Lucifer S01E05 “Sweet Kicks” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Amazon Prime Instant Video, new episodes every Tuesday
Writer: Sheri Elwood
Director: Tim Matheson
Essential Plot Points:
- Lucifer, newly excited at his ability to feel pain, has become some bizarre sadomasochistic adrenaline junkie, desperate for danger so he can feel more human.
- Lucifer attends a fashion show where a shooter (apparently) tries to kill the designer, Benny Choi. Instead a girl is crushed to death as the crowd attempts to escape.
- Lucifer uses his charms on Chloe’s boss to let him help Chloe out on the case. Chloe reluctantly acquiesces.
- Lucifer is the only one overjoyed when it turns out that the crime involves gangs. He’d love to see the situation escalate into gang warfare just for the experience.
- Turns out that the designer Benny arranged the faux-shooting himself; no one was supposed to get killed but Benny was trying to frame a rival, Yellow Viper, who was just out of prison.
- Yellow Viper actually took the wrap for a crime committed by Benny a few years in the past; Benny got away with it back then because he made a deal with Lucifer.
- When Chloe learns this she tries to point out that Lucifer is indirectly responsible for the death of the girl at the fashion show for making deals with out considering the consequences. Her accusation falls on deaf ears.
- In bringing Benny to justice Lucifer has helped Chloe’s boss in her ambition to be police commissioner. In return she makes him an official civilian consultant to the LAPD.
- Chloe gives in protesting and accepts that at least with having Lucifer as a partner she can keep her eye on him.
- Meanwhile we learn that Maze is duty-bound by her nature (or maybe her contract with Hell Inc) to protect Lucifer. She proves this by turning up at a crucial moment when gang warfare is about to explode and dealing with all members of both gangs single-handedly.
- However, she’s clearly starting to interpret the meaning of “protecting” Lucifer in a her own way. Fearing that his new lust for feeling human is endangering him, she wants him to return to Hell.
- So she meets with Amenadiel and tells him about Lucifer’s shrink. If he’s told anyone anything that might be useful to their cause, it’s Linda.
- So Amenadiel starts hitting on Linda, claiming to be a “Dr Canaan” who’s moved into the office next to her’s.
Finally, a regular episode that fulfils the promise of the pilot. The procedural plot is still utter pish but it’s also one of the least important things about the episode. Writer Sheri Elwood clearly knows this because at the crucial denouement she has the henchman breaking down in tears over the death of a pet pig. That pretty much sums up how seriously we’re supposed to treat the least convincing gang warfare plotline ever staged for TV. If this is “street” it’s Quality Street.
Instead, the episode concentrates on a) having fun, b) the arc plot, c) having fun, d) the character dynamics and e) …did we mention having fun? The best thing is, it’s not just Lucifer who gets to have fun. Thankfully, Mr Morningstar is back on fine form after last week’s worryingly clumsy attempts at comedy, but crucially everybody gets some great dialogue or moments to shine this time. Even some of the guest characters, including the befuddled barista who has to make a judgement call about the spelling of Mazikeen.
Chloe, especially, is everything you wanted her to be after the pilot but which she’s rarely been in the intervening episodes: sassy, smart, proactive and more than ready to give Lucifer as good as she gets. She’s now got the measure of the mouthy Mephistopheles, locking him in the car and telling him, “Act like a child get treated like a child.” Okay, he gets out but it’s the thought that counts. She also has no qualms giving him a slap when he’s going on about how he wants to know what it means to be human. It’s not her fault he enjoys it.
And, yes, the chemistry between them is back. The comic timing is back. The amusing exasperated expressions are back. They work so much better as on-screen couple with Chloe grinning and bearing the situation, rather than fighting against it.
The arc plot is also developing nicely in the hands of Amenadiel and Mazikeen. It’s easy to understand where Mazikeen is coming from and how she can argue semantics (redefining the context of “protect”) to push her own agenda. We need to learn more about her true nature, though. Lucifer’s speech about, “You exist to protect me. To know where I am and who I’m with at all times, whether you want to or not,” is intriguing. It makes her sound like a slave, but she appears to be a willing one. Why, exactly? The writers need to start joining the dots, because Mazikeen is now far too important an element in the ongoing plot for her to remain “enigmatic”.
It’s good to see that psychiatrist Linda has a bigger purpose within the show than just a running gag. Then again, she is falling for the charms of an angel again. It’s not like Rachael Harris being asked to call on a whole new range of acting muscles.
There are still cheesy moments, some clunky plotting and a couple of dodgy performances from the guest stars but “Sweet Kicks” feels like a show that rediscovered its groove after a few weeks of post-pilot teething trouble.
- Chloe is finally on an equal footing with Lucifer when it comes to whose dominating a scene, even giving him a good old slap at one point (“I get it, you want to feel new things.” Whack! “How’s that?”). She also delivers the line that’s the whole crux of the episodes, responding to Lucifer’s butter-wouldn’t-melt assertion that, “People need to take responsibility for their own bad behaviour,” with a wry, “Yeah, people do need to take responsibility for their own bad behaviour”. This not only makes the central partnership more fun to watch, it also means Lucifer doesn’t have the monopoly on the best lines. Her snarky come-back to Benny was a class act – “I’m an artist. I process tragedy through my work…” “Would you prefer to process tragedy back at the precinct? ’Cause I have a holding cell that could really use an artist’s touch”.
- Lucifer still delivers some of the zingiests zingers though:
“Excuse me. Hello. Firstly let me state that I am in no way standing up for my associate, detective Decker. But on behalf of myself and only myself, I think you’re a complete sack of ass.”
“What is it with the men in my life.” “I’m a man in your life?”
“There was immediate danger. He was about to leave this woman completely unsatisfied.”
- Lucifer even manages to make the innocent line, “Would you like a peek at my ledger?” drip with innuendo.
- However, best dialogue of the episode goes to Maze for her exchange with the coffee shop barista:
“And your name?”
“How do you spell that?”
- Better yet, the barista gets the last laugh.
- A “blinged-out pet pig” called Pig Diddy? Yep, there was some comedy gold this episode.
- Plus, Amenadiel proved that Lucifer isn’t the only immortal who like a bit of innuendo. Linda’s face is a picture when he says, “It’s settled then. You share with me, I share with you. A fluid exchange.”
- And though as a visual metaphor it didn’t make much sense, we did like the way’s Lucifer’s glowing eye became the tail lights on a police car.
- Depicting Mazikeen’s fight scene using shadows was a clever and visually effective directorial choice.
- Finally, the choice of Edwyn Collins’s mighty “A Girl Like You” for the final scene is truly inspired. When he sings, “You’ve made me acknowledge the devil in me/I hope to God I’m talkin’ metaphorically/Hope that I’m talkin’ allegorically” it near sends shivers down your spine.
- The guy playing Diego is really crap at sobbing acting.
- The procedural plot is yet another case of “suspect A leads to suspect B leads to suspect C…”
- We really need to learn a little more about Maze.
- Tonally, the show is still all over the place. Some of the comedy sits very uncomfortably with the gang warfare material. It’s not quite dark enough for black comedy but played too straight for screwball comedy.
- If Maze is duty-bound to protect Lucifer, we can think of a few occasions in the series already when her appearance might have been useful.
And The Random:
- This week’s devilish music includes:
“멘붕 MTBD (CL Solo)” by 2NE1 (at the fashion show)
“Money” by The Delta Riggs (during the scene at the Paddock Bar)
“A Little Wicked” by Valerie Broussard (Maze & Amenadiel scene at the coffee bar)
“Ghostcity” by Thomas Azier (Dan talks to Lucifer at Lux)
“No Entiendo Na (featuring Griffi)” by Toteking & Shotta (outside Diego & Dani’s house)
“A Girl Like You” by Edwyn Collins (final scene – Maze visits Chloe)
- Did You Spot? The coffee bar where Maze and Amenadiel meet goes by the puntastic name, “Beelzebean”. Another sign at the counter describes the coffee as, “Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as…” and we couldn’t read any more. Any suggestions?
- Here’s a screen grab of Maze’s “real” face because we know you like to get a better look at this kind of thing.
- This has to be a coincidence, but when Chloe’s car drove past a building numbered 664, we couldn’t help but think of that old joke about the “neighbour of the beast”.
Review by Dave Golder