Early in “Welcome Back, Charlotte Richards,” Lucifer tells Chloe that he’s “so over” God getting in his head and that he’s turning over a new leaf. A new leaf in which he will “no longer be affected by [his] father’s shenanigans.” No one watching believes that and Chloe even replies with immediate, direct doubt. Lucifer doesn’t even make it through the next scene without failing at keeping his promise, and it should be noted just how self-aware Lucifer is to not even take said promise seriously for longer than a moment. The day Lucifer stops being affected by his father’s shenanigans (real or imagined) is probably the day the series ends.
So instead, this episode isn’t about Lucifer’s barely there attempts to ignore what he believes to be his father’s lessons or interference; it’s about accountability. Unfortunately, that accountability lesson doesn’t extend to Lucifer apologizing to Amenadiel for last week’s episode-ending verbal take down. But it is close to home in a way that it might eventually lead to that apology.
The thing about this episode being accountability-heavy is that the early discussion about it (regarding Chloe almost getting shot last week) is simply Lucifer taking a stance against the very idea... despite Chloe making clear she doesn’t even want him to feel any accountability in this particular instance. They discuss how he felt bad he wasn’t there to protect her, but Chloe tells him not to be, because it wasn’t his responsibility to take care of her. Where everything shifts, however, is in Lucifer’s need to push that into meaning that accountability in general is “overrated.” Chloe’s not trying to teach Lucifer anything in this episode, except when it comes to the lesson she’s trying to teach a potty mouth Trixie (and Lucifer’s misguided interference in that realm). But Lucifer, full of his own guilt and very much trying to deny that guilt’s existence, chooses to crap all over accountability. Except he does believe one thing about it: Everything is God’s fault.
But Lucifer can’t quite go with that particular narrative once he’s confronted with (and surprised by) the return of Charlotte Richards.
Lucifer (and Amenadiel) was so wrapped up in having his own mother back—and all the stress that came with that—last season that he never really thought about how Charlotte Richards’ life was going. Sure, his early “punishment” of his mother was to have her continue to live Charlotte’s life, but as we see now, that was really only a punishment for Charlotte herself and her family as an extension. We got a bit of comedy out of her inability to get one of the kids to behave or an offhand comment about simply having sex with Charlotte’s husband whenever he’d ask too many questions, but as the season progressed and the divine issues became more important, that aspect of the character was pushed aside. That’s not even a criticism of the season itself; because while it’s an interesting dynamic, it would have messed with the tone of the season had it been more of a focal point. The problem is now, as the real Charlotte Richards is the one left in the aftermath, we see just how much of a disaster it was.
Charlotte (to herself): “You are not crazy. No one knows you can’t remember the last few months. You will pretend that you do. Own it. You will not—not—give them a reason to put you in a padded cell.”
Charlotte (to Lucifer): “It’s like someone else was living my life. Ruining it. My work, my relationships, and— My family. I have no idea why my husband got custody of the kids. Why I’ve been denied visitation rights. But ever since I woke up on that beach, I’ve been pretending. Like I remember it all, because otherwise, everyone will think that— That I’m crazy. Maybe I am.”
You can’t really laugh at that now, and that’s one of the keys to the re-introduction of Charlotte Richards: While she’s still technically a fish out of water like she was as Lucifer’s mother in season two, the focus here is more on the serious aspects of that. Obviously Lucifer’s mother had a lot of serious issues of her own (which I went into much detail about), but so much of her actions and interactions with other characters were rooted in a more humorous context, as she was unable to understand human way. I believe I compared her to Anya from Buffy The Vampire Slayer in that regard. The real Charlotte Richards, on the other hand, is rooted in being fundamentally unable to understand how she got to the point she’s currently in. She has nothing to help her but the words of strangers and a past that can’t help her. There are scenes here like her attempt to seduce Lucifer, but even that is all part of her very upsetting attempt to go with the flow and pretend everything’s alright. The version of her that was taken over by a divine being rarely attempted to go with the flow, because in her mind, why should she?
And now with this episode, we have an interesting new character dynamic in the current Charlotte Richards. The revelation that her soul was in Hell (or something like it) the whole time she was possessed by Lucifer’s mother is a surprise, since what happened to her soul was never really a topic of conversation. And based on Lucifer’s reactions, the real Charlotte Richards basically became out of sight, out of mind after the season two finale. In a way, it feels short-sighted for neither he nor Amenadiel to keep tabs on her, but it’s actually one of the simplest reminders that these are still divine beings who only really care about the humans in their inner circle. They never knew the real Charlotte Richards before, only gaining any type of insight into her when she was introduced as their parent’s human vessel.
Interestingly enough is that Charlotte initially has a real fear in people thinking she’s crazy, but the episode manages to amp that up even more (and in a more worrisome way for her, unfortunately) by revealing that she’s really more afraid of going back to Hell. This isn’t like Malcolm back in the first season, where he was a legitimately bad person who went to Hell and went mad after the fact. Charlotte, despite her role as lawyers to the stars (of crime), never really saw herself as a bad person—a Hell-bound bad person—until she experienced it. That alone makes her want to change, which goes to show her fundamental character, even if she was introduced as someone who cheated on her submissive husband and only represented the worst of the worst.
But even outside the complexities of the Charlotte character and what she means for Lucifer as well as Lucifer, “Welcome Back, Charlotte Richards” is an extremely solid episode. It’s another episode with missing characters and without concrete excuses for said absences. (Except for Pierce, who is still in the hospital. But his offscreen presence is felt as he passes this week’s case off to Chloe and Lucifer.) However, despite those absences, Lucifer still learns his lesson-of-the-week about accountability without Dr. Linda’s guidance (or even Amenadiel’s pushing), which is a big deal. Especially after seeing last week’s (also Dr. Linda-less) episode, where Lucifer completely missed the point of the lesson he was supposed to learn and Amenadiel’s pushing only led to Lucifer pushing back.
This functions as an episode that shows Lucifer’s growth in terms of learning a lesson on his own without having to be hit on the head for it, and it’s success in that way. It’s also successful in making those character absences not hit as hard as they typically would, as this is a full, rich episode from beginning to end with the type of tight plotting that was missing in last week’s episode. Everyone involved plays their part well (even when Dan’s part is a lot of eating his feelings), but this episode belongs to Tom Ellis and Tricia Helfer. That’s not new for the series, but as the first episode of the season with the latter actor, it’s great to see that she still fits this show like a glove.
Plus, in having the case-of-the-week be one of pudding-based corporate espionage, it also ties the case to Dan in a funny and important way. It’s essentially the pay-off to Dan’s fury about Lucifer and Maze eating his pudding: They were just saving his life. Accidentally saving his life, but it still counts.
- This week, in The Lucifer Writers Are Big Children: It’s either a tie between Lucifer’s “semen”/”pudding” comment or all the alternative swearwords Trixie apparently used.
- I’m still not sure how “twice as much protein as all the other brands” makes a pudding taste better. Then again, I’m still trying to figure out if the security guard devouring the pudding like he was in the opening teaser was either because he was high or because the pudding was laced with addictive drugs. I like pudding too y’all, but this was ridiculous.
- I’m also trying to figure out how much market research Dan did on pudding brands before he settled for this particular pudding. And if there’s a lucrative pudding market in Los Angeles that I just don’t know about.
- Talk about a nice touch: Simon ending up in a vat, Batman-villain style, only for the episode to transition right to Trixie’s Wonder Woman toy. That’s some impressive DC brand loyalty.
- Lucifer: “You give your child money every time she swears? Oh bravo, Detective.”
- As good as the Trixie/Chloe plot is in its simplicity (and in being Lucifer’s excuse for swear word loopholes), it would have been nice if Dan added his two cents on this matter. You know, as Trixie’s father and all. Especially in an episode where we learn that one parent on this show lost visitation rights for reasons she literally has no understanding of; Dan has no reason or excuse not to be present in Trixie’s life in things like this. Unless he and Chloe already decided Chloe would be “swear jar parent.”
- Dan: “You seduce me, you hack into my phone, you become a suspect in a case. You tell me I’m your favorite human, whatever that means. You almost die and then you ghost me for weeks. Nothing about any of that makes any sense to me.” Dan. Please. Love yourself. (I said the same thing after he and Charlotte made coffee plans, only for him to see Lucifer take Charlotte home and realize there will always be this strange competition for her affection and trust.)
- From the moment Lucifer and Charlotte first interacted in this episode, I knew there had to be an awkward Charlotte/Lucifer seduction scene coming up.Then it happened, and it was just as perfect as I imagined it would be. Tom Ellis’ physical comedy (see: the way he climbs the piano to get away from her) in the scene made me make a mental note to rewatch Miranda soon.
- Lucifer: “Okay. Okay, fine. I’m not thinking about Dad, not thinking about Charlotte. It’s not working. Why is it not working?”
- Lucifer: “Garbage? What are you talking about? What you’re doing is art.”
Chloe: “Is it though?”
Lucifer: “Well despite the unwelcome reminder of Dad and my wings, I’ve never wanted pudding more in my life.”
Grace: “Exactly. Because we’re selling sex. Which has absolutely nothing to do with pudding. To distract people from the fact that my pudding tastes like crap.”
Lucifer: “Oh. That’s an odd choice of flavors.” I need approximately 1,000 more words to really talk about the Heavenly Pudding commercial scenes. Especially the commercial.
- Suzanne Cryer is always great, so it’s also great to see her in such a good case-of-the-week for Lucifer. The villains are all just a bunch of terrible corporate weenies. Excellent. The fact that the murder doesn’t end up being a murder isn’t a disappointment, because its very existence allows our LAPD team to show off their competency at their jobs. As great as it is to watch goofy Ella, competent Ella is just as great. As is good friend Ella, who is also present in this episode.
- That Lucifer can genuinely give Charlotte hope as he talks about a “second chance” without looking at his own circumstances in the same light proves he still has a long way to go. But it’s good that he can at least try to right a wrong on someone else’s behalf. At least he only drinks once on the job this week! So he’s doing better.