For all that Lucifer’s second season has been doing well in terms of character work this early on, Detective Chloe Decker has been somewhat on the sideline. It’s particularly noticeable in terms of her partnership with Lucifer himself, especially as his own family drama and issues of self-loathing continue to distance him from the good detective. So even though it’s become rather apparent that this sidelining is a means to prepare the Chloe character for bigger things to come, it’s been a bit frustrating in a way. Obviously, an episode like “Lady Parts” exists, but the Chloe/Lucifer relationship specifically was one of the earliest consistent working parts of Lucifer’s first season. So there’s something missing when it’s clearly being pushed aside.
“My Little Monkey” is the first episode of the season to really bring Chloe’s character back into the forefront after pushing her and Lucifer so far apart, and it’s quite the mighty return for her. As Lucifer has spent plenty of time on the titular character’s own “daddy issues,” turnabout is clearly fair play as the show delves into the circumstances behind Chloe’s own father’s murder and gives her something resembling closure on that front. As an expected result, the case-of-the-week for this episode is a strong one—one of the strongest of the series, even—because of its deep connection to the main plot and at least one of the characters, outside of just a tangential theme connection. It’s a plot that focuses on the lengths people will go to in order to protect their loved ones or, on the selfish level, themselves. And while that applies greatly to the plot at hand, it’s also something that means a lot to Lucifer as a whole. A sense of loyalty and going above and beyond the duties of family and friendship are often what get these characters into the messes (in the best and worst ways possible) they’re in in the first place.
On another character level, this case-of-the-week is also one that allows the audience to look closer just what makes Chloe tick, what fuels her past her simple love of the job and even her love for her daughter. A lot of it boils down to her simply being a good person, really: Even when she has the literal Devil on one shoulder and a demon on the other, she doesn’t falter as a person. Because it would be so delicious for her to give in and physically punish the man who killed her father, especially since no one could possibly blame her. But she doesn’t, because punishment and revenge aren’t her and they’re not what drive her, even if they’re two qualities near and dear to hearts of people she’s close to (Lucifer and Maze). She has too much goodness inside of her, and she sees it inside of Trixie every day too. That’s a hell of a motivation, even though every fiber in her being still wants to see her father’s killer rot for eternity.
That’s really the question of the episode: What keeps them going? Lucifer’s comical shadowing of Dan (his “Dansformation”) here is all about him trying to stop being himself, a “monster,” by being the anti-him. The bland, “normal” tool known as “Detective Douche.” What’s driving Lucifer now, after being such a mess last week, is him trying everything he can not to be Lucifer. Like Chloe, Dan also has his love for the job and Trixie, but post-divorce, he needs a “distraction” to keep him going outside of that. Enter improv comedy. (Which isn’t even as ridiculous as it sounds.) Maze spends the episode looking for a calling in life, looking for what she should latch onto like the rest of them, but what makes that so difficult is that she doesn’t have her best friend to help her out. Because when it comes to that best friend, Dr. Linda’s own purpose—one based on reality and pragmatism—has been seemingly obliterated in the aftermath of Lucifer revealing his true face to her.
They’re all scrambling here.
Chloe’s pain is something the audience has always known as part of her character in a way, simply based on how she carries herself. So despite how deeply ingrained in her character it is, it’s simply a different emotional weight than the type found in the Maze/Dr. Linda story, which is just absolutely crushing. Part of that is unfamiliarity—a sense of dread in how it can possibly end—but another part is due largely to the character growth for both Maze and Dr. Linda since the beginning of the series. As Maze begins this episode continuing her somewhat humorous look for her place in the world (this time, in the form of a job), it ends up being covered by the shadow of Lucifer effectively blowing up the safe little metaphorical world that he, Maze, and Amenadiel were able to hide in when it came to Dr. Linda. So when Maze needs the support and guidance of her best (adult) friend the most, she’s absolutely left alone.
These two get far less screentime than Chloe, for obvious reasons, but their scenes in this episode are the type of emotional gut-punches the show typically saves for the Morningstar family trio. They absolutely steal the already stacked show.
It’s especially unexpected when you factor in how Maze is supposed to have the least humanity of these characters and that Rachael Harris has made a career out of being funny. These scenes are the culmination of over a season of detachment—both from emotions and from the main plot, respectively—slowly breaking down for these characters. Maze could easily have been and possibly stayed a one-note character on a lesser show of Lucifer’s ilk, but Lesley-Ann Brandt’s performances week-in and week-out have proven too powerful to allow such a fate here. And if the Lucifer writers deserve praise for their handling of Dan in this second season, then they certainly deserve that and possibly an Edible Arrangement for the way they’ve made Dr. Linda an invaluable part of the show, one who can exist outside of Lucifer’s life while still being a major factor in it and others’.
Plus, there’s certainly no other female friendship on television like the one between Mazikeen Smith and Dr. Linda Martin.
But outside of all the heartbreak (even when it’s eventually put back together) that’s endured in this episode, “My Little Monkey” may honestly deserve attention simply for being the episode of Lucifer that finally, truly remembers that Kevin Alejandro is quite the charming actor, despite how rarely he gets to show it as “Detective Douche.” To bring back the cliche for this observation: The greatest trick Lucifer ever pulled was hitting reset in the season two opener in order to begin properly rehabilitating the Dan character. Or something like that. And even though the episode mentions Lucifer punching Dan in “Monster,” the character work done with Dan in this episode feels like the button to a trilogy between “Lady Parts,” “Weaponizer,” and it. The classic buddy cop team-ups between Lucifer and Dan find a new gear here with Lucifer trying to get his method actor on and become Dan, but it’s especially funny (and slightly terrifying) because of how much Lucifer actually commits to the role, dressing exactly like Dan, speaking in an American accent, even walking and parting his hair like the man does. As we already know, when Lucifer looks for a distraction, he goes all in.
It’s another fantastic showing from Tom Ellis, as he gets to show off another facet of his acting ability with this particular role, but then the same good fortune comes to Kevin Alejandro here as well. Improv (and, as a result, his Lucifer “character”) is honestly a healthier outlet than anyone would expect from Dan’s character, and while it obviously doesn’t and can’t possibly achieve the comedic highs of Lucifer’s Dan impression, it brings forth some honesty on his part. Dan obviously sees Lucifer from the outside looking in, so he only sees the decadent, partying, rich guy. Even when he sees Lucifer off his game like in “Monster,” he’s never the one who’s going to get any sort of emotional coloring to go with it. He doesn’t even have a fraction of Chloe’s knowledge about how messed up Lucifer’s life is. Why shouldn’t he see Lucifer’s life as perfect and without a care in the world?
And Lucifer of course just sees Dan as a boring tool, because in order to see anything else, he’d actually have to emotionally invest in the man’s life.
Really, the only things missing from this episode are “Charlotte” and Amenadiel, who really miss out on getting to add to an already emotionally weighty episode. There’s every chance that them being in this episode would have made it overstuffed or that plots and/or characters would possibly be underserved in some aspects; but there’s also the very noteworthy fact that an episode this strong has nothing to offer two of the show’s strongest elements. Because this is already a packed episode, and that actually contributes to the Chloe beats feeling rushed at times. A lot happens in such a short period of time in this episode, and before Chloe can even fully accept that the man she’s believed for 18 years killed her father is/was innocent, she has to process a fixer whose entire operation relies on his ability to find patsies (because why not?), and then the fact that the Deputy Warden at the state penitentiary was the real killer. Chloe isn’t ever really given any room to breathe here, save for her scene where she hugs Lucifer, but even that isn’t a real reprieve from how fast-paced this plot (especially for the scope of it all) is.
However, there’s certainly a way to do “too much” when it comes to this type of storyline, and while this is stuffed—Lauren German really has to carry so much baggage with this plot—it doesn’t even come close to hitting that level. The show Lucifer is often compared to in terms of tone, Castle, found a way to make the unsolved murder of Detective Kate Beckett’s mother a conspiracy spanning seasons, dirty cops, and government officials. So far, this is thankfully only one episode with a focus on the matter of Chloe’s father, and it’s mostly a catalyst to get Chloe and Lucifer back on the same page again. A catalyst for Lucifer to understand that even though he and Chloe have far different experiences when it comes to their families, that doesn’t mean they still can’t be there for each other when it matters.
It’s also ultimately a catalyst for the bathhouse scene. If nothing else, that shows Lucifer certainly knows what it’s doing in the grand scheme of things.
- Chloe is so upset over this case that she doesn’t even notice Dan and Lucifer are “twinsies” at first. Bless her heart.
- “Whoa.” That would be my actual, out loud reaction to the cut to Kevin Alejandro’s torso in the bathhouse. I knew to expect such a thing based on Twitter discussion of the episode, and I still didn’t expect it. The uniformed officer look also really worked for Dan, and it gave me serious Southland flashbacks, even though he was a detective on that show.
- Speaking of that bathhouse scene just one last time, no one happens to mention Lucifer’s very visible wing scars during it. Are bathhouses always this accepting? That’s a serious question.
- Lucifer gets so upset about Dan’s “pathetic caricature” of him in improv class, even though it could be much worse—Dan could intentionally do it in front of him for a long period of time, while he’s trying to get work done.
- Another reason the actual case-of-the-week plot works a lot more here than usual? Because there’s not a Charisma Carpenter type in the guest cast to immediately point the finger at… Except the show still tips its hand when it comes to the casting of Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids, True Detective) as the Deputy Warden. Really, it’s the nature of procedurals at this point—thanks a lot, every Law & Order franchise series—when it comes to casting tip-offs, but with Lucifer, it’s already such an uphill battle to have a decent case-of-the-week in the first place.
- Lucifer is an over-the-top show in general, and I fully accept that. But a “human lie detector,” huh? I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Boris again, but how fool-proof can such a skill be? Especially since I don’t exactly get how his “power” should be able to work on the Devil, of all “people.”