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Lucifer’s search for inspiration is more than “High School Poppycock”

Illustration for article titled Lucifer’s search for inspiration is more than “High School Poppycock”
Graphic: Erik Voake (FOX)
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I fear I’ve become repetitive when it comes to calling a particular episode of Lucifer “fun,” but that’s exactly what “High School Poppycock” is. Above all—except maybe daddy issues—that’s what Lucifer is, but it’s still important to note when it does well at this sort of thing. Especially as it does so in the form of both bringing us back to the third season and working as a solid entry point for any potential new viewers. On the surface, this episode might look like it’s just about following up with the current stories of the season, but it also works hard to provide newbies with everything they’ll need to know moving forward (and even looking back). Not bad for an episode this deep into a series’ third season.


The episode opens with a nightmare on Lucifer’s end, with a brief reminder of (or an introduction to) his stress about Chloe seeing his angel wings and getting hurt (and dead) as a result. The wings he just can’t seem to get rid of. There’s been plenty of discussion about why Lucifer won’t just show Chloe his wings and finally prove he’s telling the truth about who and what he is, but this nightmare confirms it: Lucifer can’t see anything less “the real him” than these wings and the lack of his “Devil face.” So showing the wings to Chloe wouldn’t be the truth. At least, it’s not his truth. He does, however, tell Linda the truth about how he’s trying to break Pierce’s “immortal curse” and defy God, so even though Tom Welling’s not in this episode, the audience is officially caught up—thanks to that and the previouslies—on that whole deal.

A potentially new audience is also immediately clued into the secret Linda/Amenadiel relationship, Maze’s problem with said relationship, the secret Dan/Charlotte relationship, and even Dan/Lucifer’s “relationship.” Oh, and the fact that Linda obviously lives in her office. (I was so excited to see her home during the secret rendezvous… and then it turned out to be at the first place Maze would look for them, her office.) They also learn that Chloe didn’t have an actual childhood because she was a child actress and star of everyone’s favorite movie, Hot Tub High School, as well as the fact that Ella looks amazing in a blue wig and possibly hears ghosts. Those Ella parts are a new development for us all though. While anyone can technically start watching a show whenever they see fit, it’s always nice to have clear entry points outside of just the pilot. “High School Poppycock” is completely successful in this way.

It’s also the rare Lucifer episode that makes a pretty compelling argument for giving the audience more of the case-of-the-week. While the actual case itself is technically solved easily—in classic Lucifer fashion, the fact that Chloe simply got traffic cam footage at the end raises the question of why she didn’t do it in the first place—the characters within the case are more than fun enough, thanks in large part to the high school reunion backdrop. This is a rather solid guest cast line-up, with Julie Gonzalo, Austin Basis, and Trevor Donovan (who I’ll always appreciate for playing the 90210 reboot’s oldest high schooler) as the most notable of the high school crew. Ashley the man (Joseph Dixon) also deserves some praise for his performance as the possibly-too-obsessed Class Of 3001 fan, especially since it’s atypical for a genre series like this to go with a man as its fandom proxy character. (see: Supernatural) Dudes are usually front and center for Star Trek and Star Wars riffs, not young adult fandom; but “High School Poppycock” works with the belief that Class Of 3001 really is for everyone, except maybe Lucifer.

Speaking of Lucifer, when it comes to his mental block, Linda tells him to “be patient.” But since that’s the advice you give to a Lucifer you’ve never met before, he obviously doesn’t follow said advice. Which leads us to things like the “yes and” improv bit, which is short but kills for the brief time Lucifer poorly goes for it. Especially since, as Chloe points out, Lucifer’s not actually doing anything different in his approach to the case when he does it. However, the way this episode differs from the norm is that it eventually allows Chloe to be the tangent-obsessed case derailer while Lucifer does his best to actually investigate the case. He’s doing this entire investigation simply to find the dead woman’s manuscript and search for an answer to his mental writer’s block. He’s also refusing to really play along like he’s an older version “odd bod Todd” at the reunion, to the point where he doesn’t even try to mask his British accent. (Though, in his defense, the accent he’s using is “clearly the best.”) But he’s still doing detective work.

Meanwhile, once Chloe reads the Class Of 3001 books, we get one of the best versions of Chloe: giddy, obsessed Chloe. It’s a version of Chloe that’s above awkward Chloe and right up there with “worst undercover cop ever” Chloe and drunk Chloe. It ends with the quick mention of a possible—but immediately denied—five-way, which is a fine way to end anything. Lucifer regularly has Chloe shut down Lucifer when he gets too focused on stupid things outside of the case, so it’s fun to see Chloe get her own stupid focus for once. It’s even better to see Lucifer realize Chloe never gets these moments and decide not spoil her fun, despite his general frustration over her odd behavior. Chloe’s really deep into the Class Of 3001 love in this episode: The way she eats up Max’s “I dig you, Chloe.” is proof enough that she’s hooked, as is Lucifer calling her “unprofessional.”


As Chloe lives her teenage years vicariously through a YA series, and Lucifer plays detective for real this time, it’s Maze and Linda who pick up the slack in terms of the episode’s emotional core. While the “double date” makes for another beautifully awkward and hilarious Maze dinner situation, the key to this piece—and to the entire Maze/Linda/Amenadiel plot in this episode—is the Maze/Linda argument. Finally, all the cards are laid out on the table, with Maze getting to say what she’s been struggling to say for weeks and Linda getting to stand up for herself against her hothead best friend. And while Linda ultimately decides to break up with Amenadiel for good this time—because she feels bad for how she made Maze feel—she still deserves that moment of raging against the Mazikeen. It’s a terrific scene between Lesley-Ann Brandt and Rachael Harris, one that completely steals an episode built mostly on laughs.

For Maze, just the very fact that they’re friends should be reason enough for Linda not to date Amenadiel. But as this storyline keeps showing, Linda and Amenadiel don’t agree. Because even though they’re having a relationship behind Maze’s back, as Linda tells her, it’s not just some fling. They are so clearly in love with each other, and Amenadiel is devoted to Linda. But Linda is also devoted to her friendship with Maze, which is important to see; so rarely is a love triangle-adjacent story like this specifically about the love of the two female best friends above the love of one best friend and her boyfriend. As much as Linda cares for Amenadiel, this story also makes it clear that her feelings for him are ultimately secondary to her feelings for Maze (with the sneaking around being a part of her attempt to spare said feelings).


The one downside to this story though is how it highlights the weakest part of the entire Maze/Linda/Amenadiel plot, which is just how “go with the flow” Amenadiel is during this whole thing. He’s the understanding boyfriend and the understanding ex-boyfriend in this situation. He’ll go to talk things over with Maze, but he won’t press it if she doesn’t want to talk to him. He’ll accept Linda’s decision to break-up, because he just cares about her so much. Basically, he’s treating the whole thing more like an enlightened angel than as a man in love—and we know Amenadiel can be an emotional hothead too.

Also, poor Todd. While he’s another good suspect (in an episode full of good suspects), his potential serial killer-ness doesn’t exactly work as well as the rest of the characters in this episode. Maze turning the stalling plan into a torturous double date works, but the best Todd stuff comes from characters at the reunion talking about him, not the man himself. (Like Max mentioning “awesome math tutor” Todd is now his accountant.) Chloe and the team should probably keep an eye on him though. Just in case.


Like I said before, “High School Poppycock” is good as an episode that simply continues the current story, reminding us all where we left off on Lucifer. It also hits all the points it needs to in order to usher anyone it possibly can into the final stretch of the season; in that case, it’s a very good episode. It’s certainly the best episode of television to play both Train and Eve so far this week.

Stray observations

  • Lucifer assumes Linda can hypnotize him, so now we know another way in which she’s “not that kind of doctor.”
  • Ella: “Decker, one of these days, you’re gonna realize what you’ve been missing. (re: pink wig) So cute on you.” In an episode full of fanfiction and writing discussion, I just have to say: This entire scene exists specifically for fanfiction purposes, right? More seriously though, I like that Chloe’s excuse isn’t just her trying to get out of fun or hanging out with Ella. She really is busy! And she calls Ella “babe!”
  • Lucifer: “Daniel, your head is mostly empty.”
    Dan: “Huh?”
    Lucifer: “Exactly.”
  • Ashley: “High school was the best time of my life.” Never trust anyone who says that.
  • Um, are “the voices” Ella hears the voices of ghosts? Or are the writers just mocking us with the possibility of tru(e) calling?
  • In what must be an intentional choice, this high school reunion episode features characters named Max and Isabel. You know, like the alien siblings on Roswell. Max’s name is even “Max Evans,” while Isabel is a combination of Isabel and Maria (“Isabel DeLuca”). There’s not too much interaction between the two of them, kind of like how things went on Roswell after they realized Jason Behr and Katherine Heigl had something other than sibling chemistry. The bad boy being named “Tristan” could be a Gilmore Girls reference, but it could just be the knowledge that Tristan is simply a bad boy name. His last name, however, is another Roswell connection (“Valenti”). Considering the futuristic YA slant of Class Of 3001, a little alien inspiration doesn’t hurt.
  • Sometimes Lucifer very obviously cribs from my dream journal (see: Tom Welling’s casting), but the song choice of Yazoo’s “Only You” goes above and beyond on that front. That song knows how to tug on the heart strings, y’all.
  • Another thing that tugged at my heart strings was Lucifer pulling a Ryan Lambert. Translation: He took Chloe to prom, much like the much-maligned (but actually great) character Ryan Lambert did for Bo in the second season of Lost Girl. Only five people will even know what I’m talking about—and only two of them will agree with my Ryan opinion—but it’s still important that I address it.
  • I try not to mention anything spoiler-adjacent—especially since I tend to avoid it all in the first place—but I’m stoked Lauren Lapkus is going to be on the show, baby. You can click (or hover) here if you want to know who she’ll be playing.

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.