Warning: This article contains spoilers from the midseason finale of Lucifer season 5.
Our favorite bright and happy forensic scientist, Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia), just weathered her darkest moment on Lucifer to date in the first half of season 5.
After a string bad boys at the beginning of the season, Ella finally started dating Pete (Under the Dome’s Alex Koch), a reporter who is basically the male version of Ella in the best way possible — or so she thought. Unfortunately, in the Kevin Alejandro-directed midseason finale, Ella discovered that Pete was actually a serial killer she, Lucifer (Tom Ellis), and Det. Chloe Decker (Lauren German) were tracking. When Pete realized the jig is up, he pounced on Ella, pinned her to the ground, and strangled her. Thankfully, Ella knocked him out with a sedative and survived the ordeal, which now ranks as one of the most harrowing things she, or any main character, has gone through on the show.
Shooting that “really disturbing” choking scene was almost just as distressing for Garcia as it was for Ella, but she ultimately enjoyed it because it challenged in a very new way.
“What’s so beautiful about that episode for me, as an actor, is I get to do something totally different,” Garcia told EW during a set visit last December shortly after shooting the scene. “When I stopped shooting that scene, not only was I bruised up all over my body because we really went for it and I asked him [Koch] to go for it, the secondary crew was like, ‘I have PTSD watching the scene.’ Our writer Chris Rafferty just started crying and saying, ‘We’ve never gone this dark on this show.’ To have our lightest character have one of the darkest moments is what makes our show really cool.”
According to Garcia, both she and Koch got lost in the intensity of the scene because they were so committed and trusted each other. “His eyes [went] and my eyes were bloodshot. He was like, ‘Your eyes got like Inglorious Basterds. I thought I was choking you.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I thought you were really choking me.’ She’s fighting for her life. In that moment, I just felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I don’t really remember what happened until later when I’m like, ‘Oh my god, my body hurts.’ To do that kind of visceral, all-in stuff on a genre procedural show is just so juicy and yummy,” said Garcia.
Ella’s entire experience with Pete is a critical point in her arc this year. After putting Ella through a crisis of faith in season 4, the writers wanted to dig deeper and explore the root of that, which ended up being a crisis of self. Initially, Ella’s lack of confidence in herself manifests as her constantly sleeping with the wrong guys, but we’ll see there’s much more to it as the season goes on.
“What this [crisis of self] does to her, it says, ‘Okay, you have faith in God, but you don’t have faith in yourself? How can you have such rock-solid faith with the big guy?'” said Garcia. “[For her], it’s almost easier to put faith in something like God than to put faith in yourself because then you’re accountable and you have to take your own bullets. So, self-doubt is such a universal thing that to have someone like Ella, who’s a really relatable character, explore something like that – that’s such human thing. That’s where our show lives.”
We’re used to Ella being the bright and shiny personality amid all of the darkness of murder; however, this storyline will see her confront a part of her personality that she usually avoids.
“We wanted to get into a battle within herself, accepting the darker side of herself,” co-showrunner Ildy Modrovich told EW in a recent interview. “I think she is afraid of, or hides, what I would call her shadow self [because] she’s afraid of what it means. So we just really wanted to explore that and say by the end, ‘That’s okay. Everybody has darkness. It doesn’t make you bad. You can do good with it or you can do bad with it.’ We wanted to tell a story that showed the two different ways of how the darkness in you can manifest.”
Naturally, Ella’s experience in the midseason finale will have a major impact on her in the second half of the season. “What you’ve just seen is the midpoint of her arc. A lot of [Ella’s storyline] is going to be dealing with that crisis of self and the fact crisis of self and the fact that she tried to let someone in and got betrayed and hurt in an absolutely terrible way. She’ll be reeling from that in the back-half.”
Garcia added: “This season we’re going to see her break and as an actor, what a fun thing to do.”
The first eight episodes of Lucifer season 5 are available on Netflix now.