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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

On Lucifer, it takes three to tango (and solve crime or whatever)

Illustration for article titled On Lucifer, it takes three to tango (and solve crime or whatever)
Graphic: Ray Mickshaw (FOX)
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After dealing with the rather stressful Cain and Abel saga in “Infernal Guinea Pig,” Lucifer naturally chooses to follow that up with a much lighter episode in the form of “Let Pinhead Sing!” Even Pierce’s mourning—which, to be clear, is mourning another failed attempt at death, not his brother dying again—in this episode is played mostly for laughs. And while that works, the comedy from Lucifer’s decision to trick his dad into thinking Chloe’s not all that important to him (bomb scares, you know?) really falls flat. Which is unexpected, since Lucifer and laughs going together like… well, Lucifer and laughs.


But before getting into the laughs, it’s worth discussing the most serious part of the episode, the Maze/Linda conflict. While Charlotte’s mediation brings a little levity to it, Maze is more than willing to remind Linda and anyone who wants to get involved why it’s not just a little friendly squabble When this storyline began, it was pretty easy to understand Maze’s point of view, even if you wanted Amenadiel and Linda together. Her friend did the one thing she ever asked her not to, simple as that. But as it’s progressed—and especially in this episode—with Linda groveling again and again and making perfectly clear to Maze just how important their friendship is to her, Maze has officially become “in the wrong.” Yes, her behavior is still “understandable,” but Maze no longer has a leather-clad leg to stand on when Linda is buying her an axe (that Maze admires… and destroys) and constantly taking all the blame for this situation. Maze claims she didn’t do anything wrong here, but she also refuses to accept any of Linda’s (or Amenadiel’s) attempts to do anything at all to repair their friendship.

I’ve seen some arguments saying that Maze is being “annoying” with her behavior here, but that’s such a surface level reading of what she’s doing and why. Before Linda (and Trixie, who was actually Maze’s first human friend), Maze’s only friend was Lucifer—and we know their relationship wasn’t exactly the stuff typical best friendships are made of. But despite how inhuman their friendship is, Maze at least got to pummel Lucifer to work through her issues with him, and they’ve become better for it. She can’t exactly do the same with Linda, but based on how hurt she is emotionally, she’s clearly realized there are other ways to pummel Linda. The problem is, Linda’s not fighting back and it’s becoming less and less clear what Maze is exactly fighting for.

Meanwhile, we have Maze, who has just given up completely when it comes to fighting. And it all begins with his amazingly awful (at least, vocally) rendition of “Dust In The Wind” that he decides to perform in his office. During the day. When everyone at the precinct can hear him. While Pierce had his dryly humorous moments when he was “just” the precinct’s new lieutenant, the Cain reveal and everything that’s come after has been great for both the character and Tom Welling (as well as his talent and time on this show). That greatness continues at Lux, whether it’s in his reaction to Dan’s attempt to bro out—which he basically just accepts as an immovable nuisance—or Amenadiel showing up as Dan’s friend. (They don’t destroy Lux this time, which is progress.)

While the Pierce and Maze/Linda stories are easily the strongest of the episode and bump it up a notch, the same can’t be said for the much weaker A-story. That A-story unfortunately brings the episode down, despite even more understandable (to a point) character moments and beats.

Lucifer has a good idea at therapy with Linda to stop “poking the bear” known as his father, but when he then decides to change his plan and focus his attention on everyone else besides Chloe, everything quickly falls apart. It’s like he’s all of a sudden forgotten who said father is. (It’s also a dick move, if he really assumes God will just go after anyone he considers special. In that case he’s actively putting others in danger. He’s actively putting Ella in danger!) Lucifer acknowledges in this very episode that his father is all-powerful, yet he still decides to go with the “la la la, I can’t hear you” (“and hopefully you can only hear me sometimes”) approach to things. There’s no way God is going to buy any of Lucifer’s new “relationships,” even if Bob (not Rob) the bodyguard and Pauline the temp do. Lucifer’s tunnel vision often unfairly gets called “dumb,” but in this case, it’s pretty much that. Thankfully, the rest of the episode picks up the slack.


Also, because of Lucifer’s course of action, this is another episode that puts Chloe on the sidelines. But at least she quickly calls out why she’s on the sidelines—that he’s pushing her away after realizing just how dangerous the job is—even if it isn’t completely accurate. When all is said and done, Lucifer takes a knife to the chest to save Chloe, so all’s well that ends well. Except that it ends with Pierce asking Chloe out on a date. Kind of. It’s another example of the show stretching its comedic Tom Welling muscle, as he somehow asks himself out as Chloe’s date to the Axara concert.

As for the case-of-the-week, it’s surprising it’s taken three seasons for Lucifer to go through the pop star diva episode. Especially since it vaguely introduced such a concept with AnnaLynne McCord in the pilot—and it’s still amazing to realize she was just pilot fodder—and Dollhouse did this concept in its third episode.


Really, it’s the conclusion of the case that makes for the most interesting part of this plot. Because while it’s not surprising that the killer is Axara’s assistant CeCe (Awkward alum Jillian Rose Reed), what is surprising is how affecting her confession scene is. Even more than Axara’s lesson to Lucifer about not letting anyone get in the way of your passion, as true as that is. At its simplest—and the way it connects so deeply to Lucifer—CeCe’s confession is the story of a friend who loved their other friend so much that they’d do anything to prevent them from getting hurt. Even if that friend refuses to protect themself, as Axara chooses music superstardom the same way Chloe chooses to save others (to the point she covers Axara when she’s being shot at). (You can debate if CeCe’s love is more than just on a best friend level, of course.) It’s also technically how Maze felt with Linda/Amenadiel, only her answer was to expose them for the liars they were and then completely cut ties… which proves here to actually be the worse choice.

Jillian Rose Reed puts more heart into her confession scene than just “crazy,” making for the best part of an otherwise basic case-of-the-week. And like Lucifer, she’s “tired of sharing” the one she considers to be her partner in this crazy world. Of course, she ends up killing a couple of people and going to prison because of this love. Lucifer doesn’t go that far.


Also, we get Lucifer engaging in a reluctant diva duet of “I Will Survive.” I suppose that’s another highlight of this case.

Grade: B-

Stray observations

  • After witnessing the “Dust In The Wind” fiasco, how much do you want to bet Pierce has some very obnoxious karaoke go-tos? I frequented a karaoke bar in my early 20s where one guy would always sing Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike.” Pierce is that guy.
  • Ella takes a compliment box around the precinct to make Pierce feel better, and all anyone can say is that he has “nice arms.” I mean, it’s true.
  • There are drag queens in this episode, and they’re really just a footnote. That pretty much says it all.
  • While Lucifer is very fake interested in people this episode, I’ve got to say, he picks the perfect shirt (not just in phrasing but in style) for Ella. Also, in delightful bit of acting from Tom Ellis, when Ella blows Lucifer a kiss and he catches it, hethen secures it properly inside his jacket pocket.
  • Lucifer (opening a door for himself and Chloe): “After me.” It’s definitely the highlight of his attempt to ignore Chloe.
  • Dan: “Lay it on me. I’m here for you, bro.”
    Pierce: “It’s just life, you know? It’s like this eternal wasteland of meaningless existence. A dark void, staring down at you, like a beaten dog scrounging on the side of the road. Just waiting to get mowed down by the next tsunami of crap.”
    Dan: “... Wow. Hmm. Maybe we all are just dust in the wind.” Also, maybe Pierce should start seeing Dr. Linda.
  • Maze: “I’ve done a lot of things wrong. Like, a lot. But at least I don’t claim to be the good one. Pretend to stand on some moral high ground. ... You forgot the one rule that matters: Hoes before bros.”
    Linda: “Well, it’s pretty tricky to follow that rule when you seem to have slept with, oh, half of Los Angeles.”
    Maze: “... Go. To. Hell.”
  • The Axara songs in this episode are Skye Townsend originals, and you know what? The episode-closing “Noreg” is quite the earworm. To the point where there are already a few Lucifer/Chloe fan videos set to it.

“The Last Heartbreak”

The most important thing to realize about “The Last Heartbreak” is that it all begins the day after the end of “Let Pinhead Sing!” Not just because Lucifer gives up the sling charade (as he’s, no doubt, already healed) rather quickly, but because it means both Pierce and Maze work pretty fast when it comes to their current situations. That’s scarily impressive, when you think about it. Also important is that the episode takes the case-of-the-week and doesn’t just make it metaphorically connect to Lucifer; here, it literally connects to Pierce. Part of the whole immortal cop deal, I suppose, and it gives us a little taste of what Pierce was like during his brief time in Los Angeles in the 1950s.


Unsurprisingly, he was like a more personable version of Angel in “Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been.”

Tom Welling has always had a “classic” look to him, which is a major reason why he was cast as Clark Kent/Superman in the first place. So it’s only natural for Lucifer to give him some flashbacks to highlight that, especially with his character’s backstory. And like Lucifer with Candy, Pierce has an instant chemistry with Kay (Fiona Gubelmann) in the ‘50s. Pierce and Lucifer mirror each other in a lot of ways, after all. Which is pretty much key for the way Pierce functions, whether it’s having Lucifer relate to him or having Chloe fall for him.


Speaking of, those ‘50s flashbacks really work well to set up the eventual twist about Pierce’s true intentions for Chloe, especially in making one accept what they might have already assumed to be a ploy on his part. (I’ll admit, I immediately called him playing Chloe at the end of last week’s episode, only to soften on that because of these flashbacks.) Because as we see in 1958, Pierce had a clear opening to be happy with Kay, which he gave up on because of his “walls” and constant desire to run. But now in 2018, we’ve seen him stay and seemingly lower his walls for Chloe. The flashbacks are supposed to show us how he’s now learned from his mistakes, right?

Wrong. Instead, they’re a bait and switch, lowering the audience’s guard about Pierce—even making the audience think an “actual” love triangle is in the works. The same goes for the way he opens up to Chloe on their “second date,” which also reminds us Pierce has had more than enough time to practice how to be genuine.


But since the Cain reveal, this season has made it abundantly clear that Pierce has a one track mind, and nothing is going to derail his desire to die. That includes Chloe, whether he actually has feelings for her or not. And assuming “not,” this is a good narrative choice. Because while Chloe Decker is a good character and quite a catch, for another immortal to be so infatuated with her and her “specialness”? So much so that he completely gives up his one mission in life? That would kind of destroy her character. Nothing is good about that one character who is irresistible to everyone they meet (when it’s played straight), and luckily, Chloe is not that. So while Amenadiel’s speech to Pierce about faith in the previous episode is a good one that ends up having a good point (thanks to Lucifer risking his life to save Chloe), there was only going to be one way for Pierce to interpret it. That’s to find a new angle. And boy is Pierce smooth; he even finds out Chloe’s favorite dish from Ella. If it were any other woman Pierce were pursuing, Lucifer would probably even find this all impressive.

As for Lucifer, his own myopic behavior in this episode actually works in service of his relationship with Chloe, instead of railing against it. That leads to a lot of “The Detective is mine” behavior, unwilling to “share” Chloe or allow the dynamic between the two of them to shift. But as “The Last Heartbreak” reminds us, the Lucifer/Chloe dynamic isn’t romantic—not right now, as Lucifer still struggles with the concept of God putting Chloe in his path—which requires Lucifer to accept that Chloe’s allowed to pursue that romance with Pierce.


On a weaker note though, Lucifer spends the majority of the episode acting like the issue is completely Pierce trying to take his partner… but we already had Chloe worrying about Pierce doing the same thing (trying to take Lucifer) in “Infernal Guinea Pig.” The pushing and pulling of the Lucifer/Chloe partnership has been a big thing this season, and really, it’ll be nice to see it finally stabilize.

Meanwhile, Maze has spiraled so far out of control that there’s no way to stabilize her or what she plans to do next. She’s acting out, she’s shutting Linda out, and Dan—who is always in-over-his-head when it comes to Maze—has to be the one to try to rein her in. The guy who is now 0-2 in dealing with issues so far out of his wheelhouse (first with Pierce, now with Maze). But he’s also the only one not directly involved—or brought into the fray, like Charlotte—who even notices something’s wrong with Maze in the first place. This version of Maze is vindictive—this time, bringing up the time she and Dan had a man killed is low—and even more reckless than ever. She’s self-destructive in a way where it’s like she got stuck on the “anger” stage of grief and has no idea how to move past it. But the official point of no return is when she insults Trixie… which Trixie (the only friend she really had left) overhears. It’s pretty stressful to not get a follow-up on Trixie’s reaction to Maze’s harsh words, as is the fact that Chloe has absolutely no idea why (and isn’t even around to understand why) Maze moved out. “The Last Heartbreak” throws a lot at the audience to process, and this plot quickly goes from “fun,” old school Maze to something much more bitter to take.


As I noted in my review of “Infernal Guinea Pig,” things with Charlotte have progressed to the point where she needs to know the truth. There are just too many open possibilities for confusion and misunderstandings that the reveal has truly been more a matter of when, not if. (The story has prevented anyone from discussing the “Lucifer and Amenadiel’s step-mom” elephant in the room, but it’s always been a matter of time before it has to come up.) However, Linda does make a very valid argument in this episode, when she points out that she (a well-adjusted human being) “nearly broke” as a result of learning the truth. “Well-adjusted” unfortunately can’t be used to describe Charlotte. But unlike Amenadiel, Linda doesn’t see the way Charlotte reacts to him accidentally info-dumping at her. While it may not be Linda’s secret to tell, it certainly is Amenadiel’s; especially if Lucifer isn’t going to take care of the woman he promised to help in the first place. Again, this episode leaves us wondering what will happen next, after Amenadiel decides to go through with it.

Also, there needs to be a celestial-demonic group text message (including in-the-know Linda) for matters such as Charlotte Richards being alive (and not Mom) or Pierce being Cain. You know, for situations like this.


Obviously, Tom Welling gets a showcase, but Lauren German plays Chloe’s internal struggle with Pierce’s hot-and-cold status well, and Tom Ellis plays the jealous (but not even appropriately so, considering Pierce’s obvious attachment to the case) Lucifer much better than last episode’s more frantic, ridiculous Lucifer. (Again, Chloe shuts his Lucifer-ness down pretty simply, as she reminds him they’re dealing with a serial killer.) We also get the first post-Amenadiel/Linda break-up scene between the two, which goes from comedy to an intense moral dilemma pretty damn quick. To which DB Woodside and Rachael Harris clearly say, “No big deal.”

Also, usually when Maze and Dan have scenes together, they tend to lean toward the fun side of things. But while their exchanges this episode start off that same way, Lesley-Ann Brandt and Kevin Alejandro pull off the more serious beats once Maze gets truly antagonistic and Dan tries to figure out just what the hell is going on for her. Throw in Scarlett Estevez’s Trixie either pointing out strange men in her bed or having her heart broken by her favorite non-parental person in the world, and you’ve got yourself an emotional stew going.


Aimee Garcia gets the least to do this week, but Ella still gets to throw out the idea that Pierce/Chloe “boned,” so it works out. And at this point, what can I say about Tricia Helfer’s performance that I haven’t said already in previous reviews? This is such a good episode for everyone, and that extends to the great guest cast (Andrew Leeds, Joshua Gomez, and Fiona Gubelmann).

Grade: A-

Stray observations

  • Flashback Pierce: “Duty calls.” In just the previous episode, Lucifer was making a “duty” joke. You can kind of understand why Chloe would be more into Pierce, can’t you?
  • Ella: “They totally boned.”
    Lucifer: “Miss Lopez, please don’t be vulgar. The Detective doesn’t ‘bone’.”
  • Even before Pierce’s true intentions were revealed, I hoped this episode would pull a swerve and have him realize he’d rather try things out with Maddie instead. Technically, this episode still keeps things open for that, but since he has that whole “I’m over love” thing going on, that might not happen. I do hope there’s room for Fiona Gubelmann to return to the show though, especially since she’s such a natural fit for the series (both the actress and the character, just based on this). Also, the biggest moment of true humanity we see from him—besides bad singing—is when he first sees Maddie and thinks she’s Kay. He’s so excited at the possibility at finding someone else like him that you could almost see it as his version of a second chance. Alas, it’s only Kay’s granddaughter.
  • As someone who watched all of Chuck, I have a lot of feelings when I see Joshua Gomez in something. But I have even more feelings—all stress-related—when I see Joshua Gomez in a procedural. You can thank his episode of Castle, which introduced time travel into its canon, for that.
  • I need to know everything about the old lady on the Broken Hearts Killer tour. Is she a tourist? Does she come there often? Is she a serial killer who never got caught?
  • While it has yet to work on anyone but Amenadiel, I appreciate Dan’s role as Emotional Support Bro. He tries so hard, you know? Calling everyone “pal” isn’t just a tactic—it comes from the heart.
  • Lucifer: “How did you move on from the Detective when I showed up and replaced you? And please, don’t say improv.”
    Dan: “You didn’t replace me.”
    Lucifer: “Well, true, true. I suppose that would imply we’re on the same level.”
  • As co-showrunner Joe Henderson explained on his Twitter, the name Pierce came from (spelling aside) Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential. This episode’s ‘50s flashbacks are the official link between the two. Hopefully they’re not the last Pierce flashbacks we see, because this is a character who’s lived through every technological, scientific, etc. breakthrough and war imaginable. The possibilities are endless. *cough* spin-off *cough* I’m just saying: That rock collection (seriously) and ridiculously expensive house? Pierce is an interesting cat, and I want to see how he recovered from jumping into a volcano!

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.