Lucifer’s been looking for love in all the wrong places

Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 11, “Stewardess Interruptus.” Directed by Greg Beeman. Written by Sheri Elwood.

Lucifer attracts my attention because it takes a page in a post-Joss Whedon television environment: blending narrative arcs with one-episode stories. Television is flooded with police procedurals, and as cliche as they are, this show sticks with the format, likely being popular with viewers who enjoy such digestible stories, and which are easier to re-air in syndication. And there has to be the necessary spectacle: attractive people by the pool, playful banter about outfit choices, an admittedly fun car chase after an airplane. Even the title is rather forgettable for me, as I didn’t remember that this episode was about pilot and flight attendants. Yet, especially with this episode, the Sheri Elwood and writers on the show do adjust the format to serve the progression of the seasonal arc and the development of their characters. In “Stewardess Interruptus,” the crime reveals someone has come across an item that produces unexpected reactions in whoever holds it, perhaps something preternatural, and the case again has Lucifer (Tom Ellis) confront his flaws and where he wants to be in his relationship with Chloe (Lauren German).

Writing about the procedural parts of Lucifer tend to be more difficult for me as there is less of a new to be invested. Centering the case initially around Lucifer’s many dalliances does help keep my interest, especially in comparison to previous episodes in which Lucifer’s self-centeredness causes him to make the case about himself. And that choice by the writers may indicate a greater comfort with writing this character and this show: they don’t need an excuse to stretch to make the case relate to him when it is easier to make him the case. It’s not as if previous episodes have not centered on Lucifer as suspect (like the very first episode), friend of the victim (again, like the very first episode), or victim. The difference here is that it requires Lucifer go down memory lane regarding how he engages with other people and, this late in his life, coming to a realization that right now he wants more than sex.

This kind of a plot also risks privileging romantic relationships over platonic or sexual ones, yet this episode never goes in that direction. Amenadiel’s (D. B. Woodside) quick talk with Lucifer, whether it was sincere or part of his and the Mother’s plan using Chloe to return to Heaven, makes a straightforward statement that it too Lucifer this long to get to this point to decide that right now this romance is what he wants. There is little judgment involved, minus the squick factor of Lucifer liking a woman impersonating Richard Nixon. (We got enough butt-ugly Republican lying occupants in the White House, not to mention the latest jackass arriving this week–thanks, you non-voting cretins.) The episode also acknowledges Lucifer’s bisexuality or pansexuality in the set of sexual partners he has had, although there remains that annoyance that same sex relationships are acknowledged here without getting to see a title character in one–but having progress in LGBT representation tied into the Devil’s romantic partners may be less productive.

A season and a half in, I’m surprised the show has not sped up a relationship between Chloe and Lucifer. Tonight’s episode felt a little artificial in delaying the climax of them leveling up their relationship: a random person arrives, Chloe gets uncomfortable and leaves–a realistic reaction to what still feels like an unrealistic bit of happenstance. Of course, little has to be accidental with the stewardess’s arrival, and Lucifer has had visits from sexual partners before, so it does not destroy the suspension of disbelief. Still, this episode’s plot serves as a temporary break in Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship to give the two some time to weigh options before she finally kisses him at the end. If the last episode was about the rush of emotions each felt after the failure to convict her father’s killer, this episode is the time for reflection and a more rational decision about a relationship, and that kind of model is admirable.

Stray Observations

  • The jokes around the Mother continue to annoy me. I get it–it’s Freudian, it’s awkward parent comedy. And it doesn’t work for me. I don’t enjoy characters whose innocence serve as problems only to the story. In contrast, you have someone like Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt), whose ignorance certainly can be awkward, as when she pressures Linda (Rachael Harris) to say she is awesome and missing the point that she herself already knows she is. But overall she is a character who advances the plot, such as holding down the suspect and inadvertently interrogating him, or develops other characters, as when guilting Dan (Kevin Alejandro) about Perry Smith’s death, and revealing his tryst with the Mother. The Mother is a problem, which is suitable for an antagonist, but without anything that I find clever or funny, which makes this antagonist annoying. In contrast, Maze keeps the story moving and is entertaining, regardless whose side she is on. I wonder what would happen if it was Maze who became the antagonist in Season 3, given her intermittent fall-outs with Lucifer.
  • Vodka and cereal: not recommended by most dietitians–or even comic book convention attendees.
  • We have an Asian character with an octopus shirt who obsesses about Lucifer’s relationships. Did this show just add an otaku?
  • The “feline sanctuary” remarks by the pilot evidently allude to the Mother’s actor Tricia Helfer and her own work with cats. Coincidentally, Helfer also played the Black Cat on the animated Spectacular Spider-Man.
  • The ungrateful urchin does nothing to contribute to the rent.” And that’s how Lucifer convinces Chloe to kiss him: by teasing about her daughter. Parenting!

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