Lucifer S02E02 “Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress On Fire” REVIEW
Available in the UK via Amazon TV, new episodes every Tuesday
Writer: Ildy Modrovich
Director: Louis Milito
Essential Plot Points:
- After having a series of bad luck trying to find a new host (they keep dying on her), Lucifer’s mum finally takes possession of the body of a sexy lawyer who’s just died having been stabbed in the neck in a hotel room.
- She finds Lucifer but – as she’s covered in blood – he’s suspicious of her story, convinced she’s been on a murder spree.
- He’s also disturbed that his mother is so damned… sexy.
- She takes him back to the hotel room… where there’s another body that she hadn’t noticed. Lucifer is not impressed and they beat a hasty retreat.
- When Chloe is called to investigate that self-same hotel homicide, Lucifer tags along, playing innocent, but hoping that the investigation will reveal his mum’s guilt or oterwise.
- He leaves mum in Maze’s incapable hands, chained up in his penthouse.
- Maze lets slip that Lucifer made a deal with God that involved Lucifer having to return his Mum to Hell.
- Mum feigns anxiety at the news, tricking Maze into letting her guard down, then headbutting her and managing to escape.
- Lucifer is worried that she’ll make a run for it and inhabit a new body. Instead, inspired by a cookery programme she’s seen, she goes shopping for cheese and noodles.
- The investigation pinpoints the murderer as a jealous colleague of the murdered lawyer. There are some drugs and a Crocs-wearing husband involved. The details seriously don’t matter.
- Meanwhile, Chloe’s daughter Trixie has (very creatively) destroyed her old doll in the hope of getting a new one, but Chloe is playing hardball.
- Unfortunately, Lucifer – playing the rejected child card – buys Trixie a new doll anyway. Chloe is furious, and tries to get Lucifer to understand that sometimes a parent has to be harsh for their child’s own good.
- So when Lucifer’s mum returns, and reveals that it was actually her that got him banished to hell – but only to save him from a worse fate for angering his father – he’s more willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. He lets her stay.
- Amenadiel, as well as losing his power to freeze time, is also losing his wings. He needs a friend, and turns to Doctor Linda who, after dressing him down for impersonating a psychiatrist last season, is happy to oblige.
Our review of the previous episode finished with the line: “It looks like season two proper will start next week.” Thankfully our prediction/hope was borne out. “Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress On Fire” may lack Lucifer belting out a wicked version of “All Along The Watchtower” but in every other way it feels much more like a brash, confident, game-changing season premiere than the season premiere did. Even the very first sequence – with Lucifer’s mum waking up in various bodies only to be killed almost immediately – feels like a perfect WTF?! hook with which to kick off a season (though we wish it had been longer).
The problem with giving star ratings to an episode of a show like Lucifer is often deciding what you’re actually giving the stars for. Sometimes the show has a great story but weak gags; other times it’s full of hilarious moments but has a really weak story. “Liar, Liar…”, though, presents no such dilemma. It’s both very funny and, thanks to the introduction of the supreme being’s better half, it’s also got a great tale to tell. Admittedly the crime of the week is even more perfunctory than usual, but in this episode the crime-of-the-week is so far down the pecking order in terms of narrative importance, who cares, frankly? We want to know more about mum.
And what an enigma she is. Her wonderfully malicious glance to heaven at episode’s end proves there much more to her than she’s revealing, but even so, there are little hints about her true nature that intrigue, especially the way she regards humanity as her husband’s project. She clearly thinks of us as little more than exotic fish in a tank. Actually, maybe not even exotic. Sticklebacks, perhaps. Her goading of Maze also suggests that she’s more in control than she’s letting on. She doesn’t need to escape. She appears to do to it just to prove a point. And we doubt very much that point has anything to do with cheesy noodles. That was just her trying to appear contrite.
It is a bit annoying – and not a little mystifying – that Lucifer isn’t trying harder to call her to account. Why isn’t interrogating her about why and how she escaped Hell. And why now? And why didn’t she let him know earlier that she’d him banished to Hell for his own good? There seem to be bloody great holes in her story and Lucifer is either in a state of self-denial or just being thick, neither of which sound like him.
But Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer is so deliciously playful in the role, you can forgive the script such shortcomings. Lucifer’s mum (if they don’t give her a name soon we’ll have to call her Mrs God) is all kinds of fun to watch, especially the way she seems fascinated by the awesomeness of her own arse. And the naked scene – while a bit of an obvious gag – is so worth it for the look on Lucifer’s face. It’s amusing to see him of the defensive for a change.
Elsewhere, Trixie’s cunning ruse to try to get a doll upgrade – and Chloe’s attempts to deal with it – makes for an unusually strong C-plot, especially for one that serves as “Lucifer’s moral lesson of the week”. We’re beginning to wonder, though, if Chloe were ever to shave Trixie’s hair off whether she’d find 666 tattooed onto her bonce. Could Trixie be short for Trickster?
There’s also a very, very strong scene for Dr Linda in which she knocks Amenadiel down a peg or two for being so self-obsessed. It’s a shock to have a Dr Linda scene go on for so long without somebody interjecting with some smut (although there is a comedy moment with a mat and a door at the end, like the writer finished the scene and then some producer said, “It’s a Linda scene – we can’t not have a gag!”). But Rachel Harris plays it beautifully and Amenadiel looks like his psyche has been ripped to shreds.
But if Linda knew the truth she might have gone a little easier on him. Amenadiel may have the capacity to be a big oaf, but it’s impossible not to feel for him when his beautiful wings look like an Autumn sycamore after a bad storm.
A very satisfying, funny and entertaining episode. Hell, even the crime of the week gave us the Crocs scene and that was a beauty.
- This face.
- This look.
- Watching Lucifer being robbed of his usual supreme self-confidence whenever he’s around his mum is a fun change to the usual dynamics.
- So, so many good lines this week. We’ve complained often in the past that the gags in Lucifer can be a little lazy and obvious but there’s some wicked wit on display here:
• “I apologise for my human form but at least this one has supreme hindquarters.”
• “When Dad cast me out who stood by and did nothing. Hint – it’s a palindrome for mum.”
• “Oh, uh, are you praying or…?” “Yes, usually works. He must have gone for a wank or something.”
- Amazingly, though, the line of the episode comes from a guest character: “We were completely monogamous. She wouldn’t even sleep with her own husband.”
- But Lucifer wins a special prize for the best review of the fashion-crime-known-as-Crocs ever: “Oh goody, they come in more colours. There’s only one body part rubber should be worn on. Not that you’d know. You’ve clearly castrated yourself.”
- Lucifer seems to be surprisingly chill about his mum’s revelation that it was her who got him thrown out of heaven. Even if he did accept it as the lesser of two evils we’d have thought he’d want to at least discuss the details a little further.
- How did Lucifer’s mum escape her shackles? Did she use Maze’s torture equipment to pick the locks? Or did she use the same method she used to escape from her cell in Hell.
- And how come Lucifer isn’t asking, “How did you escape from Hell?”
- The opening montage needed at leasts one more resurrection. Just two seemed a bit half-arsed.
And The Random:
- This week’s devilish soundtrack included:
• “Black Magic” by Band Of Skulls
• “Set Me On Fire” by Estelle
• “Complicated” by Fitz & The Tantrums
• “So Good” by Warpaint
• “I Was Once A Glass Of Tang” by Jon Von Letscher
- Jenna Chalmer may be singing the blues in the show (above), but in real life she works behind the scenes on the sci-fi show Timeless, which was shooting around British Columbia at the same time as Lucifer season two was shooting, so we’re pretty sure this an in-joke in reference to her.
- Presumably the writers are well aware of the irony of Linda recommending Karma – a mainstay of Eastern religions – to a creature from Judeo-Christian mythology.
- Good to see Chucky from Child’s Play is still getting work.
Review by Dave Golder