Luther: 3.01 - Review

After a few years away, Luther is back! The biggest maverick of all - literally, he's huge - is on another case of depraved, bloody, sex-tinged murder. Well, two at the same time, because that's the one thing he hasn't tried before. Meanwhile, his supporting cast is collapsing around him, a girl fancies him so will probably die soon and actor Idris Elba claims this might be John Luther's last series before migrating to the big screen.

So things look pretty rough for the big guy, but he can turn it around, right? As ever, I'll be hitting the spoilers as hard as Luther hits his suspects, so see it on iPlayer first if need be.


The Excitement Of Possible Climax


has always been an odd one - all the building blocks of a standard maverick-cop drama, but a few crucial strokes to put it one step beyond, such as the visceral crimes, lovely camera work and Idris Elba's thoughtful, huge, physical performance as Luther himself. Most of the supporting cast stand around, tersely muttering as if they're in a normal BBC police show, but thanks to the intensity of Elba and OTT Hannibal-esque nature of the murders, we know that isn't quite the case.

This particular Luther episode, the first in an exciting third series, gets under the skin nicely, and with two visceral cases and the ongoing subplot, is still jampacked despite being a two-hour two-parter. The production values have leapt up once again, as the BBC clearly recognise this is one of their big products, and all the storylines from the last two series start coming back into play. Well, with one notable exception, which I'll get to later.

The range of Idris Elba interview quotes stating that this could be the final TV series of Luther do leave us wondering whether maybe, just maybe, there might be a proper ending. Especially since the rumoured movie is meant to be a prequel - will this be it? Could they bring his storyline to an end? I'm not sure, but just the possibility is very exciting.

In terms of the actual crimes - there's nothing quite as memorable as the dice men from last series, but we do see some ripped-from-the-headlines action involving an internet troll, and a messy, well choreographed murder in a loft at the end. And oh god, that scene with the blender - seriously, even by this show's standards, this was a dark one. Between Luther, Hannibal and recent BBC effort The Fall, crime shows are getting pretty grisly nowadays. Might start wearing a poncho while I review.

Sergeant, Hand Me My Poncho

Luther's supporting cast all get tested - sidekick Ripley is clearly up first, and based on his odd demeanour, I get the feeling top man Schenk is headed for a bigger trial down the line. If they don't take out the main man this series, surely they've got to knock off someone? And despite my joke in the intro, they can't do the love interest again - so, who's it gonna be?

Of course, there is one glaring cast absence: crazy, crazy Alice Morgan, as played by Ruth Wilson. We've seen her in trailers, in case we had any doubts, so we know she'll be back eventually. Perhaps just in time to tempt Luther with an offer to solve his internal affairs problems with a swift knife? Elsewhere in interview quotes, she's been touted for a spin-off series, which would be interesting. About time we had a British answer to Dexter.

In the meantime, though, the main man is back. Luther lurches back onto our screens, having lost none of its gory glory, bare-faced cliché abuse and raw charisma. If we're just getting another two regular procedural cases, that's good enough for me, but I'm kinda hoping the final two-parter of these four episodes ends up bigger than that. Have to wait and see. Good start, though.

Luther airs Tuesdays at 9PM on BBC One. Check out the official BBC Luther site for sundry bits, see the first new one on iPlayer here. Surely Erin has to die, at least? That just seems inevitable.

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