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Lucifer - Welcome Back, Charlotte Richards - Review: “Soul Redemption”

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Lucifer has gotten off to a rather unusual start this season. Last season ended on a really interesting note, but this season hasn’t really done much to build upon that. Going into this episode the series was very much so in the same spot it was when last season ended and they've already aired four episodes. The only big new addition to the story is Sinnerman and he's sort of disappeared from the story briefly. Pierce can’t really be included in that listing yet because we don’t really know much about him. It seems that we know more about Sinnerman than a character that we have actually met. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the writers have had to write around the involvement of the carryover standalones from last season. The payoff has been so slow to come this season that it has begun to become frustrating at times. Most of the episodes have been solid standalones, which is interesting since only one of them was actually a standalone, but they haven’t done much to advance the overall plot. Then this episode happened and the glorious return of Charlotte Richards and the ever brilliant Tricia Helfer poured new life into this season returning Lucifer back to its glorious self.

The one thing that has always worked to benefit Lucifer is that it has always had shorter seasons never making it to the full twenty-two. This season, however, is suffering from having too many episodes as it has its full order plus the additional four carryovers. As such the writers have had to come out of the gate writing at a much slower pace than usual to stretch the story out to encompass far more episodes than usual. This is something that afflicts a lot of genre shows, but most other shows come out of the gate strong then have a lull in the middle of the season. Hopefully, this slower than expected start will mean that everything that comes after this first block will be full speed ahead. The network might really want to evaluate keeping the show at a lower episode count moving forward. With all that said, this episode was a brilliant example of what these writers can do. If the show can capitalize on the forward momentum this episode gave it then the season might be finally coming into gear.

As was hoped for, the return of Charlotte Richards was a powerful tour de force for Tricia Helfer. At the end of last season, it wasn’t even known for sure if Helfer would return since the Mom storyline had been concluded. In a show of their brilliance, the writers crafted a terrific way to keep Charlotte an active part of the story allowing Helfer to remain with the show. Once that was revealed the question was who Charlotte was going to be upon her return. She tried to be her old devious defense attorney self, but it was clear from the start that something was different about her. The whole morning routine montage was a very nice way to show how much Charlotte had been struggling since she woke up n the beach. She was trying to reassure herself, but she didn't seem to even be able to fully convince herself that she was okay. Immediately it was easy to sympathize with her. The audience never knew Charlotte Richards before the possession by Mom, but we heard enough about her to know she wasn’t a good person. So it was interesting to see Charlotte try to pick up where she last remembered leaving off, except a lot happened in that time that she has no recollection of. The "fake it till you make it" philosophy really wasn't doing her any good.

What she did distinctly remember was the time she spent in Hell. Now, this is interesting because she is only the second human character we know of to have gone to Hell and return. Everyone remembers how things played out with Malcolm in the first season. He was so determined to not go back to Hell that he became a worse person than he was before his first visit to Hell, therefore, earning himself a one-way ticket right back there. Charlotte, on the other hand, seems to want to become a better person and redeem her soul to avoid enduring that horrible fate again. Can she undo a lifetime of bad choices? With the unlikeliest of mentor in Lucifer, she might just be able to, after all, he knows all in the ins and outs of Hell. There seems to be a genuinely good person hiding under the hardened lawyer exterior, but whether she can truly change her ways and become a good person it yet to be seen. She did seem genuinely torn up about losing custody of her kids and she didn't seem overly happy about her extravagant life. There is a good chance that she might just be able to overcome all of her bad choices and secure a better fate for herself, but it is going to take a lot of work to undarken her soul.

The sheer amount of character development in a single episode was quite impressive. The writers took Charlotte from the person we were told she was before the Mom incident and guided her through a spectacular series of tests that led her to the realization that she needed to do better in her life. She never wants to go back to Hell and she came to understand that to do that she had to do better. That means she can’t keep representing the people she was, though holding a gun on them probably isn't the best thing to do when trying to redeem ones soul. So what does that mean for her career? After word gets out regarding her actions in this episode she might be out many clients anyway. Will Charlotte start only representing those wronged or those she truly believes to be innocent? Will she start to work with the police department? All of this is as of now unknown, but the potential for her this season is massive as long as the writers can keep on this track. We’ve seen the dark side of returning from Hell, so it’ll be very interesting to see someone try to find their way back to the light from the darkness.

There was this lovely moment between Ella and Charlotte where Ella is trying to protect Dan and she tells Charlotte that she used to see a light in her that is no longer there. We, as the audience, know that the light was Mom, but Charlotte doesn’t know that. She still has no idea what happened during that time she has no memories of. Not knowing is eating away at her and driving her towards the edge. She knows what lies waiting in the darkness and that terrifies her. It is the ultimate irony that she finds solace and understanding in Lucifer. He is, after all, the light bringer. Perhaps the true meaning of that moniker is the fact that he has the ability to redeem souls. Can he help bring light back to Charlotte? Will helping her find her way help him find his? God is all knowing and it doesn’t seem likely that he would have permitted another human soul to escape Hell, especially after the Malcolm debacle, without sending her back with a purpose. Lucifer has been trying to understand what his Father is up to, but could He truly be simply trying to show His son the good in himself? It's very clear that Lucifer isn't the evil monster stories made him out to be. He's always had to live with that stigma, but in reality, there is so much more to him. Perhaps saving Charlotte is exactly what he needs to realize himself that he's not the monster everyone believes him to be.

Both Lucifer and Charlotte are lost souls in many ways. They have a shared past that only he remembers, but she feels drawn and connected to him. Thankfully the writers rapidly shut down the love interest potential right away because that would have been awkward for the characters and audience alike. Though the whole makeout sequence was simply hilarious and brilliantly acted by Tom Ellis as he showed Lucifer's complete and utter shock. It was the perfect choice to show that the characters are still connected which was the right thing to do to make her return more coherent to the story. These two characters have all the makings of a powerful friendship and mentorship that could serve to aid both characters in growing and moving forward. What Lucifer is going to have to help Charlotte with first is dealing with the negative feelings everyone has for her due to the things Mom did while inhabiting her body.

First of she had to deal with poor Dan who had his heart broken by Mom. There is still a spark between Dan and Charlotte though nothing like what Mom and Dan had. Can these two still manage to salvage a relationship? By the end of the hour, they seemed to at least come to an understanding with one another. They each need some time to process everything that has happened, but there is still terrific potential for a pairing there in the future. Tricia Helfer and Kevin Alejandro have amazing chemistry, so it’ll be curious to see how that plays out. Dan needs a little love in his life with everything going on. He lost his marriage, his career isn’t going terrific, and he’s now lost his favorite snack food. The guy could use a break, so maybe Charlotte and Dan can help each other during their journeys of self-discovery. Though, at least for the moment, Charlotte needs to get some steady footing first and get her life together to a degree before she pursues a relationship with Dan or anyone for that matter.

It was fascinating to watch how Ella was so protective over Dan. She didn't just stand up for him with Charlotte, but she was quick to knock the deadly pudding from his hands. Ella is still a bit of an enigma since what few bits of information we know about her don’t seem to match the bubbly happy character we see on screen. There is a lot of potential in this character if the writers can just figure out how to tap into it. She, much like Trixie, seems to be able to see the light and dark in other characters. There seems to be something special about Ella, but what it is still remains a mystery even a full season after she was introduced. She’s a frustrating character because there is so much potential in her and the writers just haven’t been able to find the time to get into her past. That has got to happen this season because it would be a darn shame to have a character with such rich potential be squandered. There are a lot of episodes this season, so surely at some point, they’ll give her some much needed time to be more fleshed out and developed. The way she helped solve the case showed just how smart she is and that's something they need to showcase more than her bubbly sometimes childish like persona.

At least we got some really nice Trixie moments in this episode. The young miscreant took some unfortunate advice from Lucifer and found herself in trouble with her school and her mom. It did lead to a really nice Chloe and Trixie scene towards the end of the episode. These moments between mother and daughter are always wonderful because Lauren German and Scarlett Estevez have terrific chemistry together. Despite how young Estevez is she is always right on point with her delivery. She and German bring a heartwarming energy to their performances together and the more moments they can have like this in an episode the better. It was a nice touch that listening to Charlotte is what made Chloe open herself up to what was going on with her daughter and how to deal with that situation. Charlotte’s return had a big overarching impact. It's that sort of impact that has been missing from this season and made this whole episode work so incredibly well.

What was a bit disappointing is that the two people who were perhaps the most impacted by Mom were Amenadiel and Linda but neither were anywhere to be seen in this episode. The sheer amount of potential drama with them and Charlotte is epic which might be why they were absent from this hour. There is a solid argument to be made for why they needed to reintroduce the character before getting into that other drama, but those two were still very much so missed. When they all encounter one another again, will Amenadiel be as open to being around Charlotte as Lucifer? Will Linda be able to separate who Charlotte is versus who Mom was? That is one meeting that the writers have got to deliver on sooner than later. Linda has been struggling with what happened to her, so having Charlotte suddenly reappear is bound to cause some issues for her and promote great character growth.

This was a strong episode and largely in part to the fact that the case of the week was relegated back to its correct position in the background of the main story. The last episode suffered from making the case of the week to prominent in the hour to the point that it overshadowed the main point of the hour. This case was in a very indirect way connected to Dan and more directly to Charlotte, so it gave the case a meaningful purpose, yet it wasn’t allowed to overtake everything else that was going on. The balance that makes episodes of Lucifer play so well was restored this week after the unfortunate off-balance one from last week. It was a fun case that was actually quite unpredictable. Plus is led to that awesome moment where Charlotte confronted her clients. The fact that there was really no murderer and the guy had committed suicide was completely unexpected. The formula they used to incorporate the case of the week in this episode is one that they need to keep following because it worked perfectly. Also, it should be mentioned that the lack of Pierce was actually quite nice. When he next returns to the screen it will hopefully be with a much better storyline than last week because that simply did not work for the character or the series.

The next episode is another of the standalones and it looks like it’s going to be a hilarious one. The only concern is that it could end up hindering the forward progress this episode setup. Still, if this next standalone is anywhere near as good as the Maze one it should be a fun ride. Hopefully, the series is on track now to start plowing through character development and pushing into the core arc of the season revolving around Lucifer’s wings and Sinnerman. Most importantly, in their plans for upcoming episodes, lets all hope really hard that they’ve included Chloe finding out about Lucifer. With every passing episode that she lets, things slide, like him being able to get people to confess things to him, the long drawn out nature of this plot point is becoming increasingly daunting. Especially when the show shows Chloe overlooking a Lucifer moment then showcasing how brilliant of a detective she is as she tricked the fixer into following Lucifer and her decoy. With the way, things are going Charlotte is likely to know the secret before Chloe accepts it and quite frankly that isn’t acceptable. This next episode is going to be a fun ride so sit back and enjoy, but after that, the show needs to kick things back into gear and start really diving into the actual theme of the season. As always, what’s coming next for Lucifer will be a fun ride and it’ll be interesting to see where they take the story next.

Don’t miss the next all-new episode on Monday, November 6th at 8/7c on FOX.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Was Charlotte’s return everything you had hoped for? Do you want to see Dan and Charlotte become a couple? Do you think Charlotte can redeem her darkened soul?

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