REVIEW: Lucifer, S3E7 – Off the Record

“Off the Record” opens with a nurse welcoming a reporter named Rhys Getty (guest star Patrick Fabian) back to the land of the living after a little brush with death, but he hasn’t had any visitors because he and his wife are estranged. Excited to turn things around, he brings flowers to her place only to hear her with another man – Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) himself. In a comedy of errors that Lucifer has perfected over the last two years, the friendly neighborhood Devil goads Mr. Getty into destroying the life of the man who stole his wife.

Don’t mess with Dan’s pudding.

Just then, Chloe (Lauren German) shows up and it becomes clear that this episode takes place when Lucifer first started working with the LAPD. He’s still so arrogant and naive that he gleefully accepts Rhys’ offer to write a piece on him, never once suspecting that it’s a hit piece. It’s a lot of fun to see the shallow, egotistical side of him unencumbered by his paranoia. The man we know today would never let a stranger get so close to him without uncovering his ulterior motive, but the man in “Off the Record” has not a care in the underworld. There are other fun bits too, such as when the police officers and janitors around the precinct who are questioned turn out to simply love Lucifer, which is as big of a surprise to the audience as it is to Rhys himself. Thankfully there’s Dan (Kevin Alexander), who doesn’t like Lucifer on account of his pudding being stolen, not to mention the raw and recent separation from Chloe.

The case of the week (a serial killer who goes after phonies) isn’t particularly thrilling, but the added scrutiny of a reporter does cause Chloe to point out Lucifer’s better qualities as often as possible. It’s a little late in the game, but his pointed observational skills in “Off the Record” provide a great look at just why the LAPD would keep him around when he causes so much trouble. Rhys is less interested in what Lucifer brings to the table and more in what he gets out of it, however. So he starts following this man around even after hours and witnesses what he assumes to be a drug dealer. This allows for a wonderful cameo appearance by Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) in her old job as Lucifer’s muscle, reminding us of just how far she’s come in the last few years – and just how much I miss Maze due to the actress’ pregnancy.

Then comes the big twist: Linda Martin (Rachael Harris) actually winds up being Rhys’ wife. Or rather ex, as they have been separated for two years and she is desperate for him to finalize the divorce. Harris plays these scenes beautifully, and you really get the sense that these two have a lot of history despite him not having existed before “Off the Record.” On the one hand, it’s relief to finally deepen her character’s backstory, but on the other it’s a pretty damning statement about how thinly she’s been realized that an entire husband we never knew about could slot right in. But Lucifer is about the comedy and the relationships that develop on our screen, all of which are serviced well, so I can’t complain too much.

Just as Rhys starts to realize he has been so wrong about everything – thanks to another humorous gag in which he learns that a bound and gagged woman on Lucifer’s bed is there willingly – the tables turn once more as he is witness to Lucifer revealing his demon face in a surprisingly scary scene. Though Linda will not listen to him, he maintains tabs on Lucifer for the next year and tries to break the story. Losing his grip more and more, he finally breaks when Chloe and Lucifer ask him to consult once more and winds up actually shooting Lucifer in front of Linda. At this point, though, Linda already knows the truth and is able to explain it to her ex-husband. Once more, we get an outside perspective on the title character that helps him see himself in a different light. Unfortunately it doesn’t help Rhys very much.

She’s long-suffering but still respects the man.

As we near the current timeline of Lucifer, Rhys helps out with the serial killer investigation and tracks him down with his investigative work. He takes that opportunity to set Luci up as one of the hypocrites in the hopes that he’ll get murdered, which seems incredibly extreme. As much as I enjoyed “Off the Record,” I’m left to wonder what kind of man Linda was living with before we met her. Maybe she needs to go to therapy for PTSD after all, instead of simply doling out her therapy to help the devils and demons in her life. That being said, there’s a poignant scene where Rhys questions Chloe about what Lucifer gets out of working with the LAPD. Her answer, despite how little she knows of the truth, hits close enough to home to prove just how well she knows her partner. She doesn’t have to know the details to know the man, and she is still willing to defend him to outsiders despite having her own quibbles with him throughout.

An innocent woman dies instead of Lucifer, thanks to Rhys’ manipulations of the serial killer and a mistaken exchange of drinks. Too in denial to accept what he has caused, Rhys instead blames the Devil like many humans do. But of course Lucifer manages to turn it around by revealing a stunning truth: the doors of Hell don’t hold humans in and neither does he; they torture themselves eternally with their own guilt. He perhaps even more surprisingly gives some good advice, though unfortunately Rhys does not know how to take it appropriately and winds up making things much worse and even hurting Linda in the process. But he does manage to catch the culprit and make things right before blacking out from the killer’s poison. Then he wakes up and the story ends right where it began, proving the man has learned nothing – not even that he’s now in Hell.

In terms of narrative structure, “Off the Record” is a very clever episode of Lucifer with a number of twists and turns that keep the audience guessing. The circular nature of the story is at once illuminating and depressing, but it makes for a great one-off tale. The only issue is that it connects back so intricately to Linda. She should have been deeply affected by her ex-husband’s antics over the last two seasons, and now she should be even more affected that he died – after committing an atrocious act – while trying to win her back. Perhaps the show will touch on it in the future, but for now I’m left with the feeling that I should know a lot more about Dr. Linda Martin than I do.

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