“What have I done?”
“Weaponizer.” Lucifer Season 2 Episode 5. Directed by Karen Gaviola. Written by Jason Ning
This review contains spoilers.
“Weaponizer” eschews the typical plot structure to other episodes of Lucifer, and to many other procedural shows, and to many other DC on TV shows. The seasonal arc is the focus to the last ten minutes, in which significant action happens, leaving on a cliffhanger in multiple ways that have the audience desiring more. On the one hand, I cannot judge this episode fairly until seeing what happens next week. On the other hand, the anticipation I have indicates that this was a well-done conclusion. Given how funny this episode is, the contrast in the humor and the drama heightens both, creating one of the best episodes so far this season.
The episode is also successful in that the seasonal arc narrative is interwoven with the weekly procedural narrative, making it difficult to extract one from the other in summarizing the plot. The opener explains how, in last week’s episode, Chloe (Lauren German) was hit by the car: it was indeed the angel Uriel (Michael Imperiolo), who has taken it upon himself to punish young sibling Lucifer (Tom Ellis) for not returning their mother (Tricia Helfer) to Hell. As Uriel explains, while he agrees with Lucifer that God’s instructions are notoriously vague, he has taken it upon himself to decide what is best for God, and that is to keep the Mother from finding a way back to Heaven, where she can cause the chaos that she did before. Angels (unless you are fallen, like Lucifer and, potentially, Amenadiel) are not permitted to directly kill humans–so Uriel sets up an elaborate Rube Goldberg mechanism that was well-filmed in a one-shot, causing the car to hit Chloe.
Chloe lives–of course, because we’re not about to risk her life this early in the season. As there is a logical explanation, she ignores the potential for divine intervention, while Lucifer hovers around her to make her do the opposite of whatever she intends. (“Too bad–I was totally going to have sex with you today.”)
The episode does excellent work with Chloe, and Lauren German gets to show off considerable talent that is not always apparent based on how she is written. With her daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez) worried about her, she gets to show parental care; with the man-child antics of Lucifer and Dan (Kevin Alejandro) obsessing about their case, involving the murder of a D-list action star, she shows frustration despite admitting how “adorable” they are. And in the final moments of the episode, having talked down someone from killing his wife and her paramour, Chloe finally has had enough: as she explains to Lucifer, she is not sure about fate or coincidence, and all she desires is what she can know at this moment. After my complaints about how other shows have approached topics such as post-traumatic stress, it is impressive to see Lucifer give a realistic reaction to Chloe having just survived a car crash, and how that detail shakes her, as she is a police detective who knows she is in danger of dying at any time. It is a direct monologue to Lucifer and the audience, yet it is well-written and well-acted so as not to come across as unnatural or overly insisting upon the reality of the dangers that police officers face.
The episode also is primarily light throughout, so as to make the ending more shocking, even if that shock-factor is mitigated by certain factors that I will discuss later. The humor already was present by Uriel’s complex ways of intervening–twice–to precipitate Chloe’s murder, impressive for someone who brags that he can predict behavior based on prior examples, like a Vertigo version of Taskmasker.
The humor was most prevalent in this episode’s fixation on nerd culture. The victim of murder is Wesley Cabot (Sean Millington), a black male action film star who has had financial problems and has fallen on hard times and thus is an obvious allusion to Wesley Snipes. I was surprised, given how gleeful is with analysis of each instance of Wesley’s action franchise, that no reference to Blade popped up. (Cold feet about mocking Marvel, DC?) The story is fun, looking at goofy martial arts action films, fan culture, declining stardom, and extramarital affairs–typical Hollywood stuff.
There are good moments in which Lucifer and Dan embrace their inner nerds. Lucifer obsesses about the plots and the villains, trying to come up with a new catch phrase, while Dan takes in as evidence action figures and toys from comic books shops as related to the case, and not because he secretly wants them. Yet, without actually seeing the comic book shops or the fan conventions, this did seem like a bit of lip-service rather than an embrace of that nerd culture (H/T Ellak Roach on that point).
The episode made up for that flaw is in how nerdy it was in its casting: Charisma Carpenter, Cordelia from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Mark Dacascos, the chairman from Iron Chef; and Phil LaMarr, an actor with an incredible range in voice acting, whether in Samurai Jack or Static Shock. It was darkly delightful to see LaMarr using Carpenter as a human shield against the Chairman’s bazooka.
This humor contrasts sharply against what has been the running joke so far this season: the Mother. I have complained for more of this season about the portrayal of the Mother, where the writers seem to keep her in the role of quirky demon unused to human affairs and trapped in a 1950s model of motherhood, the humor awkward for this time period and not that creative to me in terms of roles for female characters. It just seemed too goofy that she doesn’t know to dress a child in pants for school, then either made her son bark like a dog or that her son was so upset with her that he did start barking. (It wasn’t really clear to me.)
My frustration with this portrayal of the Mother is that there are scenes that work with her, such as her ambivalence around Amenadiel (D. B. Woodside) and Lucifer upon learning of their deeds: Amenadiel’s plan to send her back to Hell, and what Lucifer does at episode’s end–more on that in a moment. D. B. Woodside does great work in capturing Amenadiel’s reactions: his naivete at Lucifer’s plan to fake confidence in confronting his younger brother Uriel, his hammy performance to put the fear of God into Uriel, and finally his distress at being beaten and having to confess he has lost his abilities, and his wonder whether he is fallen.
It is therefore frustrating that, when Amenadiel confronts Uriel and is beaten by him because he has fallen and lost his powers, the Mother is nowhere present. She is partially responsible for what has happened to Amenadiel: the full brunt lies with Lucifer, and he has to be in the scene when Amenadiel confesses he has lost his angelic abilities and has his wounds tended to. But the Mother’s absence robs viewers of seeing her reaction: How does she show concern? Is it real or feigned? Or maybe both? When you have Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt) there to tend to Amenadiel’s wounds, it sound be the Mother doing it, not Maze. And it would have been a parallel to how it is the Mother who embraces Lucifer when he confesses to her that he has killed Uriel, her son, his brother.
The majority of Lucifer’s arc in this episode is less interesting, because it is building to his three-part breaking point. First, he brushes off Amenadiel twice, telling him to puff out his chest and fake strength in front of Uriel like his usual prideful self would, then suggesting it is that same pride that makes Amenadiel as fallen as him. Some projection is likely present in Lucifer’s reaction, which leads to part two of him snapping. When Maze and his mother tell him to just send her back to Hell, he repeats again that he chose his mother’s punishment out of frustration again with God, about the impossibility to know what his parent means, and his need to take control of his own fate (Chloe’s remarks about focusing on the present moment rather than obsessing about fate likely influencing his remarks).
The third part of Lucifer’s breaking moment is his murder of Uriel to prevent him from killing Chloe. As the show’s writers revealed, this is technically the first time Lucifer has directly killed someone. Whereas Uriel watches and predicts, letting Lucifer and Maze attack him to predict their patterns and disable them, Lucifer’s stabbing of Uriel is quick, unexpected, and right in the gut: there is little finesse to it. While Uriel is shlubbier than his younger brother Lucifer, there is that polished planning both have, which makes Lucifer’s use of a knife to the gut all the more surprising, one that catches the precognitive Uriel by surprise (“Didn’t see that one coming,” he says before dying).
That is why the Mother’s embrace of Lucifer, Uriel’s blood soaking his shirt, needed that parallel with Amenadiel. She needed to be the one tending to his injuries, not Maze. I wanted to see how her interactions with these two siblings differ. Her shock that Lucifer killed her son Uriel is lacking in this cliffhanger, likely to be explored more in the next episode. But to have her focus be only on Lucifer is to limit her character development–or, perhaps, to extend the mystery of her. Before, we learned she had super-strength, yet we have not seen her do much with it. This week, she toys with Amenadiel to avoid being sent back to Hell. And I swear, when she hugs her distraught Lucifer, it looked like she was not crying–but smiling–at the prospect that Uriel was killed off. This kind of an ending, with these questions, as well as revealing that facet of regret long hidden in Lucifer as a character, makes me excited for the next episode.
- A review to last week’s episode will be written as soon as possible: there was a delay last week.
- We begin this episode with the Stones. We need more of that music in this show.
- I am disappointed they killed off Uriel so quickly. Maybe he’ll come back in some way, notwithstanding “end of existence” Azrael’s knife-related injuries?
- Chloe is reading Coraline to Trixie, another book written by Lucifer’s comic book co-creator Neil Gaiman.
- Lucifer has a Tuesday obsession: that is how he refers to his frequent drug usages, and it’s when he schedules his proposed self-help fallen angel group for Amenadiel.
- Chloe stops Lucifer from having a selfie with the dead. The name for that has been confirmed as a “stiffie.” That not-safe-for-work word is not going to catch on anytime soon.
- Ella (Aimee Garcia) was almost seduced by Lucifer with just a few words suggesting shagging in the back room. We all fall for his charms, Ella.
- “Best birth control in the world.”
- Maze cannot stay away from helping out, can she? She’s a helper.
- The fight scenes looked much better in this episode, with some fast-paced, well-edited choreography between Lucifer, Uriel, and Maze (even featuring a Black Widow hips-around-neck move), enhanced by the shadows rather than obscured by them. (I’m judging you, shadowy fight scenes in Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.) I also laughed a bit at how, at one point, it almost looked like siblings Lucifer and Uriel were in a slap-fight.
- Lucifer could not understand Uriel’s last words whispered to him. Because he was too soft? The words made no sense? Or he’s lost his ability to understand angels, because he just went Cain on Uriel’s Abel?
- As an aside, it is impressive how the show writes around God’s will by having the angels admit they don’t even know what God wants. It is a narrative cheat, one still planted in theological understandings that God’s ideas are beyond understanding, except for themselves.