Lucifer is back from the dead – how did the fourth season from Netflix fare?
It was a rough few days for Lucifer fans last year; the show was cancelled by Fox and then saved up Netflix as it picked up the show for a fourth season. I was sonewhat wary, stepping back into the Lucifer. Anyone who has read my reviews of season three will know, I had become a little fed up with the show. However, I decided to stick with it, and oh boy was it worth it.
Hearkening right back to the show’s first season, season four is much shorter that your average American television series, clocking in at only ten episodes. This shorter format does wonders for the storytelling. It feels much sharper and less bloated; the story can’t go of on pointless tangents because there simply isn’t time. It is the complete opposite of the extended third season that was littered with the cast off filler episodes from the second.
Season four starts up a month after the end of season three. Chloe has been AWOL for this entire time as she tries to process seeing Lucifer’s devil face. A reaction which is entirely unsurprising, and one which gives the perfect point in the narrative for one of this seasons antagonists, Father Kinley, to weasel his way into Lucifer’s life.
Kinley’s presence in the season explores how humans can take religion and faith, and twist it into something ugly and dangerous. His obsession with an ancient prophecy eventually leads not only to his demise, but to the prophecy being fulfilled. This says something about how he rejects the kindly and welcoming aspects of faith, those that deal with community and aiding others, and instead basks in zealotry. In many ways he is the opposite of Ella, who spends most of the season questioning her religion. Where Ella is focused on being kind to people and having her faith give her hope and community, Kinley is solely focused on the prophecy. This juxtaposition reemphasises one of the main questions posed by Lucifer. Does being religious make you a good person?
Another major theme of the season is mourning. After Charlotte Richards’ death at the end of season three, Dan is devastated, and he spends most of this season angry out of his mind over her demise. This plot thread explores how men deal with grief. In a world where showing emotions other than anger is considered weak, there is no other way for Dan to process his feeling. However, after quite a few miss steps, the support of his friends leads him to going to therapy.
Dan is an odd character, his moral fiber and likability has been questioned time and time again on the show – from being a dirty cop in season one, to the various underhanded tactics he has used since. But it was still both sad and irritating to see how he was dealing with his grief. Sad because he was practically crawling in his own skin with his discomfort a shame. With no way to let it out other than anger, he ends up doing things that he’s incredibly ashamed of. And irritating, both because from the outside it seems so obvious what they should do, and because it forces some level of introspection; how many times have you done something you regret because of an inability to deal with your feelings?
As such, I really enjoyed Dan’s arc this season, more so than I ever have before. Men need to be given the freedom to deal with there emotions without being judged, though it would be highly preferable if they didn’t have to beat people up to get to that point. However, it is still disappointing that it took the death of season three’s most interesting character to get there. Female characters shouldn’t have to be sacrificed for men to experience character development. There was so much more I wanted to see from Charlotte and her interactions with the other characters. But, what we saw this season from those characters who mourned her, was worth watching none the less.
Another man who, finally, makes some progress in his relationship with his emotions is Lucifer. For three seasons he has had a small ‘breakthrough’ each episode only to go back to being the exact same person by the beginning of the next one. It even got to the point where, in my reviews of season three, I considered him to be the least appealing and most tedious character of the show. But this season has changed that. It sees him acknowledging that his working with Chloe doesn’t just make him want to be better for her but also for himself. He isn’t the devil he used to be and that is okay. By far the biggest realisation, and the one that impacts the plot the most, is that he hates himself. That, for all the years that humanity has blamed its sins on the devil, he has, in turn, blamed himself for humanity’s sins.
This development is long over due, and yet done in a way that makes it so satisfying to watch. It takes the focus away from Chloe and her relationship with Lucifer, and puts it on his relationship with himself. It is no longer her, or Linda’s, responsibility to fix and accept him.
This storyline also builds upon Lucifer and Amenadiel’s discovery of Angel possessing the same self-actualisation that humans do. Meaning that Lucifer’s devil face and wings are connected to how he fells about himself, just as humans in the world of Lucifer only go to hell if they feel they deserve it. This make the fact that, by the end of the season, Lucifer can manifest both his angel wings and his full devil form at will even more poignant. After a season of being annoyed at various other characters, mainly Chloe, for not being able to accept him for who he really is, he has finally accepted himself. Not just as an angel or the devil, but as someone who is both.
The women of Lucifer have always been one of the shows strongest, if under utilised, aspects. But with this season that is changing. Each character has their own story, their own growth. In some cases this growth is related to Lucifer, such as in the cases of Chloe and Eve, but, ultimately, it is their own.
I have grown particularly fond of Eve. When the season trailers dropped, they portrayed Eve as an air headed party girl. But that is far from the character we actually got. While she does like to party, she is also complex and conflicted. We learn her side of the story of the garden of Eden, how Adam never loved her and how she has spent millennia trying to be someone she’s not in order to please men. Only for her to realise she is doing the same with Lucifer.
Along with this sweet and captivating character development comes Lucifer’s first full, explicit acknowledgement of Maze’s queerness. In prior seasons both Maze and Lucifer have been shown to have/have had sexual encounters with people of multiple genders. But Maze’s attraction to Eve is the first time one of the show’s main characters has show romantic interest in someone of the same gender as them. This was a breath of fresh air, though it did come hand in hand with the fear that the show was going to fall into the ‘bury your gays’ trope by killing Eve off at the end of the season for the mistakes she had made. This would have left a doubly bitter taste in my mouth because it would have also meant that she would have suffered dire consequences for her actions where the men of the series, namely Lucifer and Dan, have not. But, this doesn’t happen, and the possibility is left open for Eve and Maze to find happiness in each others arms.
Another possibility that season four’s ending allows for is a time skip. With Lucifer back in Hell, Eve off to ‘find herself’, and baby Charlie newly born, the show is primed for a gap of maybe even a few years. This would give time for Charlie to grow up, Eve to come back and for Amenadiel’s relationship with humanity to change after his harsh awakening to what it means to be a black man on Earth. A shift in time frame would definitely give a plethora of new opportunities for stories. It would also give the rest of the characters time to get used to Lucifer being gone, for them to grow separately to him, and time apart inevitably causes tension as people grow in different ways.
This season was so much better than the last. Its sleek ten episode format lead to a strong and enticing story from start to finish that makes me glad that Netflix picked the show back up after its cancellation. For the first time since the end of season one I am excited for more rather than just sticking around out of loyalty and hope. The future is open for many possibility, each as tantalising as the next. Lets hope Netflix renews Lucifer for a fifth season; there is more story here worth telling.