In Part 2 of our exclusive interview with LUCIFER executive producer/co-show runner Joe Henderson, he talks more about choices made for Season 4, currently streaming on Netflix, and teases the upcoming final Season 5.
ASSIGNMENT X: In Season 4, we at last see Lucifer, played by Tom Ellis, as the Devil in full body, with leathery wings and horns. Was that something you were aiming towards, or was that something that was dictated by story logic, or was that something you hadn’t been able to do before because LUCIFER had been on broadcast and now you can do it because it’s being made for Netflix?
JOE HENDERSON: It’s something we found along the way when we were exploring the question of, if this [fourth] season is “The Devil is back,” and this season is him sort of re-embracing who he was, because Eve [played by Inbar Lavi] represents the past, then part of the question was, other than the face, how much of him is the Devil, and how much of him can be the Devil? And as we were talking about that, we were trying to figure out what to do with the wings, because they’d been [cut off], and are still there? Have they healed? Have they not? And so we took our questions and turned them into an opportunity, which is, what if he hasn’t checked, and what if this whole time something’s been happening that he can’t control? This is why I love writers’ room. Because it was one of the things that we found as we dug into what Lucifer’s character journey was, and how to externalize it. Well, if this is the season where he’s going between, “Am I a devil or an angel, and I really feel like I’m a devil,” can we actually do that? And so what we ended up doing is writing two smaller episodes that let us save the money to do the special effects. So we saved the money and then got that going. It was something we found in the writers’ room as we were digging into his emotions.
AX: How did you decide that Maze, the demon character played by Lesley-Ann Brandt, should fall in love with Eve?
HENDERSON: Early on, it was something that we were playing with, because we wanted to give Maze a love interest. In the books, Maze is pansexual. In our show, she’s pansexual. So we really wanted to find a [love interest] for her. Early on, there were conversations where we realized, we want to stay on story. Combining Lucifer’s story and Maze’s story in the back half [of the season], what’s the most interesting way? And as we started talking about that, we realized so much of Eve’s arc is defining her based on the men in her life, as opposed to on herself. She comes to Lucifer at the top of the [fourth] season because she wants to be who she used to be, but really, she just wants to be who she was with him. And so what we found very quickly was, okay, Maze is looking for love and finds the perfect woman, and then the tragedy is that this woman finds the perfect woman for her, too, but Eve is not in a place where she needs that, because what she needs to do is really figure out who she is outside of being with anyone. And so it was a natural evolution of two characters’ arcs that is one of those happy accidents where you put a bunch of pieces on the table, and all of a sudden, you see them both heading in a direction, and you’re like, “I’m just going to let this happen.”
AX: Will we see Eve again?
HENDERSON: That is a good question.
AX: At the end of Season 4, we see a wide shot of Hell. We’d been in rooms in Hell, but had ever seen so much of Hell before?
HENDERSON: We’ve seen the hallways of Hell quite a bit. We’ve seen Lucifer wander through them. We’ve even done a bit of an above shot in the episode with the reporter, where we see the winding hallways that go on forever. But we’d never seen the throne. That was something that we wanted to hit. And we wanted to show a throne that only an angel could reach, the idea being that you need to fly to get up there.
AX: By the end of Season 4, LAPD detective Chloe Decker, played by Lauren German, and Lucifer have acknowledged that they love each other. Chloe’s ex-husband, LAPD Detective Dan Espinoza, played by Kevin Alejandro, spends a lot of Season 4 grieving the Season 3 death of his lover Charlotte Richards, who for awhile had Lucifer’s celestial Mom inside her, although Dan doesn’t know that. Charlotte was murdered by Cain, who was for Season 3 using the identity of Marcus Pierce, Chloe and Dan’s LAPD boss. Dan is so angry at Lucifer for not stopping “Marcus” that he sets Lucifer up for a beating. Does Dan blame himself for Charlotte’s death? Is Dan just mourning in a very bitter way, or is his inner bad cop coming out, or what’s going on with him there?
HENDERSON: I think it’s a mess of a lot of those things. I think the initial reaction is, “Blame Lucifer, because that makes the pain go away, because that gets me something to focus on.” And then it’s dealing with the survivor’s guilt, and the sense of, “I could have done more, I should have done more, I should have seen this person right in front of my face.” You get that very clean thing of, Lucifer knew the truth about who Pierce was. So if Lucifer told the truth, none of this would have happened. But Dan’s a detective. So one of the reasons he blames himself is, he literally could have stopped it. It’s not like someone random killed Charlotte. It was his own boss, it was someone he should have known was a bad guy. Now, part of his session with Linda [Lucifer’s therapist, played by Rachael Harris] and his continual work is going to be realizing that he can’t take that blame, he can’t deal with it. But it’s that muddied mess that he was dealing with, but the best way for him to deal with it, he thought, was just to blame it all on Lucifer.
AX: Dan and coroner Ella Lopez, played by Aimee Garcia, hooked up briefly in Season 4? Where did that come from, and will we see more of that?
HENDERSON: It’s, again, that letting the characters tell you where they’re headed. A lot of this season was breaking those two characters, really challenging Ella’s faith in God, and really challenging Dan’s faith in himself. So you had these two people who were really going through sh**, and around that episode, and also, we wanted them both to hook up with somebody. As we were talking about it, we were like, “Why not see what happens?” We started exploring it, and we found it to be surprisingly rich, because these two characters, who we love, but they’re the two normal humans. Normally, you want one of them with a supernatural, and you get the one foot in either world. But what we realized is, by having the two normal people find solace in each other, what you actually got was a really nice, cool angle to play, and emotionality to hit, and then of course with Dan keeping a secret, hurting Ella, and just making him hating himself even more for that, hurting this person who is so pure and is going through her own stuff, it just gave us so much to play and more to show off how great Aimee and Kevin are.
AX: Kevin Alejandro has also directed for you …
HENDERSON: Right. He’s directing again this [fifth] season. We couldn’t be more thrilled. He’s just such a wild talent.
AX: Are any of your other cast people directing?
HENDERSON: It’s just Kevin for this season. And then a whole lot of returning faces. We were very lucky to get a bunch of directors back that we love working with, and get a couple new faces in to give us a little bit of extra new voice before we wrap it all up.
AX: Scarlett Estevez plays Trixie, Chloe and Dan’s little girl. Most of the LUCIFER cast are at ages where they’re not going to change too visibly from year to year. Scarlett Estevez is at an age where obviously she’s growing from year to year. Are you going to address Trixie becoming an older kid?
HENDERSON: What’s nice is, we’ve always let a little bit of a sliding timeline happen. Months pass as Linda gives birth, months pass as Lucifer’s away. We’ve always tried to keep up with it, with her aging, so that it is a natural part, but in our final season, one of the questions is going to be, where do we want to set Trixie up for the future, especially now that she is growing up, and becoming more of a human being? By the way, Scarlett is so good, and so amazing, and I think one of the fun things is going to be highlighting that a little bit more in our last season.
AX: In the Season 2 episode “God Johnson,” Timothy Omundson played a character who might or might not be God. Will that character return? In real life, Mr. Omundson suffered a stroke in April of 2017 …
HENDERSON: It depends on where he is recovery-wise. It’s one of the things we want to do is reach out and see where he is as we get closer. I think we’ve talked about this a little bit. I’ve never before had an actor come into one episode who just felt like part of the family so quickly. I haven’t talked with him for a couple months, I don’t know where he is in recovery, I don’t know where he is on wanting to be either on screen or in anything right now. But we love him, and he’s just such a joy and talent. That’s one of the top-of-the-list things that we want to talk about when we get into the [writers’] room.
AX: At the end of Season 2, Lucifer’s mother, the Goddess of All Creation, played by Tricia Helfer, went off to create her own universe. Are we ever going to see the universe that Mom made?
HENDERSON: We’ve talked about it. It’s got to be where the Horse People are, that’s what I think. I’m going to pitch you, this is an exclusive – what happens is, you start on Dan, and he’s talking to a bunch of people, and then you pan down, and you reveal that he’s part-man, part-horse. And then he clomps away. And that’s your reveal of Mom’s world. It’s all centaurs. [laughs] The serious answer to your question is, it’s something we’ve talked about. The question is, can we find a story there that reflects our characters, especially with all that’s going on? But if we find it, yes.
AX: Can you say what the onscreen time jump is going to be between the end of Season 4 and the start of Season 5?
HENDERSON: I cannot. The obvious answer is, I don’t know. We know a lot of the things we wanted in Season 5. We know a lot of the elements, but until you get that writers’ room together, and until everyone sits down and really digs into the emotion and the heart and the character arcs, so much of it can change that it gets really tricky. Because what I don’t want to do is say, “Yes, this is going to happen,” and then get into the room and have an even better idea happen, and want to walk down that path instead.
AX: Of the characters who do not yet know that Lucifer is the Devil and his brother Amenadiel, played by D.B. Woodside, is an angel, are they ever going to find out the big secret?
HENDERSON: Well, that seems like something that might be fun to play with in a final season.
AX: You’ve had musical sequences with Tom Ellis, you had a big one with him and Aimee Garcia in Las Vegas. In Season 4, you have Lesley-Ann Brandt singing, and in at the start of the Season 4 finale, you had the big dance number that went into the police station. Are you ever going to have a musical number that involves everybody?
HENDERSON: That is the million-dollar question. It is definitely one of the first things we’ll be discussing for Season 5. It is something [fellow LUCIFER executive producer/co-show runner] Ildy [Modrovich] has always wanted to do; it is something I have always wanted Ildy to do. I have no talent in it, Ildy has all of it. If we can figure it out, then that is one of our biggest goals.
AX: Have any of your actors come to you saying, “Please do not make me sing and dance”?
HENDERSON: Part of it is, if we can figure it out, the first conversation is talking to the cast and figuring out who wants to do it. We’re very lucky. A lot of our actors love it, as you have probably seen [over the course of] this entire show, but in the opening of Episode 10 of Season 4, a lot of people were jumping into stuff, and a whole lot of people were like, “Hey, you know, I can do this stuff, too.” We have a wildly talented ensemble. So if we do that, the question will be who wants to do what, and working backward from it. [The BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER musical episode “Once More With Feeling”] is the episode that redefined how you can do musicals on TV, and it’s awesome. It’s definitely one of the things in our heads, and the other thing is, we want to be respectful to our actors, but also, we want to showcase them. So that becomes the back-and-forth if we figure out how to do it.
AX: On the flip side, have any of the actors come to you and said, “Before we end, I’d really like to get to do X”?
HENDERSON: Not yet, but we are going to sit down with every actor before the end. We do it every year. We talk to them about their arcs, and various things, but since this is the final season, that will be a big part of it, too, is figuring out bucket lists of things. And we’ll do our best. We always try to. Sometimes story gets in the way of that, but since this is the last season, we’ll bend over backwards a bit. Like Lesley-Ann really wanted to sing. We knew she had a beautiful voice – we didn’t know how beautiful, we didn’t know it was that amazing – but we literally broke [Season 4] Episode 9 around, “All right, Maze is going to sing a song to tell Eve how she really feels, and is going to shoot herself in the foot.” That’s pretty much what the entire episode was broken around. And that was very challenging, but we got a great episode out of it, and we got an amazing song out of it. And so we do go to those lengths for things that the actors want, partially because we know that’s also going to create a great moment for the show. And when those two things are combined, we know we have something great.
AX: Do you know how you want LUCIFER to end? If you do know, when did you first know it?
HENDERSON: When Season 3 was on the bubble, we all started talking about what our versions of the end were. And in the [writers’] room, there were a lot of different versions. And right now, the version that we’re talking about is one that I think [fellow LUCIFER executive producer/co-show runner] Ildy [Modrovich] and I have had in our heads for a couple of years now. But it’ll be a conversation, because again, there is an ending that we have, there is an ending that we are ready to build towards, that we’re really excited about, but then that thing you never want to do is be too beholden to an idea when a better one comes your way, because that’s the beauty of a TV show. The characters are alive, the characters speak to you, the characters surprise you. So yes, we have an ending, but you never know.
AX: Do you think the fans will be happy with that ending?
HENDERSON: Oh, yes. It’s very important to us. We’ve done a bunch of cliffhangers – this will be an ending. We’re going to do the ending that we’re going to want as fans. That’s one thing Ildy mentions a lot in interviews, which is so true. We love the show. We love working on it. We love watching it, which is weird, and kind of, I don’t know, egotistical, but we just love the show. We love watching the actors, we love when they surprise us, we love it when a great bit of dialogue is better than we expected. We love it so much. So what you’re going to get is a love letter to the show.
AX: Do you know what you may be doing other than LUCIFER, or after LUCIFER?
HENDERSON: Right now, I’m working on SKYWARD, the comic book that I have out of Image. I’m writing the feature adaptation of that as we speak. So working on that and then getting ready to figure out what life after LUCIFER is going to be like. But that’s months away.
AX: And is there anything that you want to say about LUCIFER right now?
HENDERSON: I think the only other thing is getting back to the question about who decided to end the show. We went through the same thing that I think a lot of the fans are going through, which is, joy at the fifth season, sadness at the end of it all, and then where we have ended is a sense of happiness that we can end it our way, with an ending that we’re very excited about, being able to know we’re getting an ending. Part of it is, when you write TV, you’re constantly wondering whether or not this is the end, and whether or not you’re giving your fans what they deserve. And because we know where we’re ending, the fans are going to get the ending they deserve, and I could not be more thrilled about that.
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Article: LUCIFER: Exclusive interview with showrunner Joe Henderson on Season 4 and Season 5 – Part 2