Lucifer S01E09 “A Priest Walks Into A Bar” REVIEW

Lucifer S01E09 “A Priest Walks Into A Bar” REVIEW

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stars 4

Airing in the UK on Amazon Prime Instant Video, new episodes every Tuesday
Writer: Chris Rafferty
Director: David Frazee

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • A priest walks into a bar. Lucifer’s bar. The LUX. This amuses Lucifer greatly.
  • The priest, Father Frank Lawrence, asks for Lucifer’s help in preventing a young boy, Connor, from becoming involved with a drugs ring operating from a youth club.
  • Lucifer, who considers priests his natural enemy, refuses to help.
  • Instead when a youth club organiser named by Father Lawrence is murdered, Lucifer hopes that Chloe’s investigation will turn up something dodgy – or even “diddly” to use Lucifer’s vernacular – about Father Lawrence’s interest in a young boy.
  • Instead, the priest and devil begin to bond, especially over their love of blues piano playing.
  • Father Lawrence reveals he used to be a rock pianist until a car crash robbed him of his child. The same car crash robbed Connor of his parents. That explains Father Lawrence’s need to look out for him.
  • Lucifer is amazed a man would find faith after an experience like that, but Father Lawrence believes his faith keeps him close to his daughter.
  • Father Lawrence also suspects that God didn’t lead him to Lucifer, but rather God lead Lucifer to Father Lawrence. Lucifer finds the notion absurd but Father Lawrence believes God has not abandoned Lucifer.

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  • Anyway, to cut another crime-plot-that-really-doesn’t-matter short, another of the youth club organisers who’s only been in one previous scene is the (unconvincing) drug overlord. He tries to force Connor to shoot Father Lawrence in his own church.
  • As Lucifer and Chloe arrive, Connor refuses so unconvincing drug overlord attempts to shoot Connor for his weakness. Father Lawrence takes the bullet for Connor and dies.
  • Lucifer is furious but Chloe talks him down from doing something nasty to unconvincing drug overlord, who’s arrested.
  • Lucifer returns to the LUX and has a right old rant at his dad.
  • Chloe turns up. Lucifer asks is there is another case. No, says Chloe, I just thought you might need a friend. They play my-first-piano-lesson duet “Heart And Soul” on Lucifer’s piano. It is unbearably sweet.
  • Elsewhere, Malcolm engineers for Dan to be his reluctant partner again.
  • In flashback we learn that Dan shot Malcolm because Malcolm had spotted Chloe at the warehouse.
  • Malcolm blackmails Dan into stealing an untraceable gun from the evidence store.
  • Amenadiel later appears to Malcolm when he’s on his own and says he will send him back to Hell unless he kills Lucifer with the gun.

 Lucifer_1.09_A_Priest_Walks_Into_A_Bar_death

 

Review:

“It’s absurdly adorable,” says Chloe at one point in the episode. She absolutely nails the appeal of this show when it’s on form. And this week it is truly on form.

There’s loads of silliness: the stripping nuns; Lucifer in the confession box making the case for lust; the pulsepounding and sweet piano duets. It’s an episode full of feel-good moments. But it’s also an episode that delivers some of the series’ most affecting dramatic moments so far too. For once it’s not the moments that made you laugh that stick with you after the credits have faded, it’s the moments when Lucifer had to deal with real emotion.

The show was always going to have to deal with faith at some point. When your lead character is the Devil you kinda have to acknowledge that God is part of your cast too even if he’s mostly off-stage, contributing from he wings. It’s a time-honoured traditional for US TV to be vague about the “man upstairs” if the format of a show demands acceptance of his existence; they resist pinning him down for fear of upsetting more conservative viewers. Similarly, if God does exist within show’s reality, it’s difficult to question people of faith because… well, they’re right. He does exist.

Lucifer approaches this dramatic dead-end by accelerating into it. Lucifer considers priests his enemy. He’s disdainful of them for following a Father whom he sees has done nothing to warrant such faith. And within seconds of meeting a priest he accuses him of kiddy-fiddling. When Father Lawrence says, “God has a plan,” Lucifer gripes back, “Yes, I know. But why does everybody think it’s a good plan?” This is actually all all quite strong stuff. Within the continuity of this show, yeah, God exists, but Lucifer doesn’t reckon he worth worshipping. That’s probably more blasphemous than saying he doesn’t exist at all.

Yet in the shape of Father Lawrence the show has its cake and eats eat. Not just because he’s a good man whose faith shapes his choices whether not God is directly involved or not; but because he argues that God has not given up on Lucifer, suggesting that we’re only getting one side of the story from the disgruntled devil.

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Clever or cowardly? Challenging or a cop-out? You know what, it doesn’t really matter. Because the show isn’t really about theology. In its subtlest and yet most audacious move, it’s simply turned Christianity into a big soap. This is now a story about a dysfunctional family. You can only hope Jesus turns up in season two as a sandal-wearing hippy to really get on Lucifer’s tits.

All of which is a bit heavy for a show that starts with the Devil offering a pizza delivery boy as much sex as he can handle. And which, once again, has a crime plot that seems to involve around five scenes between murder and denouement. On the other hand, it’s great to see Chloe and Lucifer looking ever more at ease with each other while the shift between humour and tragedy is achieved with ever more natural ease as the series progresses. The revelation that Dan’s a bad’un still feels hideously contrived and Malcolm still feels like he’s wandered in from Gotham he’s so KER-AAAAAAZZZZZZZYYYYYYY! But we can live with that.

Because this show is, “Absurdly adorable.”

 

The Good:

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  • The nuns scene completely threw us… as it was clearly supposed to do! Great stuff.

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  • All the piano scenes were as cheesy as hell, but also exactly right for this show. They were a lovely, lively, exhilarating way to emphasise the growing bonds between Lucifer and Father Lawrence and later Lucifer and Chloe.

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  • We’ve had a moan about Tom Ellis’s rants as Lucifer in the past for being a bit mannered, but his impassioned anger at his Father this week was spot on: so raw; so honest. “Doesn’t matter whether you’re a sinner. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a saint. Nobody can win so what’s the point? What’s the bloody point?”

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  • “For your penance, ten bloody Marys and a good shag.” Brilliant.
  • Colman Domingo who managed to turn an initially dodgily written part in Fear The Walking Dead into a great character with Victor Strand performs a similar miracle here. A former rock’n’roll pianist who became a priest with anger issue who charms the devil? It’s a nightmare of a role that’s clearly a TV invention, yet he plays it with utter integrity and truckloads of charisma. It’s actually a shame he died because a TV show about a the Devil, a priest and a cop teaming up to fight crime would be a blast!
  • “Beware anyone named Keith.” That should be a T-shirt slogan, worn by Keiths with pride.

 

The Bad:

  • It’s becoming ever more unlikely that Chloe didn’t see Dan shooting Malcolm. It’s not impossible, but it does stretch credulity somewhat.
  • After Lucifer’s angry exchange with Maze last week we didn’t expect her to still be working the bar at the LUX. So he can’t be that angry with her.
  • While Father Lawrence was a great character, there were a couple of moments – especially on his deathbed  – when he a little on-the-nose about his dramatic function within the script. It was like the writer desperately making sure we hadn’t missed the subtext.
  • Was there any real need for two Amenadiel/Malcolm scenes? They pretty much seemed to go over the same ground twice.

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  • The kid playing Connor came across far too nice and middle class; more Disney XD presenter than smack head (which we can safely say because if there are any smack head Disney XD presenters they’re hardly going to sue us for libel are they?). We think the hat was hiding his Mickey Mouse ears.

 

And The Random:

  • This week’s bumper crop of devilish music includes:
    • “Eez-Eh” by Kasabian – opening scene with the pizza boy and the Brittneys.
    • “KITTY HAWK (Break Science Remix)” by Ki:Theory – Father Lawrence waits at the LUX.
    • “Voodoo Hack” by Strange Daddy – The first time Lucifer and Chloe go to Father Lawrence’s church.
    • “Do Your Thing” by LeoSoul – for the entrance of the sexy nuns at the LUX.
    • “Freaks” by Machines Are People Too – the song immediately following the above at the LUX.
    • “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – Father Lawrence plays the Bob Dylan classic on Lucifer’s piano (Lucifer later plays it again towards the end of the episode).
    • “Mess Around” – Lucifer and Father Lawrence duet on the Ray Charles boogie.
    • “Gypsy Cab” by Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth – Lucifer and Chloe go to the skate park.
    “Eh Stunna” by Sneakout – At the LUX Max tells Lucifer abouth Father Lawrence speaking to someone called Connor on the phone.
    •  “Heart And Soul” – Lucifer and Chloe duet on the “one of can only play one-fingered” classic famously used in the film Big (Penguin gave a poignant solo performance of it in the Gotham episode “The Blind Fortune Teller”).

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  • The Brittneys formerly appered in episode six, “Favourite Son”, but there were only two of them then.

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  • We think Lucifer is doing a Darth Vader impression when he uses the voice modulator to say, “Detective, I am your father!” but equally, he could be taking the piss out of his dad.
  • As regards the picture at the very top of this review, can we just point out in how rare it is to have the moon in a shot in a TV show or film and for it not be a full moon. Now we’ve pointed that out you’ll be irritated by the humber of times you see a full moon on screen too.

Review by Dave Golder


Read our other Lucifer reviews

 

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