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A little brotherly love (and war) drives Lucifer’s “My Brother’s Keeper”

Illustration for article titled A little brotherly love (and war) drives Lucifer’s “My Brother’s Keeper”
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It’s impressive Lucifer doesn’t also get dismissed as a series about “manpain.” There are Lucifer’s daddy issues at play, and as this episode highlights, that trickles down to the dynamic between brothers. With the inclusion of Pierce/Cain, there’s that added drama in him being the first murderer and in his torment as an immortal human being. On paper, it’s tiresome. In practice, it’s not just a show about daddy and bro issues. Not when you’re talking about it all on a celestial level (and when you have compelling characters throughout).


“My Brother’s Keeper” actually chooses to primarily frame the series’ brother issues through the human lens, in the form of Ella (with Aimee Garcia rocking the increased screentime) and her older brother Jay (Rey Valentin). While we know about her criminal past and the criminal present of some of her family members, there’s still a lot we don’t know about Ms. Lopez. (See: “the voices” she mentioned in “Vegas With Some Radish.”) This episode provides some more missing pieces, although it’s safe to say we already knew she was fiercely loyal. Here, that loyalty leads her to lie to her colleagues and almost get shot by a murderer, but loyalty is as loyalty does. Unfortunately for Ella, her loyalty is taken advantage of by Jay.

The biggest problem with Jay isn’t that he’s secretly a criminal: It’s that he’s an idiot. It’s one thing for Ella to realize her older brother isn’t the saint of the family. It’s another for the audience to realize—even if she doesn’t—just how far off the mark that is.

  • He leaves his wallet at the scene of the crime.
  • He goes into hiding and doesn’t think to call his LAPD-employed sister for help.
  • He doesn’t want Ella to know the truth about his work, but once she finds out, he can ask for immunity in exchange for helping out the investigation. He doesn’t. And based on the conclusion to this, he wouldn’t have needed immunity, because he didn’t actually do the diamond cleaning. Though he does obstruct a lot of justice.
  • He doesn’t understand how doors and vantage points work.
  • He points a gun at a cop, refusing to believe his sister would be able to help him.
  • He knows which hotel the murderer, Don (Ed Kerr), is staying at and doesn’t tell anyone.
  • He believes Don when he says his phone died.

It’s one thing if it ever reads as though Jay’s playing more naive or incompetent than he actually is; but even when his true colors are revealed, he literally tries to get away with stealing the diamonds by telling Lucifer that it isn’t what it looks like. Lucifer tells Chloe that Jay probably would’ve ended up behind bars (or worse) had any other detective been put on the case, and he’s right. But it would also be a tragedy of Jay’s own making. Lucifer has never been more right to threaten someone and scare them straight, because the one thing Jay doesn’t understand about his lifestyle (that he’s so quick to defend) is this: It’s going to get him killed sooner rather than later.

Basically, Jay’s characterization is how Pierce feels about Lucifer. Continuing Lucifer’s quest to break Pierce’s curse and kill him, Lucifer again comes to Pierce with uninspired ideas. He’s not scratching past the surface, suggesting he just cut the Mark of Cain off and citing “DVC” (The Da Vinci Code) as research material. So it makes sense that Lucifer and Pierce would want to go to Amenadiel for help. In Lucifer’s case, this is where he gets his tunnel vision, as he ends up raging against older brothers because they don’t help you when you want to kill someone. And in true Lucifer fashion, he uses this anti-brother fuel to point the finger at Jay and repeatedly call the man a criminal (he is) and the obvious murderer (he’s not) in front of Ella.

However, slightly different from typical Lucifer procedure, Chloe immediately and matter-of-factly calls Lucifer out when it comes to turning this very personal investigation for Ella into one of his own personal issues.


In his request for help, Lucifer’s argument to Amenadiel is that he thought they were finally “getting along” like brothers. The problem there is that Lucifer ignores the part where he called Amenadiel a pathetic sycophant back in “What Would Lucifer Do?” and never apologized for it. Lucifer got out of the dark place he was in at the time, but Amenadiel really only continues to co-exist with Lucifer because he feels obligated to. When it comes to Amenadiel, his problem isn’t so much that he approaches Lucifer as a test as it is he keeps telling Lucifer he sees him as a test. He sees him as his brother too, but that’s arguably secondary for him. As things stand now, Amendiel will always put his father over his brother. And it won’t be surprising if Lucifer gravitates even more toward Pierce because of that. But Amenadiel’s not the only one approaching things poorly. Lucifer’s light-hearted attitude about killing brothers is a little too much here, since Lucifer literally killed his brother (Uriel) last season, and it tore him up inside to do so. Pierce’s cavalier attitude about killing his own brother—in his comments to Amenadiel—works much better, because the self-involved angels (and demon) on this show never wonder or even ask how he actually feels or felt about what he did. When Pierce says he has no problem killing an innocent because he killed his own brother, it reads more like he’s playing the role Amenadiel wants. And with Lucifer, Pierce never even replies to the brother comments; he just lets Lucifer make them, because he’d probably rather be talking to literally anyone else.

Or fighting. For the second week in a row, we get a competent and intense fight sequence, this time between Amenadiel and Pierce. It’s also full of more snark than you’d expect from either character, which is a large part of what makes it so enjoyable. Well, that and the morbid nature of Pierce’s very existence. The fight ends once Pierce goes for the ultimate, sadistic mic drop (while impaled), as he brings up how Amenadiel also plotted to have his own brother killed:

Amenadiel: “We are nothing alike.”
Pierce: “Yeah, you’re right. At least I had the balls to do it myself. You pawned the task off on someone else—you’re worse. And if this is punishment that I get for my crimes, what do you deserve?”


Amenadiel later warns Lucifer that Pierce has “one selfish goal” that will always take priority over their friendship, if you even want to call it that. Lucifer scoffs, because he wants to welcome the chaos of spitting in his father’s face and breaking the unbreakable curse. But where Lucifer doesn’t look at the big picture—and where Amenadiel is right—is in moments like Pierce threatening to kill an innocent. Even as a bluff, he’s already put Chloe in danger just to test if she could be a way for him to die. When Pierce says he’s tried everything he can to die, he also means he will try anything he can to die. While Lucifer may not want to admit it, there will absolutely be a line he won’t want to cross in order to help Pierce. Pierce most likely doesn’t have a line.

Lucifer has also done a good job “simmering” when it comes to the Maze/Linda/Amenadiel storyline. It’s not forgetting that Maze wants to confront the couple, but it’s biding its time until Maze figures out what she wants to actually do. She previously used Lucifer’s request for help with Pierce as a distraction while she worked out what she wanted to do, and then she managed to become a third wheel to a different pair in Charlotte/Dan. Now, she’s working out her aggression against dummies that look like Linda and Amenadiel—teaching Trixie about “betrayal” in the process—and projecting her own problems about disappointing family toward Ella. There’s an exchange where Maze lists all the terrible things Jay has done (that they know of), questioning why she should help Ella find the guy and why Ella would want to help him instead of just cutting her losses. Ella’s response? “Family shouldn’t do that to each other. I mean, we’re supposed to help each other.” Maze eventually ends up being there for Ella in a big way, but in that particular moment, Ella says what Maze hasn’t been able to fully grasp about why the Linda/Amenadiel relationship upsets her so much. Family is supposed to help each other, not hurt. She’s already acknowledged she feels left out and like they’ve betrayed her—which is why they should protect their Achilles—but it’s even worse because she considers Linda and Amenadiel (to a lesser, annoying-brother-she-used-to-sleep-with extent) family. More than her “thousands and thousands” of demon siblings.


Also, Maze just straight up murders a guy. That is, in fact, “so Maze,” but it’s not exactly “so Lucifer.” At least not when it comes to ending a case-of-the-week. It’s a different choice and an enjoyable one, all things considered.

This is a loaded episode, which isn’t that surprising: It was co-written by Lucifer co-showrunner Joe Henderson (alongside Jason Ning). It’s a true ensemble episode of the show, and as obnoxious as Jay is, even he comes out of the box fully-formed. (The same can’t be said for Don, whose character is just “greed.” Which is why it works that Maze just straight up murders him.) Then you have Charlotte, whose reaction to a failed threesome attempt is to finally get some help for her intense trauma. On her path to becoming a better, well-adjusted person, therapy is definitely something Charlotte needs—along with maybe Lucifer telling her the whole truth about her missing time—so of course Lucifer would suggest Dr. Linda. Though, like Maze last week, this is Linda’s first interaction with the real Charlotte Richards. So it’s understandable her immediate reaction is to send Charlotte far away. The sheer terror on Rachael Harris’ face as Charlotte approaches Linda for help is followed up by the way Tricia Helfer plays quiet resignation to the fact that she’ll never be able to redeem or “fix” herself. And it’s heartbreaking on both sides of the table.


On paper, this is just a “fun” episode of Lucifer and nothing more: Ella and Maze team-up, Pierce and Amenadiel fight their feelings out at Lux, Lucifer is Lucifer. In fact, I expected to approach this review as such. But “My Brother’s Keeper” strikes a great balance between the fun and the more depressing character moments, which is always the sign of a special Lucifer.

Jay’s existence (as the worst criminal ever) and Lucifer’s insensitive (or forgetful) opinion on brothers knock things down a bit, but this episode does the one thing I always bring up in these reviews: It makes proper use of every character. Even Dan and Trixie, who have the least to do yet have highlight moments. (For Dan, it’s guessing “Where’s Ella?” with Lucifer. For Trixie, it’s meeting Ella—”SUSHI SHIRT!”—and training with Maze, complete with her own sparkly toy daggers. That’s an A+ scene for sure.) This is an episode Amenadiel, Linda, and even Maze all needed, as the characters are able to look inward regarding some things—things that are mostly independent from their current joint story. This is also an interesting episode for Lucifer, as this Pierce alliance clearly isn’t going to turn out the way he thinks it is. They’ll always have the suburbs.


Stray observations

  • Lucifer (to Pierce): “Take off your shirt.” This is the first Lucifer line of the episode, and if people weren’t onboard the Lucifer/Pierce ship after last week’s episode, that line probably pushed them on. Lucifer tells Pierce not to flatter himself, but Lucifer only really needs Pierce to lift up his sleeve.
  • Maze (to Ella): “I can’t believe you called the cops.”
    Chloe: “Maze, for the last time: Stop telling people not to call the cops.”
  • Lucifer: “The diamond industry. Truly the greatest trick someone other than me played on the world. Thousands of dollars for lumps of coal. Incredible.”
  • Chloe/Dan: “She’s lying.”
    Lucifer: “Who’s lying? (to Dan) Your stylist?”
  • Lucifer: “Strip club.”
    Dan: “Dude, you already said that. Why would Ella take her brother to a strip club?”
    Lucifer: “For the free buffet.” Dan also suggests Ella is at “Comic-Con” or “a forensics convention.” Chloe’s reaction over their terrible ideas is priceless.
  • Jay (to Ella): “Get the hell out of here, crazy woman who I don’t know.” So, so stupid.
  • Chloe: “Ella, I know it was Maze.”
    Maze: “Oh.”
    Chloe: “Yeah, she’s my roommate. I recognized the knife.”
  • I can’t forget to mention the flicker of Lucifer’s Devil eyes during his confrontation with Jay. Too bad Lucifer didn’t seem to notice it himself.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Despite her mother's wishes, LaToya Ferguson is a writer living in Los Angeles. If you want to talk The WB's image campaigns circa 1999-2003, LaToya's your girl.