“Well that was anticlimactic.”
When we last left our Devil Cop procedural, Lucifer’s mother “Charlotte” had sweet murder in her eyes as she held the detonator to a bomb that would remove Detective Chloe Decker from her and her stubborn son’s lives, once and for all.
Obviously, she couldn’t blow Chloe up. That would literally blow up the premise of this series, and while that would be a mighty bold choice for Lucifer and especially Fox to make, with only a week between episodes, the “cliffhanger” aspect of last week’s episode was never truly up in the air. Lucifer has no problem poking fun at that reality either, as “Charlotte’s” line about it being “anticlimactic” clearly isn’t just the character’s thoughts on the matter. So while the result to the “cliffhanger” is mostly obvious (Chloe’s not going to go boom), the question becomes one more of how Lucifer will get out of this predicament than if it actually will. And it does so in a satisfactory—albeit very manufactured for television, to be completely honest—way.
To get out of the pseudo-cliffhanger, “Quid Pro Ho” has Amenadiel talk some sort of sense into his mother, who he was fortunately tailing after her own admission that blowing up Lux had been her plan A. Then, as far as the idea of Chloe’s life possibly still being in danger when it comes to “Charlotte” goes, the episode quickly nips that in the bud too, as Amenadiel points out the obvious (to everyone watching but not necessarily mommy dearest): Chloe’s murder wouldn’t eliminate the “problem,” because Lucifer wouldn’t rest until he found her killer, and then he would never forgive his mother once he discovered the truth. Amenadiel is on top of all of this immediately, paving the way for a clean slate of an episode separate from the supposed “cliffhanger.”
But Amenadiel taking a good course of action here is why it’s especially frustrating that the rest of this episode relies on “Charlotte” making her bad intentions known… without anyone else attempting to tail her and make sure none of them come to fruition.
At this point, it appears “Charlotte” has absolutely no problem telling her children about her intentions when it comes to all things Lucifer and Chloe, yet this episode works extra hard to have everyone “allow” her to go on her merry way to achieve this plan. Obviously “Charlotte” isn’t someone who lets obstacles get in her way when she’s trying to achieve her goals, but she literally has no obstacles in this episode until she actually attempts her full plan. Not even Maze, who has plenty of badass moments in this episode but finds them all taking place very much on the fringe of this storyline. On the one hand, it’s completely within Lucifer’s sense of humor to have Lucifer tell Maze he and his mother are “past that” when talking about his mother’s plan to blow Chloe up; on the other, that’s in the aftermath of “Charlotte” outright telling him she planned to prove, in court, Chloe wouldn’t sacrifice for Lucifer the way Lucifer does for her. She also promises she won’t hurt anyone with this particular plan, but trustworthiness tends to fly out the window once explosives become a part of the narrative. Yet she’s freely allowed to go through with this entire plan (which is also rather disappointing).
There’s every chance that Amenadiel and Lucifer are underestimating “Charlotte,” especially since they both have the “she’s our mother” sense of obligation and trust (as misguided as it may be and as little as it is at this point) going for them. But then there’s Maze, who’s always had her guard up about the woman, spending her time this episode making sex jokes about Dan/”Charlotte,” participating in Mortal Kombat, and setting up Russian mafia hits. Now, all of those things are individually and collectively amazing, but they’re also very necessary to explain away how “Charlotte” is so freely able to work on this plot that only fails because “Charlotte” again misreads the situation and underestimates humanity, specifically Chloe. Amenadiel has to apologize to Maze, so that struggle—in which he ends up simply buying her flowers and not getting a chance to give them to her—apparently takes his attention away from whatever his mother is doing. Lucifer at least is actively working on the case with Dan, which helps excuse his own absence from his mother’s orbit. But this episode makes it so the hindrance to “Charlotte’s” goal is Chloe and no one else, whether that makes logistical sense or not.
And of course Chloe would and does sacrifice for Lucifer. As I’ve pointed out quite a bit this season, Chloe regularly shows herself to be the best friend in the world, to Devil, demon, and even ex-husband. That doesn’t change, even here, as her refusal to call Lucifer delusional or a liar on the stand effectively throws out the last bit of strategy the prosecution has and gets her father’s killer off, scot-free. Sure, it’s an extreme that Chloe has to put her loyalty to Lucifer up against the imprisonment of her father’s killer, but it’s far from the most unbelievable part about this particular plot. Because the trial itself achieves new depths in terms of Lucifer’s weakest aspect, simply by bringing another procedural genre (the courtroom drama) into the mix. Lucifer is all about a Devil Cop, and while the cases-of-the-week have never been the show’s strongest quality, they’re at least a part of the show’s DNA and something the writers are familiar with. This entire court case, however, is even more unprofessional and nonsensical than the show’s typical police cases. And it’s not just because Lucifer’s testimony—as he decides to be a witness in this case, which is technically the only thing that allows “Charlotte” to move forward in her plan—is so charming that it leads to mass applause. His testimony includes a reenactment of the bathhouse scenes from “My Little Monkey,” so that’s at least understandable.
Plus, the biggest missed opportunity of these courtroom scenes is there not being a moment where anyone tells Lucifer he can’t say “so help me dad” when he’s sworn in for his testimony. Because as much as it makes sense to the audience and in terms of Lucifer’s general approach to everything, there’s no way he’s allowed to go on without it being addressed.
These courtroom scenes and the plot’s climax also rely on a newly-stressed aspect of Lucifer’s personality: the fact that he doesn’t lie. He might stretch the truth or avoid answering, but he doesn’t lie. Lucifer’s honesty is an established characteristic, but it’s certainly not one that’s touched on as much as his desire powers; “Quid Pro Ho” suddenly touches on it way too much in order to get where it wants to go. For those who criticized “My Little Monkey” for how quickly things escalated when it came to all things Chloe, the case of her father’s death, and taking down Perry, “Quid Pro Ho” isn’t just a sequel in terms of subject matter—Lucifer’s honesty is treated a similar way but even less subtle. This entire case and Momma Morningstar’s plan hinges on Lucifer’s own honesty, and it’s absolutely forced. And then it all leads to another one of her plans failing for the same reason as before (and before).
One can at least assume the episode’s revelation about Chloe will change up “Charlotte’s” approach to things. Because the revelation isn’t just important on that front: It’s an important aspect of the show’s greater mythology, as what makes Chloe so “special” has been the question from day one. Here, it’s revealed that God had Amenadiel bless a married couple 35 years ago so they could conceive… and as it turns out, that “miracle” baby was Chloe. So not only is Chloe the product of divine intervention, God intentionally put her in Lucifer’s path, and according to “Charlotte,” all of this makes Chloe “the key” to getting every thing she (and Amenadiel) wants.
We’ll have to wait to see what any of this actually means.
And it should come as no surprise that even with its structurally fragmented plot, this is still a rather fun episode. That’s Lucifer’s default setting, after all. (The fact that the episode makes a stop at a Chinese triad headquarters is both proof of its structurally fragmented and fun nature, by the way.) It’s an episode that has Ella and Dan bond over heads in boxes and Dan’s poor choice in sex partners. Maze blows up Amenadiel’s car and essentially has a starring role in a real life kung fu flick. “Charlotte” continues to have the best lines, even as she gets foiled again. Lucifer talks about “butt stuff” one moment and tackles Dan for sleeping with his mom (or “Marlotte,” as he has to call her) another. Rebecca De Mornay even shows up again as Chloe’s mother, though she’s completely in drama mode this episode. “Quid Pro Ho” is an episode of very good individual moments, but all put together, the full puzzle is missing quite a few pieces.
That’s because the episode is killing time (the Maze fight scene is the greatest evidence of this) until it gets to those final “big episode” moments that remind the audience it’s a midseason finale. That status saves the episode in a way, because it at least makes it obvious that its most important function is those final moments and creating a real need to know for the audience when it comes to the episode’s questions. There’s the new revelation with Chloe’s very existence and what all of that means, as well as “Charlotte” and Amenadiel’s mother-son re-team-up as a result of that. There’s also the question of how Dan will move forward in the aftermath of him sending Perry be killed by the Russian mafia, a backslide of sorts. How will Maze and Amenadiel’s relationship be moving forward, since he never gets the chance to apologize?
And what about Lucifer and Chloe? That’s technically the smallest question in a world of divine and homicidal ones, but it’s the central relationship of the show, so it’s actually a big one. Will they-won’t they is the name of the game, but it’s also within the context of godly consequences. So what will Lucifer have in store for the second half of its season? We’ll have to wait and find out. Hopefully no more legal drama.
- I am aware Law & Order: Los Angeles was a very real thing, as I watched every single episode of it. I still stand by it fitting as a devilish title for a Law & Order spin-off.
- The best part about the opening scene is how Tricia Helfer never actually lets up on “Charlotte’s” tunnel vision when it comes to pushing the button. So when I say she has murder in her eyes, I 100% mean it, and that never goes away. Until the second best part of that scene, that is, when she chucks the detonator and Amenadiel scrambles to catch it.
- The scene doesn’t exactly confirm it, but Amenadiel doesn’t know Dr. Linda knows the truth, does he? He gives her a weird look when she refers to Maze as a “hellion,” but he should know. Even his mom knows.
- Maze definitely had to have been making sex jokes on the car ride to the triad’s headquarters, right? The fact that it takes Dan that long to finally get it is… impressive.
- Lucifer: “You slept with my m… Marlotte?! You bastard!” No, Lucifer. He “made love” to her.
- Dan: “You speak Chinese?”
Lucifer: “I’m the Devil, of course I speak Chinese. I speak everything.” The show surprisingly doesn’t hit this point often, so it really works here.
- That Dan doesn’t try to shift blame to Lucifer for the case blowing up, not even once, shows how much their relationship has changed for the better. Especially since he’d be somewhat in the right, given Lucifer’s testimony reveals Chloe was first on the scene when her dad’s presumed killer wound up dead. There’s also a good moment for Lucifer in this, as well as foreshadowing, when he nonchalantly acknowledges that Dan “would do anything to right this” mess they all find themselves in. Oh how he does.
- Whatever Chloe being “the key” means, it clearly means enough to make Amenadiel fully pledge his allegiance to his mother, even after everything that’s happened. Amenadiel may see this as rebelling against his father completely now, but this is honestly more of a betrayal of his brother than anything else. He’s been used by their father, but he shouldn’t pretend he hasn’t moved on to being used by his mother.