“Finally, Maze—answers will be mine.”

In Lucifer’s defense, he does get some answers in “The Sin Bin.” He learns that the man known as the Sinnerman is human. He learns that man wants Lucifer to kill him. He also learns Pierce is Cain, “the world’s first murderer,” which is certainly a big answer to this season’s questions. But like “The Sinnerman” before it, “The Sin Bin” and its approach to answering this season’s questions only really leads to more questions.

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Now in Lucifer’s defense, that’s kind of how the series approaches major questions on whole—with answers that are as vague as they can possibly be. See: the entire concept of Chloe being put in Lucifer’s path. The characters themselves don’t even know what that means. Here in “The Sin Bin,” a major problem is that Lucifer keeps asking “why” (a question that’s at its most relevant at the end of the Sinnerman’s run) without asking “how.” Especially once he learns that the Sinnerman is human. There’s obviously no expectation that the Sinnerman will ever be straightforward or answer any of Lucifer’s questions easily, but it’s frustrating that Lucifer continues to ask the Sinnerman the wrong questions until it’s far too late.

Both episodes play with the prevalent thought on Lucifer’s mind that the Sinnerman won’t stop until he takes everything and everyone away from him. (And it’s a valid concern… prior to us actually being introduced to the Sinnerman.) Of course, when it comes to “everyone,” that specifically means Chloe. Unfortunately, it’s Lucifer’s obsession with beating the Sinnerman that does the trick in pushing her away from him, again. Chloe finally calls Lucifer out for his recent habit of bailing whenever she needs him, and she even does it twice. The first time she does it is before they set up the world’s lamest prison break, pointing out how he’s been wasting her time by either ditching cases or openly calling her methods stupid during cases. The opposite of what a partner should do. But she also comes to tell Lucifer she has his back as long as he has hers too:

Chloe: “No more going off grid, no more destroying trace evidence, no more Lucifer-ness. Is that clear?”
Lucifer: “As a chilled vodka martini.”

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Then Lucifer goes behind her back and betrays that trust again, which leads to the second callout of the episode. It’s also deserved and much welcome, no matter how much Lucifer tries to excuse blatantly breaking his promise to his partner because he wanted to protect said partnership. But it’s also the type of scene that leads to one of those frustrating Lucifer moments where you can’t help but ask: Why doesn’t he just bust out the wings already? There’s an argument to be made that Lucifer considers his devil face the real him and not his wings, but really, it’s just another example of Lucifer putting himself in the sin bin (metaphorical penalty box) with Chloe despite him having an “easier” out.

After all the build-up, last week’s depiction of the Sinnerman was bizarre, to say the least. That doesn’t change here. In fact, it even asks the major question that “The Sinnerman” eventually forced the audience to ask: “What if the Sinnerman was the one working for someone else? What if he was the accomplice?” Unfortunately, by the end all of this, “flunky” feels like a more appropriate word for the Sinnerman. A large part of that is because, other than his dying wish, nothing about him feels like it makes sense. He claims early in this episode that there is a “method to [his] non-madness,” but to look back at this episode after the fact, that’s still not clear.

Like in last week’s episode, the Sinnerman very deliberately never admits to doing any of the things Lucifer’s accused him of doing (re: devil face and wings). We know he was responsible for Lucifer’s kidnapping, but that was something he outsourced—a tactic “The Sinnerman” made clear he doesn’t generally do. We also know that he’s aware Lucifer is the Devil, but he underplays that (because he wants to get under Lucifer’s skin). Here, Lucifer is of the belief that the Sinnerman desires freedom, and while that ends up being the case in a sense—as he wants to die, by Lucifer’s hand—the leap to get to that assumption doesn’t quite track either. Does the Sinnerman behave like he cares at all about escape, even when he has his Plan B? Does he behave like he cares about anything at all until he gets desperate about Lucifer killing him? Again, Kevin Carroll’s performance is an interesting one, but he’s also tasked with playing a character whose motivations and actions are just a series of large question marks. The “method” the Sinnerman speaks of and previous characters have mentioned about him only appears to exist in the explanation behind Maggie’s (GLOW’s Britt Baron) fake kidnapping.

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There’s a fascinating concept in Lucifer being so obsessed with the Sinnerman that he genuinely believes killing him—a human—would result in God “punishing” him with his devil face and wing removal. Especially since Lucifer ignores just how much his father would realize it’s exactly what he wants. Unfortunately, the fascination that comes with Lucifer’s obsession with the Sinnerman has unfortunately disappeared with the introduction of the Sinnerman. Maze rightfully calls Lucifer out on his line of thinking, but she also assumes that killing the Sinnerman will lead to plague-like consequences. Why? None of this is to say the Sinnerman isn’t every bit the “barbarian” Lucifer calls him in this episode, but Maze’s argument stems from the idea that the Sinnerman is also an emissary of God. Which is definitely not confirmed in these episodes.

As the episode goes all in with this Sinnerman plot, the rare moments of downright humor and lightness in this episode are a jarring experience. On the one hand, seeing Chloe nerd out over the roller derby is nice to see, especially after learning she fell in love with it as a result of mother-daughter bonding with Trixie. But the roller derby stretch in general is also part of a small segment of the episode dedicated to Lucifer openly insulting and pointing out the tropes of a by-the-book police investigation (or a procedural television series, more specifically). “Misleading information.” “Dead end clues.” “Red herrings.” It’s a fun little annoyance for him to have, but it’s also one that feels like it would be better suited for a different episode, perhaps one not so weighed down by the Sinnerman.

“The Sin Bin” also goes with the risky choice of having such a relatively light subplot in Dan/Trixie/Charlotte, but it allows Charlotte to get away from her more performative attempts at being good by simply doing a good thing. Plus, Dan gets a couple of wins under his belt. However, the plot falls into the trap of precocious kid territory more than usual, as Trixie’s bold approach to discussing Charlotte’s role as a mother—something that should be handled with care—is way outside her realm of wisdom. Especially when she adds the statement, “You’re the mom. You make the rules.” Given Charlotte’s final moment of the episode, it’s supposed to be a call to action and an empowering moment for the character. But Lucifer’s mother ruined this part of the real Charlotte Richards’ life, and her legal inability to see her sons (based on what went down in those months) isn’t something just being “the mom” can fix.

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When it comes to the bit of levity that 100% works in this episode, look at Lucifer and Chloe’s terrible attempt at a prison break. Note Chloe’s pure joy as she and Lucifer go through their plan. What makes it work is just how lame the entire plan is, to the point where it’s no wonder Pierce catches them. The first part of the plan—outside of unwitting pawn Ella—features Chloe looking for the key to the holding cell, snooping all around Pierce’s office, only to end up finding it in the most obvious place of all: Pierce’s jacket pocket. The scene itself sells how ridiculous it is, as Chloe looks in boxes and every possible place but the very obvious jacket pocket location. In an episode of Chloe/Lucifer frustration and multiple kidnappings, it’s nice to have this little stretch of lightness.

At the very least, like “The Sinnerman,” this episode brings it on the acting front. Tom Ellis has to play a spiraling Lucifer as it progresses, and his does so without playing it as just “going crazy.” The same goes for the moral dilemma he faces when it comes to killing the Sinnerman; because if nothing else, this half of the season has been building to what Lucifer’s going to do to the man who, in his mind, stole his very identity. We’ve had discussion about Chloe confronting her father’s killer and Pierce confronting the Sinnerman, but this is Lucifer’s version of that, and the frantic stalling is so very appropriate for him. And in the final scene, when Lucifer stabs Pierce, the way Ellis plays it—with a hint of worry for a second that he’s wrong, before quickly turning to annoyance—isn’t played for laughs. Instead, it’s all that pent-up frustration, now directed at Cain. (In all of this, Pierce/Cain’s deception has also gotten in the way of Lucifer’s relationship with Chloe.) These two episodes have played Lucifer’s journey particularly well, even if the story hasn’t ended up quite as up to par.

“The Sin Bin” also provides an interesting dichotomy between Lucifer and Pierce/Cain, outside of just the flamboyant versus stick in the mud personalities: Lucifer flaunts who he really is to everyone, while Cain chooses to go under the radar as Pierce. He got a tattoo to cover up his mark. He chose a new identity instead going with the infamy of being “Cain, the original bad boy.” (I suppose being Cain is slightly less sexy than being the Devil though.) As far as a midseason finale goes, the Cain reveal is quite the way for Lucifer to end things. If only the lead-up to it could have come together as well.

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At least we ended this Sinnerman arc with the show admitting once and for all that “The Sinnerman” is a lame villain name.


Stray observations

  • Chloe not realizing the thing about Pierce’s brother “wasn’t common knowledge?” It’s hard to buy that one, considering how close to the vest he kept the very existence of the Sinnerman.
  • Pierce: “I read Moby-Dick six times.”
    Lucifer: “Oh, really? What happened on page 83?” At first, Pierce’s Moby-Dick comment was the ultimate “I’m a macho guy who has only read one book, many times.” line. Then he turned out to be immortal, and then it just made him sound bored. Good.
  • Chloe: “So, what should I call you? Sinner? Is it Mr. Man?” This is a good line from Chloe, but the fact that the Sinnerman follows up with a Silence Of The Lambs riff and an “always wanted to do that” is the ultimate sign that he is actually lame.
  • Trixie: “You’re pretty. How do you know daddy?” I can’t believe it took Dan until the end of the episode to give her props for her wingman duties. This was the ultimate pick-up line.
  • Chloe looks appreciative that Dan created Lucifer files, which is nice to see. The two people who judge it—Pierce blows up Dan’s spot and Ella calls Dan a “stalker”—weren’t even around when Chloe and Dan were married or separated. And despite the kind of guy Dan was at the time, he had every right to wonder about Chloe’s new partner, Lucifer Morningstar.
  • Dan: “Lucifer plants a bomb at my desk and I’m the creepy one?”
    Chloe: “Um, actually, that was me. Sorry. The bomb was fake.”
    Dan: “Wow. Okay. Human heads, explosives. Can someone send me, I don’t know, a muffin basket next time? That’d be nice.”
  • Pierce was wearing thin in these last two episodes, so the Cain twist saves him. In fact, I have no problem believing the writers knew that would be the case: Just from Pierce’s initial speech to the precinct in this episode (and his stuff about the suits downtown last week), it’s clear something needs to be done to get past the cliche aspects of the character. Ella describing his demeanor as “a masterclass in ‘ass whoop’ with a minor in ‘whatevs’” actually highlights even more just how cheesy his speech is.
  • There is no Linda or Amenadiel in this episode, which I guess means they were respecting Maze’s wishes offscreen.

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