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In its penultimate episode, Lucifer gets “Our Mojo” back

Illustration for article titled In its penultimate episode, iLucifer/i gets “Our Mojo” back
Graphic: John P. Fleenor/Netflix
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For an episode that uses the term “mojo” so many times even Austin Powers would be concerned, “Our Mojo” is a rather poignant episode of Lucifer. “Our Mojo” looks especially good following “BlueBallz,” as it manages to ground the Lucifer/Chloe relationship, tell a logical case-of-the-week story (even with the sharp turn), and set up for an interesting midseason finale. The episode’s themes of powerlessness and identity (as an individual and in a partnership) are present in every character’s story, with the only real exception being Linda (who facilitates Lucifer/Chloe and Amenadiel’s stories).

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It’s perhaps even the clearest episode of the season so far, in terms of those themes and lessons.

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While “Our Mojo” provides a solid and structurally sound case-of-the-week in the wake of “BlueBallz,” the tonal shift that occurs in the reveal that it’s actually a serial killer story—not a case in the world of opera, as enjoyable as that is—is especially effective. It’s a shift that also tracks with the way Lucifer’s mojo issue is perceived: What starts as a display of Lucifer’s continued immaturity and inability to accept the new normal of his relationship is then revealed to be far more than just a surface-level, comedic issue for Lucifer. The shift—that’s actually a reveal, just like with Lucifer’s issues—from light procedural to the far more serious one is one of those tonal shifts Lucifer excels at,especially considering those two vibes shouldn’t be able to successfully co-exist. But part of the reason they do is that all of the pieces—whether it’s Lucifer’s real feelings of powerlessness or the fact that this isn’t some simple case—are there the whole time.

Watching “Our Mojo” originally, since I had no reason to assume this case was anything more than a standard case-of-the-week, like Ella, I didn’t even consider to think about things from that perspective until the episode reveals it. However, on rewatch, it’s clear that the way the first victim’s body is set up has to be far more than meets the eye. Far more than a possible affair gone wrong, far more than a preventative measure for whistle-blowing. Things click into place—without necessarily even knowing things are out of place at first—with the serial killer reveal. The choice to show the transition from night to day with the second body is the episode’s way of showing where its tonal shift for the duration really begins.

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While it’s funny to see Lucifer get bent out of shape over Chloe (supposedly) having his mojo, to see him drag her to couples therapy with Dr. Linda (and “win”), to see his petty projection toward Ella/Pete about sharing in a relationship, to see him get a gun (and badge) in order to give Chloe a taste of her own medicine… The gravity of the situation only clicks into place once things get into serial killer territory, when Lucifer draws the conclusion that “He wants to take away their power.” While it is, of course, applicable to Lucifer’s concerns this episode, Tom Ellis recites the line as Lucifer having the realization without making something like this all about himself. There’s a thematic connection, but for a character who always make a case about himself, he doesn’t do that here; instead, there’s genuine empathy, with Lucifer not even really figuring things out for himself through the case but instead through a conversation with Ella’s Pete.

Lucifer: “This monster’s robbing people of their lives, and there’s nothing I can do.”
Chloe: “Lucifer, you don’t have to do this on your own. We’re a team, you know?”

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Again, what applies to the case here also applies to Lucifer’s state of mind and lesson to be learned, but even at this point in the episode, he show’s tremendous maturity in not making the serial killer case all about himself. It’s actually in this scene—right before Ella and Pete show up—that I realized punishing the wicked on Earth isn’t something Lucifer’s been all that concerned with this season. This is the first time this season, as he grabs Les Klumpsky by the throat and asks him how it feels to be powerless, and it gets cut short by a paralytic. Instead, this season has allowed characters like Michael (posing as Lucifer), Chloe, and Amenadiel (and even 1946 Lucifer and Lilith) to have those big confrontations with the bad guys at the end of cases. It’s only now, in the penultimate episode of this half-season, that Lucifer finally puts the Devil back into “DevilCop.”

But even back in DevilCop mode, this story “ends” with a reminder that that particular dynamic doesn’t work at all without actual partnership. With Lucifer taken out of commission*, only able to communicate with Chloe via his eyes, things fall into place with the way Chloe speaks to Lucifer right after she’s shot Klumpsky (with the gun Lucifer decided to buy after Dr. Linda’s analogy in couples therapy). Prior to the scenes in this apartment complex, Chloe’d been trying to gas Lucifer up, complimenting every little thing about him in order to make him feel special again after losing his mojo. But when she says, “We got him. We did it, Lucifer.” it’s not a put-on “we.” She’s not placating him this time: While he was unable to move or speak, because she could look into his eyes and figure out Klumpsky was behind her, because she could rely on the figurative-turned-literal gun in his jacket, Chloe was able to stop a serial killer. They did it together.

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* This scene is also a subversion of what the usual version of this scene would be, especially considering the serial killer’s M.O.: Chloe in the “damsel” role and Lucifer as the active hero. 

While there’s plenty of ridiculous relationship drama in “Our Mojo,” it’s far more grounded here than it was in “BlueBallz.” Which is what allows Lucifer and Chloe’s balcony chat at the end to work so well, as it doesn’t have to jump from point A to point 12 in order to work. Chloe acknowledges that she didn’t take Lucifer’s issues seriously at first because of how easy it is for her to forget just how powerful of a being he is. Lucifer realizes that his idea of “powerlessness” is just what humans experience on a regular basis. He also realizes that he’s truly dropped his guard with Chloe, which is understandably scary and unexplored territory for him. It’s a scene so earnest that Lucifer doesn’t even opt for the dick joke when Chloe says the word “erected.”

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The concept of powerlessness isn’t exclusive to just Lucifer—or characters like Ella and Pete, who help him and Chloe figure some stuff out—here. Despite neither character actually saying the words “powerless” or “mojo,” Maze and Amenadiel’s plot is just as relevant. As a character who has had to deal with literal powerlessness and spent so much of the series trying to figure out what his path is, Amenadiel now has to figure the latter out all over again as a new father. While “BlueBallz” didn’t judge any of the guys for taking on a domestic role in the crying baby Charlie plot, here, Maze certainly judges Amenadiel for devoting all his free time to Charlie instead of getting a life of his own.

So in an attempt to remind Amenadiel who he was before he was a father—his “old self”—Maze decides to recreate Season One with him, right down to wardrobe, as she retrieves his original angel “dress” and wears the outfit she wore in their original fight:

To the audience, what she’s trying to do is transparent, having followed her arc this season and just seen her reaction to Ella’s well-meaning “soulmate” comment: If she can’t do the soulmate thing, she can just regress back to her old self and the last time she knew someone (Amenadiel) really wanted her. As she later tells him, “Everyone’s rejected me, Amenadiel. But I was the one who rejected you. So, I thought… maybe that was a mistake. Maybe… Maybe only an angel could love a soulless demon.” While she eventually realizes during the fight that it’s not actually the answer, an angel does seem to be the only one who really understands her. Amenadiel is the first one to realize upfront that her recent behavior is because of Lilith, not Eve. He also re reminds her that she didn’t reject him—as that implies she’s a failure because she potentially screwed up the one good chance she had—but instead decided to find her own path.

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Amenadiel then decides that his path—at least for now—is to be a full-time dad. He’s been looking for ways all season to keep Charlie safe from the world, only to be told how impossible that is and feel powerless as a result, but this is something he can control. That sense of control, however, is shaken by Linda explaining to him that Charlie won’t always need him for everything. But right before that, everything’s coming up A-daddy-diel.

But all of this celestial and demonic powerlessness pales in comparison to Dan’s heartbreakingly human powerlessness. While the other plots play out onscreen, there’s a sense of unease that comes with not seeing Dan post-Devil realization. We know he’s not actually sick and that he bails on his Dodgers game with Amenadiel because he knows Amenadiel’s “in on” the Devil thing, whatever that might mean in Dan’s mind right now. And then the episode finally reveals Dan, at Charlotte Richards’ grave, and he does not look well. While this season has not been kind to Dan, it has been very kind to Kevin Alejandro, with the material he’s been given. In fact, in my notes for the scene at Charlotte’s grave, I wrote, “Alejandro is good.” He sells the release of everything that’s been plaguing for Dan these past two seasons, as Dan talks about how he’s been trying to be a better person—like she did—but he continues to fall short.

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And then he just emotionally wrecks everything, as Dan says he realizes that Amenadiel was right that Charlotte’s in Heaven... but that realization means he won’t ever be joining her there. “I’m terrified, Charlotte,” Dan says. “For me, for Chloe, for Trixie. I need help. I just need help. I need guidance. I need… I need a sign! I need something. Please. Help me.” Enter Michael, realizing Dan’s fear is ripe for the picking, just as he planned.

The “Alejandro is good” note was just before my “godammit, Michael” note, which speaks to another strength of this season: Michael’s ability to pop up at the best/worst times. As I touched on in my “Lucifer! Lucifer! Lucifer!” review, because of Tom Ellis’ performances as both Lucifer and Michael, there are certain types of reactions the show can evoke now that it couldn’t before. Lucifer has used Michael in a way where he can surprise the audience, despite them having just watched an episode of television starring Ellis (as Lucifer). That’s the tactic used when Michael called Dan and led him to see Lucifer’s Devil face,** and it’s the tactic here, when Michael shows up at Dan’s lowest point and plays the archangel card and Dan’s fear that he’ll never be redeemed. “Your redemption is not lost,” Michael tells him. “There is a way for you to right all your wrongs. A way for you to protect your loved ones.” With that, the next time Dan is onscreen, he’s looking even worse for wear and struggling to shoot Lucifer. But he does, with Chloe watching. As he tells her, “I’m sorry. I have to.”

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**I didn’t mention it in my last review, but in that phone call scene, the accent work is just off enough that you can tell it’s Michael acting.

It’s really great to see Lucifer get its mojo back after it had “BlueBallz.”


Stray observations

  • Why isn’t this a perfect episode? Allow me to quote some of my (nicer) first-time viewing notes: “This serial killer has been working somewhere else for years… I really don’t trust ‘good guy’ Pete…,” “Saying things at same time… more like siblings?,” “Pete has to write about ‘The Whisper Killer’... what is Pete’s… deal? Is this an actor issue?” Like how “BlueBallz” Jed only highlighted just how charming the Lucifer cast is, Pete highlights just how difficult Aimee Garcia’s role as Ella actually is. Attempting to do a male version of it for her to play off of (as a love interest) is even harder, especially for them to even work as an actual character. And if the intention is—which is something I can almost see—for a Clark Kent-type of vibe, then it’s missed the mark wildly. Lucifer’s shorthand for how good Ellla/Pete are for each other and how good Pete supposedly is—the Klingon/”Chewbacca” and Star Trek convention, knowing what she needs without her having to finish her sentence, saying the same sentences at the same time—still isn’t an actual character. It’s just another mirror in this season. To be fair, Pete does come across as more than just a mirror in his conversation with Lucifer. But by that point, he’d already been way too smiley during Lucifer’s take on Seven.
  • Yes, for about five-six minutes—right after its The Shining bit—director Nathan Hope has Lucifer do an homage to David Fincher and Seven. It’s even got the red lighting—not just in the darkroom—from the “lust” part of the film, which makes a lot of sense, considering Lucifer and desire.
  • Lucifer: “Are you cold?”
    Chloe: “Cold? No, why?”
    Lucifer: “Odd… Given that Hell was supposed to freeze over.” Back in “Manly Whatnots’ (Season One, Episode Four, where she shoots him), Chloe gave Lucifer the typical “when Hell freezes over” line.
  • Lucifer: “Desire is my thing. My mojo is the reason I’m useful to her in the first place. If she can it to, what’s my role in the partnership? Who even am I?”
  • Ella assuming that Lucifer and Chloe didn’t actually sleep together, because they never actually sleep together, is why Ella can’t just be replicated.
  • Maze: “Building more stuff for Charlie? How much does that kid need? I had two rocks when I was growing up. One sharp, one not. Take the sharp one and try to stab things. Take the dull one, try to make it sharp.”
    Amenadiel: “That, um… That explains a lot.” Maze is totally jealous of a baby now.
  • Given the series’ intentions when Julia Fontana wrote this, “Our Mojo” takes the piss out of the “What is it you truly desire?” question for possibly the last time ever. “What? That’s a weird thing to ask.” “Is this the way you people solve crimes?”
  • Klumpsky’s apartment number being “507” is because this is Season Five, Episode Seven. So when Lucifer found Les’ latest victim in “903,” I wondered if there was any significance. Flipping the numbers around, Season Three (yes, again), Episode Nine is dedicated to another serial killer: “The Sinnerman.” The combination of that and introduction of “The Whisper Killer” as a name made me figure this will be Lucifer’s less-convoluted attempt at a serial killer story. And that Klumpsky wasn’t working alone, which is perhaps backed by Chloe finding something off with the case at the end.
  • Amenadiel: “And you’ve come such a long way, Maze. Grown so much.”
    Maze: “Apparently not enough. Ever hear of a demon getting a soul?”
    Amenadiel: “I… I can’t say that I have. But—no one ever heard of an angel and a human having a baby before. Or of the Devil falling in love. I don’t know if a soul is what you need to feel whole, but I do know this. If anyone is going to find what they’re looking for, it’s you, Mazikeen.”
    Maze: “I’ll still kick your ass though.”
    Maze: “I know.” First of all, Lesley-Ann Brandt has the single tear going after Amenadiel tells Maze he doesn’t know if a soul’s what she needs. It’s beautiful. Secondly, Amenadiel knew the absolute right thing to say to Maze, where no one else really has so far this season. Obviously, he’s going Full-Time Dad right now, but it’s kind of a shame he never tried to make his first season Dr. Canaan ruse a reality.
  • Chloe: “Because you’re vulnerable around me, I sometimes forget how strong you are. How powerful.”
    Lucifer: “Less and less, as you’re well aware.”
    Chloe: “Feeling human, feeling weak, having to rely on other ppl, it must be so hard, so scary for you.”
    Lucifer: “I suppose what I call powerlessness is what everyone else calls a Tuesday.”
  • It breaks my heart every time I think about it, but Lucifer is still wearing the amethyst bracelet that Dan gave him. Even when Dan’s not around.
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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Despite her mother's wishes, LaToya Ferguson is a writer living in Los Angeles. If you want to talk The WB's image campaigns circa 1999-2003, LaToya's your girl.

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