Lucifer S4 - Smart as the Devil & Twice as Pretty
Lucifer has been one of my guilty pleasures pretty much since it first aired. Based on the graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman, I was almost guaranteed to check it out, though it has little in common with its source material.
It's just a fun, often bizarrely feel-good show which never takes itself too seriously. The characters are beautiful, the stories are cute and frankly, the actors continually impress me. Which is why I feel it's a shame I don't see more blogs talking about it.
However, there is one massive problem with Lucifer which it's taken them up to series 4 to finally address.
The writers of Lucifer are clearly more influenced by John Milton's Paradise Lost than the Bible. The key difference really comes in the reasoning behind Lucifer's appearance. The Bible depicts him as a twisted, deformed goat-like creature. Paradise Lost, however, reasons that as Lucifer was once an angel, he must still be a bit of a dish.
You can see the logic. One would hope after God threw Lucifer down to hell, there to tempt and deceive mankind, he'd also strip him of his good looks. So when he's persuading mankind to sell their souls, you'd have a good reason to say no. Rather than allowing him to look like Tom Ellis.
Because I mean... look at him... 😍
The Lucifer of the Amazon Prime/Netflix series falls somewhere in the middle. He retains his gorgeous angel wings, but also has a demonic face. He is - or was - the King of Hell before deciding he was over it and arrived in L.A. to be a nightclub owner.
Another key difference is he's more a retroactive punisher of sins rather than a proactive instigator. He punishes damned souls, he doesn't walk the earth causing death and destruction. In fact, he's only ever killed one human. Spoilers!
Series 4 Spoilers Ahead!
But as I say, there has been a long-standing problem with the Lucifer series which we've seen play out between 1-3. It's a problem a lot of television series face, but it seems magnified here.
Lucifer, as a protagonist, is static. His development as a character has stalled and he repeatedly makes the same mistakes again and again. At the end of every series, we've seen a glimmer of progress, only to have it all ripped away. As I say, this is not uncommon at all for the majority of long running series.
So why is it more noticeable in Lucifer?
Some of my favourite moments in Lucifer (and scenes which often bookends an episode) is his therapy sessions with Linda. Yes, the devil is going through therapy. However, it's used as his excuse to talk about himself and the writer's way of setting up the funny premise for the story.
Lucifer's aim has been self-improvement and over three series, he's made zero progress. Every episode ends on a hopeful tone and by the next, he's back to his old ways.
This is only made worse by the fact his friends have made astonishing progress. Amenadiel has moved from an unthinking agent of Heaven to a man with the strength to question the nature of his father's (God's) plan. Mazikeen has moved from devoted lackey of Lucifer, to an independent, driven character whose love for her friends defies her belief that humans are inferior. Dan Espinoza seemed to be on a negative change arc as he begins to realise he's a far more damaged and imperfect man than he'd thought.
I also think it's fair to point out that renewals of the series have always been a bit touch and go. Not to point fingers, but there's a large section of the American community which considers glamorizing the devil to be a bit of a no-no. Not to mention it was axed from Fox after series 3 before finding a home on Netflix.
However, series 4 has been defined by Lucifer's painful epiphany. He finally asks the question.
Why do I hate myself so much?
Let the devil develop!
The hesitation is completely understandable. Developing a character - particularly developing their moral character can lead to a backlash. The common complaint of fans can be boiled down to the age-old trope, We Want Our Jerk Back.
And the writers Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich seem well aware of this. During an interview, Henderson said:
One of the things we really wanted to do was have Lucifer actually have an epiphany and actually start down a path of healing. It was kind of a scary thing because at first we were like, “Are we going to break the show? If Lucifer has an epiphany, is that it?” One of the things we realized is that it just opened up all new story. Entertainment Weekly
And I entirely agree. It's completely possible to stay true to the characters, maintain the feeling of the series while showing that Lucifer can become 'more' than the Devil.
In fact, stalling his character only makes him seem cartoonist. Though I grant this is a difficult needle to thread, the show has suffered for this lack of development, turning into a soap opera rather than the exploration of good/evil, right/wrong and human nature, as it was in series 1.
Will there be a series 5?
Seems so! Again, from the Entertainment Weekly interview:
We do have an idea. It’s an idea that when it came up in the room, we went, ‘Oh god, that’s crazy.’ Then the more we talked about it, the more we went, ‘And brilliant.’Lucifer bosses break down the hellish season 4 finale, tease potential season 5, Entertainment Weekly