Two episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
The summer heat will continue to rise into the fall as Lucifer returns to Fox for a second season of devilishly good-looking, supernaturally gruesome detective work. Earlier this year, the show proved itself a shaky but ultimately successful contender in the crowded, competitive comic-book TV landscape, humanizing the oldest anti-hero in the game while keeping intact his most seductively evil tendencies. Sure, the show is based on Neil Gaiman’s eminently popular comic book series Sandman and Lucifer, but hell’s head honcho has been the star of countless books since, well, the advent of books.
The endeavor of offering a fresh take on literally the one of the oldest villains in history is a formidable one, but in its sophomore season, Lucifer’s formula appears to still be a winning one from the two new episodes we’ve seen. Lucifer (Tom Ellis) is back from hell after the events of the season one finale, investigating crime scenes like old times with detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) on the white-hot streets of Los Angeles, where bizarrely mangled murder victims seem to pop up as often as ear-piercingly annoying dance hits pop up on the radio.
The status quo is promptly shattered to bits, however, when Lucifer’s mother, Charlotte (Tricia Helfer) arrives in LA. Being the son of God comes with its own ten-ton load of baggage, but he and his mum have a deplorably checkered past. He’s clueless as to what she’s doing in town, but two things are certain: she’ll stop at nothing to find him, and he’s scared as hell. His off-and-on powers of persuasion, invulnerability, and super-strength may help him solve murder cases, but they’ll be all but useless in combating his deepest, darkest fears, all revolving around mommy dearest.
Lucifer scrambles to turn the city upside down in search of his mum, whose presence causes all of his other relationships to go similarly haywire. He and his brother, Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), still don’t see eye-to-eye on much, and Chloe’s still aggravated by his refusal to fight crime by the book, but the determined demon’s frenzied search for Charlotte only serves to amplify any and all pre-existing tensions, as well as bring about new ones.
There’s a sea of resentment and unrequited love bubbling underneath the surface of Lucifer’s second season, though the show is still as funny and nasty as the first go-round. Ellis continues to refine his brand of satanic charm, which is critical. Lucifer habitually does morally inexcusable things,, and were it not for Ellis’ charisma (and his magnetic British accent), he could easily teeter and fall off the edge and into the inescapable void of unlikability. It’s a tough balance to strike, and yet the dashing actor strikes it once again.
Helfer adds a welcome measure of unpredictability and mystery to the proceedings, but any drama not involving Lucifer’s mom feels pale in comparison. The bickering between Lucifer and Chloe is still fun, though a B-story between them involving a blood test isn’t nearly as compelling or suspenseful as it’s intended to be (in fact, it’s a little bland). Ellis, German, and Helfer are game leads, but the supporting cast, including Rachael Harris as Lucifer’s therapist and Lesley-Ann Brandt as the sadomasochistic demon Mazikeen, aren’t served as well by the material in the episodes made available pre-broadcast.
I’m holding out hope that Lucifer only gets better from here on out, however, as it’s a worthy hour of unapologetically sordid entertainment that deserves to find a bigger audience, despite some nagging issues that keep it from entering the must-watch upper echelon.
Lucifer's second season gets off to a nice start, building on the show's strengths while retaining some of the weaknesses. It remains an unapologetically sordid, demonically fun hour of TV.