the show I take seriously, because a lot of people seem to share that mindset, and it scares me, not least because I once shared it.
3—Magic Infernal and Divine
On to a subject that’s a little more fun, like self-mutilation! Ok, not exactly, but Lucifer’s having cut his wings off does create several interesting subplots, one of which has to do with a feather. A magic feather.
Other items of interest are a set of blades forged in Hell, a get-out-of-Hell-free coin, and…I think that’s it. Most of the magic is inherent in angels and demons themselves. Well, demon. The only demon we’ve met so far is Mazikeen. Luci is still technically an angel though we have seen him get a demonic game face on now and then.
On the divine side, time-freezes will never not be cool. And who doesn’t love a good light-show. But the most used, and most intriguing, is Luci’s ability to get people to tell him their greatest desire. But you have to know the right way to ask the question and the right way to interpret that desire to figure things out. An excellent story mechanic that’s thus far been put to satisfying use.
I watched the whole season, and I’ll at least start the next. As I said in point one, it’s more good than bad. There are a few things I’d like to see more of—showing some men left in Luci’s bed instead of just paying “the devil doesn’t discriminate” one-time lip-service, more of Maz standing up for herself—one of my favorite scenes happens in less than a minute where she tells Luci and Amenadiel that they both used her and then leaves her hell-forged knives for them to use on each other. But yeah, I’ll be checking out the next season, not least so I can meet “mom”.