Playing God: Exploring the Mythology in Lucifer, Episode 2.12: “Love Handles”

Ah, the dream tease. Lucifer’s writers are clearly having fun teasing us with Lucifer’s and Chloe’s dream, but it also serves to kick off the underlying struggle of the entire episode—that of choice. Chloe is caught, wondering whether she should act on her feelings and what the results of that would look like. When wrestling with a dilemma of what to do, she whispers, “Maybe this time will be different.” We’ve all been there. 

We don’t get our first hint at the mythology of this episode until Lucifer brings up that the killer is “playing God” by presenting Johnny Kane with an impossible choice, hinting that Lucifer knows all-too-well what this means since he’s been through it before. This calls to mind some of the stories where a hard choice was made in the Bible—specifically, the sacrifice of Isaac.

It has long been one of the more controversial stories of the Bible, showing a God that many interpret to be twisted, cruel, and tyrannical. Abraham—after going through an ordeal just to have his son Isaac—is presented with an impossible choice, much like Professor Carlyle gives his victims.

Not only is Abraham told to take his son Isaac out to sacrifice him, but he does not tell his wife Sarah what he is doing. The obvious reason is that Sarah would have nothing to do with this. She would immediately tell Abraham not to sacrifice their only son, even if it is God asking. So Abraham is immediately hit with a double whammy: if he sacrifices Isaac, he will not only lose his son, but his wife. There is no way that Sarah would forgive him for both the sacrifice and keeping it from her.

On the other side of the choice is God. God gave Isaac to Abraham in the first place. Prior to that, Abraham made an everlasting covenant with God. The terms of this covenant are simple yet often misunderstood by readers. God “made [Abraham] the ancestor of a multitude of nations” (Gen 17:5 NRSV), but what does God get in return? The most obvious and common answer is that of circumcision since the chapter goes on for five verses about it. It’s easy to miss, but the more important term is at the beginning of the chapter where God declares, “walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1).

What this means is that God intends Abraham to walk a specific path that God wants. In other words, he must do as God says, but in exchange, God has Abraham’s back, too. According to the terms of the covenant, Abraham’s safety is ensured because he must be the father of nations—as long as he does what God says. It’s easy to interpret this God as “clearly having an oversized ego,” as Lucifer puts it.

Getting back to the sacrifice, Abraham “bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar … and took the knife to kill his son” (Gen 17:9-10); clearly, Abraham is not messing around and is taking the choice presented to him quite seriously. This clearly is an impossible choice; both outcomes will have a disastrous effect on Abraham no matter what, as demonstrated by the episode.

The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1659 – Juan de Valdes Leal

Johnny Kane, after failing to cut his own face, now suffers through the guilt of not saving a man at the expense of his own livelihood. Dr. Scott has the opposite consequence. She destroyed her hand while saving Ashley, but she will never again be a surgeon. Every time she looks at her hand, she will remember what she sacrificed. Either choice presents haunting consequences that will last for the rest of both of their lives.

Abraham is facing the same consequences. He will either destroy his family in following God, or destroy his covenant with God to save his family. Clearly, from the story, Abraham is ready to sacrifice Isaac, but divine intervention prevents the horrible consequences.

The intervention is usually interpreted as being a test of Abraham’s character, a test of obedience, and even a measure of God’s cruelty as “there’s no winning when living by a twisted tyrant’s rules” since God treats humanity as pawns. However, there is more to consider—specifically, the future.

God is playing a long game. Abraham will have “offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven” (Gen 22:17), which clearly indicates that Abraham is only the beginning, not the end. God has a plan. The same is true when it comes to Chloe because “thirty-five years ago, Amenadiel … blessed Penelope Decker so that she and her husband could have a child.”

If Mum is correct, and we have no reason to doubt her or Amenadiel, “God put [Chloe] in Lucifer’s path.” This reveals a level of omniscience on God’s part—which Mum seems not to have—as God would have had to know that Lucifer would leave hell for LA and at least enough of the events to know just which couple would need Amenadiel’s blessing.

We must also ask why, out of a host of angels, was Amenadiel chosen for this task? All of the events unfolding in the series would then have to be according to God’s vision for humanity. Is Professor Carlyle right in that “choice is an illusion,” especially in light of God’s manipulation of events to an unknown purpose? Is Chloe a person or merely a divine instrument to be used against Lucifer, perhaps to teach him humanity?

Lucifer, on the verge of genuine happiness with Chloe, now concludes “none of it was real” when he learns of Amenadiel’s (and God’s) involvement in Chloe’s conception. 

See also: Unworthy: Exploring the Mythology of Lucifer, Episode 2.11: “Stewardess Interruptus”

 


Andy Adams is an adjunct professor of English at various colleges in the Phoenix area. He has an affectation for fedoras as they complement his villainous goatee. He’s been known to poke his head onto Twitter @A3Writer, but he’s never been big into birds. He blogs at A3writer.com about writing, teaching, and the conquest of fictional worlds—they’re more fun than the real world.

Read all posts by Andy Adams for Criminal Element.

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