It’s both bittersweet and devilishly unfair that Lucifer’s best episode might be its last.
Monday night, three days after announcing the show’s cancellation, Fox aired the last episode of its third season, “A Devil of My Word.” And what an episode it was.
Having wrapped up the arc of Charlotte and Amenadiel’s redemption last episode, “A Devil of My Word” ties up many of the plotlines that have been (slowly) building this season: Cain, the relationship between Chloe and Lucifer (affectionately dubbed “Deckerstar”), Chloe learning the truth about Lucifer, Maze’s arc of finding herself, and the theme of identity. And it does that all with pathos, humor, the best acting this show has seen to date – and an excruciating cliffhanger.
“A Devil of My Word” picks up right where “Quintessential Deckerstar” left off: with our leads reeling from Charlotte’s murder and looking for her killer. It soon becomes apparent that Marcus Pierce (Tom Welling) is the culprit – and could he be acting any more suspicious? I mean, really, Cain. You’ve had millennia of being devious. You’d think you’d be better at it.
That makes the first half of the episode procedural fare, but elevated to a higher level. This isn’t just another murder for Dan, Lucifer, and Chloe; it’s the loss of a friend and a colleague, and the emotions brimming within them are palpable as they chase down leads.
But the episode really turns into satisfying, emotional fare midway through, with Lucifer confronting Pierce regarding the murder. Tom Ellis has stated that this is the best episode the show has done, and it’s at this moment that it becomes clear why. Granted, Ellis brings his acting A-game in every episode, but this one truly gave him the opportunity to show a darker side of Lucifer that’s been hinted at for three seasons, but that we never got to truly see. Lucifer is angry, and that means he’s truly the Devil – and only an actor of Ellis’ caliber can pull off the seething, barely-contained anger of the Devil himself without devolving into the territory of melodrama.
It’s also this moment that confirms what Deckerstar fans already knew, and yet which was nonetheless a relief to hear: that Chloe was never truly in love with Pierce, because it’s been Lucifer all along. Cain’s mark disappeared not because of Chloe’s love, but because he fell in love with her – and, for the first time in his life, was selfless. That same sense of self-worth is also, apparently, the reason Lucifer lost his Devil face and gained his wings.
This brings to a satisfying completion the theme of identity that has haunted the season, as all the characters struggled to find themselves: Lucifer to figure out who he is in spite of his wings and his Father’s expectations, Maze to understand how she fits in around humans, Amenadiel and Charlotte to redeem themselves. In an echo of Maze’s powerful second-season statement, “self-worth comes from within,” all the characters, Lucifer included, learn that your identity also comes from within. It is your actions, your choices, that make you who you are, not the reputations or expectations others impose upon you.
A powerful lesson for the Devil to learn, indeed, and one that makes this finale not only exciting and action-packed, but also emotionally powerful and deeply satisfying.
But even greater things are yet to come – both for the characters, and the actors, who have the opportunity to exhibit all their talent and versatility and remind us why this show’s cancellation is such a heart-rending loss.
Having let Cain escape, Lucifer returns to the penthouse to regroup with Dan, Chloe, and Ella. They have a lead: one of Cain’s subordinates and a scene of Dan (Kevin Alejandro) questioning him is yet another powerful moment. Dan is a character who hardly wears his heart on his sleeve, but whose loyalty and love run deep, a fact that again calls for a delicate balance from whatever actor portrays him, and Alejandro delivers. Dan is heartbroken and angry and deeply terrifying, but again there’s pathos without the melodrama.
Meanwhile, Lucifer and Ella (Aimee Garcia) share a touching scene. For the first time, Ella – whose key characteristic has always been her faith, both to her friends and to a higher power – expresses skepticism in God’s plan. And, shockingly, it is Lucifer who comes to God’s defense, insisting that the evil in the world is not on Him, but rather, our choices. Another powerful lesson, and one that’s deeply reminiscent of another show full of angels and devils: Supernatural.
All too soon, the episode reaches its climax as Chloe (Lauren German) and Lucifer follow down the last lead – but not before they have a conversation that turns out to be, in retrospect, heart-rending. Chloe insists, once again, that she does see Lucifer as the Devil – a fact with which Lucifer agrees, suggesting that he’s finally growing beyond the guilt and self-hatred that have haunted him for, quite literally, millennia.
But they don’t have much time to dwell on this, as there’s a murderer on the loose, and the lead Chloe and Lucifer are following turns out to be an ambush from Cain. This is the climax of both the episode and the season, and you’ll want to take a few deep breaths before you watch it.
Lucifer and Chloe face Cain together – as partners, just like they’ve always been. Offered a chance to save her own life, Chloe refuses, shielding Lucifer’s body with her own. And yet, when the guns are drawn, it is Lucifer shields Chloe from an onslaught of Cain’s bullets with his wings – a poignant nod to the first episode, where he shielded Chloe from a similar hailstorm of bullets with his body. He then whisks her away to a distant rooftop – far enough that there’s no possible other way they could have gotten there so fast besides flying, and far enough away that when Lucifer returns for a final confrontation with Cain, he’s invulnerable. Cain, on the other hand, is newly mortal.
And so, the Father of Murder and the Fallen Angel finally face off. It’s obvious how it will end, of course – on Lucifer, the good guys always win, even if they’re fighting with Maze’s demon blades. But that doesn’t make the fight any less breathtaking. Again we see the Devil inside Lucifer as he faces Charlotte’s murderer, but we also see the angel – that is, the warrior, fearlessly fighting evil. Fury and righteousness are perfectly delivered, and in particular the gleeful and yet somehow utterly terrifying line “I am a Devil of my word!” is, possibly, one of the best acting moments on the entire show.
And so, after millennia of having walked the Earth, Cain finally dies at Lucifer’s hand, and, as Lucifer insists, goes straight to Hell. And yet, apparently, Cain wasn’t the only monster in the room: having taken a human life for the first time, Lucifer’s Devil face returns. If the theme of the season has been that you are the source of your identity, then the choice Lucifer has made clearly carries with it the guilt that makes him believe, once again, that he is the Devil.
It’s at this moment that Chloe returns. Dozens of fanfictions have speculated about how the truth will be revealed to her, and now we have an answer.
And that’s where our answers end, for this final scene – which, as Tom Ellis has stated, was his favorite to film – is deeply ambiguous and would have made the perfect episode to over-analyze during the summer hiatus. Does Lucifer even know his Devil face has returned? Perhaps, for how could he not, in between Cain’s cruel laugh and his own face literally lighting up on fire? And then there’s that moment, after Chloe returns when he kneels at Cain’s body for a moment too long before turning around – as if preparing himself to face her. And yet, the way he says “Detective?” once she seems him suggests that perhaps he doesn’t realize. This, too, is what the showrunners have suggested in post-episode interviews.
And then there’s Chloe. In the last episode, she responded to Lucifer’s “I am the Devil’ by insisting “no, you’re not. Not to me,” a sentiment she re-iterated earlier in this episode. She has clearly fallen in love with Lucifer, and come to trust him – but that was when she thought it was all an elaborate metaphor. Now that she knows he actually is the Devil, will that stay true? In the final moments, we see her backing away in shock, but not screaming or fleeing. Will she see the man Lucifer is, beyond his Devil face and reputation?
Whether we’ll ever learn the answers to these questions is being decided over the next few days. After outrage from fans, cast, and crew over the cancellation, the show is being shopped around to other networks – and it’s the ratings that will likely decide its fate. So if you’d like to know the answer to that question, as well as where the story goes from here, tune in and watch the episode through official channels, including Fox and Hulu, where it’s streaming.