• James

TV PREVIEW: Netflix saves "Lucifer": Do As Thou Wilt

Not long ago, there was a culling. Several shows were placed on the chopping block. I remember thinking it was some sort of joke, I mean, how are they going to cancel Brooklyn Nine Nine? And then the news came down about Lucifer. I’m proud enough to admit, I freaked out, jumped on Facebook, only to find several groups already formed in solidarity with the show. It was amazing to me, so many fans that felt the way I did. When Nine Nine got renewed, I felt a sense of hope, thinking “Maybe Lucifer will get picked up!”, but days went by with no news. Suddenly, it was all over the pages: Netflix had swooped in and promised a new season! I can’t even begin to tell you how ecstatic I was. As one of the shows the wife and I watch for date night, I’d felt pretty burned. Now, however, date night is back on!

Lucifer Morningstar, brought to life by Tom Ellis to perfection, is loosely based on the character from Vertigo Comics of the same name. Originally introduced in Neil Gaiman’s classic The Sandman (Vol. 2, #4), he spun off his cameos from there into his own series that ran from ’00 to ’06 and, more recently, a 2nd series that’s ongoing. While there are a few similarities to both characters, just the bare bones really, it’s best not to look at the show as an adaption of the comic, but more of an adaption of the character. Taking this view, disregarding the comic completely, the show is well worth the time, as Ellis is every bit as charming as you’d want in the Adversary. He’s also smug, vain and egotistical, which is to be expected, but he pulls it off in such a way that he feels like someone you’d have a great time getting a drink with. As evil incarnates go, Lucifer feels like he’s just trying to be everyone’s friend, making this a wonderful portrayal.

The overarching plot may seem familiar to fans of Urban Fantasy on Television today, with a trend of combining the Supernatural with a Police Procedural. Examples of this kind of show are iZombie, Grimm, and Haven. In this case, the Devil has teamed up with Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), a former actress with a Phoebe Cates-like background, solving crimes while Lucifer decides if those they catch deserve “extra treatment”, much to the chagrin of Decker. He seems to miss his old gig in Hell after moving. Setting up club Lux in Los Angeles and leaving the stewardship of Hell to his brother Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), he was tired of being forced into a job by his father and decided the best way to not be manipulated any longer was to just not engage. Lucifer finds himself being drawn into Decker’s cases, first by coincidence, then later by choice, and the idea of Satan solving crime is just a fun premise.

It should be obvious that one of the major themes that runs throughout the show is one of family. For Lucifer, this doesn’t just mean blood, but those that he decides to take into his circle. Like the demon Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), who followed him out of both Hell and the comics, first appearing alongside Lucifer in the aforenoted The Sandman series. In both mediums, she is a servant that decides to get a life of her own, outside of the shadow of her master. The angel Amenadiel is also a major character in the show, often showing up to attempt to convince his brother to return to his post, or stopping time so that he can have a private, often chiding, word with Lucifer. Any conversation about the Prince of Hell wouldn’t be complete without mentioning his father, or the giant chip on his shoulder that he carries for God. It’s amusing to listen to Ellis complain about his overbearing dad who thinks “He knows it all”, especially when we’re in on the joke, but the rest of the mortals on the show just think he’s an eccentric complaining about his upbringing.

Another major theme of the show, possibly the most important one, is that of redemption. Even as the series begins, Lucifer understands that he may not be thinking clearly and seeks outside advice from another regular, his therapist Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris). A consistently good influence, Martin is always attempting to push Lucifer to be a better person, convinced that he’s delusional, but a good person deep down. Really, the only person that gets in the way of his treatment is Lucifer himself, as he is constantly believing he is smarter than everyone else and/or that his Father is playing with his life. Amusingly, he’s not incorrect about these things, which only compounds the issue, making it even harder for him to come to terms with who and what is, but also what he could be. This theme runs strong, with almost every recurring character having something they feel they need forgiveness for. It is Lucifer, however, that makes the strongest case with the idea of the “evillest” being in God’s creation turning away from the darkness, even if only to spite his father, is quite the philosophical conversation.

When the show was cancelled after the third season, they did something interesting, instead of one finale, there were two. Both were great but had a specific goal in mind. The first was an alternate timeline where Decker never becomes an officer, choosing to remain an actress. This small change ripples through the rest of the supporting cast, creating much different lives for them all. At the end, however, Lucifer and Decker once again find each other, showing that these two forces, no matter the change, will be inexorably pulled together. The best part of this finale was that it was narrated by Neil Gaiman as God. Having the creator of the character play the Creator was a master stroke in storytelling. It was also a good way that the series could have ended there. The other finale was set up on a cliffhanger, just in case the show got picked up. It’s standard for the program until the end. That’s when Decker finally sees Lucifer in his true form and everything she thought, that he was just a delusional eccentric, is thrown out the window. Even more importantly, all the little remarks he made about being the Prince of Hell now become real. And if Hell and Lucifer are real, that means it’s all real. Heaven, angels and God. I must admit, she handles it much better than I would have, but she still flips her lid. As this is the finale that was filmed if there was going to be a season 4, this will be the canon episode. I can’t wait to see how Decker is going to handle learning that the Christian Religion is not only true, but the serpent himself is her partner and love interest.

Lucifer is packed with action, mystery, comedy and more. Ellis is a joy to watch every time he’s on screen, he just chews up the script and the casting couldn’t have been better. The way he plays off his supporting cast is a treat and they share a chemistry that makes their interactions feel real. The themes and ideas that are presented are deep and meaningful, without feeling like it’s a sermon, and that’s quite a feat considering the original source material of Judeo-Christian Mythology. The first 3 seasons are up right now on Netflix, who picked up the series after a close call with cancellation. The newest season premiered on May 8th on Netflix, and it looks like it’s going to continue to be a Hell of a good time.

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