Lucifer Episode Review: Recap ‘Off The Record’ by Steven Bereznai (TV episode examination).
I was once told that if you want a winning pitch for a new show pitch, it should go like this: it’s about a BLANK and a BLANK…dramatic pause…AND THEY SOLVE CRIME! It’s such a cliché that I groaned when I heard the premise of the show ‘Lucifer’. The devil comes to Earth and pairs up with a by-the-book cop and, yes, they solve crime.
Despite the trite-sounding back story, I have fallen for ‘Lucifer’s melange of blunt, charming, sexual, earnest, insightful and endearing characters. Though always entertaining, some plots work better than others. In particular, S03E07: ‘Off The Record’ earns five out of five pitchforks for the masterful way in which the show’s core elements, listed below, were executed and tied together as a whole. SPOILER ALERT!
Element 1: The murder. Most episodes get into the murder scene pretty quickly and turns into a who and why done it. Instead, this one starts out with Reese Getty (actor Patrick Fabian), a character I don’t recognise, waking up in a hospital, with a nurse, after a near death experience. Am I even watching the right show? I wonder. Where’s Lucifer, that handsome fella, played by Tom Ellis, whose comedic charm first won me over on the British hit series ‘Miranda’?
Getty goes home to rekindle things with his estranged wife, where we find Lucifer emerging after a clearly satisfying sexual encounter. Getty is furious. Lucifer doesn’t even notice him as he struts away.
Turns out Getty is an investigative journalist and this is actually back in season 1, a plot device that can easily misfire. Not in this case. At Lucifer’s private club, Getty readies himself to confront Lucifer, but this is the devil and instead Lucifer confronts Getty.
‘Don’t think I haven’t noticed you watching me,’ says Lucifer. ‘I know what this is about…and the answer is no. I will not sleep with you…and it’s not because you’re a man, it’s because, well, I don’t find you attractive. Maybe I could introduce you to someone, more, you know, your league. The chubby fellow over there. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind giving you a reach around.’
Getty sets the record straight, explaining angrily that his wife is sleeping with ‘a sleazy, arrogant, womanising piece of garbage.’ Lucifer is blissfully oblivious that he’s the sleaze in question.
‘Well then why are you wasting time trying to pick me up?’ the devil demands. ‘You should be punishing him!’
To do that, Getty decides to use his position as an investigative reporter to do a newspaper piece on Lucifer, creating a chance to learn all about him, even joining Lucifer and Lt. Chloe Decker (actress Lauren German) on a case as they get to the murder of the episode. Someone’s killing fakers and phonies. The latest victim is a local celebrity known for her all-natural skincare who is secretly into cosmetic surgery and Botox. The writers made a good choice with the serial killer’s modus operandi, as we will later see.
Element 2: The twist. Getty’s estranged wife turns out to be (gasp!) Lucifer’s therapist, Linda Martin. If this episode had aired in season 1, this turn would’ve been easy to telegraph. Linda and Lucifer were in a ‘sex for therapy’ barter system when the show first started, but their dynamic eventually matured into a slightly more conventional patient-therapist arrangement. But because the events of S03E07 start in season 1, before eventually catching up to the present day, we get numerous ‘oh, yeah, that’s where the characters were at’ moments that are very satisfying.
Element 3: Lucifer gets in touch with his humanity. Eventually, Getty accidentally sees Lucifer’s true face and realises Lucifer is, in fact, the devil. Getty tries to prove it to Linda and goes over the edge when he finds out she already knows. Watching her struggle to give therapy to a host of celestial beings, including Lucifer’s angel brother, goddess mother and demon bodyguard is one of the best parts of the show. She accepts Lucifer not only as a good person, but also a friend. Usually, Lucifer steals the show with his narcissistic one-liners, but his reaction to Linda’s words morphs silently from bafflement to understanding to wonder. Hat tip.
Element 4: The celestial reveal. The best episodes not only teach Lucifer about humanity, they teach us mere mortals something about heaven or hell. In this case, as Getty goes off the deep end, Lucifer lets him in on a little secret. As the devil, Lucifer doesn’t send anyone to hell as guilty consciences do that and there is no lock to keep souls in. Souls choose to stay, reliving their guilt over and over again. It’s a stomach clenching moment.
Element 5: The murderer gets his/hers. Determined to make Lucifer pay, Getty finds the serial killer who targets fakes and paints Lucifer as the biggest phony of all. The killer closes in on Lucifer at his club, poisoning his drink. At the last moment, Lucifer inadvertently charms the killer and the murderer has a change of heart. Getty takes the poisoned drink away from Lucifer and it ends up in the hands of an innocent woman as she dies in agony. Getty is horrified and realises it’s all his fault. He goes to his office where he waits for the police to come get him. He has a drink as he waits, a poisoned one as it turns out. The murderer strikes again, punishing Getty for being a fake, trying to set up Lucifer to get someone to do Getty’s dirty work for him. Getty writhes on the floor as the police enter to arrest Getty. Instead, they catch the actual serial killer trying to flee.
Element 6: The moral. As Getty dies, he thinks he’s been redeemed. It’s hard not to feel for him. Aren’t we taught to never give up? To stick to our guns? To pursue our desires? But there is a difference between determination and obsession and, while Lucifer may be the devil, he never lies. Getty wakes up in a hospital bed, with a nurse, after a near-death experience. The episode ends exactly as it began, beautifully tying all the elements together. Getty is in his own private hell, looping over and over.
Sometimes, episodes that start back in time do so in a way that does little for the narrative, even bogging it down, but this one kept me guessing. It fooled and thus delighted me, at all the right turns. What also makes this episode stand out is not any one element, but the way these ingredients blend together for an episode that delivers what viewers have come to expect from Lucifer, humour, sex, life lessons and irony, but in unexpected ways. This turned the ‘cliché’ of ‘X teams up with Y and they solve crime’ into something wholly unique.
Steven Bereznai is the Amazon bestselling author of ‘How A Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse’ and the YA dystopian novel ‘I Want Superpowers’. You can share your thoughts with him on Twitter twitter.com/steven_bereznai and Instagram www.instagram.com/stevenbereznai/.