Lucifer: Season 5 Part 1 Review
After cancellation scares, episode swap arounds and a change in platform, Lucifer is in is penultimate season. Check out our review of the fourth season here.
We start with Lucifer still in Hell, and everyone back in LA dealing with life without him. This is when Michael comes on the scene, Lucifer's twin brother and the main antagonist of the first half of this season. Michael is a weaselly character who lies all the time and manipulates people to get what he wants. While the twin angle feels rather contrived, Lucifer has always been a campy show so it isn't too hard to look past it.
However, one thing that shouldn't be looked past is how Tom Ellis uses his body posture differently to show the differences between when he is Lucifer and when he is Michael. Micheal has uneven shoulders, something which Lucifer mocks him about both to his face and behind his back. This is ableism, there is no two ways about it. There has been very little disabled representation in Lucifer,so, for the first visible and openly disabled character in the main cast to be both mocked for his disability and the main antagonist is not okay. Disabled people are too often shown to be bad people, or hate themselves because of their disability; giving Michael a disability just continues this stereotype. There is also an aspect of making his body reflect his personality, which implies that disabled people are bad and/or weaselly because of their stature, when really the two things are not linked. I was incredibly disappointed by this narrative decision and it soured the entire season for me.
Once Michael's deception is revealed, Lucifer returns to LA, helping Chloe Decker to solve her cases. Decker's cases have always been allegories for what one of the main cast is going through at the time, but I think they may have gotten even more ham-fisted this season. With Chloe and Lucifer's relationship finally moving beyond the 'will they, won't they' stage, the cases become even more centred around their relationship dynamic. With episodes three, five and six being so close to what Decker is experiencing, she gets to have dramatic love related sequences while catching the killer.
Episode seven's allegory was also very obvious, and more than a little insensitive. The team starts tracking down a serial killer who targets women who talk a lot and then cut their vocal cords. This relates to Lucifer, because something - possibly him and Chloe sleeping together - has caused him to lose his power to get people to admit their deepest desires. There is one point where Chloe suggests the killer wanted to take away the victim's voice, but Lucifer corrects her by saying 'No. He wanted to take away their power'. As if, him losing his super power is in any way the same as women getting murdered for using their voices. If the victims weren't all women this might not feel as uncomfortable, but they are. For centuries women, and many other minorities have been silenced and subjugated for speaking up and using their voices. So, for Lucifer to use the murder of loud women, an act of misogynistic violence, as something comparable to Lucifer not being able to force people's desires out of them, felt incredibly tone deaf and somewhat insulting.
This leads to a recurring theme in the show; the women of Lucifer deserve so much better. Chloe's reservations about Lucifer always seem underdeveloped and to easily resolved. Linda is pushed even more into the caregiver role now that she is a mother. Maze is just generally treated like shit by Lucifer at every turn, and Ella, well she almost gets killed by her boyfriend, who turns out to be a serial killer. All of them are so much more interesting than Lucifer, the ageless man child that he is.
Every season there is a small kernel of hope that these women are going to have more of a storyline, more of a connection, but then Lucifer blunders in and ruins it. The first half of the season never went as deeply into Maze's emotional turmoil, or Ella's sordid past, as I wish we would have. They both have such rich background and so much potential, that is never realised and it seems like such a missed opportunity.
As for Chloe, even though she has gone through a lot of hardship and done some amazing things over the course of the show, her being Lucifer's love interest is always what the narrative falls back on. This is sort of dealt with when, in this season, she discovers that she is a literal gift from God, put on this world for Lucifer to fall in love with. A point that is almost hand waved away by a short speech from Amenadiel. The whole thing feels like it should have happened sooner.
If you are just watching Lucifer for a few campy laughs, then it's enjoyable enough viewing. But when you start to pay attention to the over arching narrative plots of the seasons, they just feel like filler. If Lucifer and Chloe were always the end game, then restricting their actual budding relationship to what was originally meant to be the final season feels far too rushed. I would have loved to have seen it sooner. Maybe the writers could have reduced the Cain storyline into only half of the incredibly bloated third season and season four into the second half of season three? Then they could have given two whole seasons to explore the vast array of revelations an complications that come from them moving past the pining past and into the an actual relationship?
This would have also given Lucifer more time to grow up. Though he has changed as a character, he always just seems to slip right back into his old personality every chance he gets. Now, there is a fine balance between character growth and a complete personality change, but Lucifer has definitely fallen way short of that mark; I just hope that there is enough time left in the show for any change to feel natural.
These eight episodes were enjoyable, but they were also riddled with problematic representation and missed plot opportunities. The show definitely isn't in a place to be finished in eight more episodes, at least not in a satisfying way. It is a good thing that it got renewed for another season; those extra episodes will hopefully give the writers a chance to fully realise the story and give the wider main cast the completed endings that they deserve. Meanwhile, I will be waiting for the second half of season five for some questions to be answered. Is Charlie really mortal? Will Maze be able to gain a soul? And why has God suddenly decided to turn up?