Lucifer S02E16 “God Johnson” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- When an orderly at a psychiatric hospital is murdered suspicion falls on a guy named Earl Johnson, a former rich oilman who gave away all his money and now claims to be God.
- After a sceptical Lucifer has a conversation with the guy, he’s surprised to come to the conclusion that he could indeed be his dad.
- As officially interviewing “God” Johnson requires bypassing all sorts of red tape, Lucifer instead has himself admitted to the hospital, pretending to be a crazy man who thinks he’s the devil.
- Lucifer sees “God” Johnson heal another patient who’s been violently attacked. The victim says she was attacked by Santa Claus.
- Lucifer changes his plan to enter Heaven using the flaming sword and concocts another form of revenge: getting his mum and dad back together – he figures they will just start fighting again.
- So Lucifer causes a hospital riot, during which he escapes with dad.
- Chloe, meanwhile, identifies another patient who might the the “Santa Claus” she’s looking for. Her way of bypassing the red tape is to go on a date with one of the doctors to charm the info out of him; Maze is more than happy to play matchmaker.
- But Amenadiel unexpectedly turns at Chloe’s place when the Doctor comes round for dinner. He lets slip to Maze that he, Lucifer and their mum are planning to return to Heaven. Maze is not happy.
- The doctor works out he’s being used and isn’t particularly happy either. But he does continue to help Chloe solve the case.
- When Lucifer brings mum and dad together at the Lux, the meeting begins with a knee-in-groin manoeuvre, but rapidly improves.
- Chloe interrupts the reunion, and both Lucifer and “God” are hauled back to the hospital.
- There, the real murderer – a disgruntled daughter posing as a nurse, trying to kill off her inmate mum and getting rid of anyone who gets in her way – drugs Lucifer and his dad; she intends to kill them both and make it look like God killed Lucifer then hung himself.
- Under the influence of the drugs Lucifer has a true heart-to-heart with this dad, who seems genuinely contrite and apologetic for how he’s treated his son. They… actually… bond.
- Chloe and the Doctor, meanwhile, have worked out the identity of their “Santa Claus” (the pretend nurse played Father Christmas at a festive hospital party) and swoop in to save Lucifer and his dad.
- During the scuffle “God”’s belt buckle falls off and “God” Johnson reverts to being plain old Earl Johnson – and very confused about what’s going on.
- Lucifer picks up the belt buckle.
- Later, in front of Amenadiel, he fits the belt buckle to the flaming sword; they are a perfect fit. Lucifer surmises that God broke the flaming sword in two and somehow the “buckle” ended up on Earth, where it was found by Earl Johnson. The buckle must have held the essence and powers of God which made Johnson think he was the Almighty.
- But the flaming sword still won’t work. Is there another piece somewhere to complete it?
- Lucifer is now even more angry with his dad, as he believes he will never be as forgiving as “God” Johnson was.
- Mrs God pays Dan a visit, looking for a shoulder to cry on. She too has been affected by her encounter with the false God, but in her case she’s been reminded how much she misses her real husband.
This could have gone so, so wrong. Okay, the ultimate revelation that “God” Johnson isn’t actually God could be seen as a bit of a cop-out, but for the majority of the episode we were lead to believe that God walked the Earth as a cheery plaid-wearing Texan oil-magnate. And instead of feeling blasphemous, silly, daring, preposterous or risible (all possible outcomes) it just felt… right. Cosy even. Somehow Lucifer has turned celestial soap into a compelling human drama without putting a strain on your suspension of disbelief.
It’s also something of a surprise that the first appearance of God in the series (or his avatar at least) hasn’t been saved for a massive, dramatic, game-changing episode. You’d reasonably expect fire and brimstone. Instead, “God Johnson” is surprisingly sweet. The scenes with God Johnson bonding with his ex and his son are charming, and there are also tender moments for Dan and Amenadiel. Team Lucifer may talk the talk when it comes to going to war with heaven, but on the evidence here, all they really want is a big group hug.
It’s also very funny in places. After last week’s leaden attempts at smut, Lucifer’s super-enhanced portrait of Chloe this week feels positively Oscar Wilde-esque in comparison. Maze gets most of the best lines again, but Dr Linda’s starstruck reaction to meeting God is hilarious and even Amenadiel delivers corker when – halfway through a sentence – he realises that he’s just a burning bush in human form (it reminded us of the moment in Tennant-era Doctor Who when Mickey realised he was the “tin dog”).
The flaming sword is becoming a bit of a worry, as collecting the various bits is beginning to feel like something out of an ’80s text adventure fantasy game. Plus, the idea that the holy belt buckle is some kind of multi-purpose Swiss Army Relic that can fit flaming swords as well as turn any wearer into God, is a bit of a stretch. And mighty handy for the plot arc. It’s not so much the devil who’s in the details, as a weirdly mischievous God.
- Timothy Omundson was perfect as God Johnson; you can see why Lucifer would be won around by him.
- “See, I can reveal the truth about the Supreme Being you’ve chosen to impersonate. I bet you wanted to be God because he’s benevolent, all-powerful, yada yada. But in actual fact, he’s a dick.”
- “If He has a problem, He sends an emissary, like me, or maybe a… burning… bush…”
- Maze is once again utterly brilliant in every scene in which she appears. And she has some of the best lines of the week:
• “Does everything always have to be about sex with you?”
• “You want to ride solo with Dr McHotty. I can get behind that. Or on top, dealer’s choice.”
• “By the way, I changed the sheets on Decker’s bed. She’s good to go.”
- We would love to hear what Dr Linda would have to say about Lucifer’s portrait of Chloe.
- Linda’s awestruck reaction to meeting God (“Maybe I should have curtsied”) was adorable.
- The slow-mo “bedlam” that Lucifer creates in the hospital is almost visual poetry.
- Some of the pisstaking of the inmates was a little on the crass side.
- Chloe turning up in the nick of time to subdue and arrest the murderer at the end – but leaving Lucifer and dad just enough time to clear the air before she does – feels incredibly contrived.
- It’s a little that last week’s cliffhanger revelation – that energy appears to be leaking out of Mrs God – warrants little more than a passing reference this week.
And The Random:
- There were some surprising easy listening rock tracks amongst the usual college rock this week:
• “One Of Us” by Joan Osborne – we not only hear this 1995 track on the soundtrack when Ella sings along to it, but earlier in the episode Chloe quotes three lines from the chorus: “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on the bus?”
• “True” by Spandau Ballet – Lucifer uses the 1983 power ballad to get God Johnson and Mrs God in the mood for luuuuurve.
• “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Emilie Mover – God Johnson and Mrs God dance to a cover version of the 1967 Frankie Valli hit.
• “Humble Pro” by Cherry Glazerr – The shots of the city leading into Dan discovering that someone has nicked his yoghurt.
• “In a Black Out” by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – the slow-mo shot of Lucifer and God walking the through the bedlam that Lucifer has created in the hospital.
- WORST. SUPERHERO. EVER.
Review by Dave Golder