Let’s be clear about something from the outset: Lucifer is not a good show. No one in the world talks like its characters; tonally it veers all over the place like a car with a flat tyre; and, unfortunately, it is a magnet for bad actors. Does this stop it being a lot of fun? No it does not.
The noise you make after hearing the logline – Lucifer (Tom Ellis) leaves Hell and becomes a sexy nightclub-owning consultant for the LAPD – will reveal whether or not this is the show for you. In season five, after a brief reign in Hell, Lucifer’s soft side is becoming softer, and his relationship with homicide detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) is beginning to blossom. But his twin brother (also Tom Ellis) soon descends on the scene, intent on mischief.
Lucifer makes an unconvincing attempt to be a cop show but the homicide cases are the bread of the sandwich, not the bacon, so the writers can’t help making the murders almost unbelievably cartoonish, using them either to offer shock value or comic relief. The show’s unwavering structure – Lucifer uses said cases to work through his personal issues – means that the pattern soon becomes easy to spot, and surprises are hard to come by.
Its unrealistic dialogue is the show’s biggest flaw. Sometimes it is as though the writer of each episode hasn’t spoken to the writers of any of the other episodes. Every single one thinks that the audience needs constant reminders of the show’s premise. So the line “I am the Devil” or “You are the actual Devil” crops up in pretty much every episode. This makes no sense now that the series is on Netflix and no one could have stumbled across it accidentally. In the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate Al Pacino plays Satan, to terrifying effect. Doing a Ctrl + F for the word ‘Devil’ in the film’s screenplay, I find that it is never mentioned. Only once is the word ‘Satan’ mentioned. There is power in not pointing out the bleeding obvious, let alone doing so twice per episode in a show that is already called Lucifer.
Lauren German as Chloe Decker alongside Tom Ellis’ Lucifer. Credit: Netflix
Amid the cliches, the jarring dialogue, the unrealistic therapist character, and the smirking whenever anyone says “What the hell” or “Oh my God”, there’s a good deal of fun to be had in season five. Season four dwelt for too long on certain themes – one of which was an apocalyptic prophecy with an implausible priest attached – and, though no one could accuse the latest season of being plausible, it does seem to more comfortably understand what kind of show it is, and where its strengths and weaknesses lie.
Lucifer has never truly got its hands dirty when it comes to portraying pure immorality – the notion that Ellis could be the embodiment of evil is one of the funniest things about the show – but, in this season and others, it does try to wrangle lessons about morality from its plots. For this, and for being a dynamic show on occasion, it should take credit. For its other characteristics, not so much.
Lucifer season 5 arrives on Netflix on August 21