Sibling Rivalries Get Devilish and Angelic in ‘Lucifer’ Season 5 Part 1

The devil is in the details when it comes to the appeal of Netflix’s “Lucifer.” Stripped of its style and lively performances, this would merely be one of the silliest TV inventions in many moons. Its fan base is loyal, which is why it now enters that prestige of having seasons split in two. This is the first half of the fifth season, and a sixth has already been confirmed. For loyal followers of the well-dressed dark lord, this season is lite on the cases but actually quite entertaining on the more personal storylines. If Dante were watching this show to pass away these broiling summer hours, he would no doubt paraphrase himself and say, “Abandon all logic, ye who enter here, but please, have fun.”

Per the end of season four, Lucifer (Tom Ellis) had returned back home to Hell after the demons had gotten a bit out of control. Season five opens with a fresh murder case to entice the Devil (for it is indeed he) to return. When Lee Garner (Jeremiah Birkett) is shot dead on his yacht, while partying and dabbling in newfound wealth, he finds himself in a sort of hell limbo with Lucifer. While Lee is expected atone to for his wrongdoings in the realm of the damned, the fact that he died in Marina Del Rey inspires nostalgia in Lucifer, who misses Los Angeles. What he really misses is Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), who is on the case with Ella (Aimee Garcia). They too miss the Devil, his charm, humor and good looks. Chloe has deeper reasons since she and Lucifer were close to finally accepting their feelings for each other when he suddenly vanished.  Still on Earth is Lucifer’s angelic brother, Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), now raising baby Charlie with Linda (Rachael Harris). Then, suddenly, Lucifer is back on the case. At first there seems to be something off about the suave dark prince, this is because it’s not really Lucifer, but his twin brother Michael (Ellis), who is determined to ruin his sibling’s reputation on Earth.

“Lucifer” is still being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, whose number one rule on film and TV has always been to pump up the volume. Everything he touches has saturated colors, hyper editing, testosterone and visual guilty pleasures. This approach is part of what helps “Lucifer” be fun in the same way skipping dinner for dessert can be. Newcomers might have to go all the way back to season one to try and fill in a few gaps in the logic. For example, why does Satan need a car? Why does he need to go on these “Law & Order”-style investigations to track down a serial killer, when he could just know who it is? When baby Charlie gets a cold, why does Amenadiel have to take him to the hospital? He’s an angel. Surely he can just fix the problem. Of course, “Lucifer” is not meant to be a serious, theological study on the idea of the Devil or Hell. Its charm is in being a stylish hybrid of melodrama and the supernatural, with a dash of police procedural thrown in. The writing is still tight enough to where we want to know just what will happen between Lucifer and Chloe, regardless of how improbable it is. 

The cases this season are hit or miss. Some are downright goofy, like an episode two murder involving astronauts inside a Mars colony simulation, or a serial killer in the season finale who scoffs at his nick name in the papers. It’s a storyline with a twist where the another killer turns out to be someone quite close to Ella, but written in a way where you wonder if the laughs it inspires are intentional. None of the season is boring however. Where it works best is in the storylines involving the characters’ personal entanglements. Chloe obviously loves Lucifer, and he loves her, but it’s hard getting together when forces from beyond are mad at you. The whole reason Lucifer even went back to Hell was because of the demons creeping up, out of control, even threatening baby Charlie. This season the big threat is Michael, the whiny twin who will cause havoc by posing as Lucifer, infiltrating his circle and attempting to ruin his most important relationships. Michael feels jipped, as if he deserved everything Lucifer gets to experience on Earth among the human rabble. Why can’t he indulge? One of the first people he tries to lure away is Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt), the leather-clad demon who should be loyal to Lucifer, but yearns to have a soul. She also resents that Lucifer has kept her mother from her. Maze this season is the disgruntled employee, angry at still liking Chloe, but knowing Chloe deep down likes Lucifer, while also resenting the other consequences of her station in Hell’s pecking order. Amandiel will also fall prey to Michael’s schemes, and with him the evil twin can get very personal, as in mocking the fact that baby Charlie might grow up being more human than angel.

Visually this season offers a few more visual flourishes, including a great black and white episode recasting everyone in a ‘40s noir. It’s a fun swerve away from the usual look of the show, while celebrating the noir tradition of the city where it takes place. When Michael, Amenadiel and Lucifer finally come to blows at the police station, time stops, everyone is paused and Maze kicks Lucifer through a glass wall that shatters, its shattered pieces floating in the air as if out of “The Matrix.” And, as is expected in the show, the only Los Angeles you see in this show is the one with lavish apartments, rooftop pool parties and bars fit for lavish daydreams. 

There will be chatter over the finale of this first half of season five, as just when all comes to a head white light parts the scene and the Lord appears. It was inevitable that in a show about the Devil squabbling with his brothers that dad would eventually have to make an appearance. But it’s a great cliffhanger for a show that’s all about how much fun it has with its own concept. “Lucifer” is still a devilish good time.

Lucifer” season five part one begins streaming Aug. 21 on Netflix.