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Friday, 28 May 2021 18:10

Mike Costa: Questioned and Answered. Lucifer writer talks Dan centric episode, 5b in general and what to expect for season 6 Featured

Written by Lucks, Charly and Lev

In advance of Lucifer 5B, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lucifer writer and executive story editor Mike Costa. Mike has been with Lucifer since season 1 and has written many memorable episodes such as Pops, Homewrecker, Expire Erect, and ¡Diablo! as well as episode 12 in Lucifer’s latest batch of episodes titled “Daniel Espinoza: Naked and Afraid”.

PLEASE NOTE this interview contains spoilers for the second half of Lucifer season 5. Proceed with caution.



photo copyright Netflix

 

LCL: We loved spotting some of the easter eggs throughout 5x12 like the head in a box, waking up naked and Los X to name a few. So we have to know, just how many easter eggs from previous adventures did you put into your episode?

 

 Mike Costa: If I was a good student, I would have gone back over the years of Dan scenes and Dan/Lucifer interactions and made a list to work off of… but I’ve always been the kind of guy who coasts by on a solid B.

That said, the truth is I’d been imagining this episode in my head since way back in Season 3. Obviously, the version we were all talking about then would have been very different, because the Dan/Lucifer story was in a very different place, but the nature of the episode was roughly the same: Dan wakes up next to a dead body, knows someone is trying to frame him, can’t go to the police, so he has to figure everything out on his own in a situation that is continuously getting worse at every turn. So I had years to imagine the humiliations, agonizing moral choices and impossible situations to put him through.

One crucial element for the story though — and the thing that makes it (hopefully) a successful episode of television and not just a pointless exercise in torturing Dan — was that Dan would have to grow from it. He’d have to confront his demons, so to speak, and one very explicit way to do that was to have him literally confront situations from his past. The element that really allowed that to fall into place was Lucifer’s involvement — once we settled on the idea that Lucifer was the one doing this to him out of revenge, then it made sense he’d sprinkle in all these references to past scenario’s of Dan’s life, as a cheeky sort of clue-path he knew Dan would only recognize in retrospect. Just another way for Lucifer to look clever and Dan to look dumb, with the irony being that Lucifer never intended for this to lead Dan to some sort of catharsis (though he’s happy taking credit for it.)

So after we decided on that being the real “story behind the story” for the episode, the entire writers room started pitching out ideas for what past events we could use in Dan’s little traumatic odyssey through this episode, and I didn’t HAVE to do all the work on my own. Though I’ll admit, as the writer who loves Dan the most, that process wasn’t as difficult as maybe I’m making it out to be. Most of my favorite scenes in the series are Dan scenes, so I remember them pretty well.

As for how many there are, well, I hesitate to give an official number, because some viewers might stumble onto some unintentional ones that make me look even more clever than I actually am. I’m like Lucifer in that way — better to take credit for happy accidents. Let’s just say; there are as many as you can find, and even more besides.




LCL: At the end of the episode, Dan says “How could you have known all of that, you’d have to know every decision I’d make.” Is this simply about Dan being predictable and Lucifer knowing him so well by now, or was this intended as foreshadowing for Lucifer becoming God at the end of the season?

 

Mike Costa: This is a great question — and again, one of those happy accidents. The truth is, even though I knew at the time that Lucifer was on the path to becoming God, that dialogue exchange wasn’t intended to be any kind of foreshadowing of his omnipotence.

We DO have a moment later in the series where Dan, after finding out Lucifer is becoming God, gives him credit by saying something like “well, he did orchestrate an entire chain of events that resulted in me thinking I was responsible for a massacre,” but we found that moment after my episode was already written, and we were considering what Dan’s reaction would be to the news that Lucifer was taking over the Big Job.

Ultimately, the answer to how Lucifer would be able to predict Dan’s every move is intended to be an insight into Dan’s actual character. Lucifer couldn’t know the minutiae of what Dan would do in every second, but he could count on the fact that Dan would, no matter what, always try to do the right thing… and then plan ahead to lay another boogie-trap along that path. It was part of the unusual format of the episode that the revelation at the end, ultimately, is about Dan’s character, rather than Lucifer’s.


photo copyright Netflix

 

LCL: Chris Rafferty posted Lucifer’s revenge board from 5x08 online and we have to say it was certainly inventive! Did you both conspire what was going to happen at the time of filming 5x08 to have some aspects already on the board?

 

Mike Costa: Yes. Chris was in pre-production for 508 while I was working on the “break” (meaning, plotting out the sequence and specific scenes of the story) for 512. So we were definitely in contact while he was designing Lucifer’s “revenge board” so that he could hide some details in there that he knew would show up in Lucifer’s eventual plan. Chris’s attention to details like that is legendarily meticulous. Unlike myself, who is always glad to take credit for happy accidents, you can almost guarantee that any subtle moment in one of his episodes is entirely intentional.



LCL: Lucifer spent a lot of time and money ($5,004,157?!) for his revenge prank on Dan. Have you or your colleagues ever pulled any pranks on set that required such dedication?

 

Mike Costa: Actually, I pulled a pretty big prank on some of the writers during season 3. It involved the participation of a few other writers who were in on it, plus several cast members, and it unfolded over several days to an explosive climax in the writers room during lunch one day. Honestly, it was probably the most brilliant thing I will ever pull off, and I probably should have quit the show after that because I’d never be able to top it as an achievement, either personally or professionally.

I know I’m being a little vague about it, but there is video online of Tom talking about it at a Q&A during a convention, so if you want to know what happened, you’ll have to go find that. It’s better when he tells it anyway.

But I also want to give credit where it’s due: that prank was actually inspired by a prank that was pulled on the writers by our then writer’s assistant Nicole Glantz, and our then Script Coordinator Carly Woodward (who actually came back as a writer on the show for season 6.) They rolled late in one morning still wearing the clothes from an outing we did as a group the night before, and they told us the epic story of what had happened to them after we’d all gone home. I am still impressed to this day about how deftly they crafted this fake story to be the perfect balance of absurd yet believable, while doing a thing that any scam has to do: make your mark WANT to believe that it’s true, so you don’t have to do any convincing at all. That was the day we all knew that Carly and Nicole would definitely make it as writers — and both of them now have.



LCL: The long awaited F bomb was dropped and at the perfect moment in our opinion. Was it always planned to be used for Lucifer’s revenge on Dan? And can we expect anymore to be dropped in season 6?

 

Mike Costa: Netflix allows a certain number of profanities per season at the TV-14 rating level, so we knew exactly how many f-bombs we were allowed (not many) but we also figured we’d never actually use them. Lucifer has never been a show about gruesome violence or explicit sex or heavy profanity, so including those things just because we “could” was never something we spent a lot of time considering. However, very early on we realized that if we were ever going to do it, helping land the “punchline” for this episode would be the place for it. So from almost the very beginning of us talking about this episode, we knew it was going to be there, and we knew it was going to be that line. (A little behind-the-scenes trivia: actually I’d always intended the line to be “because you shot me in the F****** face, Daniel,” but when Chris was working on his episode we realized it just didn’t work as well for Lucifer to be shot in the literal face, and so the line changed to its current version. Ah well. I always thought it would have been much more dramatic for Lucifer to have been shot in the face but blame Chris.)


photo copyright Netflix

 

LCL: Was there any scene that was cut from 5x12 and/or 5b that you wish you could have kept in?

 

Mike Costa: I’m happy to report that, no, no scene or moment was cut from this episode. What you see on screen is the exact version we’d intended. Honestly, it’s extremely rare for us to cut scenes from an episode of Lucifer, even in the script stage. The very few times I can think of it happening were all in the first few seasons. As the show went on, we got better at making it, and we almost never got to the scripting stage with scenes we later realized would have to be cut either because they didn’t work, or even for production reasons. I wish I could tell you there is more of Dan’s extremis out there, sleeping in some post-production hard-drive, but it’s all there up on the screen.



LCL: Okay, we have to ask. Hanjobadiel? What’s the story behind the angel of giving’s name?

 

Mike Costa: Well, every angel’s name ends with “iel” or “ael” so it was really a matter of finding a prefix to put in front of that to create a new name. We try to pull names from actual religious texts or Apocrypha, but sometimes we do invent our own, and that one was an original to the show. And since in the mythology of our show, every angel has a specific “roll,” we thought an angel with that Scandinavian-sounding name would be a friendly, giving type. Why do you ask?



LCL: The second half of season 5 we would personally describe as epic, action filled and intense. What should we expect from the sixth and final season?

 

Mike Costa: Well, season 5 ends on what could accurately be called the moment of absolute triumph. Lucifer basically achieves his every goal, triumphs in the final contest, and wins the ultimate prize. By the end of season 5 a lot of our characters achieve what they want, so the best way to tease season 6 is to present the question that we attempted to answer when we started working on it: “What happens after Happily Ever After?” Stories tend to end after a character achieves the thing they most want, but real life continues after you get your heart’s desire. So we start out season 6 with our characters facing that reality: we got what we wanted… now what? And exploring that question makes for what’s probably the most intensely character-focused season of Lucifer we’ve ever done. Which, honestly, is only appropriate for the final one.


photo copyright Netflix

 

LCL: Over all 6 seasons, what has been your favourite episode and your favourite characters to write and why?

 

Mike Costa: This is a no brainer. Dan has always been my favorite character, ever since I wrote the scene where he gets beat up and loses his fight against the Big Bad way back in season 1. And the reason is simple: more than anyone else on the show, Dan is just a normal dude. He’s just trying his best. Most of the time he has no clue what’s going on. Life keeps kicking him in the teeth, and he doesn’t have any idea why, but he keeps trying anyway. In my opinion, Dan is the character on the show that represents all of humanity at it’s best: clueless, hapless, but just trying as hard as it can. And, as the ultimate Dan episode, 512 was definitely my favorite episode to write. Like I said, I’d been pushing for some version of his episode since season 3. I honestly can’t believe we were finally able to do it, but I’m so glad we did.




We want to thank Mike Costa again for taking the time to answer our questions. All episodes of Lucifer Season 5 are now streaming on Netflix.

 

 

Read 3556 times Last modified on Saturday, 29 May 2021 15:29

1 comment

  • Comment Link Amy Lee Saturday, 29 May 2021 11:49 posted by Amy Lee

    I honestly think my favorite line so far has been the one that shows how much Lucifer actually does like Dan (and hence humanity maybe) when they're all trying to find him. The one where Maze asks what favors to cash in and he just replies "All of them." Once you get over the shock of wtf is happening here, in this episode with Dan, and get that last scene between them, you realise, Lucifer is doing this whole prank in a similiar vein to how he handled someone hitting his Dad, because Dan's family. He's the little brother no one but Lucy can pick on, and well, Dad help you if you do!

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