Lucifer enjoys judging people–as I judge this show’s mother-son awkward comedy

 

Lucifer Season 2 Episode 3, “Sin-Eater.” Directed by Marizee Almas. Written by Alex Katsnelson. SPOILER WARNING

Maybe I wasn’t adamant enough last week at how unfunny I’m finding the incestuous comedy circling around Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and the Mother (Tricia Helfer).

I get it: the Mother is in an attractive body, is about the same age physically as Lucifer, everyone keeps thinking they are in a sexual relationship, the Mother is ignorant of this implication (or playing dumb to unsettle Lucifer with distractions), and the writers get to use up all the incest jokes they’ve written for this season. Wash, rinse, repeat–my brain, in a vat of bleach.

I’ll return to the problems with the Mother in a moment, but let’s cover the procedural detail first. The case was gruesome, involving a serial killer murdering persons who have posted porn revenge and other videos intended to mock others to a Facebook-/Google-expy called Wobble–which, given the jokes Lucifer is already making about the name, makes me think less of Google and more of Oogieloves (NSFW review of that film, courtesy Brad Jones).

The various forms of murder are creative for the Edgar Allan Poe fans out there, very Dante-ian in exacting retribution in putting the penalty back onto the perpetrator: if you light someone’s crotch, you’ll get burned; if you post revenge porn of a Catholic school teacher, you’ll be killed while in the school uniform; and if you host an awful social media network just to watch the world burn, you’ll get doused with gasoline and burned…Actually, the number of fire-related deaths here seems a bit uncreative, or perhaps just reinforcing the Inferno part of Dante. At least the murders allow Lucifer and even Ella (Aimee Garcia) to toss off funny one-liners–and, hey, we learn that Lucifer, not God, spoke through the burning bush to Moses…which really changes a lot of how that part of the Bible works, I guess.

Even calling the Mother “Charlotte,” as I tried last week, feels wrong–which all would be fine, if the show felt like it was agreeing that, yeah, this content is all kinds of messed up. Instead, the series is taking such a light hand with Charlotte’s personality that it remains difficult to understand the characters. If treating her, as her final look up the sky last week implied, as a trickster who is playing all sides, then the character works: her repetitive complaints about human culture and these “skinbags” of bodies are her playing ignorant of what she is actually capable of. Yet as the final scene to this episode reveals–one spoiled already by the promotional trailers–her human body does come with some divine strength, which can make her a physical force against Lucifer’s manipulative powers and a de-powered Amenadiel (D. B. Woodside).

On the plus side, however, Lucifer has its second week of a procedural case that helps develop the titular character and address his personal concerns. When challenged by Charlotte, like a parent guilting a child, to choose a career that fulfills them rather than only satisfies what they think their parents want, Lucifer comes to realize that his desire to judge and punish is not simply because he is his father’s son, but that he has his own agency in determining what pleases and fulfills him. It is delicious to see his mother panic at watching Lucifer determine her punishment: to be kept in Charlotte’s human life, with her human children and her human husband, until she learns some humility. There are gender-related problems to this storyline: it again places the Mother as the villain rather than acknowledging the Father’s shared responsibility, and Lucifer may not have thought through the fact that the Mother presents herself as so unaware of proper human behavior that she may enact some divine wrath yet again, as she did with the plagues, and just kill Charlotte’s husband and children. For now, it’s an acceptable conclusion to this episode, yet does not encourage me based on its implications for future episodes.

Random Observations

  • This review is shorter, as I’ve been writing multiple reviews, finishing work on the much-delayed podcast, and finishing work on additional writing not for this web site.
  • Hey, no silly “Lucifer Does [X]” title for this week’s episode!
  • Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt) calling the bartender flirting with Linda (Rachael Harris) “Man-bo,” AKA male mimbo: that got a laugh.
  • It sure took everyone a long time to realize they could actually try tracing IP addresses.
  • Little movement on Amenadiel’s storyline, except he is still hiding his lost abilities, likely why he decided not to send the Mother back to Hell: he can’t–and she probably knows it, given how much she was over-acting about her shame and fear of how much he would hate her. I think her surprise by Lucifer’s punishment was genuine, but who knows, this could be part of her long-term plan.
  • When Lucifer talked about slowly coming to enjoy being a punisher, did anyone else get vibes of Walter White in the series finale of Breaking Bad, regarding, “I liked it.”
  • Yes, Lucifer: Hell is definitely a server room.
  • Wait–so there’s a Sin-Eater in both Marvel _and_ DC Comics? That’s as confusing as both having a Captain Marvel.
  • “Halitosis: the first sign of evil.” Funny.
  • “I look quite extinguished.” Boo, pun.
  • Did the one murder victim have “Do the Hussle” as a ringtone? And was that song “Old Habits Die Hard” by Mick Jagger? Who sang this episode’s cover?
  • Will the plot of Chloe Decker (Lauren German), her separated husband Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), and their daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez) go anywhere? I’m happy the show keeps following them, but this seems more like “checking in” rather than connecting in meaningful ways to the other plot threads. At least Lucifer, Amenadiel, Maze, and Charlotte are trying to effect change; the Decker-Espinoza family separation seems far removed right now.

 

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