Lucifer bosses break down season 5B's tragic twist and heavenly finale
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Lucifer season 5B.
The end of Lucifer's fifth season threw several curveballs at fans.
First off, season 5's penultimate episode delivered the death of Detective Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), who died as part of Michael's (Tom Ellis) twisted plan to become the new God after the original God (Dennis Haysbert) retired. Determined to prevent Michael's ascension, Lucifer (also Ellis), Chloe (Lauren German), Amenadiel (DB Woodside), and Eve (Inbar Lavi) gathered an army of demons to face off against Michael's angelic forces.
During the fight, though, Michael, wielding Azrael's blade, killed Chloe. Lucifer followed her to Heaven and gave her Lilith's immortality ring, which allowed to her be resurrected but meant he would burn to death because he was banished from the Silver City all those years ago. To everyone's surprise, though, Lucifer's sacrifice didn't cause him to die. Instead, he returned to Earth as the new God, and all of the angels bent the knee for him, thus setting up a truly daring sixth and final season.
Below, EW chats with co-showrunners Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich about these major twists and how they setup season 6.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When and how did you decide that Dan should die this season?
JOE HENDERSON: We hate Kevin Alejandro [Laughs].
ILDY MODROVICH: We love him so much. That's why he was chosen. The choice to kill off a beloved character is obviously a big one, and we knew we didn't want to do it just to break everybody's heart and put our characters through hell, although that's in a way enough on its own, but we wanted to have a reason for it and a reason for all our characters to grow, but especially Lucifer. And so, we wanted to have Dan's death have a ripple effect, where Lucifer was going to basically discover something about himself as well. So that's why we did it. I'm kind of talking in non-spoilers because it affects season 6.
HENDERSON: And also just to add to that, a good reason is because as much as I joked earlier, Kevin Alejandro has turned Dan into one of the hearts of the show, and Dan's character is both the character we torture every season relentlessly, but we also do it because we love that character. And everyone on the show loves Dan, the characters, and to take him away affects everyone in such a meaningful way that it just felt necessary to explore.
This was supposed to be the final season at one point. Dan started out as a corrupt cop in season 1 before going on this redemption journey. Did you feel like this would be the right period on his arc?
HENDERSON: I think that's a huge part of it, and how it weirdly parallels Lucifer. There is a weird amount in common between Dan and Lucifer. Dan regrets his actions in the past, feels guilt, and doesn't know if he ever deserves to be forgiven for those things. And there's just a lot of echoes between his character and Lucifer, which is also just really helpful when you're exploring Lucifer, trying to decide if he is worthy of becoming God or figure out a reason to become God.
Ildy, what was it like taking on such a pivotal episode in your directorial debut?
MODROVICH: Right, it wasn't terrifying at all. It was quite daunting, but I just had to think of it as each scene as they came. I couldn't think about how pivotal it was. When I was slotted for the episode, we weren't sure where the death was going to land [in the season]. At one point it was at the end of [episode] 14, at one point it was at the beginning of 16. It did move around, so that's not kind of why I was put on that episode, I just got lucky.
HENDERSON: Yeah, and it matched the schedule because we knew the musical [episode] would be around 10 or 11, and we wanted to make sure Ildy had plenty of time to focus on that, but also plenty of time to prep, because the musical was just such an enormous beast that was all-consuming for like a month and a half. By the way, there was a version early on where Dan didn't even die, so we even had that.
When I interviewed Kevin, he mentioned how the renewal talks started up right around when he shot his big death and that he will be back in season 6. Did you immediately figure out a way to bring him back once it looked like season 6 was happening?
HENDERSON: Kevin Alejandro is an amazing actor, and any show that can exist on Earth and everywhere in between would be foolish not to find a way to bring him back. Also, a chance to torture Dan Espinoza for one more season sure sounds like a lot of fun. So we didn't change anything. One of the things I love about TV is you lean into the curveballs and weird zigzags. When we got to the end of season 5 and they offered us season 6, at first we were like, "No, we love this ending," and then we realized, "Oh my God, there is so much more story to tell right here." Similarly, "Oh, God. Dan's dead. Well, maybe that's the best story possible."
MODROVICH: I'll definitely add that the Dan story was very easy to find.
You guys were getting ready to shoot the finale when everything shut down last spring. How much of the finale did you have to change because of new pandemic safety protocols when you got back up and running in the fall?
MODROVICH: Well, largely the thing that changed was the location of the big, final battle. We were going to shoot that at the Mount Wilson Observatory, and a couple of things happened. Mostly at the time when we came back, there was a big fire all around that observatory — and thank God, by the way, it's all been preserved and saved by our awesome firefighters — so we needed to find another location. Also [because of] the COVID of it all, we were looking for a place that was open-air and large. And because of the pandemic, there were a lot of places that were free that did not have people in them, and we got lucky enough to score the LA Coliseum. So we changed kind of a lot because of the location, but also because it used to be kind of an epic battle between a lot of the prisoner demons and a lot of angels, and we had to pare it down. And so it became this mono-y-mono battle, more certain key gladiators going at each other in this giant stadium.
HENDERSON: Similar to before, the curveball sometimes helped. We had this awesome big battle, but what we had to do is change it to a more intimate face-off between Michael and Lucifer. And by focusing on that, we really I think focused even more on the emotional core of the season.
That entire battle sequence in the finale seemed pretty tricky. At one point, I was worried Chloe was being fridged, but then you immediately brought her back, thank God — or Lucifer now. Can you talk about how you approached writing that entire sequence and the important beat?
HENDERSON: I'll say I think a big part of it is us knowing that we wanted Lucifer to have to do something truly selfless to realize his love for Chloe. So much of Lucifer is his body being out of sync with his mind and his heart and so we knew that we'd want him to have to face the one thing he never faced, which is going back home and burning. And so a big part of that became, "Well... We actually very rarely put Chloe in danger." We did it in this season finale, but we actually try to stay away from that trope whenever possible. And so we really only wanted to do it when we really could earn it. And then on top of it, the idea that her going to Heaven, "Well, what is she going to see when she's in Heaven? What a great opportunity to see John Decker again." But to your point of fringing and all of that, we wanted to sort of avoid the obvious paths. And so sure she dies, but you've got a guy who can go to Heaven — the problem is he can't go to Heaven. So that just felt like such a nice, immediate thing for Lucifer not to think about, and by not thinking about it, realize his love for her.
MODROVICH: I will add that because we had just killed Dan, that moment where Chloe dies, it wasn't so much about her death. We didn't want it to feel schmuck-baity and we didn't want it to feel like, "Oh, and now she's back." It was more about the step that that meant in Lucifer and Chloe's relationship, and it was more about that moment of Lucifer deciding to put himself in harm's way and not think about the repercussions of going to Heaven. It was more about that moment and their love.
HENDERSON: And Ildy, to that point, in [episode] 15, one of the things we really tried to make sure is that Lucifer wasn't near Dan at his moment of death so there wasn't any argument about being able to bring him back right away. By the time an angel can get there, Dan's too far gone. We really wanted to separate the two and not cheapen Dan's death by combining the two in any way. So it was very important to be like, "Dan's death is permanent. Dan is dead," whereas Chloe's death is immediate and Lucifer also has a magical ring that will do things that otherwise he would be incapable of.
How early on did you decide you wanted to end the season with Lucifer becoming God?
HENDERSON: Well, just a point of clarity, that's not necessarily where we were going to end the series. Just keep in mind that there was more story that we removed that will become a part of season 6.
MODROVICH: The moment that Lucifer becomes God is the end of act five of a six-act script, so that's where season 5 ended, but it did not originally end there in terms of the entire series. So that you'll have to tune in, obviously, to season 6 and find out how the entire series ends.
Yeah, I remember you told me about the section you removed when we spoke last year about the surprising renewal. How much does that missing bit figure into the final season?
MODROVICH: I'll say that obviously, a lot happened in that mysterious act six, but I'll say that we found a bunch of new stories, obviously, for our characters, but what remained, what we kept from that act are basically all the endings for our characters. The way our character arcs found their endpoint was what we've maintained, and then how we got there kind of changed.
How does Lucifer becoming God affect his relationship with Chloe?
HENDERSON: Lucifer, his whole story begins with wanting to be God, wanting to have the same power and ability as God. When the dog catches the car, what does the dog do with it? That is a question worth exploring for a season.