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Lucifer - City of Angels - Review: “Where It All Began”

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This episode was a fascinating look back at Lucifer’s first days in Los Angeles. Up until this point, we’d only heard about it, but to actually see how things actually happened was a treat. Even though we know all of these characters now there were still some very intriguing moments. Placing this standalone right after the winter break was perfect placement. This one, more so than any of the others that preceded it, actually felt like it belonged where it was placed. It was a terrific episode that was so well done.

Since the series launched it has been obvious that there were issues between the brothers. Amenadiel was always his father’s loyal enforcer and Lucifer was the rebel. Those have been fundamental characteristics of who they are. Even as brothers who have a deep love for one another they still annoy the literal hell out of one another. Amenadiel feels responsible for his brother and even when he was making stupid decisions in the first season it always felt like he was doing what he was doing because he thought it was what was best for his brother. His problem was that he really didn't have a true appreciation for humanity in the same way as Lucifer. Because of that he just couldn't comprehend why his brother would want to be amongst humans in such a way. It wasn’t until he was banished to Earth with his brother that he began to understand things and see humans and their father in a new light.

In many ways, this episode is where Amenadiel’s story began. It was the outcome of his little journey through humanity that shaped the being we knew him as in the first season. He saw the very worst in humanity and it did sour his view of humanity. One can't really blame him for being sour after being shot by a human. While humans fascinate Lucifer they left Amenadiel with negative feelings. As a brother, he thought by getting Lucifer away from them that he’d be doing his brother a favor in the long run. He didn’t want his brother to be surrounded by the vileness of humanity that they experienced together. But Lucifer, as the King of Hell, has always had a much closer connection to humans than Amenadiel. To him, the humans they encountered were fascinating. It was quite interesting to see the way each brother reacted to the situations they found themselves in. The whole fight scene was a powerful case study in the disfunction between the brothers. There was, and at times still is, a lot of tension between them that likely carried over from their early days at home together in Heaven. This whole endeavor also exposed that Amenadiel has quite an immense ego. He was quite proud of being an undefeated warrior for their father. A very clear picture was drawn of when Amenadiel's fall from grace began and it was years before we initially met him in the pilot.

It wouldn’t be until his banishment that he would begin to see and embrace his own imperfections and begin to allow himself to see the best humanity had to offer. He would meet Linda, Chloe, and Trixie and see their big hearts and kindness. Even Dan proved to ultimately be a decent guy who would go on to be one of Amenadiel’s best human friends. These were the sort of people that drew Lucifer to stay in Los Angeles. After so many millennia surrounded by the worst of humanity, he got to see that the human race had more to offer. Of course, Lucifer being Lucifer was always immensely fascinated with human sexuality. It’s fitting that their first Earth-bound adventure led them to a porn set. Love is something that seems to fundamentally drive Lucifer. He wants so desperately to truly fully understand it which is what has led him to so many sexual encounters. They all teach him something and he couldn’t get that in Hell. This episode showed that Lucifer stayed on Earth for a lot of different reasons, but one big one was all the varying type of humans that he’d never had the opportunity to interact with before.

There was, of course, a very large element of him sticking it to his dad. Anything that angers his father tends to make Lucifer happy, especially at that point in his existence. He knew, based on the fact that Amenadiel was sent after him, that his father wanted him back in Hell. As the rebel of the family, he did everything in his power to avoid that fate. He went so far as to even have Maze cut off his wings. And that scene, wow, that scene was a poignant one. It said so much about both Lucifer and Maze. In fact, there is an argument to be made, that this was perhaps the single most telling scene we’ve seen regarding both of them. This was the defining moment that shaped them both into the characters we now know and love. What is so unique about this moment is that it clearly meant very different things for each of them.

In terms of Lucifer, losing the wings was an act of defiance. It was him cutting ties with his father and basically sending a big cosmic “screw you” up to his father. The removal had to have hurt when it was happening yet there was this look of immense relief in his eyes. It was a literal and figurative weight being removed from his shoulders. He could blend in better with humans without worrying about them popping out and he finally had some freedom. It was his big step out into the world without his father’s permission and for him, that was freeing. Having this moment play out now really gave a lot more weight to why he reacted so passionately about his wings returning. He went through a lot to get rid of them and then to have them come back was a hard thing for him to accept.

For Maze, the whole wing removal thing was just as character defining. It was a big moment for her, but in very different ways to Lucifer. She loved the life she had in Hell. That was likely all she had ever known. Based off of how strong a reaction she had to torturing a live human it’s clear that she’s never been outside of Hell before. Live humans were a whole new thing for her and dealing with a live human gave her a whole new rush. It was clear that she was curious about humans, but not enough to have made Los Angeles her home of her own free will. By Lucifer removing his wings, he was essentially cutting off their way home. He was stranding himself, but by association, he was trapping her in a life she didn’t necessarily want at the time. Then, to take it a step farther, he made her complacent in his self-imposed banishment by having her remove his wings. Having to be the one to remove his wings had an immense impact on her. The acting by Lesley-Ann Brandt in this moment was spectacular. If Maze had a soul it would have been bared for the world to see in that moment. Brandt delivered an intense portrayal of what Maze was experiencing. The feelings rushing through Maze in that moment were likely ones that not even she fully understood. The anguish on Maze’s face told a powerful story all by itself. As we’ve seen before, Maze never liked the fact he got rid of his wings, but she did it because he was her best friend and King. She had been his best friend and demon right hand for who knows how many millennia, so abandoning him to his own fate was never going to be an option for her. If he was going to go off on this crazy adventure she was going to stay by his side to try to keep him safe, but that didn’t make any of it easy for her. That makes it all the clearer why at times she seems to carry a bit of resentment for him. Despite her good life on Earth a part of her still seems deeply impacted by this moment and it doesn't seem as though she's fully forgiven him.

While all the celestial characters were off on their early adventure together the humans of the show were off doing their own things. It was an interesting twist by the writers to have had Chloe interact with Amenadiel and cross paths with Lucifer long before their first official meetings. In many ways, it was Amenadiel’s case that put her on the path towards becoming a Detective which ultimately put her directly in Lucifer’s path. Sort of fitting since it was Amenadiel who gave her the means to exist at all. Without even realizing it he continually plays significant roles in her life. It was a nice little touch by the writers and D.B. Woodside's performance was quite hilarious. He nailed the humor of the moment in such a dry way that was perfect to Amenadiel's uptight personality.

Through this, we also got to see the point where Dan and Chloe’s marriage began to fall apart. He really didn’t seem to support her dream to become a Detective despite trying to convey differently. She fought her way up the ranks and earned her promotion. Ironic since she would ultimately end up outranking him. The writers and Kevin Alejandro did a great job of capturing Season One Dan for these scenes. He was a bit cocky and a bit of a jerk who didn’t believe in his wife enough. Thankfully circumstances have allowed him to evolve greatly from the man he once was. This episode just reminded the audience how far Dan has come since those early days.

One very curious and unexpected involvement in this episode was that of Charlotte. While it was interesting to see her long before the Mom possession it was still unusual and almost felt a bit out of place until the scene fully played out then her involvement made perfect sense. It was clear when Charlotte first came into the picture that Chloe was at least familiar with her. Seeing one of their first encounters helped to further explain Chloe’s issues with Charlotte. Just like with Dan it was nice to see the writers tap into the old Charlotte. It once again showcased just how far she has evolved.

This entire episode was a terrific hour that dove into who each of these characters are on a fundamental level. It might be called a standalone, but of all these hold over episodes, it had the most profound impact on the overall story. On top of everything else it also gave the audience insight into Lux before it was actually the Lux we have come to know so well. This was almost like a second pilot episode introducing us to the characters again by displaying them to us in ways we haven’t really seen them. They could almost call this a lost pilot. And, to be honest, it might have actually worked a little bit better than the actual pilot. The pilot was awesome and gave birth to an exceptional series, but it always felt like they cut away too much of Lucifer’s early time here on Earth. It was a great choice on the part of the shows and writers to go back and deep dive into this time from the past.

For the early half of this season, the series has struggled mightily with the balance between the procedural and divine. Basically, outside of Lucifer’s wings returning, the divine part of the series has sort of been missing in action. This case of the week was personal and was the first link that tied the whole group together. It was also a celestial case since it was Amenadiel’s necklace in human hands. This is what has been lacking from the season and it was nice to have that just prior to the writers diving into the big Cain story coming for the back half of the season. Overall this was a powerful episode that was placed perfectly in the lineup. While these standalones seriously impacted the flow of the season every single one of them was an exceptional episode. These were stories that needed to be told, but placement in the lineup didn't do the show any favors. Thankfully the writers used their time wisely and despite all the obstacles they've had to face this season they have managed to set up what could be an incredible back half of the season. There is every indication that the back half of the season is going to be incredible.

Don’t miss the next episode when it airs Monday, January 22nd at 8/9c on FOX.

Hit the comments with your thoughts on this episode. Which did you like more, this episode or the actual pilot? Did you like the scene where Maze cut off Lucifer’s wings? Did you like seeing all the characters at a time before we got to know them?

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