Graphic: Erik Voake (FOX)

“Orange Is The New Maze” takes a simple procedural concept: One of the show’s main characters (Maze) has been wrongfully accused of murder, and it’s up to them (and friends) to try to prove their innocence. Well, there’s the part of the episode where Maze actively admits her guilt, but it’s all just a ploy for her to really prove her innocence. While you can call Maze irrational for a lot of her recent behavior, she’s certainly thinking rationally here.

The same can’t be said about Lucifer during a large portion of this case, though. Maze doesn’t really get to see how much Lucifer wants to pin the murder-of-the-week on her, but it’s quite insulting to see how much he wants to believe that she would literally kill someone in order to manipulate him. Because that’s what a demon who lashes out does, right? But look at how everyone else reacts:

  • Chloe and Ella (who both try to prove Maze’s innocence) don’t believe she killed anyone. They also think she’s just a rough-around-the-edges human instead of a demon, so they have no reason to believe she’d ever do such a thing.
  • Dan believes she killed someone, because Maze has never really shown Dan any other side to her. Plus, she keeps—gleefully—bringing up that time they had a man killed.
  • Pierce just reacts to the question of Maze’s innocence with an “I don’t know this demon woman well enough to take sides.” expression.

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While Lucifer knows Maze is a demon and that she’s capable of cold-blooded murder, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a real piece of work in this episode... and not just when it comes to thinking Maze is vindictive enough to kill a human like this. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have Dr. Linda telling him off about his behavior this week, but boy does he need that. Sure, he eventually gets things right with one character (Charlotte) in this episode. But that’s only after he fails miserably with said character.

So before I get into the Maze of it all, I should discuss Charlotte. Because this episode belongs to both Lesley-Ann Brandt and Tricia Helfer. And after all the consistently terrific performances the latter gave last season, that certainly means a lot for the former.

Picking up in the aftermath of last week’s game-changing decision (Amenadiel telling Charlotte the truth), “Orange Is The New Maze” teases the audience until the end. Specifically in terms of whether it’s actually going to have Charlotte learn the whole truth or if it will somehow find a way to backtrack. In defense of the presumed backtracking here, Amenadiel is pretty smart to tell Charlotte the version of the “truth” all the humans know (the “stepmom” story). The problem is, he forgot to factor in that she’s an accomplished lawyer who isn’t going to stop digging for the whole truth until it makes sense. So unless Lucifer is going to bring amnesia into the show all of a sudden, there’s really only one place the story can go—which is where it does go.

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There’s still the argument between Amenadiel and Linda about whether this is even the best course of action for Charlotte. However, where Linda falters in comparing her experience of learning the truth to Charlotte’s is in the fact that Linda never reached a point where she felt crazy for not knowing the truth; but that point is all Charlotte has felt since she returned from Hell. Linda believes that because of Charlotte’s fragile state, she won’t be able handle the truth; but Charlotte is only fragile because she doesn’t know the truth. Honestly, while it’s easy to see where Linda’s coming from, her opinion is kind of insulting to Charlotte, as it sells the woman short and ignores her biggest fear: being considered crazy.

Plus, angel wings are far less scary of a reveal than a Devil face.

Tricia Helfer sells Charlotte’s reaction to the angel wings reveal perfectly, crying tears of joy because finally, she has confirmation she didn’t lose her mind. It’s powerful, and it makes up for the rage-inducing way Lucifer just info dumps the truth on her earlier in the episode. (Like I said, he’s a real piece of work this week.) As I’ve said before during this season, Charlotte is Lucifer’s responsibility. Yet, after their initial bonding—you know, after she tried to kiss him—he essentially pawned her off on Linda. And she had to try to figure out her relationships with everyone else on her own. So while it’s a pleasure to see Amenadiel open up the celestial floodgates—as the son who never got the kind of closure with Mom that Lucifer did—it’s still kind of weak that Lucifer didn’t do it in the first place. Especially since Charlotte’s not exactly good at hiding her pain and confusion. She does better than Maze, but that’s not saying much at all.

“I’m always going to be the consolation prize for you. You only care about me when you don’t have Chloe. … No one puts me first! Least of all you! None of you deserve me.”

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You see, Lucifer’s “I can’t lose you.” to Maze is good. His added “Not you too.” is not so good. The way Maze’s face falls when she realizes Lucifer is taking the opportunity (after she just spilled her guts to him about her feelings of neglect and struggle living among humans) to talk yet again about his relationship about Chloe (the human he regularly neglects her for) is a moment of sad revelation for her. Some might hear it as a “me, me, me” moment from Maze, but to her, it’s the result of “Chloe, Chloe, Chloe.” Or “Amenadiel, Amenadiel, Amenadiel.” Or even “Cain, Cain, Cain.” It all just depends on who she’s being passed over for at any given time.

Think about it: Linda’s argument to Maze was that she chose her and their friendship over a relationship with Amenadiel… but that was still after Maze told her she didn’t want the relationship to happen in the first place. Linda only put Maze first after she got caught and felt guilty. At least, that’s how Maze sees things. Also, as she points out early in this episode, Lucifer went to Hell for Cain—despite not even liking the guy—but he won’t do the same for his oldest friend. (Saying “best friend” feels very inaccurate at this point.) And what makes this all even more frustrating, in a way no one else will probably ever know? Maze found someone who did want to put her first, in “Mr. And Mrs. Mazikeen Smith.” And you know what she did? She turned him down because she wanted to go back home, to be with her family. Her human family. She put all of them first. But as she tells Lucifer, Earth and humans are “complicated,” and she’s tired of having to deal with that.

Speaking as someone who knows a thing or two about this type of thing, Maze’s skill when it comes to self-sabotage is almost too real—which is why it can be so frustrating. Lesley-Ann Brandt continues to perfectly channel Maze’s anger with and disappointment in this world. Not just in the big moments toward the end of the episode (with Chloe and then Lucifer) but in the little ones where Maze just blows things out of proportion when someone even vaguely blames her for something. Nothing is ever Maze’s fault, even when she’s letting things get to the point where they kind of are. But speaking of the big moments, Chloe’s attempt to talk Maze down from doing something she can’t take back is one of those scenes where you expect Maze’s walls to finally come crumbling down. Lauren German nails this monologue—the culmination of Chloe defending Maze’s innocence so much this episode—about choices and how Maze doesn’t have to let this recent cloud of darkness define her. But it especially hits when Chloe makes an aside about how she simply wishes Maze would talk to her about anything that’s going on with her, because Chloe wants to help her friend.

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However, at this point, Maze’s idea of “help” only comes in the form of going back to Hell. And she can’t do that, not as long as Lucifer has Chloe to think about. With that, so goes the possibility of Chloe talking Maze down. (She doesn’t kill the woman, but a knife in a foot isn’t exactly “okay.”) The only “down” Maze wants is down to Hell.

Then along comes Pierce, like the proverbial Devil on Maze’s shoulder that Lucifer just isn’t. On a shallow, non-professional note: The scene is hot. (It’s a lot of Pierce negging Maze, but it works for a sociopath and a demon.) On a professional note: It’s also the follow-up to an earlier scene in this episode where Pierce very plainly tells Dan he’s going to get rid of Lucifer. (Dan appears to get too lost in his own cat metaphor to realize.) As I mentioned with his plan to romance Chloe, Pierce has had a long time to perfect the art of manipulation. The only genuine thing about him is how much he wants to die, after all. So he knows exactly what buttons to press to get Maze on his side:

“You’re angry the people you trust let you down. Hmm. Which is why we should work together for a change. … [A]t least I won’t pretend to be your friend like everyone else does. … I can help us both get we want.”

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In a beautiful visual cue, that final promise is punctuated by the flashing “BUS” sign lighting up only the “B” and the “S.” That sounds about right.

Stray observations

  • It’s great that Chloe says she didn’t call Lucifer for the “beach murder” because he apparently has an Anakin Skywalker-like aversion to sand.
  • It’s not great that Lucifer says “AMENINDA” and “LINDADIEL,” because they both sound terrible.
  • Ella: “Ugh, I hate beach murders. So mean. It’s like, just let people swim.”
  • Charlotte: “You have to hear how crazy it was. He said Lucifer was his brother. Which, I guess is possible if one of them were adopted. And raised with a different accent. … Then he said I was his stepmom. But he’s a grown man. I mean, his father would have to be ancient. … I mean, as if I would go running around marrying old men and then forgetting all about it. Would I?”
  • More proof Maze is right that everyone’s the worst: No one compliments her on her amazing silver jacket.
  • Ella: “You guys, I’m really worried about her. She’s hurting. When I hugged her just now, she hugged me back.”
  • Newbie: “Miss Lopez! I’ve heard so much about you. I’ve only been here a couple weeks, and everyone said you’re just an absolute ray of sunshine.”
    Maze: “Yeah, that’s me. Rainbows. Science. God.”
  • Newbie: “Pleasure to really meet you. That other Ella was mean.”
    Ella: “I can’t believe Maze used me. She ruined hugging!” It’s nice that Ella lives in a world where hugging hadn’t already been ruined.
  • While the montage of Maze’s past bounties is good—especially to see Lucifer and Chloe laugh at a crying man—it has nothing on the montage of Lucifer’s past lovers.
  • In true Lucifer procedural fashion, while they (halfway) tipped their hand on the killer by casting McNally Sagal, the police work needs to be called out. When Maze tells her poorly thought out story about killing the victim, Chloe and Lucifer realize she was never in the guy’s trailer or at his work. They should’ve realized something was up with the foreman then, since he had immediately confirmed seeing Maze (when Lucifer fed him her description).
  • Lucifer: “I just wish I knew that Pierce’s intentions were pure.” It depends on the intentions and what your definition of “pure” is.
  • I understand Pierce’s behavior—he’s a manipulative guy—but I don’t quite understand Chloe’s. I’m talking about how lovey-dovey they are in the precinct. They talked about not caring that people know, but they’re also an HR nightmare waiting to happen.
  • My biggest problem with Lucifer’s argument against taking Maze to Hell is this: Wouldn’t God actually prefer her in Hell? Wouldn’t he consider that the natural order of things? It’s the opposite of the lady Abel situation.

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