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With “Detective Amenadiel” on the case, Lucifer finally answers some lingering questions

Illustration for article titled With “Detective Amenadiel” on the case, iLucifer/i finally answers some lingering questions
Graphic: John P. Fleenor/Netflix
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In my first viewing of “Detective Amenadiel,” perhaps because of its placement after “It Never Ends Well For The Chicken,” I didn’t see it as much more than a novelty episode, just a cut above “¡Diablo!” After all, it’s “The One Where Amenadiel Is Chloe’s Consultant.” My reaction came from a place of that premise being one the show could’ve gone to at any time, meaning it wasn’t too special of an episode. Outside of the titular Detective Amenadiel plot, I didn’t latch on to the Lucifer/Dan plot as much as I had their previous team-ups, and I was frustrated at the pace of some of the Maze/Linda plot. Upon rewatch, I was able to appreciate the episode more for everything it did, as an integral episode in both the series’mythology of the series and the progression of its characters and story.

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My actual point is related to something Dan says in this episode, as he compares solving a homicide to one big puzzle. That’s how I approach television criticism, in general, especially when I don’t have the full picture of what season looks like. Thankfully, in the case of Lucifer Season Five, I had screeners for all eight episodes of this first part and I’ve seen them all. When I review these episodes, one at a time, part of the puzzle for me is making sure not to include any puzzle pieces that haven’t been found yet, while still thinking of the implication of the puzzle pieces that have been found. (In this analogy, the trailer’s Michael reveal is equivalent to the picture being on the puzzle box.) When I originally watched this episode, I did so in a binge format, not really stopping to process what the puzzle looked like—despite taking notes—until I came back to it again for this review.

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So like I said, upon rewatching and finally processing “Detective Amenadiel,” I realized just how integral this episode was. The episode that finally answers the question about what Chloe being put in Lucifer’s path means. That goes deeper into what these celestial abilities mean. That gives Amenadiel a patented Lucifer interrogation montage, complete with interview subjects throwing themselves at him.

One thing that’s remained consistent for Amenadiel post-Season One is his questioning and exploration of the celestial rules. As he even tries to tell Lucifer, God works in mysterious ways. However, the issue is that those ways are mysterious even to someone considered His “favorite” son, who stood as His right-hand man for eons. It’s been addressed plenty of times how no one in the Silver City has any actual idea what God wants. How Amenadiel would follow orders without question and how Lucifer has always hated that God would never just explicitly state want he wants. As the show continued to have Amenadiel go down the path of learning about celestial self-actualization, things have become both clearer and murkier in terms of what God wants. For every answer—such as the fact that God had Amenadiel bless the Deckers to be able to conceive Chloe—there are only more questions. “Detective Amenadiel” succeeds in finally answering those additional questions. It also takes something that appears to exist only as a comedic showcase for D.B. Woodside—who succeeds on that front—and manage to make it one of the most integral episodes of the series, as well as prove just how integral Amenadiel is to the series and its characters’ understanding of things.

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This episode shifting the presumed framing of Chloe being a gift from God to her ability to see Lucifer for who he really is finally puts more things that were just theoretical into perspective. And while that explains why Lucifer’s desire power doesn’t work on her, it’s not that specifically that makes Lucifer vulnerable around her: It’s the fact that Lucifer chooses to be vulnerable around her. This was a frustrating topic of discussion back in Season Three, as Pierce’s plan for mortality involved getting Chloe to fall in love with him, even though if “Chloe’s love” was the secret ingredient, that would’ve meant Chloe was in love with Lucifer by the series’ fourth episode. At the time, I went from thinking Pierce’s mortality was the result of him being selfless, only for the show to suggest that it actually was “Chloe’s love,” and the whole thing was muddled because of the series’s rushed approach to their relationship. But being able to take a step back from that and putting together all the pieces of celestial self-actualization alongside it, it became clearer that the vulnerability “caused” by Chloe is more the result of the vulnerable one’s actions than anything Chloe does. It’s something even set up in the previous episode, with Lilith and Lucifer’s conversation about forming an emotional connection with a human. It’s finally confirmed here, with Amenadiel’s theory that Lucifer’s physical vulnerability around Chloe is a literal manifestation of his emotional vulnerability. (No, it doesn’t explain anything about the distance required for that not to be the case in certain situations. Yes, I still would like to see a montage of them trying to figure this out.)

This realization is necessary for Chloe to get over the hurdle that was Michael’s reveal about her existence, and it’s also a realization Lucifer needed, to fill in the last puzzle piece of something he’d accepted but still didn’t quite understand. Now that they’re both aware, they can be on the same page about choosing to be vulnerable around each other. Choosing to be in a romantic partnership with each other.

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As frustrating as I’m sure Chloe’s reaction to the “created for Lucifer” thing has been for some, I’d argue that it’s the best reaction the Lucifer writers could give her to such world-shattering news. In all this need for space to process though, Joe Henderson’s script for “Detective Amenadiel” finally confirms that Chloe still very much wants to be with Lucifer. But as she tells Amenadiel, “When you find out that it all really does exist, it can be punishing.” That’s what she’s wrestling with. Because as this season serves as a constant reminder that the events of this series have taken place in a fraction of the time the series has been on the air, it must be taken into account that humans like Chloe and Linda have learned and experienced so much, in that short span of time. (And Dan, who isn’t even in the know, has experienced so much emotional turmoil in that same short span. So Lucifer calling him his friend and embracing the “Bracelet Bros” spirit in this episode are definitive wins.) But this is also the episode where Chloe realizes that celestials like Amenadiel and Lucifer are just as out of the loop as she, a regular human, is. Which is something she couldn’t grasp before.

I’m sure the idea of Chloe/Lucifer working a nun’s murder case has come up plenty of times in the Lucifer writers’ room, solely for all the chaos it could cause, but the choice to use their fractured partnership status as an in for Amenadiel’s own AngelCop adventure actually leads to a more interesting story. That choice allows for the introduction of Amenadiel’s version of Lucifer’s “mojo”—reflecting people’s faith back at them, as Lucifer does with desire and Michael does with fear—and ultimately allows for Amenadiel to put together the missing puzzle pieces in God’s plan for Lucifer and Chloe. (Amenadiel’s particular brand of mojo makes Lucifer’s later idea to seduce all of those nuns even more hilariously misguided.)

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Some issues from my first-time viewing still remained with the subsequent rewatch though. Part of the growing pains of the series giving Lauren German more to do as Chloe, putting her on more equal footing with Tom Ellis, is that when it comes to Chloe making the case all about herself, it’s difficult to do without making her come across as unprofessional. Because in Lucifer’s case, he is. So while Chloe’s current state when it comes to all things God-related are completely understandable and valid, every snipe or inconsiderate retort at the nuns comes across as just that: snipes and inconsiderate retorts at nuns. Those moments are an awful look for Chloe here, though she is able to bounce back outside of that. And to be fair, one of the best moments of the episode is Chloe arriving at the convent after telling Amenadiel she wants to “avoid anything God-related.” It’s also impressive Lucifer waited this long to drop the perfectly-placed “Personal Jesus,” though it makes sense since Jesus doesn’t really come up here.

There was also the direction at the end of the scene where—as we eventually realize—Lucifer and Dan figure out the key to the case. The “engaged/boob scene,” as I wrote in my notes. In that moment, because of the show’s sudden focus on this woman’s breasts and Dan’s inscrutable reaction, I didn’t put together the connection to the murder victim’s neck either time I watched the scene. Both times, it wasn’t until the “Bracelet Bros” spelled it out that the moment made sense; because the direction in the scene just doesn’t land. It’s unfortunately, because Sam Hill—in his second time directing Lucifer—provides such interesting shots throughout this episode. Chloe arriving at the convent, the nuns swarming Amenadiel, Lucifer watching interrogation while an out of focus Dan tries to get him to concentrate, the final pan up to the reflection of Chloe and Lucifer to close the episode. This is the one incongruous moment in the episode.

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Which brings me to the Maze/Linda plot, because by all means, that should be incongruous to the rest of the episode—but somehow isn’t. Instead, it’s a testament to the work this series has done with their friendship. The audience has seen them be on the outs for extended periods of time, so while Maze’s reaction to Linda’s reveal at the top of the episode seems like it could be leading to another separation, seasons of work on their friendship—and Maze as a person—is what’s able to get Maze to come back to listen to Linda’s story. It’s also what allows Maze to have spent that time after she stormed out of Linda’s office going out and tracking Linda’s long-lost daughter,* Adriana (Alexandra Grossi), down. Lesley-Ann Brandt and Rachael Harris are terrific in their early emotional scenes, as Linda reveals to Maze how she ran away from her newborn baby girl when she was 17 years old, a guilt that has only made Linda more and more convinced she’ll be ending up in Hell when she dies.

* Generally, I’m not a fan of a “secret abandoned child” story and I haven’t even fully decided how I feel about this plot. But in a show often about redemption and moving past guilt, with a character who is as good as Linda so positive she’s going to Hell, it only makes sense to explore why that is. And it makes sense to connect it to her best friend’s story.

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It’s also a credit to these actress’ talents both as individuals and one of the series’ best duos that they’re able to successfully make the patented Lucifer tonal pivot into more awkward comedy territory work at all in this episode. Only to then shift right back into addressing the gravity and root of this whole situation, tying it all back to Maze’s abandonment issues and how she’s unfairly projecting her feelings about the Lilith situation onto Linda.

On the one hand, condensing all this into one episode could be a symptom of the rush that this eight-episode half-season creates. Especially the part where Lilith ends up dying soon after Maze confronted her. But in that particular case, as “It Never Ends Well For The Chicken” made perfectly clear, these types of things aren’t actually a fairytale. Maze doesn’t get the triumphant moment where she gets to tell her mother off, because real life is inconvenient. Telling Lilith off wouldn’t have necessarily solved all of her problems anyway. So the moment when she goes back to Reno and takes the time to look around Lilith’s apartment is a short but bittersweet one. Maze gets to finally learn anything about the mother who abandoned her, things she wishes she could’ve had the chance to learn by talking to her. It’s when she sees the poster of “Lily Rose,” her mother as a “spitting image” of her, that she resorts to violence. But she stops at that moment of breaking the framed poster, a much smaller act of aggression than when she destroyed Lucifer’s piano. (He got a new one. Everything’s fine.) Perhaps because she realizes that violence can’t actually solve or fix anything for once. So the question becomes, how does Maze handle moving past her issues of abandonment when she no longer has the option to literally confront them?

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Another question: Where exactly does Lucifer go this season now that Lucifer and Chloe are finally on the same page?


Stray observations

  • Amenadiel used to be God’s right-hand man, and now… it’s Michael. God really does work in mysterious ways. Which is why, like Lucifer and Amenadiel, I have absolutely no idea why He told Amenadiel that “Hell no longer requires a warden.” Obviously, Lucifer was always going to return to Earth, but this particular handwave from God has to have a reason, because there’s no way the Lucifer writers would just create this easy of an out. ETA: Based on some discussion in the comments (go look), I now think Lilith is the new Queen of Hell. The timing lines up.
  • Chloe: “Well, what can you do?”
    Amenadiel: “Well, I am God’s greatest warrior.”
    Chloe: “Huh. Well, as much as I love the mental image of you punching a bunch of nuns…” That is a great mental image. A good part of Chloe’s questioning in this episode centers on the idea of celestial powers. She’s surprised to learn that Amenadiel could ever slow time and she’s also curious if she has any special powers. (She does not have any special powers.)
  • Lucifer: “This is what you do every day?”
    Dan: “What’d you think I did?”
    Lucifer: “Well, I don’t know—solve your own bloody murders? Daniel, you’re just a glorified librarian.” Sure, Dan solves his own murder cases offscreen, but while he espouses the wonders of real police work and working together, I believe part of him doing all this work for Chloe’s case is a result of his Palmetto-related punishment. Because again, not that much time has passed on this show.
  • Sister Angelica: “You have more control than you think, my child.”
    Chloe: “Which is it? Control or faith? You can’t have it both ways.” Throughout the interrogation scene between Chloe, Amenadiel, and Sister Angelica (Ivonne Coll), Amenadiel is taken aback by Chloe’s reactions, as he finally gets a sense of her headspace. This is one of those moments. Also, while a relatively small part, Lucifer uses Coll effectively in her ability to see just how “powerless” and “adrift” Chloe feels right now.
  • I greatly appreciate that Dan and Lucifer apparently just have shared custody of Dan’s “#1 DAD” mug now.
  • Lucifer: “Well, I’ve certainly never arrested a nun, that’s for sure.” Amenadiel may have had Lucifer’s number when he brought up arresting the wrong suspect, but Lucifer was able to get him right back with this one.
  • Chloe: “Amenadiel… You’re my dad?” I honestly cackled. It’s a reasonable question though, as she assumes “laid a blessing” is a euphemism and, presumably, that it was a whole Jesus-type thing.
  • Amenadiel (re: Destiny Page): “Well, her latest album was a testament to a newfound faith, and the one that she’s working on now is supposed to continue in that vein. … Please don’t tell Lucifer.”
    Chloe: “Your secret’s safe with me.” Does Amenadiel only listen to Christian music?
  • Chloe: “They were just concerned with creating the perfect Mrs. Morningstar.” Come on. The perfect Mrs. Morningstar is Candy.
  • While it makes sense for Destiny’s manager-who-looks-more-like-a-henchman Hank (Matt Gerald) to be the killer, just on the kneejerk “They did it!” eye test rule alone, it would’ve been pretty funny had the episode gone all-in on its “Katy Perry vs. nuns” inspiration and made Destiny Page (Chaley Rose) the killer.
  • Amenadiel: “[...] That you’re the only mortal who sees him for who he truly is.”
    Chloe: “So everything we shared and… Everything I was afraid was a manipulation—”
    Amenadiel: “Is as real as it gets. You’re not the gift, Chloe. That is.” And there you have it.
  • Maze brings Linda a database release form for biological parents, so Adriana can find her if she wants to. In Maze terms, “It’s like bounty hunting for your mother and father.” Thus giving Adriana the choice Maze never got to have (that Lucifer, unfortunately, played a part in).
  • To me, any film or TV show’s use of David Gray’s “This Year’s Love”—even a cover of it, like here—is emotional manipulation of the highest order, as it is the ultimate music cue shorthand for true love. (Thanks a lot, Dawson’s Creek.) While I, in a sense, root for Lucifer and Chloe as a couple—as I think the series’ writing has done its job in solidifying them as “endgame,” as has Ellis and German’s chemistry—I don’t actively ship them. But I’ll be damned if “This Year’s Love” didn’t do the trick for me at the end.
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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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