“What is it with you humans? Always blaming me. I never make any of you do anything.”
In the two-plus seasons of Lucifer currently in the books, I don’t think there’s ever been an episode that pulled the wool over its viewers’ eyes better than “Off the Record”. Not only do we get the perspective of a one-off character as the primary point-of-view with our top-billed stars in supporting roles, but we also get a first-hand take on the truth of Hell.
When we see Reese Getty start the episode in a hospital bed, unsure of where his life has gone only to discover that his wife has hopped into bed with Lucifer. At first glance, you feel for the guy but it soon becomes clear that Reese’s POV is the classic ‘unreliable narrator’. His take on situations is so skewed by his own beliefs and delusions that it’s a jarring transition at first to follow the narrative. The first half of the episode takes place a few weeks after Lucifer joins the LAPD as a special consultant. Reese plans to use his skills as a reporter to discredit Lucifer and—in his mind—impress his wife enough to see the error of her ways. But remember that unreliable thing? Turns out, Reese and his wife are separated though, if it were up to her, they’d already be divorced. Yes, Reese is putting all his energies into finding a Hail Mary type of ‘win’ that will halt his wife from moving on from him.
Did I mention that said wife (ex) is none other than our very own Dr. Linda? Rewind to Year One of Lucifer and our titular character and the doctor in question had more than a few meetings of sexual congress; in fact, the hints of their goings-on were selling points in many of those early promos for the show. To see a part of Dr. Linda’s life pre-Lucifer was not only a surprise but a reminder that even those we know have things going on in the background we may not be aware of.
But back to Reese. He refuses to let up on the hope of reconciling with Linda until he sees the one thing in this world that would scare anyone: the true face of the Devil.
During an interrogation, Lucifer pops that devil-face out to get answers, not realizing that Reese witnesses it all. Horrified, he tries telling Linda the truth about Lucifer to no avail. He relents to signing the divorce papers and spends the next year trying to find incontrovertible proof that Lucifer is the devil. Now, as Reese searches for a way to get revenge—that’s what it is, no matter his own belief of noble intentions—we have a murder investigation of a serial killer who takes down three seemingly unrelated people. Except, they aren’t unrelated: all three lived what most would call a hypocritical life. Their words did not match their deeds. But when Chloe and Lucifer pick the case back up one year later, it gives Reese the idea to use the killer (Alvin) to take Lucifer down: permanently.
There is a quote about, when seeking revenge, dig two graves. If only Reese realized the truth of that particular saying. Though he does give the police the killer, it’s only after trying to kill Lucifer (with an innocent woman dying in the process) and having Alvin poison him. The last thing Reese sees before dying is Lucifer looking down upon him.
And then he awakes in the hospital.
“Second chance on life,” he says for the second time in an hour, “maybe it’s not too late to turn things around.”
Yes, Reese, it’s too late for you. Much too late.
- For the first five or ten minutes, I expected “Off the Record” to be a filler episode with nothing really special about it. And while it was a filler, it was absolutely special. To have the entire journey be our glimpse into a character’s own damnation played for a powerful narrative. Reese’s entire journey was hinted at with every action he took. Though he tried to play the “I’m doing it for my wife” card, in truth, Reese’s actions were that of an obsessed and selfish man who only truly cared about his own feelings, no one else’s.
- It’s not often a show will have its main character take a backseat to a one-shot character like Reese but the only way “Off the Record” actually works is by telling the story from Reese’s viewpoint. His is a cautionary tale at how easily we can fall victim to our own (sometimes) twisted sense of reality.
- Finally, when Lucifer tells Reese the truth about Hell, how a soul can leave of its own volition but never does is a reminder of the prison we can find ourselves in when we carry the burden of guilt with us. It doesn’t matter if the guilt is justified or not, what matters is facing what we have done and finding a way to forgive ourselves. But according to Lucifer—and my own personal experience—alleviating one’s self of guilt is easier said than done.
Lucifer: “Off the Record”