Monday, May 2, 2016

Lucifer Recap - Season 1 - Episode 12


This episode is all about Satanists. Not modern day devil worshippers, mind you, these are the 1980s throwback satan worshippers. Very retro. I spent most of the episode waiting for a Tipper Gore PSA.

Anywho, we start with something different, the actual murder. Usually in Lucifer we don't meet the victim until it's a bona fide corpse, but this time it's different. A girl participates in a ritual (wait, are they speaking in Italian? This doesn't sound like Latin). There's some cool music. She gets killed...wait, no she doesn't...wait, now she does. Someone mentions the real Lucifer.

Cut to the penthouse. Maze is throwing demon knives at the Lucifer. She looks like she's enjoying herself. The knives don't hurt him though, except maybe Maze's demon dagger. He stubs his toe on a stair step which means that Chloe has arrived. She's dressed in an oversize overcoat and looks like Eponine from Les Miz. Did this show run out of wardrobe funds? She knows Lucifer has been avoiding her lately (because of the whole vulnerability thing) but she has a case that's perfect for him.

Chloe takes Lucifer to the crime scene. On the way they meet the crazy preacher guy from a couple of episodes ago who is with a group of anti-Satanic-ritual-murder protesters. Chloe and Lucifer enter the building and examine the corpse. The words "Hail Lucifer" are carved into the victim's back. Zombie Malcolm arrives and pretends he just met Lucifer.

Dan arrives is also here, trying to make up with Chloe, who wants none of it. She's too busy checking out the victim's subdermal implants. She leaves with Lucifer to check out the girl's home.

The victim's father is in her apartment. They find a ritual space in the attic with dead birds and entrails and whatnot. The victim's father is shocked, and, frankly, so am I. Unused living space in L.A.? Not likely, Lucifer writers, not bloody likely. They find a book titled The Church of the Dark Prince (written in English!) with and inscription that says to my corazón.

Okay, so it's a Satanic Church with uses Italian, English and Spanish in its materials. Globalization hit the devil worshippers hard, guys.

Dan calls in. He found the girl who put in the subdermal implants. She says that Rose (the victim) came in with a guy called Corazon and got the implants done. I almost die laughing at this point. There's no way that a man would use Corazón as a name, no way.

Amenadiel threatens Malcolm in a parking lot. Zombie guy shows him his new magic coin and says he's now #TeamLucifer. Amenadiel is not pleased.

Precinct. Lucifer is reading the Dark Prince book. He likes the sexy parts. Chloe is playing with the subdermal implants which seem to be letters. She thinks the letters spell something, but she can't figure out what. Lucifer helps her out. The letters spell out filii hircus which is "children of the goat" in Latin. Lucifer is quite upset. He can't figure out why people keep associating him with goats. I guess someone hasn't read Michelet's La Sorciere.

Chloe googles "children of the goat" and finds that The Church of the Dark Prince is one of the search results. I'm not sure why she didn't just google the church. Hasn't she watched Catfish? The church has a website with a newsletter and everything. Membership is $200 dollars which displeases Lucifer for some reason. Maybe he thinks it should be higher? Chloe tries fillii hircus as the password and finds out where the next meeting is held.

They go to the meeting place which is a huge mansion with cheap Target lanterns flanking the door. A guy in a cloak meets them at the door and asks them for the password. Lucifer "convinces" him to let them in and they find a ceremony going on inside. It's some kind of memorial for the dead girl. The leader (who has a very distinctive tough-guy accent) introduces the "real Lucifer" who turns out to be a guy in a goat costume. Lucifer is offended and interrupts the meeting, telling them that they are all losers and that this is embarrassing. The church members all applaud. They like being abused.

This didn't work for me. I guess the point of the scene is that everyone thinks Satan is a scruffy little goat, but, really, he's a sophisticated, urbane gentleman? This was cutting age when Goethe did it in Faust, but Mephistopheles was a long time ago. Lucifer has a couple of good lines and Tom Ellis does a great job with this scene, but having a bunch of 21st century devil-worshippers gaping at Satan in a suit is bizarre.

The leader tell them about the victim. She was obsessed with the cult, probably because of her creepy boyfriend Corazón (I can't with this name. I just can't). Oops, one of the ritual knives is missing. Oh, and Lucifer now suspects that Chloe is an angel and that's why he's vulnerable around her.

I like the angel thing. It's interesting. I don't like the Satanic cult angle, though. If this were Supernatural, I'd except a good story about how the loony cultists forgot the first rule of horror movie survival (don't read the Latin out loud) and ended up summoning a murderous demon bent on destroying reality as we know it. This is Lucifer, however, and I fully expect the murderer to be a disgruntled cult member angry because he didn't get reimbursed for the Capri Sun he brought to the last ritual.

Maze goes to Aminandel's apartment which looks like a Calgon with vanilla-orchid bubble bath mix. They make out on Aminadel's four poster bed. Aminadel has the same twinkling string of lights that my daughter has in her room. It appears that angels are really into PB Teen-style decor.

Chloe's cottage. Chloe tells Lucifer that Corazón's real name is Mike Carey...of course it is. Lucifer interrogates Trixie, trying to figure out if Chloe is an angel. Does she have any scars? Trixie says yes, she has a scar on her butt where she was bitten by Kraken, Penelope's evil Chihuahua.

I love Penelope. I really hope she got to make out with an angel. She deserves it. I know Chloe's dad was a human cop, but, let's face it, Penelope got around. I can hear her now: It was a Barbarella remake, darling. I didn't know he was a real angel.

Anyway, Chloe shows Lucifer her back and he sees that she doesn't have any scars. She gets a text. They found Corazon, what's left of him anyway.

Abandoned warehouse. Dan and Zombie Malcolm are already inside, investigating the crime scene. Corazón's body is hanging from the ceiling on a kind of modified cross thingie. Lucifer's name is spelled out on some boxes with red paint.

Lucifer seems aghast at the sight of the dead guy. Zombie Malcolm asks him what he makes of all this. Lucifer says that it's been a long time since he's encountered real evil. What? Are you serious? We've had San Bernadino, Isis, Asad, the Ohio Massacre...I could go on. Does Lucifer not watch the news? Are Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin not in Hell? Why is Luci being so squeamish?

Chloe and Dan ask him to leave because he may now be involved in the case. Dan thinks that the kids died because of Lucifer's whole Satan schtick. I don't really follow this logic. The kids were Satanists before Lucifer arrived in L.A. Why are the police all suspicious now?

Lucifer goes to see Dr. Martin, upset because the police think he may have something to do with these deaths. Why does everyone think the worst of him? There's also the vulnerability thing which is bothering him.

I can't with Lucifer's whining. I just can't. So humans think you're the source of all evil? Who cares? So you can get hurt now? It just means you go back to Hell. You don't even cease to exist. You wouldn't even be stuck in Hell. Apparently, you can walk out whenever you want.

Aminandel and Maze are in bed. Cool, sexy music plays. Maze kind of, sort of, tries to kill him. She fails, but she wasn't trying to hard so it's okay. Aminadel is pissed though.

Lucifer walks to his club and finds the anti-Satan protestors in front. He has a fight with the crazy preacher guy. Zombie Malcolm arrives and keeps him from killing the preacher.

Back at the crime scene, Zoe finds a single cufflink with the letter M on the floor. Dan thinks the M stands for Morningstar and the cufflink belongs to Lucifer. For the record, this is the stupidest clue I've even seen in years of watching television mysteries. Even Scooby-Doo doesn't sink this low.

They return to the precinct and watch the news. The main story is Lucifer attacking the preacher at the protest. Chloe notices that the preacher is missing a cufflink and that the M could actually be a W that stands for Williams, the preacher's last name. They now think the preacher killed the Satanists. Really? Because it makes sense that a fanatic Christian would enact Satanic rituals? In what universe?

Any who, we're now in Lucifer's penthouse where Malcolm pours some drinks and keeps chatting and chatting. He sounds like he wants to connect. Lucifer is just annoyed until he realizes that Malcolm has red paint on his hands. The police were all wearing gloves so this must mean that Malcolm is the murderer.

This is probably the most disappointing murderer reveal ever. Capri-Sun guy is a better villain than Zombie Malcolm. Also, a policeman forgot to use turpentine to cover his tracks after a murder? How is this likely? This murder plot has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.

Moving on. Apparently, Malcolm lost his marbles after coming back from Hell. He wanted to kill the Satanists because they were frauds and he framed the preacher. He thought the murders would make Lucifer happy. Wait, what? I guess the point is that Malcolm is now a loon and he doesn't have to make sense, but this is very unsatisfactory.

Lucifer flips, but Aminadel arrives before he can hurt Malcolm.

Angel fight! Finally. Aminadel is angry that Lucifer sent Maze to seduce and kill him. Lucifer is angry that the guy that Aminadel resurrected is killing people. They pretty much destroy the penthouse (oh no, not the library!) and Malcolm escapes in the chaos.

Maze shows up and breaks up the party. She leaves them her demon knives and tells them to kill each other. Her presence, however, killed the party mood and Aminadel leaves.

Chloe shows up with Dan. Turns out Malcolm hid the preacher's body next to Lucifer's bar.  The police now think that Lucifer killed the preacher and Lucifer completely loses it. He is bitter because he is blamed for everything and this is the last straw. Chloe tells him he's under arrest.

End of episode.

This was kind of meh. Lucifer gets some good lines and there's a couple of good scenes (Trixie! Maze!! Dr. Martin!!!), but, overall, it wasn't a good episode. Malcolm has got to be the world's wimpiest, most annoying villain. He's just an unsatisfactory opponent for Lucifer. The Satanist murders are, let's face it, not that shocking. Having the Lord of Hell be completely appalled by two slashed corpses is a bit much. C'mon, let's get real. He's Satan, he's seen worse (at the very least, he's watched Game of Thrones). Lucifer's whining is getting to me. In addition, the stakes are too low. I mean the worst case scenario here is that Lucifer goes to prison? That people think he's a murderer? That Chloe thinks badly of him?

That's not enough. He's freaking Satan, guys.

This episode has really crystallized my frustration with this series. Lucifer's redemption arc and his romance(?)/partnership with Chloe are B plots and the series is trying to turn them into A plots. They're trying really hard, but it's not working. Chloe's "prove herself to be a good cop" arc fizzled several episodes ago. There's no motivation propelling these characters forward. Supernatural and Buffy had a lot of similar arcs and relationships, but the main plot was simple: people who hunt really bad things. Lucifer desperately needs that kind of main plot. The dilettante investigator schtick and the crappy little mysteries are not enough. The Lord of Hell going after unfaithful wives, conniving sneaker designers, and deceitful sports agents is just not that compelling.

The writers/showrunners think they're writing "Castle with Satan" but it's not working out for them. Frank Castle was a dilettante, true, but he was also a mystery novelist, eager to prove that his storytelling instincts applied to real crimes. Lucifer has no such motivation. We never really know why he's so into the detective schtick. Is he trying to mete out justice/punishment? Then staying in Hell would probably be a better move. Is he trying to redeem himself? Then he should try charity work. We never figure out why he finds Chloe so compelling and their "romance" or attraction or whatever the heck its supposed to be is pretty weak. The central premise of Lucifer started shaky and did not strengthen in later episodes. This is frustrating because everything else in the show (Maze, Dr. Martin, Aminadel, Trixie) works beautifully. It's heartbreaking.

The show has a lot of great elements (the fabulous cast, the music, the banter), but they need to rethink the "police procedural" premise. The precinct, Dan and Chloe, and Chloe's "cop with chip on shoulder" thing are the weakest elements in the show. Let's face it, it's pretty bad when Brooklyn Nine Nine presents a grittier, more realistic vision of police work than your procedural. The original Vertigo material was closer to Supernatural than to Castle, and they should probably return to that. They have two charismatic brothers (with a great Thor/Loki relationship) with monster daddy issues and a fabulous supporting cast fighting evildoers. That's what they should focus on. A strong supernatural villain (demon? rogue angel?), a couple of paranormal mysteries (more baddies escaping the underworld, for example), and a new storyline for Chloe (I've got nothing here) would go a long way toward improving the show.

Well, that's enough complaining. Luckily, the season finale totally makes up for this episode (and actually addresses some of my issues with the show!). It's awesome. Stick around for the recap. :)