Over the last few months the BBC had made a coup in bringing Idris Elba also being known as, and forever will be, Stringer Bell from HBO’s classic The Wire, to lead their new gritty detective drama Luther. The show itself has now wrapped out about a week ago and it’s earned a cult following of it’s own, mainly being pulled into the show because of Elba alone. John Luther is a man haunted by his own personal demons as he hunts down the villains of the week and deals with an aftermath of a case where he lets a killer fall to his death…major problem is that he survives but is a coma, putting a time bomb on Luther’s career as a detective.
From the first episode Luther’s world comes across the path of a young woman named Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) whose parents and dog have been murdered. As what happens in the rest of the series, Luther instantly knows that is just something quite not right with Alice and as always throughout this show, he is fucking right. Let’s get one thing straight, the show is not about the plot twist of having a shocking reveal of who the murderer is, it’s the old school Columbo type angle of you know who the killer is, but it’s how they get around to catching him red handed. Unfortunately Luther cannot get Alice convicted as they’re is lack of evidence but Luther catches on to what may be the most bizarre plot twist of the year…Alice planted the gun in the deceased dog, which got cremated, along with the evidence (ridiculous but genius!). Not giving up though, Luther breaks into her apartment and takes the urn of the dog’s remains and finds parts of the murder weapon. This was a test from Alice which Luther passes, making him more interesting and intriguing to her than killing him.
Also what becomes a trademark of this series is that Luther, for all intents and purposes will either smash an object against something or just demolish it. Here, he discovers his wife (well, they’re technically separated) is seeing someone else and decides to demolish the door in ways that Rampage Jackson wish he could.
Second episode (personal favourite) sees a deluded army man killing police officers in cold blood. He eventually gets close and personal in one shooting, in board daylight, which puzzles Luther. As soon as he catches on, shots are fired from a sniper rifle as a few get shot. They discover that his father is in prison where they find a SIM card with only one contact number. They trace it and decide to raid the house. Unfortunately, it’s another trap from the killer and blows up the house with everyone in it. Typically pissed off with this, Luther decides to go on national TV and publicly mock the killer to deliberately set himself up as a target. The pair eventually showdown and end up in a game of Russian roulette. As the killer realises it’s his turn as he only has one bullet left, Luther takes definite action and grapples him to the ground and places him under arrest. In the middle of this fiasco, Alice is continuing to stalk Luther by prying into his past with the man he let fall to be left in a coma, as well as meeting his wife.
Episode three decided to go all Satanic and bring the creepiness and gore (well, kinda) up a notch which starts off with the killer of the week, Lucient Burgress, licking face of the soon to be victim and takes her away to his special creepy lair (well, it ends up being a boat). Previously he kidnapped a woman ten years ago and drained her of her blood but got away with it due to lack of evidence and an undercover cop beat him up. Now at the scene of the crime, the walls are covered with writings with the blood of the previous victims of ramblings which Luther guesses who it is from within a matter of minutes…what a guy!
Luther eventually does get his man but the victim is gone midway through but Luther decides to leave her there on the boat, which puts him and Justin Ripley in an uncomfortable situation.
The following episode involves handbags. The killer in general this time, loves handbags. Even for what has come before in Luther, this takes the biscuit in the odd takes of killer fetishes.
This episode virtually comes out as the weakest of the lot as you don’t really care much about it, he manages to be the only one not to know his wife is having an affair with his friend. Long story short, the killer is caught not before he goes Jack Nicholson ‘The Shining’ mode as a prostitute locks herself in the bathroom waiting for help to arrive…and finding the friend whose had the affair with his wife lying dead in the bathtub. As the police arrest him, his wife finally see’s the dead body of her deceased affair lover, grabs the hammer and decides to vandalise the back of the killers head with a pretty graphic blow.
Episode leads to us being Alice-less as she doesn’t appear at all in this episode, as a rich young couple get kidnapped by thieves after their diamonds led by Band of Brothers actor Ross McCall as Sugarman. Turns out DCI Ian Reed is involved with this case in more ways than one as he is connected with these diamond thieves. Soon Reed’s life is very quickly spiralling out of control as the case goes south as the wife of the rich couple is killed so he tries to cut all ties connecting him to the thieves. Luther becomes suspicious of his behaviour and finds out that he is connected in some way to them. Before he can find out, Reed kills Sugarman and takes a pop at Luther but misses. The episode ends shockingly with Reed killing Luther’s wife and frames him for her murder leading to an explosive finale.
The finale brings Luther to his knees as he tries to find a way to get evidence against Reed to prove his innocence, whilst Reed weasels his way into ending his problem once and for all. Luther turns his attentions to the already complicated relationship with Alice Morgan and asks for her help, which she gleefully accepts. Luther also gets the help of his loyal partner Justin Ripley who ends up sacrificing his career as they gather to the meeting between Luther and Reed. Already agreed on a shoot to kill order, Ripley cannot wait an longer as the sniper is ready to take fire and shouts for Luther to run. By the end of this 24 style adrenaline rush episode finale, Luther gets the evidence he needs from a confession of Reed killing his wife. Of course the twist is yet to come. Reed and Luther grapple with each other and Reed stabs Luther and Alice takes aim with the shotgun and toys with Reed for a moment and declares a vote of whether to kill him or not. She wants to, Luther does not, so the remaining vote lies with Luther hater of the series, the boyfriend of Luther’s wife. He shouts for her to shot him as Reed plays dirty mouth tricks as he wants to die and Alice shots him in the chest. The episode ends with the three of them looking over the dead body and the police sirens coming closer to the scene. Now what?
Let’s get one thing straight, the show may have had ridiculous villains and even more ridiculous plots (handbag lover) and questionable dialogue (“You know this is wrong? Yeah. Then why do it? Cause it’s right!”) but this has been one of the best and entertaining TV police dramas to have come onto UK TV in years, last one I can think of would be the BBC’s Messiah series. The BBC are questioning whether or not to renew it but they definitely should. The characters have been layered enough for the show to grow from here, the relationship between Luther and Alice is the most intriguing of the show and you wonder why Luther has her around. She is virtually a reminder of what Luther could become if he decided to let himself turn into a vigilante and put the law into his own hands, I suppose. The rest of the cast in do really well, in particular Steven Mackintosh who really comes into his own in the final few episodes as Ian Reed. honorable mentions aswell to Warren Brown, Indira Varma, Paul McGann and Saskia Reeves. Of course the main attractions are Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson as Luther and Alice Morgan, with an unbelievable on-screen chemistry between them that is one of the main appeals of this show. As far as gritty detective dramas go it’s not perfect but it is entertaining and hopefully the BBC will renew the show and give it a second series.