Once Upon A Time the Devil took a vacation.
Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) is your typical Los Angeles nightclub owner, except inasmuch as he is the Biblical Devil, an angel cast out of heaven who previously reigned over the damned in Hell. He’s typically assisted by the demon Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) and opposed by his brother Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), who wants him to retake his position in Hell. One evening, a pop star whom he was attempting to help is gunned down in front of him. The investigating detective, Chloe Decker (Lauren German), surprises Lucifer by proving immune to his powers, intriguing him. He decides to become a civilian consultant to the LAPD in order to find out more about her and also to entertain himself.
Along the way he picks up a therapist named Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris), a semi-rival in Decker’s ex husband Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), an unwanted mini-acolyte in Decker’s daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez), and an unlikely friend ally in the devout Catholic LAPD forensic scientist Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia).
The key to this show is the cast. The premise, while not boring, would get a little repetitive if everyone in it wasn’t just so damned charming, particularly Tom Ellis. Of course, his character is supposed to be superhumanly attractive and alluring, but it’s impressive how well he sells that. This version of the Devil is interesting because it’s a Devil who has just become bored with his role. It’s not quite the Lucifer of Paradise Lost, though it’s clear to see that Neil Gaiman drew a great deal of inspiration from Milton in creating this version of Satan. It’s that version several millennia down the line, realizing that reigning in Hell, while better than serving in Heaven, is still not that fulfilling. Also, I like that the show kept the comic version’s policy of never lying, since it both makes for hilarious scenes and also distinguishes him from the typical “Lord of Lies” image of Satan. The show never portrays Lucifer as outright evil in any way, he just has a different view of morality than most people.
The rest of the cast is amazing and they all play off of each other perfectly. Some of my favorite episodes are when two of the characters that usually aren’t together are paired for a B-plot. It helps that the show does actually have the characters change over time as they interact with each other, something that they kind of needed after the relatively strict limitations they held during the first season.
The show’s sense of humor is one of the best features. Unlike most Urban Fantasies, the main character does not attempt to hide his supernatural existence at all, leading to amusing misunderstandings. Lucifer tells everyone he’s the Devil up front, but they all seem to think he’s talking metaphorically or that he’s just coping with some sort of past trauma. Granted, it turns out as the show goes on that Lucifer actually does consider his past to be a trauma, with his relationship with his father being integral to the character. It’s interesting to watch characters dissect the actions of a literally omnipotent and presumably omnibenevolent God (Neil Gaiman) from the perspective of the Devil, who is our sympathetic focal character. Most shows wouldn’t try this kind of thing and I’m happy the show plays it out.
As the series goes on, the expansion of the mythology also helps keep it interesting, with Seasons 2 and 3 each having an added character that pretty much makes for the focus of the season’s arc.
Overall, I’m excited for the fourth and final season of the show, which was pretty much accomplished solely through the fan dedication to the series. I applaud Netflix for allowing shows to get their closure for the people that love them. If only they’d been around for that one series that had the spaceships…
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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