As the tagline for Lucifer’s fourth season — “He has risen” — suggests, the supernatural cop show very loosely based on a character co-created by Neil Gaiman (after the Good Book, of course) is here thanks to the power of resurrection. If you’re planning on diving right into the new season on Netflix (or if the finer points of the earlier seasons have faded somewhat), we’re here to help.
Since the whole point of this guide is to catch you up on what’s already happened on Lucifer, here’s one of these, just in case:
What it’s about
First, and perhaps most importantly, is to underline the fact that Lucifer is very user-friendly. Each episode has a “previously on Lucifer” intro that gets you up to speed and reinforces any plot points you need to pay attention to. Though the show has its own mythology, and obviously over three seasons the characters have grown and changed, this isn’t a challenging viewing experience on the level of something like Game of Thrones.
While binging all three seasons of Lucifer before dipping into season four would equal hours of enjoyment (especially now that the series is available commercial-free on Netflix), it isn’t essential. Though it occasionally indulges in darker elements, Lucifer aims to entertain, and complicated storytelling is not a part of its M.O.
The series, which debuted back in January 2016 on regular old Fox, imagines that Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) has gotten tired of ruling Hell and has made a new life for himself in Los Angeles, where he runs a glitzy nightclub and delights in sinning with mortals. Eventually, though, he gets bored and starts lending his skills (especially his unique interrogation abilities, though his love of punishment also often comes into play) to the LAPD, working closely with homicide detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German).
In between murder cases — which tend to be on the wackier side, riffing on celebrity culture, social media, and SoCal clichés like yoga and surfing — Lucifer deals with a constant stream of celestial concerns. For the first two seasons, most of his troubles in that realm stem from the fact that he’s reallly not supposed to be hanging out on Earth, and the members of his divine family would prefer he return to the underworld where he belongs.
This includes his brother, fellow angel Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside); demon Mazikeen, or “Maze” (Lesley-Ann Brandt); Lucifer and Amenadiel’s goddess mother (Tricia Helfer), who takes on a human form after she escapes Hell and follows her sons to Earth; and “Dad”, who has yet to be seen on the show (that one episode where Lucifer encountered a psychiatric patient who claimed to be God notwithstanding).
Season three saw a serial killer named the Sinnerman enter the picture, as well as a new police lieutenant, Marcus Pierce (Tom Welling). Not only did these two new characters turn out to be…well, basically one and the same, it was also revealed that Pierce was actually Cain, cursed with immortality after murdering his brother, Abel (see: the Bible).
Along with all this, there’s a recurring theme of Lucifer and Chloe falling in love, though so far their respective situations have been too complicated for them to actually follow through on any sort of real romantic relationship. That’s on top of all the other lusty entanglements Lucifer has tossed around over three seasons.
Season three killed off a couple of key characters, notably attorney Charlotte Richards (Helfer), the human whose body housed Lucifer’s mother for a time — until “Mum” headed off to a new dimension, leaving Charlotte a bit bewildered but determined to figure out life anew. That is, until she was killed by Cain. Speaking of Cain, he regained his mortality after falling for Chloe, and soon thereafter got the death he’d been longing for since the Bronze Age. So, farewell to both of those folks. However, Lucifer newbies, please meet:
Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis): Snappy dresser, nightclub owner, fond of cheeky innuendos, makes a lot of mistakes due to being horribly selfish, but is fiercely loyal to those he loves. The first season established that even though he’s an immortal being, he’s physically — and emotionally, as it turns out — vulnerable around Chloe.
Chloe Decker (Lauren German): The no-nonsense daughter of a cop who was killed in the line of duty and a B-movie actress, Chloe knows there’s something strange about Lucifer but she can’t quite bring herself to believe he’s THE Devil. Over three seasons, she’s built a harmonious working relationship and friendship with her ex-husband and fellow detective, Dan Espinosa; and they co-parent their precocious daughter, Trixie. Before she joined the LAPD, she starred in a teen sex comedy called Hot Tub High School—which, naturally, Lucifer loves to tease her about.
Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside): Lucifer’s “good guy” angel brother, he first arrives on Earth to try and bring “Lucy” back to Hell—and while they’re often at odds and have brawled more than once, deep down there’s real love between them. If Lucifer’s power is figuring out what every person desires most, Amenadiel’s is that he can slow time, a talent that’s helped more than one character cheat death. He doesn’t get involved in the police side of things too much, but he’s always entangled in the cosmic stuff.
Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt): In Hell, she was Lucifer’s best torturer; on Earth, she’s a fabulously-dressed bartender/bodyguard before she leaps into the more rewarding career of being a bounty hunter. “Maze” is a demon, so she sometimes has problems relating to humans—but she forms a special bond with Chloe and Dan’s daughter. She and Lucifer don’t always get along, but like Amenadiel, she always has his back in the end.
Dan Espinosa (Kevin Alejandro): Chloe’s ex-husband and current co-worker, Dan had a relationship with Charlotte (both while she was “Mum” and as the human Charlotte). At first, he resented Lucifer’s presence in Chloe’s life, as well as his constant presence at crime scenes (Lucifer’s fondness for referring to him as “Detective Douche” didn’t help matters), but they’ve since become friends. Dan’s hobbies include watching martial arts movies, doing improv, and eating pudding.
Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia): The LAPD’s delightfully geeky forensics whiz, Ella came aboard in season two. She’s mostly comic relief, but it’s hard to imagine how anyone solved any crimes without her mad science skills in season one.
Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris): Lucifer’s shrink was the first human to learn the truth about who he, Maze, and Amenadiel really are, as well as Charlotte when she was in goddess form. Though Linda was freaked out at first, she’s since become a major ally for what she calls “the most dysfunctional family in the universe,” at one point helping Lucifer die and reviving him so he could make a quick return trip to Hell to save Chloe’s life.
Though she had a somewhat icky sex-for-therapy arrangement with Lucifer at first, the show’s wisely put that in the past; in season three, she starts a tentative relationship with Amenadiel, though Maze’s jealousy ends up getting in the way.
Where things stand
Again, two key Lucifer storylines wrapped up last season, with both Charlotte (who went to Heaven) and Cain (Hell, obviously) kicking the bucket. But at the very end of season three, Chloe finally glimpsed Lucifer’s true “devil face,” which should finally put the whole “Chloe doesn’t believe Lucifer’s the devil” thing to rest. But will it affect the will-they-or-won’t-they romantic tension between them? How could it not?
The season four trailer suggests another major bump in that road will arrive in the form of Eve (Inbar Lavi), as in the Biblical Eve, though it’s difficult to tell what her role will be—or why she’s come to Los Angeles — other than distracting Lucifer. Other new characters: a holy-man antagonist of sorts in the form of Father Kinley (played by Graham McTavish), and Vinessa Vidotto as yet another angel, “classic little-sister” Remiel.
Why you should watch
As we’ve made pretty clear, Lucifer doesn’t really break any new TV ground. But it’s just so damn fun to watch. The show’s blend of supernatural goofballery, offbeat police procedural, and show-biz cheese (Los Angeles gets made fun of a lot but the location shots never fail to make it look like a glamorous paradise) works by shifting its balance around from week to week. Often, there’ll be an episode or two that interrupts the ongoing storyline to take an intriguing detour—to flash back to Lucifer’s very first day in California, for instance, or to follow Lucifer and Ella on a nutty crime-solving field trip to Las Vegas.
What’s more, the cast has great chemistry; the characters have been developed in interesting ways that allows them to evolve, a necessary element in a show that’s grounded in reality (the cop stuff) but also reaches its jazz hands into fantastical places (to reiterate: “Cain in modern-day LA” was a major plot arc last season; next season, we get to see how Eve likes the place). Perhaps most importantly, they cast just the right guy to play the title character. Tom Ellis is ridiculously charming, even when he’s being extremely extra, which is about 95 per cent of the time.
All 10 episodes of Lucifer season four drop May 8 on Netflix.