Luther: 3.03 - Review
Although the first two-parter in this third series of Luther was rather good, I spent the bulk of it anticipating this second one. After all, this could potentially be the last ever Luther story on TV, surely they'd want to go out with a bang? Well, based on part one alone, they've had a good stab at living up to the hype.
So, it's a ripped-from-the-headlines adventure, as Luther tracks down a man who is giving the people what they want: online voting to execute paedophiles. Meanwhile, Stark's investigation of our massive hero's past keeps ripping into him, and the relationship with Mary moves to another level. Unfortunately, this being Luther, that just opens up more chances for everything to go wrong. Spoilers follow, I highly recommend watching the episode on iPlayer before reading on.
#LutherVersusThePunisherThis is one of those reviews where it's hard not to go straight into talking about the ending, but I'll try to deal with the bulk of the plot first, as there was a lot here, yet the hour flew by. Social media, public votes on talent shows and calls for harsher treatment of undesirables grow harder to ignore in British society, and Luther attempts to deal with the issue in its ever-unsubtle way. So there's a guy, one of these grief-driven one-man army types, who's decided to execute everyone who has been let free of prison but, in his opinion, remains a threat.
Interestingly, villain Tom Marwood (as played by Elliot Cowan) isn't some flailing thug, but the kind of softly spoken British actor you'd expect to see in a heroic role. This plays right into his storyline, though, as witnesses see him as "kind". His lack of obvious rough edges make him an even more appealing rallying point for the disaffected and angry people he's playing to. It's not subtle social commentary, but to be fair to it, still less brutally punch-to-the-face than many episodes of Black Mirror.
It also plays rather neatly into Luther's own history, since he was taking the law into his hands when we first met him. That conflict is only hinted at this week, but with Stark digging into his past, I have to believe it's going to hit bigger in the conclusion. Also, that speech from Stark about being a tornado? Bit weird, didn't quite work, that scene with Mary also kinda awkward. Must admit, although it's a nice idea, that storyline kinda feels like a distraction from the good stuff here.
Okay, we're going to take some big glugs of spoiler-juice now, last chance to turn back. Ready?
Spoiler Juice Dribbles Out Of RipleySo, at the end, Justin Ripley, Luther's beloved sidekick, gets shot by Marwood after pursuing the vigilante into a dead end and refusing to step down. Luther himself doesn't seem overly happy about this, and considering we saw a few Luther/Ripley love scenes thrown in this episode, as well as a big one at the end of the previous week, obviously they want this loss to hurt. And fair enough, I shed a few tears, and it does press different buttons to off his male sidekick, rather than going for the love interest again. Curious to see how far Luther will go to avenge this, and whether the public support of Marwood's crusade will die off after he shoots a policeman.
Elsewhere, Mary Day is still in danger, so Love Interest Death is still available. I don't think they'll actually kill her, partly because that'd be really grim and faintly repetitive, but I imagine the relationship might suffer a tad. She seems perfectly nice, but her relatively few scenes haven't yet really sold me on them as a couple, I admit. But hell, this is the Idris Elba show, we care if Luther cares. I'm hoping for some intense moments next week.
Because that is the finale, potentially of not just Luther's third series, but the entire televised run. (You never know, it might be.) Alice is back, which isn't a spoiler because it was in the trailer and also because there was no way she wouldn't appear somewhere. Hopefully she'll do something more interesting than simply turn up at the most convenient moment to execute Marwood for Luther, but we'll have to wait and see. This has been the best episode of the third series so far, looking forward to seeing them top it next week. Even if it does also mean the final ever episode.
Luther airs 9PM Tuesdays on BBC One. See more on the official BBC Luther site, and see episodes available on iPlayer here. I'm less convinced that Erin will die than I was last week, but I still wouldn't be surprised if she decides to redeem herself by leaping in front of a bullet.