Lucifer S01E04 “Manly Whatnots” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Amazon Prime Instant Video, new episodes every Tuesday
Writer: Ildy Modrovich
Director: Matt Earl Beesley
Essential Plot Points:
- Lucifer lets himself into Chloe’s house to cook her breakfast. She is not cool with this (and neither is her ex, not that he should have any say in the matter).
- After Chloe chucks him out of her house, he seeks advice from perma-horny psychiatrist Linda. She says he feel threatens by Chloe and he needs to take his power back. He interprets this as “Have sex with her”. Is he seeking advice or justification?
- Chloe is given a new missing persons case. Being a homicide cop she’s slightly mystified until she learns the reason why; then she’s mortified. The last person the missing girl was seen talking to was a motivational guru (aka, macho shyster) called Carver Cruz, who won’t talk to the police. But Lucifer – being a local celeb – has been invited to his latest presentation.
- Chloe goes undercover to the event with Lucifer as his “plus one”.
- Lucifer finds Cruz’s presentation – how to find a woman by acting like a caveman – ludicrous. He has a very public argument with Cruz in which he blows Chloe’s cover. They are ejected.
- However, Lucifer offers Cruz his nightclub for the post-event party. There, after some gun-waving activity, they apprehend Cruz. He tells them…
- “Oh does anybody actually care about the police procedural plots on this show? To cut a dull story short the girl has faked her own kidnapping for utterly unbelievable reasons, partly as revenge for Cruz taking her virginity then dumping her, partly for the cash. But he’d forgotten all about her – didn’t even recognise her face or name – when she came back into his life and he secretly fell in love with her (secretly because a steady girlfriend would have ruined his image/business).
- Anyway, in the final confrontation, Chloe watches as Lucifer dishes out his spiel on “justice” and goes all glowy-eyed and devil-ly
- Sensing that Chloe may be on the verge of believing that he is the devil, he urges her to shoot him, because she can’t hurt him. That’ll prove his story.
- So Chloe does shoot him. Only in the leg luckily, because it does hurt him. A lot.
- Lucifer’s quite sanguine about it all, though. The fact that Chloe can harm him just makes her even more fascinating to him.
- Maze is mightily miffed about this and doesn’t mention that Amenadiel has been sniffing around again, trying to find ways to convince Lucifer back to hell.
This week the crime plot is more ridiculous than ever. Not just banal but downright unbelievably stupid, with a twist that couldn’t have been more obvious if the video of the kidnap victim had had “REVENGEY EX-GIRLFRIEND” in DayGlo captions emblazoned all over it. Let’s not even get into the likelihood that a scuzzy motivational speaker who tells guys how to “hunt” for girlfriends by acting like a caveman would suddenly fall for the self-same girl he once callously deflowered for research. Who also just happens to need him to fall in love with her for her plan to work.
But that’s okay. Because, as previous episodes have proven, you don’t watch Lucifer for the police procedural. You watch it because Lucifer is amusing. Um…
Except this week, many of the comedy moments fall flat. There are a couple of good lines (“Really kept things up since Hot Tub High School, haven’t we? Ding dong!” “Yes of course, payment first”) but at crucial moments the spark’s missing. Especially when Lucifer confronts motivational speaker Cruz at his presentation. This should be a stand-out moment, bristling with brilliant insults. Instead Lucifer comes across like the politest heckler in the world. The best he can muster is “miscreants”. Seriously?
The problem is, when’s he not funny, he’s not charming. And when he’s not charming he’s kind of a creep. Admittedly, having the power to charm any woman he wants would turn him into a creep as he doesn’t need to be charming. Maybe that’s the point but it doesn’t make for a particularly endearing lead character. Lucifer may not need to charm his conquests but he does need to charm the audience. Maybe we need an episode where he loses his powers completely, not just over Chloe, so that a whole queue of women can tell him that he makes them nauseous.
Luckily, there’s a luckily. Although Lucifer’s more twit than wit this week, he pulls out a new card to play to keep the viewer on his side – vulnerability. It’s a vulnerability tinged with a darkness, sure, but the cracks in Lucifer’s facade are beginning to be the most interesting thing about him. The more serious moments in the episode are the best, especially Lucifer’s reaction to Chloe trying to touch his wing scars and later his reaction to being shot. His tirade against fake kidnap girl about level of justice is another strong scene, while his final, defiant promise to Maze, that, “The fun is only just beginning”, is downright ominous.
He actually appears to relish the idea that Chloe can harm him. Since Maze has revealed earlier in the episode that she “loves pain”, you’d think she might be sympathetic to Lucifer’s sudden interest in sado-masochism, but it doesn’t look that way. She’s had her best episode so far, showing extreme loyalty to Lucifer in the face of extreme self-righteousness from Amenadiel, but it looks like that loyalty has its boundaries.
Chloe’s level of disbelief also feels better explored this week, and the brief conversation she has with Lucifer about her atheism was well pitched if a bit of a cop-out (she actually sounds more agnostic to us). At least by the time she does shoot Lucifer you’re totally willing to accept that she’s confused enough to actually do it.
So, a fairly naff episode saved by some unexpected and very intriguing developments.
- There are a number of moments in this episode when it takes a more serious turns and the contrast with the surrounding silliness is very effective. It hints at the dark underbelly this series needs to exploit. After all, the devil might be having a vacation but he’s still the devil. There’s a lot of history there (all of history, in fact…)
- Most chilling of all is the moment when Chloe tries to touch Lucifer’s wing scars and Lucifer snaps at her. For a few brief seconds Tom Ellis’s performance does a 180-degree turn and there’s a real, scary demon hiding behind his eyes. Through acting alone, Ellis achieves what the somewhat hokey “Devil Face” effect never does. Also, there’s a deep, deep sadness there too.
- Ellis is also great when Lucifer is shot, desperate not to let his genial, prattish mask slip, but clearly genuinely shocked.
- The Amenadiel/Mazikeen scene is excellent stuff too, not just because of the fight (Slow motion! Pointy weapons! Cod martial arts! Super-fast editing!) but because of the verbal sparring between the two. Maze’s very pointed, “No means no,” is her best moment of the series so far. Makes you wonder if she’s immune to an angel’s charms too…
- On a lighter note, the Lucifer nude scene was amusing and very aesthetically pleasing to a large percentage of the audience, no doubt.
- Some of Lucifer’s one liners this week are terrible (“When hell freezes over…” “I can arrange that actually”) and the gags about “dad” are wearing thin fast.
- This “twist” in the procedural case is embarrassingly obvious (mainly because there are no other guest stars who could possible suspects).
- Trixie is far too spookily “wise beyond her age” to be cute. We think she’s Yoda in disguise.
- Right, we admit that Lucifer’s interpretation of psychiatrist Linda’s sage advice is funny (“You need to take back your power” “I need to have sex with her”) it does make him come across like a phenomenal douche. The show needs to be careful with the the character because there’s thin line between making him a charismatic rogue or simply a creepy prat.
- The gag with the security guard fancying Lucifer was a decent enough gag until the script decided to pummel the subtlety out of it by having the guy go, “I’m gay!” YEAH WE GOT THAT THANKS!
And The Random:
- This week’s devilish music includes:
“The River” by The Darcys (during the opening shower sequence)
“Chains” by Rose Cousins (as Lucifer bursts into Linda’s office)
“What Makes A Good Man?” by The Heavy (Lucifer and Chole walk to the Players Club)
“Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor (the subtle intro to Carver Cruz’s presentation)
“Pro Anti Anti” by Liars (during the Amenadiel and Mazikeen scene)
“Stay in My Corner” by The Arcs (Chole walks into Lucifers apartment and finds him naked)
“Savior” by Sneakout (at the Players Club after party)
- Two name tags at the Players Club presentation are labelled Luke Barlow and Kelly McGlaughlin. Luke Barlow is an assistant cameraman on Lucifer, and while we can’t find a Kelly McGlaughlin in the credits we’re betting they work on the show in some capacity too.
- Although the “shower shot” is a now a cliché for building on tension in films and TV shows, rarely has one evoked Psycho so directly (even some of Chloe’s postures are similar to Janet Leigh’s in the Hitchcock film) without being direct pastiche.
- Also in the shower scene were clearly shown Chloe’s bullet wound scar from the injury she received in episode one. Later it’s also clearly on show when she wears the red party dress. One one level this is just a pleasing piece of continuity; however it’s now also a motif linking Chloe and Lucifer as they’ve both been shot. More to the point, Chloe shot Lucifer and and he shouldn’t have felt it. So we don’t think so many shots of Chloe’s scar this episode are a mere coincidence.
Review by Dave Golder