Processing Lucifer’s Final Season

By the standards of today’s binge-watch culture, I’m already a bit late, but I did want to get in some thoughts on the final season of Lucifer — recently uploaded to Netflix — before it completely fades from relevancy.

The official logo for the TV series LuciferI have mixed feelings on the show’s ending, and I think it will be quite a while before I fully decide how I feel about it. I lean towards being more pro than con, but it definitely has its issues.

The main thing making this so difficult is that the sixth and final season is a massive, jarring change in direction compared to the rest of the series.

Lucifer has always been a light-hearted dramedy with a healthy mix of “case of the week” standalone episodes and ongoing plot. Since moving to Netflix, the balance has shifted a bit more towards drama rather than comedy and plot versus standalone stories (to the show’s benefit), but it’s been pretty much the same show at its heart.

Season six pretty much throws out the case of the week format (no great loss in my book) in favour being almost pure plot. You might think that makes for a breakneck pace, but it’s actually a very slow, meditative season. I do think this was the right choice for the story they meant to tell, but it does take some patience.

Similarly, while there are still some laughs to be had, the final season leans far more on emotion and pathos. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but it feels very different from what’s come before. Almost like a totally different series. It’s still good — great, at times — but it doesn’t have that tongue-in-cheek sense of fun that so long defined the series.

Rory shows off her wings in Lucifer season six.Ultimately, this is the season where Lucifer finally grows up. So much of the series had him learning lessons, only to mostly be back to his old immature self next episode. This is the moment where he finally learns the lessons for good and becomes a mature, healthy person. It’s pretty gratifying, but again, sudden. It would have been better to spread his development out more evenly over the course of the series rather than have it all happen at once.

To be blunt, the final season is also contrived, corny, and full of plot holes. It’s very much a story that works best if you don’t think about it too hard.

Now, here’s the thing: The above statement could describe every season of Lucifer, and I’ve generally been fine with it. It’s always just been junk food watching, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not smart, but it’s fun and it makes you feel good. That’s a perfectly valid form of art.

But the silliness of the plot becomes harder to swallow when the show makes the shift to towards straight character drama. You can have ridiculous stories in a comedy, but when you’re trying for something more serious, it’s a lot harder to overlook. You can do one, but not both.

It also rankles that we never got an answer on why God created Chloe. I guess it’s meant to be some “so all of this could happen thing,” but it really feels like they just abandoned that plot thread. Come on, guys, it’s only the single biggest question in the entire series…

Chloe and Lucifer in the final season of Lucifer.However, if you are willing to overlook the over-complicated plot and the various things that just don’t add up, it is a pretty satisfying season emotionally. We get to see Lucifer finally grow up and become the Lightbringer he was always meant to be, and that feels good.

Most of the other characters get really satisfying conclusions to their story too, with the possible exception of Ella, whose story deserved more screen time than it got. But I’m an Ella fanboy, so I’m biased.

Dan especially stands out as perhaps the best part of this season, and in hindsight perhaps one of the best parts of the series as a whole. I’m a pretty harsh person, and redemption arcs often wrankle me because I rarely feel they’re deserved… but this is a redemption arc done right.

Who would have thought Detective Douche would have turned out to be such an incredible character?

All in all, I do think the final season is more good than bad, but it’s not so easily digestible as the rest of the series has been. I suppose in some ways it’s good that it provokes so much thought — I definitely wouldn’t have expected to still be mulling the ending weeks later like I have been.

Final Thoughts on The Gates of Good and Evil

After many delays — both on my end and the publishers’ — I have finally gotten around to finishing the last two books of Ian Irvine’s The Gates of Good and Evil quartet, The Perilous Tower and The Sapphire Gate. The Gates of Good and Evil is itself the latest continuation of the sprawling Three Worlds Cycle that began with The View from the Mirror.

Cover art for The Gates of Good and Evil, book four: The Sapphire Gate by Ian Irvine.

Look, ma, I’m a cover quote.

Ian Irvine is one of my favourite authors, and I’ve loved the Three Worlds setting since I was a teenager, but this latest series underwhelmed me in the first two books. Sadly, that remains true for the final two, as well.

Irvine remains a master of action and pacing. The books are still page-turners, and there are some genuinely thrilling and epic moments, but overall, the story fails to reach the heights achieved by previous books in the saga.

As with the first two entries in Gates of Good and Evil, the villains remain one of the most fundamental flaws. The Merdrun simply aren’t compelling. They’re just unusually nasty humans. They’re too evil to have much nuance, but too mundane to have much flavour.

There is an attempt made to add some depth to them via a new character through which we can see the Merdrun’s point of view on things, and it helps, but it doesn’t really do enough to change their fundamentally uninspiring nature.

I also continue to be disappointed by how much Maigraith has been squandered as a character. The entire Three Worlds saga has been building her up into this epic, terrifying threat, and in this series she’s just… petty and pathetic. She does get a halfway decent conclusion to her story, but overall I’d still consider her treatment in this quartet to be an incredible disappointment — perhaps the greatest error Irvine has made with this entire franchise.

In theory the most exciting part of these last two books is that (thanks to some time travel shenanigans) they bring back nearly every major protagonist from the entire Three Worlds Cycle. This should make for a really epic experience, and it has its moments, but there’s just too many characters and not enough for them to do. Many iconic figures are squandered as irrelevant cameos.

Most egregiously, Nish — arguably the greatest and most memorable hero of the saga — does literally nothing. He could have been removed from the story entirely, and nothing would have changed. He’s just… there.

On the plus side, we do get a lot more time with Xervish Flydd, who never fails to be entertaining. Gods I love that cranky old bastard.

In a vacuum, the Gates of Good and Evil is not a bad series. It’s got some definite rough edges, but I’ve read and enjoyed worse. On its own merits, it’s a decent fantasy action-adventure.

But compared to the quality of the previous entries in the Three Worlds Cycle, and considering all the potential of bringing together plots and characters from the entire saga to date, it’s hard to see it as anything but a disappointment. It pains me to say it, but it’s true. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just that it could have been so much better.

Confusingly, the ending to book four declares it the conclusion of the Three Worlds Cycle, but Irvine has already announced his intention to write another series (albeit an interquel and thus not technically a continuation, I suppose), and one of the final chapters foreshadows the return of a major villain. So… I guess we’ll have to wait and see.