‘Lucifer’ Character Spotlight: Daniel Espinoza
Welcome to our next Lucifer character spotlight! This time, we will be focusing on Detective Daniel Espinoza. As with each of our last four spotlights, we will start by giving you a quick refresher on who the character is, and then we’ll move into some of his best moments, as well as some of his funniest moments.
If you missed them or want to take a second look, you can check out the first four articles of this series here.
So, who is Daniel Espinoza? Dan is an LAPD detective (or he was… we’ll cover his demotion in a second) and also happens to be Detective Decker’s ex-husband and the father of Trixie. Dan has been the butt of many of Lucifer’s jokes and has made a bad decision here and there over the seasons. But the one thing that remained constant is his drive to help people and to be the best man that he can be.
Here are three moments that have made us fall in love Dan:
“This is on me”: Back in season 1, we saw Amenadiel resurrect Malcolm to task him with killing Lucifer. In order for Malcolm to do that, however, he needed an untraceable gun. And he got that gun from Dan, who had stolen it from the evidence lockup. Why did Dan steal the gun for him? Because Malcolm knew that Dan had been there at Palmetto Street, the case that Chloe could never solve.
In this 13th episode of the season, titled “Take Me Back to Hell,” we see the moment where Dan takes responsibility for his actions. Malcolm had taken the gun and used it in a murder as part of an elaborate scheme to frame Lucifer. But with Lucifer and Chloe trailing behind him, Dan walks into the police station and turns in his badge and gun. He confesses to being the one that took the gun from the lockup and giving it to Malcolm, clearing Lucifer of all suspicion.
This moment is another example of an action taken by characters in this show that can serve to teach the audience that, not only do actions have real consequences, but that we must take responsibility for our actions, no matter the personal expense. Dan walked into the station and admitted to being the cause of what ultimately lead to a loss of life. He handed over his badge, his gun, and what he thought would surely be his job.
“My name is Dan”: For our second best Dan moment, we jump to season 2, episode 7 “My Little Monkey.” In this scene, we see Dan in an improv class, performing as Lucifer himself, complete with a (terrible) British accent. Before Dan can get too far into his routine, however, an observing Lucifer interrupts the act by yelling out in anger to Dan that he is doing a horrible job.
As everyone else in the room begins to file out, Lucifer walks to the stage and calls Dan by a name he has used on many occasions prior: “Detective Douche.” But this time we get a response from Dan that we have never seen before. Rather than allow Lucifer to essentially walk all over him, Dan defends his choice to use Lucifer as his improv topic, reminding him of all the times he has made fun of him from the moment they met. Lucifer once again calls Dan “Detective Douche,” prompting Dan to respond with, “Dan! My name is Dan. Or Detective Espinoza.”
I love this moment because, up until now, Dan had allowed Lucifer to call him whatever he wished. Lucifer always put him down and made fun of him for various reasons, yet was offended when Dan returned the favor in a lighthearted way. Dan was not making fun of Lucifer; rather, he was imitating him by doing things that Lucifer would do, things we have seen Lucifer do. He was not offensive or off-base in his imitation. He made sure, in this moment, that Lucifer knew he needed to start respecting him, and this unexpected but necessary outburst got that point across.
Losing Charlotte: In the episode following the death of Charlotte Richards, called “A Devil of My Word,” we see a new side of Dan: a grieving man who had just lost his girlfriend. He walked into his apartment and looked around to see what was left of Charlotte in his life, and when he saw the waffle iron sitting on the counter (which was an item of importance referenced in a previous episode and the reason Charlotte wore a waffle iron charm on her wrist), he could no longer hold back his emotions. He picks it up and throws it across the room into a glass table.
This scene is acted so incredibly and is hauntingly beautiful. The emotion evident on Dan’s face is one of pain and sadness. He has very suddenly lost a woman he clearly loved and still loves and is forced to deal with these emotions on his own. We see Dan going through the stages of grief right before our eyes in a matter of seconds. This scene is not long, but is it powerful, and that can be attributed to the fantastic writing and especially Kevin Alejandro’s acting.
Moving on from the heavy stuff, we will jump into some funnier Dan moments:
NSYNC and pink: Season 1, episode 6 “Favorite Son” gave us a fabulous Daniel outfit. Dan went to Lux to retrieve financial information from the club, only to be knocked out by Maze. When he awakens, he is naked in Chloe’s house and unfortunately, she and Trixie had just arrived home. Dan rushes into Trixie’s room, but she walks in behind him. In an attempt to prevent Chloe from becoming aware of his presence, he asks Trixie to get him clothes, but she is not going to help him for nothing: her price is chocolate cake for a year. Eventually, he agrees to this contract, and we see the outfit she has chosen: an NSYNC shirt paired with a pink jacket, pink pants, and sock monkey slippers.
Nothing can compare to the adorable hilarity of being dressed by a young child. Honestly, Dan rocked it, and I firmly believe this outfit should be a regular attire choice for him.
Danifer: Season 2, episode 7, mentioned above, showed us a Dan standing up for himself. And it also gave us one of our favorite funny Dan moments as well. In the scene, Dan is “driving” Lucifer’s car and picks up a hitchhiker. He introduces himself as Lucifer Morningstar (which shocks Lucifer, who is in the audience at this point) and asks his new travel buddy if he had a girlfriend. (He does.) He then asks the man if he wanted to make their exchange a threesome, all the while keeping up an incredibly horrible accent.
This scene is perfect from start to finish. From the improv itself, to the hilarious American attempting a British accent, to the spot-on impression as a whole. I need another scene like this in an upcoming season.
“What do you desire?”: In season 3, episode 22 titled “All Hands on Decker,” we see Lucifer attempting to do as Chloe would do while she is absent. This means that, in order to solve the case at hand, he, as Chloe the detective, needs a Lucifer. And Dan becomes his Lucifer. So, Lucifer is Chloe, and Dan is Lucifer. Got it? Excellent.
Their investigation leads to an underground gambling facility which Dan, as Lucifer, must infiltrate. We learn that Dan is terrible at poker and could not be Lucifer if his life depended on it. (Too bad this isn’t an improv class.) While attempting to execute Lucifer’s What do you desire? trick, the suspect believes Dan is hitting on him, and things only go downhill from there.
This episode, much like the awkward Amenadiel moment from our previous spotlight, brought awkwardness to an entirely new level. Dan has proven to be a great improv actor, but in the moment, being forced to play by strict rules, he flounders. His attempts came off as flirting, and his recovery did not help his case. At least we got a laugh out of it.
I was a fan of Kevin Alejandro prior to this show. I loved his versatile acting abilities, and this show only heightened my love for his acting. We have seen him in a number of situations as Daniel, and each one was exceptionally well acted. I am sure this new upcoming season will bring even more incredible opportunities for both the actor and character.
Let us know what your favorite Daniel moments are, and be on the lookout for our next Lucifer character spotlight!