The mid-season final of season 12 – where do we begin? Somehow this episode was equal parts fluff and actionable content, and while LOTUS wasn’t unsatisfying per se, whether it was mid-finale caliber is the question of week. Let’s consider the pieces.
Mr. President a.k.a. Lucifer
Truly I have so many mixed feelings about the entire President drama it’s hard to know where to start. It seems overambitious to have Lucifer jump into the President of the United States, particularly when it had no lasting, significant impact. Yes, the arrest at the end is a big deal because it was the SS (more on this later), however that aside the fact that Lucifer hopped into the prez was a wasted opportunity, in my humble opinion. Even Dick Roman was a powerful CEO and working up to world domination. In this situation, Lucifer’s position as the President felt poorly conveyed and underused – if you’re going to write the President in, make the challenge of getting to the guy just a bit harder.
Beyond the power dynamics of the character, David Chisum did bring a decent smarmy charm to the Lucifer character in his own right. For all other complaints about the presidency aspect of the role, it was clear that Lucifer was amusing himself – the pardon for Manson, the “nuke ‘em” joke – all well delivered by Chisum coming to this role very late after some exceptional performances in the early days.
The Devil is Your Daddy
Among the clumsiest of the storylines in this episode is the fatherhood/pregnancy tale. The idea of Lucifer creating life was an intriguing concept – and it was clear it appealed to him the second Kelly mentioned fatherhood in the bedroom. While I am relieved to have a break from Lucifer now – if that storyline has officially ended, at least for the time being – it is also unfortunate that it couldn’t have been explored better over a longer, smoother period of time.
By which I mean, when I first saw Lucifer’s expression on hearing the idea of being a father and how much it appealed, I wondered if their might be a genuine redemption tale in there somewhere. Would Lucifer find a permanent vessel and/or create a child whom he loves – changing his perspective - and pursue a human life as a father? Maybe something a bit less cliché but a bit more meat to it than the 30 second magical impregnation we were given. Since I’m not familiar with the gestation period of Nephilim, who knows. Nevertheless, that entire fragment seemed messy and ill-conceived (no pun intended).
Obviously, there is a longer-term vision at work for Kelly, the child and perhaps with Lucifer too as illustrated by her escape from Castiel at the end. Theories?
Lucifer Says Goodbye
So here it is – the big, final show down with Lucifer and now it’s time to assemble all the players.
When Crowley collects Rowena for the final ritual, she is being dumped by her current fiancé and stunned to discover it’s for another woman. This was a great moment, I’ll admit: watching Crowley eliminate fiancé – because he was tired of listening – and Rowena thanking him was well delivered between the rest of the exchange.
After an encounter with the Secret Service, Sam and Dean are rescued by Mr. Ketch, of all people, because Sam had called and hung up on Mick. Let’s talk about the phone call first. I was surprised, to a degree, when Sam made the call to bring the BMoL into it. I don’t know what end he thought would be achievable at that point given recent experience. I suppose the goal was to reiterate Sam’s depression and hopelessness towards the situation but I don’t think I felt that was met. The moment was simply too brief, unaddressed and mashed in isolation between other scenes that didn’t support that feelings of concern or anguish from Sam. This is not a reflection on the acting, simply a comment on an episode that struggled to find a consistent theme, ending up a bit lukewarm as a result.
Regardless, Mr. Ketch supplied the boys with an enchanted golden egg to help with the exorcism of Lucifer. Some comments on the Secret Service/Mr. Ketch scene: I appreciate that Sam and Dean needed to be in a position to be helped by Mr. Ketch to garner an ounce of trust. Having said that, I can’t believe the boys couldn’t overtake the SS and ended up stuck at gun point like they did – including Cas. It seems it was an off day.
Mr. Ketch, finally revealed and played by David Hadyn-Jones, is smooth and clearly very appreciative of himself and his own talents, not to mention the toys the BMoL provide. If nothing else, this was an interesting character to finally lay eyes upon and could prove to offer some intriguing, fun sequences in the latter half of the season on either side of the battle.
Finally, Luce is lured to the hotel room (a little angel glamour and the room is cleared by that SS) only to find the group ready and waiting to send his essence back to Hell – literally. A few ancient words from Rowena, a glowing egg and a pledge from the dark Lord to Sam that it’s not the end and through the vent goes the angel. It had some action, yes, but it wasn't exactly Dean v Cain in the barn was it? Many have commented on the lack of clarity in this scene as well and I have to agree. The question posed – did Lucifer actually return to the Cage when he went through that vent? I suspect that was the implication, it was a southward direction. For the rest of the episode, though, I kept expecting to see Sam or the lead secret service agent flash red eyes, and let us know he was still around. Of course, maybe he is with Kelly since the baby is blood connection. Ideas?
Somehow in all this elation over ridding themselves of Lucifer once and for all (as far as they know) and getting the others out, our smooth as silk Winchesters felt it’d be best to hang out with the unconscious body of the USA President until his guard arrived (see above re: off day).
Stringing It All Together
I had a challenge reviewing this episode in my usual way because although I didn’t mind the episode as a whole, it was largely moments that needed to be knitted together rather than seen independently. The episode was nowhere near the strongest of the series, let’s be honest, and it had a fair number of bits where, as I stated above, the episode seemed to struggle settling on an emotion, theme or clear character direction throughout and was uncharacteristically unsuccessful in an attempt at too many mashed into one pot. Ultimately, this became a lot of stuff between the episode related content. Much of this was humour, which I always appreciate, but at the same time as mid-finales go it was content-light by the end and felt like we were missing action too, even with the explosion courtesy of Mr. Ketch and the re-caging of Lucifer. The opening offered potential until the crucifixes began rotating – the visual was too cartoonish for me. And while the slaughter in the church certainly brought some darkness to the episode it was limited and nothing more than a pin in the map to mark where Lucifer had been.
So what was missing? Well, in many ways there was emotional drama that just wasn’t explored properly that was teased and hinted at and then…went nowhere. Sam’s expression last week, the hang up to the BMoL - it’s all meant to illustrate a darker place, something ominous but now it feels lackluster and tied off. There weren’t lows per se, but there weren’t exactly highs either. It was, in a sense, pretty neutral for the most part.
Somehow if the ending to last week - with the flare, flash and drama, and despairing, unsure ending - had been the finale, that would have felt more portentous and emotionally on par than the boys under arrest, which fell flat to me in some ways. On the other hand: Sam and Dean are together, trapped in a non-supernatural situation. It presents it’s own unique intensity in this world and offers some incredible opportunities going into the second half of the season. The question is, how will these opportunities be leveraged?
As a whole, it is an enjoyable episode. The guest acting was enjoyable, from Mr. Ketch to Kelly, and once again we had the old gang together, this time including Rowena, toward a unified end. As always they are a treat to watch.
So, the boys are under arrest, Lucifer is gone and a satanic Nephilim is going to be released into the world (this may or may not be something we even circle back to). Well, I’m certain the boys will escape. The (potentially) exciting piece will include the how, what and who of it all. From there? Let’s kick it up a few notches coming into 2017 and bring some drama!
Share your thoughts and theories below!