Lucifer might suffer from a bit of "case of the week" syndrome, but in its second season was focused on its mythology and better for it.
Creator: Tom Kapinos
Summary: Lucifer takes up residence in Los Angeles.
This review will be mostly SPOILER-FREE for season two. There will be full spoilers for season one and the plot of season two will be mentioned but not discussed in depth.
Lucifer and iZombie are the two underrated comic book shows that everyone seems to forget about. That isn't that surprising, considering that Lucifer didn't exactly start out on a high note. The show got decent ratings for its first season, but it didn't feel like anything very special aside from the fantastic chemistry between its various cast members.
Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) and Chloe Decker (Lauren German) immediately clicked as the two leads and had some great backup from their supporting cast. The first season got better the more it seemed to dig into the religious mythology behind its own premise. Season one ended with the promise to do more of that, and they delivered in spades. We were taught more about this universe's version of God, angels, demons, and even the concept of creation itself.
While the mythology is great, the thing that held this show together before it really found its footing were the characters. Tom Ellis continues to bring a level of charm to his version of Lucifer, but also never shies away from how fundamentally dangerous he really is. There are some fantastic moments throughout season two where Ellis really gets to shine not only as an actor, but in truly heartbreaking moments that show real humanity. The progression of his character feels real and the evolution of his relationship with Chloe feels natural.
Lauren German also got a chance to shine this season. She spent most of the first season rolling her eyes and trying to keep Lucifer away, but in this second season Chloe got to open up a lot more. We got to see her worry about how she's doing as a mother, we got to see her make friends outside of work, and German makes all of these things entertaining and engaging to watch. The natural chemistry she has with Ellis is one of the lightning-in-the-bottle moments that happen in entertainment. They are captivating to watch, and you really believe that they care about each other.
The supporting cast also got a chance to shine. Lesley-Ann Brandt took what could have been a one-note character like Mazikeen and made her one of the most likeable characters in the cast. She develops a friendship with Chloe's daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez) that's always entertaining to watch. The best moments of the season are when Maze and Trixie are off having little adventures.
Maze also forms some real friendships of her own as she breaks away from Lucifer and becomes her own person. One of those relationships is with Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris). Linda's character got much better once they dropped the whole "she's sleeping with Lucifer" subplot and became her own character. Her continued therapy sessions with Lucifer are always entertaining to watch and they obviously care about each other.
D.B. Woodside gets a chance to show a different side of the angel Amenadiel, and watching his evolving relationship with God was fantastic. The writers also must be given credit for what they did with Dan Espinoza, played by Kevin Alejandro. A role that could have easily been the cliche "jealous ex-husband" and a downer Dan has become a strong ally to everyone in the cast, and he fits in extremely well.
The show did a good job of keeping its primary cast around for the second season, but they did bring in two newcomers. Aimee Garcia does some great things with CSI Ella Lopez, a character that is very up-front with her religious beliefs. While it appeared the show would use her belief as a punchline for jokes, the writers kept Ella around as a bright spot in a show that could get very dark. She was a welcome addition to the show and Garcia was able to take what could have been a simple comic relief character and make her feel like part of the team.
Tricia Helfer also joined the show as Charlotte, or Lucifer's mother. Her role in the series was interesting because the writers didn't write it the way we were expecting. To get into why Helfer was a welcome addition to the show would be spoiling; but rest assured that, for the entire season, when you think you have Charlotte's motivations figured out? You don't.
The mythology of the show has always been there, and it was one of the things that helped keep viewers engaged during the first season. With the appearance of Lucifer's mother we get to learn about the creation of the world and the various powers that comes with them. We get to meet other angels and even start to see some angelic weapons. There are all of these little details that the show makes sure to add in to make sure you're paying attention.
There is a consistent mythology throughout the show, and it all works extremely well. There were some protests when the show first came out that Ellis was "too suave", but the reality is that Lucifer is only a protagonist if the viewer decides that he is. If you're watching and you aren't charmed, then you don't have to root for him. There are enough good people around him to keep you engaged throughout the season.
Lucifer, much like iZombie, has benefited from shorter seasons. The first season of Lucifer was only 13 episodes, while the second season was bumped up to 18. The 13-episode season was probably better because there were a fewer episodes that just felt like filler, but the case-of-the-week formula keeps everything moving. The show might have a case, but the details of that case will tie into the overall story of the season in small ways. It's building a tower with tiny pieces until it all comes down in a great finale. The show once again throws you for a loop as to who the bad guy really is, and then ends with a hell of a cliffhanger that will leave fans anxious for the next season.
Praise aside, the series is far from perfect. The first season takes a long time to get going and it's not exactly a show you can just jump into without watching the previous episodes. The character development doesn't mean much if you're not already invested, though the short seasons make it fairly easy to binge watch. The police procedural formula is also not one that a lot of people can get behind, and while Lucifer starts off very conventional, it does get more bizarre as the series goes on.
Those looking for a comic book connection should probably just pretend that this is an original series, since there aren't that many connections to the comic at all aside from incidental details. There are a few Easter eggs if you know what to look for, but the connections to the comic are minimal and should be disregarded entirely.
The cases that the show comes up with are usually interesting, but there are times when it feels like the show is breaking its own back as it bends over to fit a certain whim. The show also seems aware now that no one is there for the crime scenes — they just use the cases to advance the various characters. This is probably a good way to advance characters, but it can make scenes throughout each episode feel a little perfunctory. We, as the audience, know that this isn't the main plot and that this case isn't going to do much aside from move a few pieces across the board. It renders the "is this person guilty?" part of the show a little flat. That sounds like a fundamental part of the show is somehow broken but it all seems to fit, even if the edges don't always line up perfectly.
Lucifer season two doesn't entirely solve all of the issues from the previous season, but it is a positive step in the right direction. The show seems to realize that the mythology and the characters are the things that are working, while the procedural formula isn't. The show likely isn't for everyone, but the strong performances by the main cast who have created a compelling set of characters make it worth it.