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Supernatural Needs to Make Lucifer Scary Again

Rock-n-roll is devil music, after all

MaryAnn Sleasman

The first episode back after a small tryptophan-induced trip and the penultimate episode of the first half of Supernatural's bazillionth season -- "Rock Never Dies" should have been a little more... Idk... Coherent? Interesting?

We got flashes of classic Sam-and-Dean-as-fish-outta-water moments while they searched for Lucifer in America's fakest city, but the search that dominated the episode just wasn't that interesting. The hunt that followed? Brief and aimless, ending with a burnt out husk of Rick Springfield marking an inglorious (and temporary) exit for the show's most infamous and enduring baddie.

So this entire season (so far) and the whole reason for Lucifer's latest efforts to spit in daddy's holy face is that he's essentially throwing a tantrum? Rather than take out his rage by ransacking Heaven or Hell, the Prince of Darkness decided he wanted to ditch the Judeo-Christian thing and get in touch with his human side by possessing a has-been 80s rocker (Sam's secret fave, of course) and cultivating a terrifying Twitter following of groupies and hangers-on who are willing to carve his name into their flesh because they have low self-esteem and base their value on the affections of, well, has-been 80s rockers.

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All-powerful deities slumming it as human god-equivalents isn't exactly new ground in Supernatural-land, but that old standby seems wasted when we're talking about Lucifer. Remember how genuinely scary Luci was in season 5? That terror carried him through his defeat in "Swan Song" and through his stint as a hallucination -- even a goofy hallucination -- as Sam struggled to handle his Hell-trauma in later seasons. When was the last time Lucifer was actually scary? I love me some Misha Collins, but Castiel-Lucifer was not scary. Vince Vincente-Lucifer was not scary.

Luci escaped at the end of "Rock Never Dies" because we still have half a season to get back to after the holidays; and I guess we're just going to take the British Men of Letters stuff at an agonizing pace. Sam and Dean (Jensen Ackles) made their obligatory man-pained faces and Sam got his angst on about how they suck as hunters, but it was hard to feel it. When his aspirations aren't threatening the very fabric of reality... And when even Sam, trapped in a room with the very being that literally tormented him into insanity just a few seasons ago, manages to get through the scene without so much as an Official Winchester Nervous Swallow, it's hard to care about the damage an aimless archangel with daddy issues could cause.

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I'm not going to make this a crack about CW shows aging ungracefully or harping on the utter insanity that is 12 seasons of anything. We get it. Supernatural is ancient by TV rules. I don't think this has anything to do with that though. There have been some genuinely good and strong episodes so far this season.

Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) and the MOL Brits have provided some of the strongest moments of the season and promise to deliver more. However, Lucifer should trump those storylines simply by virtue of being Lucifer. It's like how Darth Vader was way more interesting before Star Wars went and turned him into a sad kid with a magical bacterial infection and anger management problems: less is more, especially if the "more" that you're offering is kind of dumb.

Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)