“Boo Normal” is a strange episode of Lucifer. It exists both within and outside the series’ universe, though in a different way from the episode that follows it. It also exists as an episode where Lucifer is truly a supporting character. In fact, this is an episode about Ella, through Ella’s eyes. It even begins with a rare sight in the form of Ella arriving at a crime scene—she’s always already there when the show gets to the dead bodies—and chatting up every person she comes across. You can see why that new officer was really stoked to meet Ella back in “Orange Is The New Maze.” The strangeness somewhat comes from this coming after quite the mind-blowing finale… but honestly, the episode placement works surprisingly well, not undoing the work the show ended with while also showing additional possibilities for what the show can do in the future.
It’s probably the “ghost” thing.
Structurally, this episode works at making sure it can exist in a post-finale continuity without necessarily answering the questions about how exactly the show can function past that. The key is minimizing the Chloe/Lucifer interaction; and this episode would’ve taken place further past Chloe learning the truth, which explains a lack of weirdness. (There’s also the fact that Amenadiel isn’t here, the episode not tipping its hand on whether that means he’s in Heaven or not.) The episode has their only onscreen interaction be at the crime scene in the beginning, where the real focus is the body and Ella’s possible moving situation. Lucifer is aware of the power of a Lucifer/Dan story, which drives their absurd story completely. The Chloe/Ella crime team-up is new the show, but it’s not the first time Lucifer has given Chloe a non-Lucifer partner. And it’s the perfect way to highlight the Chloe/Ella friendship without relationship talk littering it.
Ella’s character exists mostly as a sounding board for others, and “Boo Normal” is all about flipping that dynamic and thinking about what Ella wants, what drives her. The idea of Ella moving back to Detroit isn’t one the audience has to buy, but it is important that characters like Chloe and Lucifer are opposed to it. In fact, it means a lot that Lucifer’s immediate reaction’s to say it’s an awful idea and tell her something he just learned: “Everyone has a choice.”
For subversion of angelic expectations, Charlyne Yi as Azrael is a better casting choice than Michael Imperioli’s Uriel. She at least doesn’t fit the description of “completely lame.” As ghost Ray-Ray, we get an answer to the question introduced in “Vegas With Some Radish”—which, like this episode, proves calling the bonus episodes “filler” is wrong—about the voices Ella was hearing. The episode lowers the concept of Ella hearing ghosts pretty quickly to her hearing (/seeking/speaking to) a ghost pretty quickly—with good reason. Ghosts open up a whole other realm of mythology (“ghost world”) for Lucifer, as well as a lot of questions about why certain spirits wouldn’t go to Heaven or Hell. Which is why Lucifer answers that with the reveal that Ray-Ray is actually Azrael, the angel of death and Lucifer’s estranged little sister. The episode sets it up early on just with what would typically be a throwaway line from Lucifer, about siblings being the worst. And the otherwise frustrating aspects about ghost Ray-Ray’s poor lies and attempts to get Ella’s attention work better in angel retrospect.
The idea of an angel like Azrael being fascinated by a living human because she’s only used to the dead ones is a different perspective for Lucifer. Uriel only saw humans in terms of probability, Amenadiel’s taken so much time to see them as equals in any way, and Lucifer—at his simplest—sees humans as party favors. We don’t quite know how Azrael views humans in general, but we do know she latches on to someone who can be considered one of the best. She can tell the difference between Ella’s leech brothers and Ella’s friends in LA. As for why she was drawn to Ella, it doesn’t have to be magical or celestial: It’s just who Ella is. Even with something as human as getting a shy kid who won’t talk to strangers to open up, it’s what Ella does.
It’s interesting for Lucifer to go with an unexpected choice in Yi as an angel—the audience is so ready to accept her as a quirky ghost that the surprise works—but she doesn’t pull off the “seen it all before” vibe of her siblings. On the other hand, she really hasn’t, as she’s lived a life of invisibility, endless work, and the absence of her favorite sibling, Lucifer. Her childish behavior is a combination of her friendship with Ella and simply that growing up hasn’t actually been part of her existence. While she explains things to Lucifer, the moment that really works in showing how lonely she must be is at the very end, as Azrael proudly (but from a distance) watches Ella and Lucifer together.
For an episode with such a big reveal, “Boo Normal” is also quite a light episode—perhaps to make the reveal hit harder. The furry convention, the trip to Magic Mountain, the most anti-climactic fight scene ever (between Ella and... the Black Hood?). It works hard to be a simple episode in a post-“A Devil Of His Word” and a pre-‘Azrael put Ella is Lucifer’s path too’ world.
- From the moment she turned her trauma into a request for a Slurpee, I clocked Beckett as a sociopath. So like Ray-Ray’s lies to Ella, it was frustrating to watch Dan buy her excuses and tears. Plus, the way the plot itself was executed, it came across like she really needed to be integral to the case—when she was pinned as a murder suspect, it finally made some sense—otherwise it was kind of a thinly-excused plot.
- Kudos to Lisa Demaine’s directing: The moment where Ella slowly goes to open the door and reveals Felix is so stressful I’d hoped it was just going to reveal something goofy.
- Chloe: “Geez, no Ella love today.” The way Chloe smirks after saying (clearly trying to cheer Ella up) that is such a sweet, honest moment.
- The other important part of this episode’s existence in a post-“A Devil Of My Word” world is that it paves the way for Chloe to accept Ella’s ghost admission. Arguably—and this is something the episode also makes clear—even without her knowledge of Lucifer’s true self, Chloe would accept it. Because she accepted a lot more “crazy” from him.
- Obviously there’s so much fun to be had with Dan and the roller coaster photo—especially as Lucifer got the poster the t-shirts with the deal of “200 for the price of 200”—but you can’t forget the hilarity of furry Chloe getting decked by another furry out of nowhere.
- The one downside of Lucifer being put on the back burner in this episode is that the lesson about being special instead of normal feels like something that Lucifer could also stand to learn, especially when it gets to the part about a parent hating their children’s specialness to the point of killing someone who would try to foster it. (But maybe that would be casting too much of a critical eye on God, especially right before he frames an episode in saying, “Hey, I’m not that bad.”) Lucifer of course does need to learn the “nobody’s perfect” lesson with Dan, so he can then accept that about himself and with Azrael.
- Maze’s reaction to Dan and Lucifer’s screw-ups here was much-needed after all that Maze has been through in the last part of the season.
- Consider for a moment that Lucifer—the show’s never met a sex joke it didn’t make—doesn’t make endless sex jokes about the furry community. Though for the best Lucifer has nothing to do with the case in this capacity.
It somewhat makes sense for the series to “end” with take two on the pilot. It certainly hits all those “What if?” buttons. And when you’ve got God (the terrifically meta Neil Gaiman) and a show that’s future is murky, it’s perhaps worth it to show just how easy it can be to hit reset on the show. I wrote in my review of “A Devil Of My Word” how the hardest part of accepting no more Lucifer came from the episode’s conclusion (and the parts that led to it, on a mythological level) opened up the show to so many more possibilities and stories. “Once Upon A Time” does that as well, pulling the trigger on the God thing for real this time. For Lucifer to technically end with an episode where God tries to give his perspective on all the things Lucifer’s been saying about him, it’s another fitting way to close things out.
In terms of shifting the way a Lucifer story is told from the ground up and enhancing the mythology, I’d still argue “Off The Record” is the pinnacle of the series. But “Once Upon A Time” introduces another mythological-based remix for the show and does a great job in its own right.
The final voiceover from God is probably the best explanation the show will give about why exactly God put Chloe in Lucifer’s path: “Wouldn’t you do the same in my shoes? After all, a parent just wants what’s best for their child.” It’s a major moment to accept that God truly does want what’s best for Lucifer, especially since Lucifer still doesn’t realize that at the end of this episode (/season/series) and probably never will. God even voiceovers that there’s probably no change He can make to repair their relationship. What this episode shows is, that even without God’s intervention in the direct sense (here, all he does change is Chloe’s father’s fate instead), Chloe and Lucifer would still find each other.
What it doesn’t say but ultimately shows, is that God’s original interference—that Lucifer can’t get over—isn’t even necessarily about Lucifer or Chloe. Instead, that interference is the thing that keeps the people in their lives on the paths to be their best possible selves. The episode isn’t so much asking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if these characters were bad [again]?” as it’s highlighting the things in their lives that prevented them from being bad or messed up. God’s interference that Lucifer hates so much ends up bettering and fulfilling not just his and Chloe’s lives but the lives of Dan, Ella, Amenadiel, Maze, and Charlotte.
While it’s easy to consider corrupt cop Dan and corrupt lawyer Charlotte at least have a happy ending in this reality—which is really beautiful, despite the corruption—it’s one that will only lead to their eternal damnation. The least sad of the supporting characters’ alternate lives is Ella’s, as she’s still Ella (even with the bit of edge to her); but we know not every sketchy character who comes to her will be as delightful as Lucifer. Amenadiel’s life here is one of fear and seclusion, afraid to go home because he’s failed his mission and afraid to interact with humans because he has no idea where to start. As for Linda, without the challenge of Lucifer as a patient, she takes an even less challenging gig as a TV therapist. She goes from being Lucifer conscience—even if it takes him awhile to listen—to not listening to her own conscience. And Maze doesn’t have Trixie, Linda, Chloe or anyone with humanity on her side, which is why she’s in comic book form with her followers, peddling sin. All while Lucifer just lets it all happen under his nose, because he’s ready for another change of scenery. The only reason he gets involved in the case-of-the-week is so his brand isn’t ruined.
Then he meets Chloe, and the rest is DevilCop history, all over again.
“Once Upon A Time” is certainly fan candy, but given the state of Lucifer, it’s what the show needs and probably the best way to go out at this point. Like “Quintessential Deckerstar,” this is a stroll down Lucifer memory lane. Only, in bizarro form and confirming that Lucifer can be anything.
- Lucifer singing? Check. Lucifer smoking? Check. Lucifer playing with his Pentecostal coin? Check.
- The pilot featured David Bowie’s “Fame,” while this episode goes for “Heroes.” Given Lucifer’s journey in the show, it’s a natuaraal progression of Bowie.
- Lucifer mentions Delilah (AnnaLynne McCord), but instead of investigating her death, he let the LAPD handle it. Only, because “Detective Dildo” (Dan isn’t good enough for “Detective Douche” here) did his corrupt cop thing and pinned the murder on the wrong guy, Lucifer decides to take matters into his own hands here.
- The NASCAR driver’s sponsor is Top Meet, the dating app from “Chloe Does Lucifer.” And Weaponizer (Chloe’s movie) is one of the action franchises Lucifer and Dan bond over in “Devil Time.”
- The show finally figured out a way to have Tom Ellis and Tricia Helfer make out. It could never happen before, but here, not a problem. God even jokes about it.
- While I was excited to see Brian Tee, I knew his presence meant he was the killer. If Lucifer had to have one last “the most famous guest actor is the killer” case-of-the-week, it works for it to be a series regular on a Dick Wolf show.
- The case-of-the-week literally boils down to a couple of dummies playing cops, which is a fitting way to end the series when you think once more about the concept of “DevilCop.”
- I’ve brought up Angel a bit this season, but I had complete deja vu with Ella fangirling over meeting Chloe... as it was eerily similar to the scene in “Birthday” (also an alternate reality episode) where Aimee Garcia’s character meet Cordelia.
- The last scene was the last scene shot. Also, Lucifer’s own Kevin Alejandro directed this episode. The stuff at Griffith Observatory (with the James Dean car and the chase on foot) is the visual highlight of the episode, and I suppose both Chloe and Lucifer are rebels without a cause here.