When it first hit the screen as a new and controversial FOX TV show almost six years ago, Lucifer was hardly expected to gather the following it has since developed. After an initial run on U.S. television and a subsequent move to the more international Netflix, the beloved Devil of streaming television comes to its final days with one last half-season that left in its wake an assortment of reactions.
Here’s our spoiler-free review.
Where were we?
When we last saw the charming and impeccably dressed Devil we’ve all come to love, Lucifer (played by Tom Ellis) had just come out of a celestial war for the title of God and was getting ready to take his rightful place in Heaven as the new ruler.
Accompanied by Detective Chloe Decker (played by Lauren German) and an array of wonderful background characters – with a conspicuously missing Dan (played by Kevin Alejandro) -, the show promised to be ready to deliver on this new development in what everyone was expecting to be its usual over-the-top, highly entertaining manner.
What did happen was not quite that.
A walk through memory lane
As can be expected for the final season of a show that has managed to gather a huge and passionate following despite a rocky start on a less-than-favourable network, Lucifer seemed to decide that the best way to go out with a bang was to take all of its fans on a walk through memory lane with a barrage of greatest hit after greatest hit.
It’s a commendable strategy, one that more beloved TV shows might actually learn from even, but Lucifer’s last run through callbacks and older episodes references didn’t quite manage to have the impact it was probably shooting for, at least in my own personal opinion.
What was aired on possibly the most well-known streaming platform of the moment was rather a slightly forced, quite unappealing sequence of throwbacks that didn’t include its actual real greatest hits. The final season was so preoccupied with reliving the best moments of itself that it forgot to develop the interesting last plot it had promised with its explosive, world-changing second to last season finale.
Oh do we love the cheesy
Without any pretence, Lucifer was always a cheesy and sparkly bit of television, to think otherwise would quite simply be untrue.
From its very protagonist played charmingly and theatrically by Tom Ellis to some of the devices it employed – notably, last season’s musical episode which was but a culmination of a medium that it had already extensively used – the show never pretended to take itself more seriously than it did. And how could it, when the very premise was that of rebel son Lucifer come to earth to party and sin with little space for anything else?
That isn’t to say that the show never tried to deal with bigger topics. One of the most important themes of the story has always been redemption and the ability for people to change and while Lucifer did bring credibility to that particular conversation by managing to make the audience forgive the very symbol of questionability, it made the mistake of leaving its last season for subjects that might have been a little too big for its reach.
Contemporary problems for fictional characters
Lucifer decided to devote some of its last time on-air to a very complicated and very current subject: Policing in America.
I am not going to delve into the finer aspects of what is a conversation that I am not equipped nor informed enough to handle and I don’t think Lucifer should have either.
It is my opinion that this show is absolutely not the right place to talk about it, especially considering that its answer to the problem ended up being that some good cops can change things from the inside and should endure the bad parts of the system to do so, something that most experts agree does not work.
On the other hand, what else could the show possibly do when almost all of its most lovable characters are part of that very system? Lucifer was not prepared for the change in optics that the real world around it was going through and it would have been impossible for it to approach six years of its story with the mindset of admitting that its own characters, when rationalised in real life, are part of a problematic system. It’s much easier to say that they are the good ones, the exception to the rule, and optimistically leave it at that. There wasn’t enough time to deal with the first answer to the problem and Lucifer, as it is, wouldn’t have been able to meaningfully talk about it anyway.
As I already said, this is a show about Satan coming to earth to party, and while it dealt with its base themes of redemption well, that was the individual and this is the systemic, they are not on the same level and they definitely can’t be dealt with on the same level.
Maybe we can look at what was done so far with a silly, fun, over-the-top story with its scintillating characters and we decide that, perhaps, they are best left to a fictional world. Sometimes the answer is not to ask the question at all.
Now for the story
Putting aside the show’s ability with subjects that are out of its reach, what we should be focusing on is how the show concluded its approach to what it was already good at.
As has already been mentioned, at its core, Lucifer is an effervescent bit of television that didn’t shy from its glittery storytelling style. And it doesn’t with this last season either. What changed though was, in my opinion, how genuinely it did it.
While the show was always a celebration of exaggeration – from Lucifer’s luxurious parties to his terrifying and detailed Devil face – all the elements that characterised it managed to always feel good in their place and genuine even in their appearance. This last season, instead, seemed to bring a lot of that appearance forth in the name of forced nostalgia and forgot the actual content of the story.
Not only does the show take seven entire episodes to get to what seemed and was foreshadowed to be the biggest conflict of the season – nothing less than the end of the world itself – and ended up explaining and dealing with it offscreen (how exactly do you botch the pathos of the end of the motherf**cking world?!), but it also elected to introduce new, rushed, storylines and characters that the audience simply didn’t have enough time or emotional room to get invested in. All of that to the detriment and neglect of some underrated characters (cough–Trixie and Charlie–cough) that it could have finally taken the time to develop and give a worthy send-off to.
Might this be an indication that the show didn’t have much to say anymore? Should it have ended sooner?
Lucifer’s last season nostalgia doesn’t ring true. This time, its excessive fun and theatrical drama just feel forced, the show is going for a hollow slideshow of greatest hits when maybe all it needed was a story.
The ending is lacklustre and inconsistent, most of the choices and the plot turns don’t make sense and it’s not even that fun because it’s so overdone. Only few of the characters actually get the ending they deserve (special mention: Dan which, oof am I relieved because last season left me worried for a good minute) and only Amenadiel (played by D.B. Woodside) sees a coherent conclusion to his arc while almost everything else bombed so darn bad.
In the end, Lucifer is what it is, and maybe it’s wrong of me to expect better or maybe I just watched some tremendously good shows between the first and second part of its final run which now make it so much harder for me to be satisfied by less than excellent writing and actual planning for a story.
I do believe it was a missed opportunity and I certainly hope that bigger fans of the show were happier with its final season than I was. I do wanna say that the very last musical cue almost managed to save the entire thing, so there’s something to look forward to!
My sister – with whom I’ve watched the last two seasons – told me, and I quote, “No. Just write this in the review: Just No.” and she is usually far more lenient to TV than I am.
This one final bit of Lucifer’s story left me wondering just what it is about these last few years of television and season finales that lately always seem to miss the mark. Am I too judgemental – burned by too many shitty endings to my most favourite and most beloved shows – or are they just lacking? Or rather, are they lacking a plan? Are we still sacrificing quality and a fulfilled story for longer TV runs and are the extra years with our favourite characters truly worth the sacrifice?
Maybe it’s a question we should be taking into consideration a little more often in these rocky TV times where shows seem to either shoot for the stars (Ted Lasso, Paramount+’s Evil, gone too early but never forgotten FOX’s The Exorcist) or die in disgrace (Game of Thrones, Supernatural, possibly Lucifer?).