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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

With “Resting Devil Face,” Lucifer once again asks, “What if God was one of us?

Illustration for article titled With “Resting Devil Face,” Lucifer once again asks, “What if God was one of us?
Graphic: John P. Fleenor/Netflix

The most important moment of “Resting Devil Face” is the one that inspires the titular line: the scene in which Dad sees Lucifer’s Devil face up close for the first time. As He is omniscient, He’d obviously seen the face before—even when He closed his eyes—but never in person. It’s the face Lucifer chose when he became King of Hell. The face of the monster Lucifer considered himself to be after his failed rebellion and banishment. Dad obviously knows that and knows how it’s the result of His fun little self-actualization feature for His kids, but there’s a clear detachment when you can only see it from afar—and a clear path of denial that comes with that detachment. So “Resting Devil Face” doesn’t just remove that detachment (and subsequent denial) from the equation, it does so while making sure Dad also witnesses it as a human. As someone who can not only feel the fear others must when they see His son’s Devil face but can also finally feel the emotional anguish Lucifer wears on his well-tailored sleeve whenever he brings it out.

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Witnessing it in person, in the life-threatening context in which Lucifer busts it out, has God finally wondering why it’s the face Lucifer chose to use in Hell—finally really letting it sink in that it’s how His son truly sees himself. And sees himself that way in large part because of Him. As God, He intentionally made it so that His angel children would self-actualize, for better or worse. But here, He really sees how that self-actualization isn’t just some neat little facet of free will; this is more of the lasting trauma that He’s imparted upon his child. Far away in the Silver City, Dad could easily deny how any of this is His doing. It’s much harder to do that when He’s here on Earth with His estranged son. Especially when you consider a point that Chloe makes in this episode, that children are a reflection of their parents.

That reflection obviously doesn’t just apply to Lucifer/Dad in this episode, it also applies to Chloe/Trixie and the issues that stem from Trixie being (as “Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam” revealed) being hyper-aware that her mother is not doing well right now (and that Lucifer is the cause of it). Lucifer is currently telling a very specific story with Chloe and how she’s not quite sure where she stands with Lucifer—both with his invulnerability and the “incapable of love” issue—but I’m really missing the Lucifer and the Detective dynamic. Yes, they’re still working together in this very episode, but it’s not the same. Trixie knows it, Chloe knows it—Lucifer might know it too if he wasn’t so busy with Dad.

As much comedy as there is in “Resting Devil Face,” Aiyana White’s script (based on Mira Z. Barnum, Joshua Duckworth, and Ricardo Lopez Jr.’s story) succeeds in showing what it looks like for a parent to start to “lose it,” to miss a step, to not be as sharp as they once were—both from the perspective of the parent and the child. (The quickly disintegrated “united front” from Lucifer and Amenadiel is an early highlight of the episode, though it is a bit disappointing that Amenadiel’s perspective on the matter isn’t much of a focus.) The episode does well not to go too far down the well of telling a dementia story, but it does capture the scariness of how it is to no longer feel like you can do certain things—and how your child must also feel about seeing that. In this case, the biggest moment is when Lucifer and a powerless (and terrified) Dad are on the sting, with Lucifer going into protective mode against the bad guys—eventually leading to the revelation that Dad can’t remember where He put His powers. We see Lucifer get upset and frustrated with Dad, but in a post-“Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam” world, we know that it’s coming from a place of worry for Dad first, the powers second.

Here, Dad’s not just an embarrassing figure who judges Lucifer for not even having a desk like Dan: He’s a liability who’s also experiencing humanity in a way He never has before, both the highs (slushies) and lows (near death). All because He wants to learn and grow, because He does realize that Lucifer was right to call Him out on His controlling ways. At the same time, even after admitting to Lucifer in the last episode that He’s losing control of His powers, He still starts things off in denial of that fact, since no one’s singing anymore, right?

Which brings me to the question of the episode, whether or not God intended to blow Dan up and put him back together. Again, for all of God’s chill, He does not seem to have any of that when it comes to the Dan/Mom situation, and He even allows everyone to remember Dan blowing up after it happens. (In the reset, you can even see an extra wiping himself as though he still has Dan guts on him.) Is He even able to control their memory of this particular moment? The episode doesn’t dwell too much on the answer to this question, because the aftermath is more important, in terms of adding more to Dan’s internal struggle. While Dan knows that Lucifer is the “good” twin to Michael’s bad one, that hasn’t changed the fact that he now knows Heaven and Hell are real. And that God doesn’t like him. Nothing he has learned in 5B so far has made him less scared of what he learned in 5A. He is terrified that he is going to Hell, and considering what we know about Hell and guilt, that’s not a good sign. Again, he went from learning Lucifer’s really the Devil to meeting God and learning he slept with His (ex-)wife. Amenadiel didn’t get to give him the gentle angel talk, and now he’s being blown up (and put back together) by God. Then he’s talking to Maze—realizing she’s actually a demon—and she’s only making him even more scared of Hell. While the natural progression of things on this show has always been to make peace with the celestial side of things eventually—Charlotte Richards struggled similarly to Dan, but even she didn’t come face-to-face with God—circumstances aren’t exactly making things easy for Dan.

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Even though God apologizes to Dan later in the episode, that still doesn’t erase the memory of him being blown up. It’s… dark. Which is impressive, as it would be so easy for the show to fall into a cartoony groove with God in this episode. A lot of the success of the human for a day plot comes from that natural gravitas of Dennis Haysbert’s, coupled with the fact that he’s also simply not playing God as a child, even though He has some childlike tendencies (the closing His eyes bit, the slushie) and his revelatory moment of the episode comes thanks to a child. The most interesting part about having God/Dad around now is that we get to see His interactions with every character. While we know He’s never been the best parent, it’s lovely to see that He’s able to connect with Trixie the way He does here.

But if there’s one major criticism I have of “Resting Devil Face,” it just might be that while there are a lot of good thematic concepts in this episode—denial, children as a reflection of their parents, what happens when your parents start to slip in their advanced age—there are a lot of thematic concepts in this episode. It’s somewhat overwhelming, and “overstuffed” feels like the best way to describe it all. In fact, I’m sure there’s some analogy about ships in a bottle that would really apply here. Part of this is the “issue” with finally having God on the show: While the writers can narrow down the stories they want to tell because they’re ultimately creating a story about an absentee father, this is still a story about God. And there’s a lot of stories to tell about God. He is naturally overwhelming as a character, and the last thing you want to do is underserve Him. It’s also very possible that the overstuffed nature of the episode is the point, for that very reason. These characters are also overwhelmed, after all.

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But, as usual, there’s the case-of-the-week, which is both a casualty of the overstuffed nature of the episode and the very nature of the procedural beast. Regarding the latter, as soon as I saw Catherine Dent’s name in the credits—during a scene where Dad, Chloe, and Lucifer are trying to figure out “whodunnit”—I wrote in my notes, “see Catherine Dent’s name, OF COURSE she did it.” The strategy for the most notable name always being the killer isn’t an exact science when it comes to Lucifer, but it is when that notable name is a post-The Shield Catherine Dent. As for the former, the case itself is really kind of... nothing. Even without realizing which guest star obviously did it. It’s the Dad moments and the awkward kiss-hug between Lucifer/Chloe that make this part of the episode at all. Actually, there are also the series Easter Eggs in Kristoff’s gym and the choice for “The Colonel” to be so driven by her mother’s disappointment and disapproval, as though the Lucifer audience would suddenly miss a thematic throughline in a case. Those also make this part of the episode work. But it’s definitely not the case itself.

Especially not when you have God walking around as a human, taking the LA Metro.


Stray observations

  • The opening bit set to Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” is one of the funniest moments in the history of this show. It’s so good and pretty much the only way you can—or at least should be allowed to—use this song at this point. It’s easy to imagine the show earnestly using the song much earlier, but since it’s finally using it now, this is the best way.
  • It’s kind of a bummer that Lucifer already used “What If God Was One Of Us?” as a whole bit back in (you guessed it) “God Johnson” because it’s even more applicable now.
  • Chloe leaves Trixie with Linda because she and Dan have to be at work, but Dan apparently has time to drink more at LUX. I don’t know, I feel like that’s bad. Things are bad for the Decker-Espinoza clan.
  • An Ella/Dad hug? Yes, please. Also, He has noticed all of Ella’s support over the years and He thanks her for that. Naturally, Ella is confused.
  • Dad (to some bad guys): “Mid-temper tantrum, Lucifer looks straight up at me, all serious, and says, ‘I’m going to start a rebellion.’ Adorable.” I feel like Dad telling this story—and in such a playful way—is especially... distasteful? Even more than the flood joke at the top of the episode.
  • In “Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam,” Dad informs Lucifer that He prefers the donuts with cereal bits on them. Cut to “Resting Devil Face,” where He shares His cereal donut with Trixie.
  • I know people get frustrated with Maze when she gets really petty and lashes out (in Season Three, it was the Linda/Amenadiel thing and her teaming up with Cain), but I’ve never had an issue with any of it because it speaks to her struggles when it comes to emotional maturity. That’s why I found it hilarious that her first onscreen interaction with Amenadiel since the “Spoiler Alert” fight is him slightly giving her crap about being a backstabber but nothing further. She does apologize though, saying she believed Michael that she could be “something better.”
  • Maze: “You created me to be a killer, and I can’t even do that right. ‘Perfect the way I am,’ my demon ass.”
    God: “The funny thing about miracles… is they happen every day. An angel has a child with a human. The Devil can fall in love. We can all learn. And we can all grow.”
    Maze: “But a demon can’t grow a soul.”
    God: “Can’t she?”
  • In my discussion of how overstuffed this episode feels, I apparently forgot to mention the fact that, at the end, God announces He plans to retire. Yeah, a lot happens here.
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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.