After my positive review of Lucifer season 1, I feel obliged to also present my far less positive review of season. Season 2 manages to do just about everything wrong that season 1 did right.
So, spoiler warning: I’m going to break down season 2, revealing a lot about season 1 in the process. Note that I haven’t seen all of season 2 yet, but I’ve seen enough for a review. Also, it will take another month or so to soldier on through the last few episodes and my scathingness is now fresh.
What it’s all about
Small recap for those of you who forgot, or those who haven’t seen it but don’t care about spoilers. Lucifer Morningstar quit hell and decided to start running a nightclub in LA with his sidekick Mazikeen (Maze).
In the first season, Lucifer runs into detective Chloe Decker when she’s the detective assigned to a shooting he was present. At first, he involves himself in the case because of his pride, then he starts butting in full-time because Chloe is immune to his power and that vexes him, and finally we see him grow genuinely infatuated with her. In the season finale, Luficer dies for Chloe and makes a deal with his father: bring his mother back to hell to save Chloe.
Season 2 starts with Lucifer looking for his mother. She escaped hell, but which body is she in? He does find her, and decides not to send her back to hell but sentence her to live as a human on earth, which she hates. Mother starts a-scheming and first tries to break up Lucifer and Chloe, then bring them together, then we all learn that Chloe was created by God especially for Lucifer. Chloe gets poisoned and Lucifer has to go to hell to rescue her. He then hatches a plan to protect Chloe by not being involved with her and finally learns his mother’s plan: storm hell with the aid of the Flaming Sword that protected Eden, something Lucifer didn’t have during his first rebellion.
Seeing the plot of season 2 above, I already notice that it’s slightly wonky, and I’ve only scratched the surface. Let’s go look at the character arcs this season.
Lucifer and Chloe
The tried and true trope of characters that might or might not come together works its magic in Lucifer as well. Remember Mulder and Scully from the X-Files? Or Dr. Who and Rose? Or Rachel and Ross from Friends?
The problem with this trope is that you can only drag it out so long. I never saw the last few seasons of the X-Files, but I don’t think Mulder and Scully were ever a couple. The Dr.-Who-Rose romance was resolved in a way that only science fiction could, and Rachel and Ross did come together but broke up again, with Friends luckily having a larger cast and other stories to fall back on.
Lucifer and Chloe was destined to be problematic, because they solve crime together. Dating co-workers is complicated — heck, I’ve been there — and break ups are even worse. Both arcs are good ways to sink your show. So, the safe thing would be to handle it like with Mulder and Scully. Although, dragging things out can become boring, meaning this might also sink the show.
The road to hell…
So, what did the writers do for Lucifer and Chloe? They mucked it up quite considerably in season two. They had the two come together as a couple, then broke them up for convoluted reasons.
The arc might have worked if the two had grown slowly closer, only for Lucifer to learn his father had put Chloe in his path and backing off because he hates his dad manipulating him. Unfortunately, the writers decided to up the ante thrice: first by having Lucifer and Chloe be a couple before Lucifer figures things out, then by having Lucifer’s mother try to manipulate him with Chloe’s origins, then following up with his mother not following up with it and Lucifer still finding out and breaking up with her.
The writers probably meant well.
All in all, it no longer comes across as genuine, but more like a soap opera or a sitcom. Did the show really need a scene with Lucifer and Chloe going undercover to visit a divorce mediator, with Chloe dressed as a stripper, and Chloe accidentally venting her real-life frustrations with Lucifer? No. The scene is mind-numbingly terrible: it paints Lucifer and Chloe as unprofessional idiots, undermines the seriousness of their issues, and is tacky and cliché to boot.
Let’s move on to the next disaster.
Seriously, kill her off. Kill her, burn her corpse, then retcon her from the show. What makes the character Lucifer interesting is that he’s pretending to be a flamboyant narcissist, but he’s really a kind and caring guy.
His mother, on the other hand, is a true narcissist, who’s both a criminal mastermind and too stupid to live at the same time. How is this possible, you ask? It isn’t, which is why this character doesn’t work at all.
As an example: the woman keeps moaning about how she wants her family back together, but at the same time she also bemoans that she doesn’t know what to do with the stupid brat children of her human body. Seriously? She’s also incapable of the most basic human things, but does manage to seduce Chloe’s ex-husband, Dan, in one night.
Did the writers picture her as the villain of the season? Because she’s so heavy-handed and flaky that she comes across as a badly written soap opera villain. She changes her goals repeatedly, and her motivation seems to consist of only ‘I want my children back’, which is suspect given two-thirds of her children are at war with the other third. Her very presence forces one of them to kill the other and this hardly affects her at all. Then she reveals a crucial bit of information regarding Azrael’s blade only after she’s tried several other ludicrous schemes.
The character could have worked if they’d foregone with the ‘I don’t know how to be human’ part and had actually given her a brilliant plan and a different motivation. She’s constantly being outsmarted and she comes across as a stupid whiner who can’t do anything but wallow in the hatred she feels for her ex-husband and tries to constantly poison her children against him. It’s pathetic and sad, and a far cry from a good villain arc.
Then there’s Elle
Did the show need a sassy lab technician who also handles all the crime scenes, and has a dodgy past? No, I think not.
Elle comes across mostly as a Mary Sue, which really has no place in a serious TV show. She’s inserted into all kinds of scenes, She’s loved by Lucifer from the get-go, she goes out drinking with the rest of the cast like she’s known them for years. She’s smart, but she also has a dodgy criminal past, so she’s a special little snowflake!
Truly, why would the police hire somebody who openly talks about her criminal past? Why is she both in a lab (which is — strangely enough — dead center in the police station) and at crime scenes? What is her motivation? What is her arc?
I can understand why the show would want a technician role. Without one, you have to have Chloe and Dan constantly reading clues from lab reports. It’s far more dynamic and more ‘show-don’t-tell’ to have a nerdy tech character. However, they could have created a character who used to be lab-tech and wanted to be a street cop or something. Somebody with agency, who had a place in the story. Not some Mary Sue who is ‘hilariously’ sassy and loved by all. We had Dr. Martin for the comedy, remember? Maybe she should have been more prominent in this season instead?
With the addition of Lucifer’s mom and Elle to the cast, there was clearly no place left for Amenadiel. So, they took his agency and his wings, and made him a whining momma’s boy — Normally I wouldn’t use the term ‘momma’s boy’ given its inherent sexism, but in this context it really fits the bill in a literal sense.
I can’t really fathom why the writers chose to completely ignore all the possible arcs for this character. Well, okay, he’s there, but they took his agency, meaning he’s just passively milling around, sort of supporting whoever deigns to give him attention.
In short, they made Amendaniel, one of the more interesting characters in season 1, a pathetic loser. Great going.
It’s a mess
In short, Lucifer season 2 is a mess. They took out all the more serious arcs and replaced them with slapstick sitcom things. It ruined most of the characters from season 1, added new ones that undermined the show, and strangled the plot.
I haven’t even mentioned the insane responses characters had to certain events, the weird plot twists that made no sense except as railroading, and the utter disregard for normal police procedure.
There are some mixed reactions to season 3 online, so it might be even worse than 2, which would be a feat, or it could break the downward trend. I guess I’ll see. Or not, if I can’t take it and move on to another show.