TV Recap: Lucifer, Series Premiere

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Lucifer Series Premiere Plot Summary

When Lucifer (Tom Ellis) decides to take a permanent break from Hell, he ends up in Los Angeles running a club called Lux. When a pop singer and former employee is gunned down in front of him, Lucifer takes a personal interest in solving her murder. However, the detective on the case, Chloe (Lauren German) finds him less than charming and refuses his help even as he refuses to stop digging.

I was blown away when I watched the Lucifer pilot at NYCC. I was similarly impressed by the Supergirl pilot, which aired in the same three-hour WB TV block. However, when I rewatched that show’s first episode live on television, I found it had lost some shine. Thankfully, the same isn’t true for Lucifer. It’s still as slick and smart as I remember.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer
Photo Credit: Smallz and Raskind/FOX

There’s so much to recommend in the episode that it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps it’s best to begin with the titular fallen angel and the man who plays him, Tom Ellis. He’s almost devastatingly charming in the role. In an early scene, he manages to take clunky dialogue explaining his powers and makes it seem clever and fresh, exuding sex appeal the whole time. Actually, his character can be almost shockingly raunchy in a way that feels pleasurably transgressive. Lucifer isn’t stripped of his edgier elements in the way Constantine was on NBC’s failed series of the same name—he’s actually allowed to smoke. Instead, the show leans into his roguishness and creates a hedonistic, slightly corrupt world for him to play in.

That’s another of the show’s major strengths: its look. There’s a lushness, a decadence to its version of LA. The golden light, hazy blues and liquid black colors give everything a glossy sheen that barely masks the seediness beneath. Even the music choices are excellent. One of the episode’s standout moments comes when the angel Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) appears at Lucifer’s club Lux. Time slows when he appears and the urgent, commanding beat of David Bowie’s “Fame” suddenly slows down, becoming nightmarish in a way that conveys the danger Amenadiel represents to Lucifer. It conveys the nature of their relationship even better than the dialogue.

Photo Credit: Brendan Meadows/FOX
Photo Credit: Brendan Meadows/FOX

The one weak spot in the pilot is Lauren German as Lucifer’s crime-solving partner/possible love interest, Chloe Dancer. Ellis’s performance is so effortless that she occasionally struggles to keep up. It’s especially noticeable because of the easy chemistry between Lucifer and Rachael Harris’s therapist character, Linda. Their suggestive playfulness is refreshing where the suggestion that Chloe is different from all the other girls Lucifer has encountered feels like a tired, romantic cliché.

Still, German has her strengths—particularly with her character’s daughter Beatrice (Scarlett Estevez). Unlike German, Estevez is pitch perfect in her role, neither obnoxiously precocious nor blankly underdeveloped. Beatrice (whose name may be a meaningless reference to Dante’s Inferno or a tantalizing taste of a future story) is a child sidekick who’s actually enjoyable. As Lucifer himself says, “Nothing to crow about, but nothing to be embarrassed about either.”

Still, with a pilot that’s so daring in other departments, the procedural element can feel a bit disappointing. Unfortunately, it’s just a necessity of launching a genre show on network television. The familiar set up is meant to hook new viewers in before the show can move onto more serialized storylines once it has a built in audience. Me, I’m already hooked.

Rating: 9/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.