Content warnings: Assume all from the show apply here, but sex is mentioned, swearing, sexual assault is referenced, and major character death
So the final episode of season 1 dropped, and I have some opinions. Most of them are good, but some aren't. The show itself has really great moments, and most episodes were 9/10, with a couple of notable exceptions.
Episode 0 - Pilot
Yes I'm going to talk about the pilot, because how could I not? Without the pilot being publicly released I doubt the show would have been nearly as successful without it. I've probably seen it a dozen or so times since it released?
It's great. The pacing is good, and the characters work really well together. The guy who's clearly got ulterior motives for staying there, but will also have to work on himself to actually have those goals met is interesting.
Episode 1 - Overture
Or how to fuck the entire premise before you start
Within the first 20 minutes we get the answer to the premise of the show, before we're even invested in the characters and really know who they are. If memory serves the timestamp for when "Hell is Forever" starts is 19:25. This can be done well, but I think this would have been better served coming around mid-season when we'd had time to get attached to the characters a little more. As it stands this just answers the show's question immediately giving everyone a pretty good opportunity to step off.
Episode 2 - Radio Killed the Video Star
Or how to make me hate my screens
Where the Vees get officially introduced, and where the pacing cements itself as being solidly "Not good" is when we got the Mommy song from the woman who we don't know, who we just found out has kids in the song, whose names we don't even know. I can't feasibly care about this because I don't know them, and we only really see any of these people outside of this episode.
I'm refraining from saying "The song slaps" because I will say that about every song, but gods it was good. Also I do enjoy that Vox is shown to overload the system as a comedic moment, because it could also be showing that he's more powerful than you'd think. Especially given that he did beat Alastor at some point according to Valentino.
I do like the introduction of Sir Pentious here, and the fact that Charlie blindly forgave him is also intensely in character for her. Him in a sailor suit was also adorable.
Episode 3 - Scrambled Eggs
Or how to show how much better you can be
Also they could have played around a bit more with the "Who killed the angel bit". Everyone knew the angel was killed fairly soon after it happened, but they just immediately reveal who did it.
Vaggie also hops in on this song. She does it well, but also she seems... shallow, as a character. So far her only character trait is "Loves Charlie", which is fine, but there are... issues with it. 1
It honestly seems like all of the writing is going into Al's department, and that's mostly because they don't really want to use up his charm before the fans get their fill. The cannibal fans are uhh. Easily displeased I suppose?
Episode 4 - Masquerade
Or How to Win Me Back
So this was likely my favorite episode out of the bunch, though it did still have its problems. None of them were directly related to Angel's story, though. He's an intensely tragic character who was built to be redeemed by the show, and we all love him for that.
I've seen some takes online about this episode. I want to leave that there, but I know I can't. How can anyone think Husk was calling Angel a loser because he got sexually assaulted? He was calling him a loser as a way to make Angel actually grasp that they're not too different, and will be even more similar shortly.
Also they're 100% gonna bang, which I... don't know that I like in the context of the story. Angel's heavily using sex to cope with his trauma around sex, and it really is hard to split that in the beginning. I'm not totally against it ever happening, but I don't know that I want it to be canon next season, y'know? Give it time, let Angel heal.2
Now, my biggest issue with the show as a whole also comes to a head here. The pacing of this episode is intense, which is fine, but I actually had to pause it because I had to many feelings going on back to back, which I don't think has ever happened before? It was just before "Loser, Baby" came on.
Episode 5 - Dad Beat Dad
Or how to give up on this subtitling scheme because you're tired of it
Remember how pilots are only supposed to be vaguely canon? Yeah, this episode is the example of why. The episode has a lot going for it, though. It's very sweet seeing Charlie and Lucifer make up, and I cried at their song.3
The issue I've been having with the show kind of crystalized here, though. The show has a lot of good moments, but not a lot of time to justify them happening. You mean to tell me that someone who's been more or less abandoned by their parent is just... going to accept that it was all just a giant misunderstanding? Like he doesn't seem like a bad dad, but she definitely seemed hurt, and even for Charlie this seems a bit steep.
Also, anyone else feel like Charlie and Vaggie haven't been mentioned together at all yet? They don't actually do anything shippish until this episode. At least not really.
Mimzy as a character is hilarious, but I would get very tired of her very quickly, so I'm kind of glad she's gone for now.
Episode 6 - Welcome to Heaven
Here's where we actually get to heaven. This is probably one of the episodes where I've played the songs on repeat the most, but I remember the least about it overall.
The intro with Saint Peter was neat, and I'm wondering if it signifies somethingabout Jesus being here. It would be interesting if it did, but I kind of doubt it. Also we get to see Angel's sister! She's in the song dancing in one of the scenes.
The fact that nobody in heaven knows why they're in heaven really does speak volumes to the whole concept of searching for perfection and playing favorites. We did already know heaven would be corrupt, since... y'know, the whole point of the show ever since Mr. Original Dickmaster 9000 decided to sing his song has been sticking it to the man4.
Also I think Vaggie could have really caused some trouble in that courtroom by coming out as an angel and showing how they'd immediately cut out her eye and left her for dead when she spared the life of a child.
I... kind of really feel sorry for Pentious here. He's trying so hard to say he likes Cherri, and yet he just. Fucking. Can't. At least not without saying it to everybody here. Which, man, it certainly takes something to make that joke right before Angel tells Val to get fucked.
This is another issue though: They show barely anything on screen. Apparently Angel's gone from needing drugs so bad Charlie and Vaggie need to actively hunt for his stashes to totally clean in one episde? Wait you mean to tell me that episode was five months ago and we saw none of that timespan? At this point we don't even know these characters anymore.
But also, Angel standing up to Val was an amazing scene. It takes whatever the staff had making that joke5 and then some to stand up to your owner, and then spit your contract right back at him.
Episode 7 - Hello Rosie!
Hey, we finally get a Charlastor episode after they've so generously hinted at them being buddy buddy in every other episode despite not showing it!
Also the deal from the pilot was finally sealed, though Alastor doesn't own Charlie's soul. Which is a good thing. I don't know what that could do to a sinner.
And here's the big issue here: Vaggie has not even once been fleshed out enough as a character to have shown that her intentions for fighting the Angels are anything other than out of love for Charlie. The song is great, but fuck's sake it's not something Vaggie needed to know. Besides that I think the symbolism in waiting to give her wings back would have been way stronger if they'd waited until the next episode.
Besides that, Charlie's coming to grips with Vaggie's being an Angel did fit her character really well. She's all about second chances and redemption, and the fact that she was more upset about the fact that Vaggie felt like she needed to lie than she was about actually being lied to is 100% on brand.
Episode 8 - Finale
Now this episode is probably the one I take the most issue with. It's still good, but just...
So, gonna start with the good. Alastor's fight with Adam was wonderful, and watching him struggle in a fight was great after seeing him fight Pen a few times, and seeing him get beat on screen was actually kind of great. Being worried(not really) that they'd kill him gave a gravity to the rest of the episode that they just dropped the ball on pretty much immediately with Pentious.
Pen runs up to Cherri, kisses her, says "I love you", and then runs off to his ship. He charges his death lazer, aims at Adam, and just immediately dies in a joke death. Which they then try to treat seriously by having the other guests start crying. You can't kill someone off in a funny way, then have everyone treat it seriously doesn't work. I know Pentious has always been a joke character in combat, but that still doesn't work, it just feels hollow.
Also Vaggie's fight with Lute would have been the better place for her to get her wings back. The symbolism of her getting her wings back as she's sparing Lute, and then flying to accompany Charlie would have been wonderful.
Now. The real problem.
Why did Lucifer do everything? Charlie finally got the Magical Girl Transformation sequence with the two goats we've been seeing with her. And then one of the dragoats gets killed immediately and Charlie gets thrown against a wall. Which is fine, she can have a shakey start, but then she gets one hit in telling Adam that she's the Princess of Hell and not some random bitch, and then her dad comes in to save the day. That's the end of it. And why did he JUST get there?! He knew this would be happening, and he knew they'd all be fucked.
But no, why couldn't Charlie kill Adam? Or at least get him to the point where Lucifer did. Yes, it's her first fight, but I'm assuming full demon form gets some fighting instinct alongside the pitchfork. I'm just kind of disappointed with it.
Though, that being said, Lucifer trash talking Adam was beautiful and I loved every second of that.
Yeah I'm giving this its own section.
So, here's the thing: I don't know the budgetary constraints of the show. I also can't really say that's a major concern of mine. I'm also aware that this was at least partially written during the strikes, along with a lot of shows. Given all of that they did do really well, but also I'm not interested in what the show's like considering the production problems and stipulations.
The pacing is... not good. It feels like they were trying to make a 12 episode season and didn't have the budget. It really feels like there should have been about 4 more episodes and have each week summarize ~2 weeks of time in the show, since we know the timeframe. The fact that they skipped 5 months of time between episode 5 and 6 really made me feel like when I started playing Heart of Thorns in Guild Wars and had no idea what was going on.
Alongside that issue, the other big issue with only having 8 episodes is that some characters never got developed. Angel had an entire character arc completely off-screen that we didn't even see, and Vaggie also might have, given her song with Carmilla.
The actual writing issues with the show really only come in when it comes to Charlie and Lucifer's relationship, and even then that's mostly from Lucifer stealing the spotlight from Charlie.
I still love these characters, and I'm hopeful for the show. But as it stands the first season is a 7/10.
I know that rating means something different in the wider review space, where 7/10 is the lowest anyone will get, which evidently isn't how I use it given I gave the last episode a 4/10, which is true neutral for me. I like using this chart for that since it lets me communicate a lot with just the number.
The voice actors
I feel the need to mention this mostly because of the drama surrounding it. The new VAs are great! They all fit the roles really well, and if I hadn't known they'd changed I think the only ones I would have noticed were Husk and Cherri, and the only one I'm not 100% on board with is Cherri. But at the end of the day they're all still good at what they do.
But also I wanna mention this video because it's cute and made me cry
- But the show never fleshes her out, and this becomes a problem when they try to act like they have. Just bringing it up now so it can be really noticed later on.↩︎
- ON SCREEN, DAMMIT. LET HIM HEAL ON SCREEN.↩︎
- This is not, in fact, an accomplishment I've cried like a bitch at every episode that's come out of Hazbin, and most of the Hellua Boss episodes too.↩︎
- Oh wait... br>↩︎
- Since I'm not totally clear on what the joke is: Sir Pentious repeatedly tries to do things for Cherri as a gesture of affection, and immediately cheapens it by getting nervous and saying he's going to do it for everybody here. The last thing he suggests this way is sex.↩︎