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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lucifer wraps up its 5th season with an epic battle and “A Chance At A Happy Ending”

D.B. Woodside, Tom Ellis, Lauren German
D.B. Woodside, Tom Ellis, Lauren German
Graphic: John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Series finales are hard. Yes, this is technically a season finale, but if you’ve followed along with these reviews, you may have been able to parse that this season was originally supposed to be Lucifer’s final season. “A Chance At A Happy Ending” (appropriately written by showrunners Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich) was originally supposed to be the series’ swan song, and even if you didn’t know that, there are some mighty big tip-offs. The angel battle. Lucifer returning to Heaven. Us finally seeing Heaven. Lucifer becoming God. Those are, without a doubt, “big ending” moments.

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Admittedly, I can’t say for certain how this episode would’ve functioned as a series finale, as it’s lacking its final act; it’s missing the epilogue that will now function as the bones of season six. So I can only imagine and hope that the epilogue would’ve wrapped things up regarding Amenadiel’s new cop journey, Dan’s afterlife fate, Ella’s darkness, and any other dangling threads this episode doesn’t quite tie up. However, I can say for certain that I think it’s for the best that “A Chance At A Happy Ending” is not the series finale, because it runs into the same overstuffed issue as a number of other episodes in 5B have.

As I’ve noted before, Lucifer was always going to run into a problem once the writers finally brought God into the picture. Because no matter how good the material was—and it was an absolute highlight of this half-season—there was always going to be a sense that the show was still not doing enough with such a grand character. The same argument could be made for the angels, especially once they became part of this larger celestial war and not just one-offs (like Remiel) or major characters (like Michael). Empirically, we know that all of the bonus angels can’t be played by names like Michael Imperioli or Charlyne Yi. We also know that with as many angels as there must be, they can’t all have speaking lines or even character traits we can automatically latch onto. But finally seeing them all in action in this episode, I began to wonder: Just how many angels should there be? How many angels would even look appropriate for a battle of this magnitude… while also looking like a number our heroes would still have a fighting chance against… and without looking like a CGI mess?

I genuinely don’t know the answer to any of those questions. But the issue with this aspect of the episode is that I’m not necessarily sure that the Lucifer team does either.

Despite coming for an epic, angelic battle, the best part of it is when it’s just Lucifer versus Michael (with a side of Chloe). Sure, that means a lot of cast members, guest stars, and extras just reacting to and watching the fight, but it’s strangely better than when the big fight does go down. Compare this season-ending battle to the demon battle in the season four finale, “Who’s Da New King Of Hell?” Both fights share similar strengths in the sense of having the right visual tone and setting for who our heroes are facing. But where the venue of season four’s finale made for a claustrophobic space that truly captured how our heroes were fighting for their lives, the largeness of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum setting here only ends up highlighting just how small this battle actually is. While the setting itself is technically perfect for this battle, the scope of the battle betrays that. Which is why when it’s just Lucifer and Michael fighting in the air above the coliseum, that’s when the battle actually feels like it’s on the level it belongs.

Thankfully, it’s the grounded character moments that have always been Lucifer’s strength—in addition to its delightfully juvenile humor—and that’s still the case for this episode. In terms of season and series finality, Maze is the only series regular character who gets any actual closure in this episode. Yes, Lucifer finally tells Chloe he loves her, but now, his new role as God changes just about everything. (And even before that shift in the status quo, the episode even brings up how Lucifer’s invulnerability around Chloe is still very much a dangling thread.) And then there’s Ella, who, coincidentally, remains the only character left in the dark. (Yet again, a Lucifer finale creates the perfect opening to tell Ella the truth... and it doesn’t take it.) But as for Maze, she finally gets what it means to have a soul. She finally realizes it’s not just pain and suffering. Linda’s words actually get through to Maze here, as opposed to how Lucifer took the good doctor’s words in the aftermath of Dan’s death. And because of that, Maze is able to properly grieve Dan and reconnect with Eve. Maze gets her happy ending, with no unanswered questions on that front.

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But as I noted, Lucifer and Chloe’s happy ending is full of questions. The good news is that, in a half-season of Lucifer struggling with the belief that he’s “incapable of love,” things end with Lucifer finally telling Chloe he loves her. And he does so while making the ultimate sacrifice for her life and happiness. The series that began with the premise that the Devil selfishly left Hell because he was bored ends this season with the Devil doing something purely selfless in Heaven. That’s growth.

Because of Lucifer’s hang-ups and emotional roadblocks, he’s kept Chloe at arm’s length a lot in this half of the season. As a result, their best scenes have arguably been the ones where a frustrated Chloe tries to talk some sense into him—because, at this point, she has every right to be frustrated with him when he behaves the way he’s been behaving. In the previous episode, it was the scene where Chloe asked Lucifer if he somehow still doesn’t know how she feels about him and challenged his issues about not being “worthy.” Here, it’s the scene where Lucifer tells Chloe about Michael’s plan, where she learns that Dan is actually in Hell. While it seems like it will naturally lead her down the path of guilt that Michael wants her to go, what really sets her off here is Lucifer telling her to simply not be guilty. All the power belongs to Chloe in these scenes, and in this half of the season, these are the scenes where Lauren German is really given substantial something to do. And while Lucifer remains physically invulnerable around Chloe, Tom Ellis always plays these scenes as the weaker one—because he is, emotionally.

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(Chloe also gets to be physically stronger in this episode once she gets the piece, Amenadiel’s necklace, and kicks Michael’s ass. That’s nice to see too.)

The Lucifer writers definitely know how to leave a lasting image and impression with their season finales, and “A Chance At A Happy Ending” is no different in that regard. “Oh my Me,” indeed. But in a season with a God/Dad who exceeded expectations, I don’t know that I can say this season finale did the same with the celestial war for the throne. Even before the battle, the fact that Michael killed Remiel isn’t treated as a big deal speaks volumes in terms of the level to which the audience should actually care. Amenadiel, Remiel’s favorite sibling, isn’t around to react to it, and Lucifer makes hot tub/yeast jokes about it almost immediately. While it temporarily sways one of the angels to join Team Lucifer, Remiel’s death doesn’t matter to any of these characters. In contrast, Chloe’s death does mean something—and it officially kicks off the battle between the factions—but it’s not as though the episode is directly making a comparison in that case. While the visual issues with the battle can be partially explained by the fact that this was the one scene that was affected by COVID-19, the story as a whole can’t.

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“A Chance At A Happy Ending” is ultimately a fine way to close out this entire season, but it’s not the strongest of this batch of episodes, and even with the LuciGod ending, it’s not even the strongest of the series’ season finales. But the episode does reiterate an important point: Everybody deserves a second chance. That’s what Lucifer tells Michael (after he cuts off his wings instead of killing him), and that’s the point this series has always tried to make. Dan’s arc post-season one was proof of that. Lee (aka Mr. “Said Out, Bitch”) facing his guilt in Hell is what allowed him to have a second chance up in Heaven. (Obviously, there’s a lot going on in this scene, but it’s a huge deal that someone finally found a way out of Hell this way.) The entire “DevilCop” premise has been Lucifer’s second chance after his rebellion, and it’s allowed him to prove himself worthy enough to become God. And now, Lucifer technically has a “second chance” at a stellar series finale.


Stray observations

  • The choice to open the episode with Chekhov’s prison bus crash... It feels strange to have it open the episode, but I also don’t know where else in the episode it would make sense to place the scene. Would it have worked better if Ella had simply mentioned a prison bus crash, possibly as a way to show Chloe what she’s missing now that she’s retiring?
  • Michael: “But just so you know, the vote is tomorrow. And I’m holding it here on Earth so you can attend. You know, because of the whole, ‘you’re banished from Heaven and would be instantly incinerated if you returned’ thing.” This is the first time we’ve ever heard that Lucifer physically can’t go back to Heaven, right? Because I don’t think that came up at all in season two, when Mom was making plans for her and the boys to return with the flaming sword…
  • The no-name angels that Lucifer dupes with his Michael cosplay do have names, according to IMDB. Raziel (Kellina Rutherford) is the one who vaguely cared that Michael killed Remiel and crossed over to Lucifer’s side, only to return to Michael’s. Ibriel (David Anthony Buglione) is the one who was way too excited to start killing humans.
  • Did Maze choose the fake name “Steve” on the dating app just because it rhymes with “Eve?” Did Eve choose to even talk to Steve because it rhymes with her name? Did the writers choose “Steve” because of the old saying, “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve?” So now it’s “Steve” and Eve? (I’m sorry.)
  • Maze: “Um... I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided: I don’t care if you die.”
    Eve: “That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
  • I understand the bit, but you’d think that more angels would go to Lucifer’s side once “The Angel of Righteousness” did, right?
  • I was actually surprised Charlyne Yi returned as Azrael, as I figured that them explaining why she wasn’t at Dad’s retirement barbecue was also the show explaining why she wouldn’t be around at all. But I’m realizing now, it’s war, so it absolutely makes sense for “The Angel of Death” to make an appearance.
  • Like Hell, Heaven apparently has rooms. (We also learn that, like in Hell, there are “rooms” in Heaven. So what we see is not all there is to see. Good narrative choice to depict what is obviously so large scale.)
  • Lucifer: “God must be here making us sing! Dad has returned!” This is not the first time Lucifer has done a comedic “U Can’t Touch This” bit—nor the first time it’s ended it with the “STOP!” “Hammer Time!” punchline—but that doesn’t make it any less funny. It’s so very Lucifer. As is whatever dance D.B. Woodside’s doing during the scene. But as far as stalling tactics go, it’s a good one. We know the angels heard about Dad making people sing, but they don’t necessarily know what it looked like. I am curious about the fact that Lucifer blatantly lies to keep up the charade, especially since he actively avoids lying later in this very scene.
  • Chloe melting down one of Maze’s blades for bullets is... awesome.
  • It’ll be interesting to see if the Lucifer writers attempt to redeem Michael in any way in the final season. Because after a small flicker of something other than cartoon villainy in his “Family Dinner” exit, Michael’s dickishness is out in full force here. There’s maybe another flicker of some sort of humanity when he kills Chloe, but he just as quickly goes back to sniveling evil twin mode. (Tom Ellis knocks all of this out of the park.) While Lucifer learned over the course of 5B not to blame Dad for all of his problems, this episode really doubles down on the idea that Michael is actually to blame instead. Or at the very least, he’s the origin point.
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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.