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Lucifer showrunners on that big death in latest Netflix episodes, a possible Season 6 resurrection

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Jun 1, 2021, 10:44 AM EDT

Though we now know that a sixth season of the beloved supernatural series will hit Netflix soon, Lucifer's just-released final batch of Season 5 episodes managed to pull no punches when it comes to major plot developments.

Originally intended to be the final run of the show, Season 5B had just about everything, from a status quo-shifting final moment to a major character death that helped set it up. Now, the series showrunners are breaking down exactly why that particular character had to go, and what's to come for him and the rest of the gang in Season 6.

Spoilers for Lucifer Season 5B ahead!

In the penultimate episode of the season, "Is This Really How It's Going to End?!," Lucifer lost Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro) after the detective found himself in the midst of an investigation that brought him toe-to-toe with mercenaries working for Michael. Though mortally wounded, Dan managed to hold out long enough to say goodbye to Chloe, the mother of his child, before dying in her arms.

Losing one of its core characters so close to the finish line was a devastating move for Lucifer as a story, and as co-showrunner Joe Henderson explained to Collider, that was exactly the point. With the future of Heaven and Hell hanging in the balance as Lucifer and Michael (both played by Tom Ellis) battled things out, it was important to re-establish the high stakes of the show's final episodes.

"Well, toward the end of Season 5, we really wanted to hit on some of the consequences. A sense of, you know, for all the fun and games, like, souls are at stake," Henderson explained. "And for Lucifer to have to make the decision to face it, one of the things we really wanted to drive home was the import of it, the danger of it. Also, the sense of injustice, the sense that something needs to be fixed, needs to be changed."

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Adding to the tension was the discovery that, even after all his personal growth and willingness to overcome the darkness in his life, Dan actually wound up in Hell thanks to an ongoing sense of guilt. As Henderson noted, it's a revelation that underlined Lucifer's concerns about the state of Heaven and Hell, and ultimately helped drive him to battle Michael and assume the mantle of God in the Season 5 finale.

"Dan's in Hell, and one of the things we really wanted to hit this entire season and series is, Dan is a flawed but good guy. I guess that's one of the reasons we like to watch him be tortured, but it's also one of the reasons that he was perfect to be the character that dies and still goes to Hell. That's not right, at least in Lucifer's mind," Henderson added. "And that was a really important piece of the story that we wanted to tell, that Lucifer senses that the world isn't just. And he's always felt that about himself. Now it can be represented in someone else, and that was an important thing for us to tell."

Dan's death, and the major struggle that follows out in the Season 5 finale, certainly feels like something that would come near the end of a series, and in an interview with TVLine, Henderson and co-showrunner Ildy Modrovich noted that it was indeed part of their original plan to end the show. The Lucifer writing staff was near the finish line on the series last year when Netflix opted to offer them one more season to end the run, but the plan to kill Dan off was already in motion, apparently at the request of star Kevin Alejandro, who originally requested a death scene to finish out his time with the character.

So, what are two showrunners to do when a fan-favorite character accidentally dies a season too early? Well, let's just say we haven't seen the last of Dan.

"Speaking of curveballs that we throw ourselves! We knew we could not do another season without Detective Douche, so yeah, we found a story for him that we just love, and it’s one of those examples of sometimes you paint yourself into a corner and you find something that’s so much more fun and satisfying because of it," Modrovich said. "In trying to find your way out of it, you find something you never would have done or never would have thought of before."

So, how does Dan return? What does Lucifer's reign as God look like? Will we get one more musical episode? We'll learn the answers to these questions and more when Lucifer returns soon for its sixth and final season.