Season 11 of Supernatural saw the return of an old villain: Lucifer. For those who haven’t been watching the show very closely, this is the Serpent – the actual Devil – the archangel who fell from grace. He ended up in a supernatural cage, got out, tried to take over the world and destroy it, and then was stuffed back in the same cage at the end of Season 5.

That Lucifer.

Well, he came back and then was seemingly killed again during the spectacular two-part season finale. This is why many fans were surprised to learn Lucifer would be a regular in season 12 as well. That’s putting it mildly. After all, Lucifer has done awful things to our plaid-wearing heroes, and many fans had been glad to see the back of him. Now, with this action-packed midseason finale, Supernatural’s done it again: Lucifer may be back in the cage. Or he may not. The question is: should he stick around? Well, he totally should, because…

Some awesome actors played the role.

Over the years, Lucifer’s been played by a whole series of incredible actors. Jared Padalecki, Adrianne Palicki, Matt Cohen, Misha Collins, and Rick Springfield, to name a few.

The first in a long list is Mark Pellegrino, who gave the character his now trademark half smiles and easy gait. Pellegrino’s choices were interesting. His Lucifer managed to be both creepily vulnerable and incredibly dangerous. He was overflowing with that kind of charm you should definitely steer clear of. All the other actors succeeded in capturing those choices while adding something completely theirs to the character. Jared Padalecki’s cold superiority. Misha Collins’ mischievous playfulness. David Chisum’s restrained resentment. Seeing these great actors deftly paying homage to each other (and to such a complex character) definitely made for very rewarding viewing.

Archangels, man

Whatever else he became after he fell, Lucifer is still an archangel. As far as we know he’s now the only angel in creation to still fully possess his powers. Castiel and the other angels lost their wings (and much of their bravado) at the end of Season 8. The show doesn’t always deliver in its description of supernatural creatures. Some feel more like people with fangs and wings than actual alien beings. Yet there is definite potential for Supernatural in having a fully-fledged archangel, ‘Heaven’s most terrifying weapon’, as Castiel put it in Season 4, at their beck and call.

Or, well, not at their beck and call, because, after all…

Lucifer is a Villain without a Mission

When we first met Lucifer, he was hellbent (no pun intended) in playing his part in the upcoming Apocalypse. Rebellious son though he was, he had a script to follow. He was even more zealous than his brothers in carrying it out to the letter. Unlike Michael, who was forced to give up on Dean ever becoming his vessel, Lucifer ticked all his boxes.

A lot has happened since those happier and easier times. The Apocalypse never came to be. Michael ended up in the cage and allegedly lost his mind. The Darkness was released. God came back and had the most “it’s not me, it’s you” conversation with Lucifer ever…

…and now all bets are off. Lucifer doesn’t give a damn anymore. This may very well be the first time Supernatural is featuring a villain without any purpose whatsoever. The inherent promise of random chaos and destruction is enticing, to say the least. Our heroes will have to fight a war on two fronts: Lucifer’s angry mess on one side and the British Men of Letters’ methodical brutality on the other.

All the Feels

From what we know so far, Lucifer never had anything to call his own. He’d never experienced any human emotion at all. He feigned sympathy and empathy to try and persuade Sam to say yes to him back in Seasons 4 and 5. He tried to express some kind of kinship, or at least solidarity, to those angels who were trying to keep Heaven going in Season 11, but he never really fooled anybody. We don’t know if this emotional void is an angel thing, a Lucifer thing, or a by-product of the Mark of Cain.

What we do know is that for whatever reason, Lucifer seems to react to the void by craving vessels who are overflowing with feelings.  Among these are widowers Nick, Vince Vicente and Jefferson Rooney. Sam Winchester himself was deeply scarred by the death of his fiancée, Jess. And, arguably, Castiel whose problem as an angel was always ‘too much heart,’ as another angel pointed out, rather reproachfully.

This disinterest or inability to actually feel anything himself, however, could now change. In episode 8, “Lotus“, we’ve seen Lucifer being pleasantly surprised by the reality of sharing a bed with a willing and loving partner. Unfortunately for him, that partner didn’t actually realize who she was sharing a bed with. But still. And we know now that encounter produced a child: a Nephilim – a being half human, half angel. Will Lucifer reclaim the child as his own, and finally deal with his own complicated feelings, or lack thereof? My, my. Underneath all the blood and the gore Supernatural is a soap opera in disguise. Dean Winchester would approve.

Sam never got closure

It’s hard to deny that Lucifer inflicted considerable harm to Sam, quite possibly burning Sam’s whole personality to the ground. Years later, Sam is still dealing with the aftermath of Lucifer pursuing him, possessing him, torturing him in the Cage and finally haunting his nights and his dreams and slowly driving him crazy. In season 11, Lucifer used Sam’s stubborn faith in God to trick him and come back into the world. He violated Sam (again) and took over over one of his best friends. He then got himself captured by the Darkness, forcing Sam to come to the rescue. After these dramatic events, many fans hoped for a showdown of sorts, so that Sam could acknowledge his hurt and finally move on. Instead, Lucifer and the Winchesters entered into an uneasy truce. It was Amara who pushed Lucifer out of Castiel during the first part of the season finale.

Of course, nobody likes Lucifer. But when all’s said and done, this is why we should be glad Lucifer didn’t die at Amara’s hands. Sam needs to defeat him once and for all. This is the only way for him to reclaim the person he once was and finally accept that very important truth. It’s that darkness he sees within himself is a speck of corruption which started when the demon Azazel materialized into his nursery. It fed upon with Sam’s alliance with Ruby and almost overcame him in that nondescript building in Detroit where Sam finally said yes to Lucifer. That darkness is not who he is, but something that was done to him. To paraphrase Chesterton, dragons are important because the hero needs to beat them. And Lucifer is one Hell of a dragon.