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Entertainment Weekly

TV Recaps

Lucifer recap: 'City of Angels?'


Posted on

We gave it an A-


1/25/16 - 1/1/70

TV Show
genre new
Fantasy, Drama
Tom Ellis, Lauren German

To celebrate the new year, Lucifer looks backward with a deeply satisfying episode that explores how our favorite devil’s time in L.A. began.

We open on Lucifer strutting down the street in a white leisure suit, wings out. A startled human reminds him to tuck away his feathers, and then a comely young lass scoffs at his threads, which were the height of fashion during his last visit to Earth.

Faster than you can say “what a sexy devil,” Lucifer’s upgraded his wardrobe and located a coterie of pretty young things, and the proceedings have reached an appropriately hedonistic level when grumpy ol’ Amenadiel shows up in his familiar sleeveless robe to drag Lucifer back to Hell.

As the strongest of God’s children, it’s Amenadiel’s job to keep Lucifer from exposing humanity to too much divinity. Lucifer objects to Amenadiel’s claim that he’s the strongest, and he also urges his brother not to sit on the couch because there’s divinity allll over it.

Feeling magnanimous, Amenadiel gives Lucifer ten minutes to make his goodbyes. (Said goodbyes begin with Lucifer unbuttoning his shirt, for the record.) When Amen steps outside, a man jogging by compliments him on his dress before rounding the corner. Then gunshots ring out, and a man in a mask shoots Amenadiel and disappears with his necklace.

An agitated Amenadiel bursts into Lucifer’s busy bedroom, discarding his bullet-riddled dress — er, robe — and grabbing random clothes from the floor. He orders Lucifer to stay put and heads to the nearest police department, where he reports the necklace theft to none other than a uniformed Chloe Decker.

His Amenadiel-ness is extra extra here as he officiously announces that he respects the rule of human law and declares his necklace “priceless beyond measure” because it’s not of this Earth. “I’ll just put down $40,” an unimpressed Chloe tells Amenadiel, who’s clad in Hawaiian-print board shorts, a sassy T-shirt, cockeyed ball cap, and bejeweled sunglasses. Then Chloe takes a call from Dan, who’s investigating the jogger’s murder. When Chloe realizes it’s the same location where Amenadiel reported his mugging, she turns to question him, but he’s already gone.

At the crime scene, she discovers a blood-spattered key fob, then spurns Dan’s attempts to kiss her, wisely wishing to avoid romantic shenanigans at work. Dan rather patronizingly encourages her to follow her hunch that the muggings of these two swole dudes weren’t random.

Meanwhile, Amenadiel swallows his pride and asks for Lucifer’s help since his brother’s spent more time with humanity. Sure, it’s mostly naked time, but Lucifer’s glad to be of assistance.

They head to an ocean-view bar, where Lucifer’s excited to see a man playing the piano, as the only music they have in Hell is used for torture. (Recently, it’s been Bieber-heavy, and “oh, you should hear the screams!”) Lucifer bribes the pianist to take a hike so he can tickle the ivories himself.

Just as Amenadiel gets annoyed that Lucifer’s obviously delaying his return to Hell, he spots a news broadcast about the death of MMA fighter Aiden Scott — a.k.a. the jogger he spoke with. Lucifer uses this new information to strike a deal: He’ll help untangle this murder mystery in exchange for a favor from Amenadiel to be named later.

The shot of Aiden on the news cropped out the woman standing next to him, but Lucifer recognized the décolletage as belonging to porn star Misty Canyons. He and Amenadiel head to a car dealership, where Lucifer acquires his signature wheels (which he immediately backs into a wall) to drive them to a porn shoot.

Apparently, porn stars don’t generally end up in Hell — Lucifer says it’s because of all the good works they do on Earth — and he’s thrilled to find himself in such pneumatic company. Misty Canyons agrees that if you want to rebel, you move to L.A. Then, in a totally predictable but nevertheless delightful turn of events, a PA mistakes Amenadiel for a performer and dresses him as a window washer, complete with cutoff denim overalls.

As the camera rolls, Amenadiel asks Misty about his lost necklace: a long, hard, unbreakable rod (and not a pearl necklace, as she gamely improvises, bless her heart). When she learns that Aiden’s dead, she tells the angels that Aiden refused a request to throw tomorrow’s MMA fight for a ton of money.

Chloe’s investigation takes a similar path when the key fob directs her to Aiden’s gym. The owner, Gil, tells Chloe that Aiden recently got into it with fight promoter Tio Sorrento and one of his tattooed goons.

This creates a collision course as Lucifer, Amenadiel, and Chloe all show up to Rico’s, the fight venue. Although Chloe and Lucifer don’t speak to one another, Lucifer’s awareness of her proximity pulls his attention away from the women wrestling on the mat in the center ring. But the moment passes when Chloe pursues the tattooed goon and Lucifer approaches Tio, who assumes he represents Amenadiel the fighter.

The brothers share an amusing moment when Luci says they’re from “down south” and Amenadiel claims they’re from “up north.” When Tio tries to have them bounced and Amenadiel knocks out a former heavyweight champ with one punch, Tio suddenly has a fighter to replace Aiden.

And then we cut to an amazing training montage in which Lucifer tells Amenadiel that although he’s Silver City’s greatest fighter, he can’t use his angel strength on humans, so Lucifer makes him drag weights around the gym, work a punching bag, and chase a chicken — no stopping of time allowed!

In the end, Lucifer’s eating chicken wings (ha!) when Tio approaches and offers money for Amenadiel to take a fall. Realizing they’ve found their man, Lucifer knocks him out. (Next page: Strap in for an angelic rumble)

As Amenadiel questions Tio in the next room, Lucifer starts to undo his trousers for some solo fun as the opening credits of Hot Tub High School, starring Chloe Decker, start to play. Amenadiel interrupts with the news that he couldn’t get anything useful out of Tio, so now it’s Lucifer’s turn to go the torture route. But Lucifer doesn’t do his own torturing and busts out the big guns.

Enter Mazikeen. In Hell, she’s required to torture people using their own guilt, and she’s so hot and bothered by the opportunity to use whatever method she’d like on Tio that she ends up sexing the truth out of him: Someone else placed an anonymous bet against Aiden using burner phones and dead drops, meaning Tio’s not the murderer/necklace thief.

Please note that throughout this scene, we’re treated to those hot oppositional sparks that Maze and Amen used to throw off, and the opening shot of Hot Tub High School remains paused on the background TV the whole time.

On fight night, Amenadiel offers Lucifer his thanks as he waits to enter the ring. After all, who better than his evil little brother to help him catch a deplorable criminal?  Takes one to know one, and all that.

This characterization doesn’t sit well with Lucifer, who teases out Amenadiel’s opponent’s greatest desire and encourages the man to take his mandolin-playing skills to the Renaissance Faire right away, allowing Lucifer himself to step into the ring. “You wanted the devil? Well, you’ve got him,” he growls, flashing his red eyes.

Amenadiel argues that this fight doesn’t count, but Lucifer’s eager to see who’ll win and uses Amenadiel’s pride to get him to actually make it competitive. Listen, I didn’t realize how much I wanted to spend the first day of 2018 watching a sweaty, shirtless D.B. Woodside and a sweaty, shirtless Tom Ellis beat each other bloody, but Lucifer knew and gave it to me, and for that, I am forever grateful.

In the end, Amenadiel pulls himself back from demolishing Lucifer, vowing not to stoop to his brother’s level. But Lucifer jumps on Amenadiel’s back when he tries to walk away, and Heaven’s greatest fighter taps out, giving Lucifer a victory that ultimately rings hollow.

Now back to Chloe’s investigation, which has taken her to Tio’s attorney: Charlotte Richards in a distracting wig. Chloe offers to go easy on Tio if he’ll work with the police, and while Charlotte applauds Chloe’s “rookie spunk,” she points out that Chloe doesn’t have any actual leverage.

And then Chloe proves why she’s such a good detective. Charlotte’s smug showboating tips Chloe off to the fact that Charlotte represents two crime families who are mortal enemies and may not appreciate sharing a lawyer. Ooooh, who’s got leverage now, Char? In the end, Charlotte convinces Tio to drop cash off for the mystery better as Chloe and Dan wait nearby. Dan worries that it’s the wrong play and will set back Chloe’s quest to become a detective, but she’s following her gut, by God.

Her gut is correct, and Gil the gym owner shows up to collect the cash. But before the police can grab him, he vanishes, having been literally flown away by Lucifer and Amenadiel, who were also lurking at the scene.

Gil’s staggered that Amenadiel’s still alive after he shot him. You see, Aiden was like a son to him, and when he refused to throw the fight to bail Gil out of some money troubles, Gil tried to scare him into cooperating. But Aiden fought back, and Gil panicked and shot him, then tried to make it look like a mugging. He offers to buy Amenadiel a new necklace, but Amen shouts that he wants the one his father gave him. Gil stammers that it’s in a safe at the gym.

Lucifer’s furious that Gil killed his son for refusing to play a part in Gil’s plan, flashing his devil face and frightening Gil into insensibility. (Nice to see that his over-identification with the crime of the week started early.) When they fly him back to the beach, Gil frantically confesses his crimes to waiting Chloe and Dan, who are confused about Gil’s disappearance and subsequent reappearance.

Later, Amenadiel, wearing his necklace, joins Lucifer at Rico’s, now empty of fighters and fans. Thanks to recent events, Lucifer has realized he’s no longer an angel and announces that he’s done seeking God’s approval. “He abandoned me, so why shouldn’t I abandon him?”

Lucifer tells Amenadiel that he plans to stay in L.A. and calls in that favor, ordering his brother to leave him be. Amenadiel warns him that God will be furious, but Lucifer doesn’t care; he’s already casting his eyes around the empty club, murmuring, “This place could use a piano.”

Finally, Maze joins Lucifer on the beach. He unfurls his wings, and she weeps as she cuts them off while Lucifer gazes heavenward. As final shots go, it’s a powerful one.

Stray feathers