Lucifer: A beginner’s guide to the series
Staff Reporter | On 20, Aug 2019Reading time: 7 mins
This week marks the third coming of the TV show Lucifer – or, more accurately, the fifth coming. Because after it was cancelled by Fox in 2018, following three seasons, Netflix stepped in to bring the series back to life. That means more devilishly naughty fun for fans, but it also means there’s a lot to catch up on for curious newcomers. And, to make it more fiendishly difficult, the first three seasons are still on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, with the rights still yet to pass from Amazon (which aired the show during its Fox-owned days) to Lucifer’s streaming saviour. Fear not, because we’re here to bring beginners up to speed with the latest goings-on.
This, dear readers, is your Lucifer Catch-Up Guide:
What’s it about?
Lucifer is a show about, well, Lucifer. Lucifer Morningstar, to be exact: a son of God, the original fallen angel, the Devil incarnate, the Lord of Hell and the owner of nightclub Lux in California. After getting bored of running Hell for eons, he’s given it up and retired to Los Angeles, where he solves crimes with LAPD homicide detective Chloe Decker.
But Lucifer isn’t a cop, is he?
No, he’s a nightclub owner and Satan himself. He just also really likes punishing bad people, so he teams up with Chloe to give him a way to dispense justice to sinners… by solving crimes.
Does Lucifer have any special powers?
Yes, he does. He’s very good at getting people to admit their deepest, darkest desires – which he does primarily by staring at them with his eyes wide open and saying “What do you desire?”. It’s partly a way to find an excuse for the entire show’s premise (desires = motives = solving crimes) and partly an excuse to show off how much eyeliner Tom Ellis wears. That’s his real superpower: eyeliner.
Does he do anything else?
He also plays piano, as you do. Which is basically an excuse to get Tom Ellis singing while playing the ivories, normally something with a vague religious connection, like Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Otherwise, he spends his time making constant Biblical jokes, like “Thank, God!” “Oh, why did you have to bring him into it?” (It gets old.)
This all sounds very silly. Does it work?
Bizarrely, yes. Just about. The show’s best and worst quality is the way it balances the theological origins of its protagonist with an entirely unrelated police procedural TV series. When it’s just the crime-solving, it’s too formulaic. When it’s just the Biblical family drama, it’s silly and melodramatic. But when it’s a highly frivolous excuse for Tom Ellis to turn up at crime scenes and make suggestive remarks or arch his eyebrows, it actually gets quite entertaining – you need to give it a while to find its groove, though. And be prepared for some uneven episodes along the way. This isn’t Breaking Bad, but it is lightweight fun.
Who are the main characters?
There’s Lucifer, obvs. He spends his daytime irritating Chloe Decker, his nighttime drinking and having sex with anyone within 10 metres, and every moment in between dressing snappily and tinkling the ivories. Aside from his impressive wingspan (he’s removed his wings to stay on Earth, but they make the odd appearance), he’s bulletproof and immortal – but, for some reason, when he’s near Chloe, he becomes vulnerable. Not emotionally, but physically. (And emotionally too.)
Chloe (Lauren German) is the daughter of a cop who died on duty and briefly an actor who starred in a comedy called Hot Tub High School (must to Lucifer’s delight). She is told over and over that Lucifer is the Devil, but doesn’t believe him anyway, convinced it’s all just a metaphor. For something. She lives with her daughter, Trixie, and works with her ex-husband, Dan (Kevin Alejando), a bland but good egg. (Or, as Lucifer likes to call him, “Detective Douche”).
Who else does Lucifer hang out with?
There are three others you need to know about. First up is Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), a demon who is tasked to protect Lucifer, as well as torture the wicked. Despite not getting humans, she does become friends with Chloe, and with Trixie, and especially gets on with a career she forges for herself as a bounty hunter. Sarcastic, violent and just as snappy a dresser as Lucifer.
Second is Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris), Lucifer’s therapist, who also takes her time to get past believing the “Devil” thing is all just a metaphor (although, again, for what exactly is never really covered). She learns the truth properly, though, and continues to help Lucifer talk through his problems and learn more about his family – a nice turnaround from the initial dynamic, which saw her and Lucifer have lots of intercourse.
Finally, there’s Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia), the LAPD’s answer to CSI, comic relief, and easy victim for Lucifer’s manipulating ways.
And what about Lucifer’s family?
This is where things get a little complicated. As well as God himself, there’s Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), Lucifer’s older brother and a straight-laced angel, who both wants him to be safe and well, and wants him back where he should be. Amenadiel has the ability to slow down time, which is mostly used to help characters get out of near-death situations. He also has the ability to call Lucifer “Lucy”, suffer constant crises of faith and develop soft spots for both Dr. Martin and Mazikeen – say hello to an awkward love triangle.
And then, there’s the matter of Lucifer’s mother, Charlotte, who turns up in the body of Charlotte, primarily in Season 2.
Yes, Lucifer’s mum turns up in the body of a human for just over a season, wandering around seducing people and causing havoc, while claiming to be looking out for Lucifer’s best interests.
And who are Lucifer’s enemies?
An almighty deity comes with some equally mighty enemies, not least of which is Uriel, Lucy’s brother who is sent to Earth by their dad to bring about the end of Charlotte/Lucifer’s Mum, as well as Chloe – all the celestial loose ends that need tying up for Lucifer to return to Hell and do his divinely-ordained duty. There’s also The Sinnerman, a serial killer with a penchant for punishing Lucifer, and Cain. Yes, as in that Cain. From the Bible.
Warning: This contains spoilers
Do I need to watch all of Lucifer?
No. Lucifer isn’t exactly a plot-driven show: it’s mostly just an excuse for Tom Ellis, Lesley-Ann Brandt and Lauren German to swan about having fun with all the daft ideas floating around. There are some surprisingly effective bits of character development, from Lucifer accepting his feelings for Chloe (and discovering her own backstory) to Amenadiel coming to terms with his feelings for Mazikeen and/or Dr. Martin. And there’s Mazikeen forming an unlikely friendship with Trixie, the world’s most adorably precocious child. There are also broader, season-spanning arcs involving heavenly daggers, serial killers and more, but with a what-did-I-miss recap at the start of each episode, you can easily dip in and out over all three seasons so far without missing too much.
What happened in Season 3?
Lucifer’s mother was killed off – sent back to Heaven, leaving Charlotte to be confused and, ultimately, killed off too. That’s by Cain, who turns out to be the same person as The Sinnerman, and also the corrupt cop, Marcus Pierce, who swoops in to run to the LAPD’s homicide team. Elsewhere, having show Dr. Martin his true face, he finally shows it to Chloe too – will it be the undoing, or the making, of heir on-off relationship?
What do I need to know about Season 4?
As well as continuing all of the above, Season 4 introduced us to the one and only Eve (Inbar Lavi), plus a villain, in the shape of Father Kinley (played by Graham McTavish), and Vinessa Vidotto as another angel, Remiel. You can catch up properly with our review here.