Graphic: John P. Fleenor (Netflix)
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They’re quite common these days, but you’ve still got to appreciate a good in medias res when you see one. In its initial context, this episode’s opening scene plays like a fever dream, like a funhouse mirror in corporeal form. Lucifer’s shallow breathing as he takes a drink and blood comes spills out, right before the reveal that he’s also bleeding out. Ella and Eve making out, which is definitely a shock of an episode starter. Chloe looking at a sub sandwich and saying, “This is the answer.” Before we know only one of these characters is tripping balls, it looks like they’re all tripping balls. The way director Viet Nguyen frames this version of the scene—beginning with the close-up shot of Lucifer—makes their bizarre behavior such a focal point that it’s even easy to miss at first that it doesn’t even try to hide the other hostages at all. It’s not that the scene is playing with perspective as much as it’s just fantastic at drawing attention to the foreground before the “36 HOURS EARLIER” chyron hits the screen and explains it all.

Then we’re back to normal, and “Expire Erect” has to make sure the lead-up to that part of the episode is at least interesting enough that the audience doesn’t just care about getting to that part. And it succeeds on all fronts, from the original part of the case itself to the character beats in the lead-up to the hostage situation and beyond.

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All because Lucifer can’t commit. At least, not to Eve. How many times did he backtrack before he was finally ready to be with Chloe… only for that to fail tremendously? Due to circumstances beyond his control, but still, that’s the type of thing that makes a person cautious. And he mentions as much during therapy. But after Eve accepted him for who he is, Devil face and all, for him to tell Linda that Eve’s “just a friend” is clearly a refusal to accept the truth. So in comes “closure.” Lucifer has gotten the wrong lesson from Linda so many times before, but here, Lucifer doesn’t really get a lesson at all. He instead just decides to go for closure without really knowing why or for what. Ultimately, it gives him more perspective, which allows him to get back to work with Chloe and accept his relationship with Eve. But it’s not an easy road to get there.

During the case, Lucifer’s focus on closure allows him to get meta about his and Chloe’s partnership, something that can always give a case a little kick. Like when he tells Chloe he wants the case to be “special” (though, at the time, Chloe thinks it’s “pretty straightforward”) right before he smells her. Which, isn’t that creepy: “I’m just stopping to smell the Detective droning on about the case in total command of all the boring details. It is very nostalgic.” Or when he mentions the chasing the suspect part (and how he won’t do that) and how he speeds through that by throwing a tire at the guy and making one of his better puns. That’s when he lets Chloe know this will be the official “final case” of their partnership, meaning “one last time” for a desire question and “one last time” for Lucifer to distract Chloe while she actually works. But definitely no time for dragging it out.

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That is until Ella stomps on every chance Lucifer and Chloe have to possibly drag it out. It’s such a small scene, but Ella being way ahead of them to close the case is one of the funniest of the episode, and that’s even more things get insane. And Ella is available for that insanity as well because, as has been established already this season, if she’s not working, she’s filling the void somehow—and alcohol makes a pretty good void-filler. During Ella’s crisis of faith, Amy Garcia has played the fun Ella elements while still acknowledging the sad undercurrents of it all in the process. Here, that leads to the moment where Ella asks God for a sign while she’s defusing the bomb—so maybe things will get back to normal—only to later reveal that moment taught her “God doesn’t exist.” It’s a revelation that comes with a combination of ecstasy and cocaine in her system, but it still stings. Not just because the audience knows she’s wrong but because it’s Ella; while she’s still that same fun-loving forensic scientist, she’s still missing something, and the void-filling clearly isn’t working.

On the other side of the hostage situation, Dan and Maze, team-up together again. (She even calls him her “partner.” There’s juice in a Kevin Alejandro/Lesley-Ann Brandt/Scarlett Estevez spin-off, I swear.) Despite the promise of “the old Dan” returning, the adrenaline has worn off and Dan has his head on straight again, saying the Los Xs thing was just “a means to an end.” Unfortunately, the temporary return of Good Guy Dan—as he appeals to Leona (Jessy Schram) to help—only backfires when it turns out Leona played him. Yes, when Dan tries to do the right thing, more people he cares about come thisclose to dying, so it’s understandable that it keeps getting harder for him to stick on the straight and narrow. Again, Maze tries her best to help him, telling him he needs to think and approach things like a criminal because that’s how she’s able to succeed as a bounty hunter. But while being her work may actually be all about that “a means to an end” thinking, his isn’t. At least it’s not supposed to be. While it’s disappointing we’ve lost the Good Guy Dan of the past two seasons, this story works. Because unlike first season Dan, we get insight into Dan’s state, and it’s not just because he’s a douche. He’s just as conflicted as pretty much everyone else here.

This episode gives us the rare Amenadiel/Chloe scene, which, of course, had to come after Chloe had her celestial conversations with Lucifer, Maze, and Linda, even though only one of those went well. Obviously, Chloe has had to process the fact that Lucifer is the Devil, but while he’s also an angel, he’s not an angel like Amenadiel. And Amenadiel brings that angelic nature to this scene, as he simply listens to Chloe, relieve her worries, and lets her know how proud her father is of her (a moment that got me unexpectedly teary-eyed). While there’s no major reason for these characters to interact more, their rare scenes tend to call for Lauren German and D.B. Woodside to both play the straight man—and after these episodes of comedic Amenadiel, this episode is completely serious Amenadiel, while not being a buzzkill—and they still find a way to make those scenes work on an emotional level.

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I don’t know if I would have ever imagined the Eve character as one who’s so likable and able to make friends with everyone, but it is an interesting choice to make with her. Since we’re four seasons in, it makes sense that Amenadiel would question her motives—and that Chloe would double check with him—but it’s refreshing that ultimately, the problem isn’t so much her as it is what Amenadiel is afraid of Lucifer being with her will lead to. He’s afraid of “the old Lucifer” coming back, the one who isn’t as evolved. The one who’s about the non-stop party. Amenadiel sees Eve as a bad influence on Lucifer, but that’s not necessarily the same as a bad person. He’s also given a different perspective from Chloe, who see the two of them together during the hostage situation and sees Eve for the caring partner she is. She thinks that Eve will be good for Lucifer, which is all that Amenadiel can hope for.

It’s also interesting to watch how Lucifer approaches the Eve/Lucifer/Chloe “love triangle.” The fact that Eve and Chloe like each other—as much as Chloe didn’t want to—and see each other’s positives—Eve sees how much Lucifer respects Chloe and how everything he’s said about her is true, while Chloe realizes Eve accepts Lucifer for all that he is in a way she didn’t—is a nice wrench in the Lucifer/Chloe story. It’s not just repeating the Chloe/Pierce storyline with Lucifer/Eve either, as Eve is the polar opposite of her son. That’s exactly the type of character this season needs to balance out the darker elements. The final moment of the episode—when Eve reacts to Lucifer’s comment about how he’s only vulnerable around Chloe—could easily be a jealous reaction. But after what just happened and after Eve’s just said she’s happy he’s going back to work, it reads more like she’s worried that he’s going back to his very dangerous job (that’s she’s experienced twice and now just experienced the worst possibility) with actual vulnerability, when she wouldn’t have had to worry about that otherwise. And that Lucifer just tells her about the vulnerability like it’s no big deal—again, after everything that just happened—is more than enough cause for concern.


Stray observations

  • Guys. You guys. “Expire Erect” is just a very Lucifer way of saying “Die Hard.” You’re welcome.
  • Just to be clear: Lucifer smokes a joint? No camera cuts at all. Lucifer lights up a cigarette? Camera cuts, no actual shot of him smoking it, but the image of the smoke is always nice.
  • Apparently, Eve is “very funny on text.” That’s honestly a special quality to have.
  • We get another Lucifer butt shot here, and Chloe gets a peek as well. You missed your shot, girl.
  • Chloe mentions to Ella that she assumes Eve is a fling, as it’s just Lucifer doing what he always does, citing Candy as the evidence. Because Chloe still thinks they were actually a thing. Yes, they were married, but they were just friends. Lucifer still proves her right in a way though: “You know me, Detective. I go off and do something dramatic and then I realize I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
  • Lucifer: “I’ve gotten to know all of you in my time here, which is what makes this, my final case, so difficult. Dougie in the motor pool, who helped put a siren on my car. Thank you for that. Cucuzza in evidence, who always let me inspect the cocaine seizures first. And you: nameless uni. I think I’ll miss you most of all.” Beautiful. As is the free Carl’s Jr’s, the subtlest of all Netflix product placement.
  • Chloe: “So I was thinking this doesn’t have to be our last case.”
    Lucifer: “Oh, no, no. This is for the best, I think. There’s no sense in dragging it out. One last case should be enough.”
    Chloe: “Enough for what?”
    Lucifer: “Well, for closure, of course.
    Chloe: “What does that mean?”
    Lucifer: “I’m not sure, but the Doctor told me I needed it.”
  • Amenadiel: “Then why would you leave the Silver City?”
    Eve: “Look who’s talking. You’re the one who couldn’t wait to tell everybody up there how all of God’s children create their own fate. How we decide where we belong.”
    Amenadiel: “That was different, Eve. I’m an angel. You’re mortal.”
    Eve: “Yes, I’m mortal. Created directly by the hand of God. Hence me being able to slip right back into my old bones.” There were comments for the previous episode about how the show explained Eve’s ability to hop into her body, but I just wanted to note that wasn’t until this exchange. (Previously, her “answer” was just that she was a “rule breaker.”)
  • Eve says Lucifer was the only one who ever asked her if being created to be someone’s wife was what she wanted. He was the first (only?) person to ever ask her what she desired. No wonder she’s so ride or die (again) for him.
  • Before she left Heaven, Eve met Charlotte. She said Charlotte was “lovely” and that she reminded her of Abel. Of course Eve isn’t upset that Lucifer killed Cain: She stuck in a loveless marriage, and she couldn’t even see her “sweet and gentle” son Abel because her other son killed him.
  • Ella is down to hate Eve on the grounds of girl code, but that lasts all of 10 seconds. Eve says she doesn’t have “superpowers,” but she can make friends with anyone in an instant. Because she has something that Ella has, actually, a genuine interest in people’s stories. Also, the moment Eve bust out “The Robot”—which she just learned that morning—I’m pretty sure Ella found her soulmate.
  • Ella: “She gave me drugs.”
    Chloe: “Really?”
    Ella: “I need orange juice.”
  • Chloe: “Do you mean as in ‘Eve’ Eve, as in ‘Adam and Eve’?”
    Eve: “I can’t believe they still put his name first. These are supposed to be more progressive times.”
  • Chloe (re: Devil face): “Does it scare you?”
    Eve: “Why would it?”
    Chloe: “I don’t know.” If only Chloe had met Eve in Rome instead of Father Kinley.
  • I really wish we could’ve seen Dan eat that candy dish marble.
  • In Dan’s defense, Leona is very convincing. As is Marco (Rigo Sanchez) during the hostage situation when he says the shooting was accidental and that he just wants to find Leona and apologize. What an impressively toxic and emotionally manipulative couple. Shame they couldn’t have worked it out.
  • Lucifer (to a dying Marco): “Doesn’t feel so great, does it?” Lucifer’s grown, but he’ll still crawl over to a dying man—while he’s also dying—to mock him for karmic purposes.
  • Eve pours booze from Lucifer’s flask into his IV. She knows her man.

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