Lucifer is truly making the most of its trio of January episodes so far: Part one provided a solid set-up and brief introduction to a new threat, part two sees that threat in upsetting action, and now all that’s left is for part three to give the three-parter the conclusion it truly deserves. Because of how good “Stewardess Interruptus” and “Love Handles” are, both in and out of this context, there has to be a big finish. There’s nothing more underwhelming than a dud after two solid installments, after all. These are some high expectations to live up to, especially as this part of the story manages to both officially introduce and kill off an extremely fascinating aspect of the story in the form of Tim DeKay’s villainous Dr. Jason Carlisle.
“Love Handles” is the rare Lucifer episode with a case-of-the-week that’s fully captivating in way usually reserved for cases with specific connections to the main characters, and DeKay is definitely the main reason for that. As it turns out, a serious case anchored by an exceptional actor and chilling character is the key to an interesting case. The episode doesn’t even really fall into the procedural trap of relying on red herrings, as it instantly acknowledges that the audience knows the bad guy has to be the mysterious shadow man from last week’s episode and moves forward accordingly. That’s really the best thing about this trilogy so far: the great amount of focus it causes Lucifer to have and how well it manages to follow through on that.
Although the final part of this now has the unenviable task of finding the solution to a poison problem that only one person had the solution to.
It’s a bit of a shame that Tim DeKay is a one-and-done casting choice, at least in terms of his character actually being alive. I’m sure there’s plenty of room for a posthumous appearance in next week’s episode. But on the plus side, it’s hopefully evidence of Lucifer learning from shows likes its spiritual predecessor White Collar or the go-to examples fresh procedurals turned duds, Bones and Castle. In the long run, things like Dr. Carlisle slitting his own throat and the deaths of characters like Warden Perry and Malcolm prevent Lucifer from falling into the trap of relying on monstrous characters long past their expiration date. That forces the show to keep things fresh and make the best of what or who they have for as long as they’re around.
Dr. Carlisle doesn’t veer too much into the mad scientist, cartoonish role one would expect (especially with the mask at first), even though that’s something Lucifer could have possibly pulled off and probably will in the future. Instead, Carlisle is an interesting character in his calm, narcissistic, approach to his insanity, waxing philosophical about the power of choice—or the lack thereof—without an ounce of sympathy or a question of whether or not he has a point. Because he really doesn’t have a point. Not just because he’s a bad guy but because Lucifer has regularly made a point about choices and free will and how important they are to the human experience; a difficult choice that hurts you is still a choice, which is what Carlisle can’t possibly wrap around his head.
Meanwhile, Lucifer himself tries to wrap his own head around Chloe’s choice of him, which isn’t made any easier by the divine intervention bombshell at the end of this episode.
“Stewardess Interruptus” left the audience to wonder “What next?” with regards to the Lucifer/Chloe kiss, so it’s immediately up to “Love Handles” to answer that question. It does so first in the form of a sex dream on Chloe’s end (Lucifer is more into poorly therapizing his way through things with Dr. Linda), but it ends up largely moving toward Chloe and Lucifer’s individual adjustment periods to their new joint situation. Lucifer questions the ulterior motives of Chloe kissing him, because as he points out to Linda, the kiss happened after he listed of the reasons he’s not the right guy for the good detective. But Chloe’s Maze-inspired decision to approach the situation differently than she usually would is an interesting choice, as it’s the rare occasion of the show putting Chloe in the comedic relief spot.
Chloe Decker is an uptight person and that’s perfectly fine. It can be hard for the character, since the show has to keep her the lone straight man most of the time, but that’s a choice that ultimately makes sense. However, Lauren German can certainly pull off the awkwardness of the character going outside her comfort zone, and that’s the case here. “Love Handles” treads a fine line between the show’s typical humor and the absolute cringe humor of moments like Chloe smacking Lucifer’s butt, laughing at (and poorly attempting to finish) his jokes, and propositioning him for a library make-out session. It’s no surprise that Lucifer finds Chloe’s attempts to be un-Chloe-like so strange, because a Chloe that lets loose is inherently strange.
Of course, now is the absolute worse time to loosen up; though no one necessarily plans to have a serial killer case on the books after they kiss their partner for the first time. As for Chloe’s attempt at a new attitude leading to “rash” behavior and progressing Carlisle’s “experiment,” at least it helps speed up the case, for better or worse. The “worse” part is the fact that an “out of character” Chloe inadvertently puts a target on her back with Dr. Carlisle.
Meanwhile, Lucifer’s approach to the aftermath of the kiss doesn’t require an attempt at a personality change, but that doesn’t mean things are smooth sailing for him. He can’t help but look for the strings attached in this situation, and while he ridiculously looks for them in this episode, at no point could he have ever guessed there being strings in the form of his father “making” Chloe. It’s another roadblock in the Lucifer/Chloe relationship, coming at the worst time possible as Lucifer has just told his mother and best friend that he literally feels “invincible” at the mere possibility of being in a real relationship with Chloe.
It can be frustrating because Lucifer is obviously putting obstacle after obstacle in front of the Lucifer/Chloe relationship… But as things stand right now, these are serious, important obstacles that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. That includes the whole devil and vulnerability thing, which this episode makes sure to remind the audience are still a part of the big picture. The episode actually subverts the idea of an unnecessary obstacle in the situation at the frat party though, as Chloe instantly discovers that Lucifer’s “classic Lucifer” decision to go upstairs with a college girl is simply a girl talk session for him to try and figure out how to approach his relationship with her. After the reminder of Lucifer’s prolific “social” life in “Stewardess Interruptus,” Chloe has plenty of reasons to worry about Lucifer’s need to sleep with everyone, even though he’s made it clear he just wants her. At the same time, after that episode addressed how little his sexual encounters meant to the people on the other end of them, it’s also understandable that Lucifer can’t understand what Chloe would get out of being with him, outside of sex—which they’re not even having.
Keeping with how important the concept of focus is to this three-parter, Charlotte is finally able to move forward with her plan and create the obstacle in the Lucifer/Chloe relationship with no plot distraction (like Amenadiel stopping her from blowing Chloe up or the real Charlotte’s human family) in sight. Lucifer’s second season has been good about realizing it can only stretch certain plot points out for so long and pulling the trigger on them when it needs to, and that’s what happens here. And again, the episode leaves questions about what’s next, as Lucifer is too blinded by the supposed falsehood of his relationship with Chloe to address his mother’s obvious plan and intent to hurt him. Keep in mind how genuinely appreciative he was of her acceptance of the relationship in the previous episode.
It’s nothing new to say Tricia Helfer remains perfect in the role, but the MVP in the Charlotte/Maze scenes this episode is absolutely Maze and Lesley-Ann Brandt’s performance. Maze may not know 100% how to be human, but she certainly has a better idea than Charlotte does. Maze has been working hard this season to maintain and assert her independence from Lucifer, even considering cutting him out of her life altogether because of how unhealthy their relationship has been. But Charlotte is right when she points out Maze is still Lucifer best friend, and just by having Maze be there when the truth about Chloe is revealed—even as Maze gets cold feet, refusing to say anything and then trying to take Lucifer away—that unfortunately makes her an accomplice in Lucifer’s eyes for now. While Lucifer’s pain is obviously the focal point here, don’t discount Maze’s pain.
Meanwhile, Charlotte’s actual accomplice, Amenadiel, is nowhere to be found after doing his dirty work in last week’s episode.
In both “Stewardess Interruptus” and “Love Handles,” Lucifer had an interesting case-of-the-week on its hands. And neither were interesting in the same way, as the former was more about the laughs, while this week’s case is certainly more drama heavy and character-driven. If that is the new normal for the series, then it’s more than welcome and a long time coming; but if it’s not, at least it can be said that Lucifer got things together on all fronts for its big event episodes. All that’s left now is to see if the show sticks the landing with part three.
- The episode opens with Florence And The Machine’s “Seven Devils,” a song that was previously responsible for the best music cue on Revenge.
- Chloe fantasizes about Lucifer having devil horns, as well as being really into that. If that’s not a sign she should be able to fully grasp Lucifer’s devilish existence, then what is? It’s probably not a sign she’d be able to fully grasp being a legitimate miracle, but baby steps.
- Tim DeKay being on an episode of Lucifer officially gives me a reason to mention the classic episode of Body Of Proof where Dana Delany has to investigate Tim DeKay’s character’s daughter, who is possessed! Of course, she can’t really be possessed, because there has to be a scientific reason. And there is… until the daughter mentions something at the end of the episode she couldn’t possibly have known. Unless she was really possessed!
- Lucifer: “Although she did have that wretched dependent waiting at home. Or two, if you count the child.”
- Charlotte: “Detective.”
- Dan’s “I don’t know” re: the question of what he’d do if he were in a position to remove his own hand or let a random student die of poisoning… I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Dan would cut off his hand to save another life. He’s still all about that redemption arc, baby.
- Dr. Linda (to Charlotte): “You’re very… tall.”
- Alright, so has anybody been able to figure out an actual measurement for the distance Chloe needs to be from Lucifer so he can be invulnerable? Because things could have gone a lot differently had Chloe caught Dr. Carlisle sooner and closer.
- “Trip To Stabby Town” is still the most aggressively violent episode of Lucifer, even though there was a method to its madness. “Love Handles” has the DNA of torture porn, in Carlisle’s Jigsaw-esque approach to villainy, but the “non-choice” of poisoning college students instead of carving up one’s face or chopping off one’s leg (as there is the exception in Dr. Scott’s garbage disposal approach to her own hand) is the predominant choice here, removing the real concept of brutality and gruesomeness from the episode. Then again… Lucifer slices his wrist twice (and lucky has invulnerability to stop the third attempt) in this episode, so it’s not a squeaky clean episode.