Channel: BBC One
Recurring cast: Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley, Nikki Amura-Bird, Sienna Gullroy, David O’Hara
Luther has become a bit of an event for the BBC. Idris Elba is now a pretty powerhouse actor with major blockbusters like ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Pacific Rim’ to his name. The last four episodes were phenomenal pieces of British television and now it has its little niche market in television: a cop show with a dark and disturbing tone. We are promised a tough watch, but a rewarding hour, if we can stomach it.
We are not disappointed. This season is dark and dreary as ever, the weight of the world almost crushing Luther to the ground. There is a sense of the character needing to defend his honour. Last season, Officer Erin Grey was humiliated as a side effect to Luther’s rule-breaking ways and she has teamed up with retired corruptions officer, George Stark. Stark and Grey become a dangerous force, using Ripley as a way to get to Luther. On top of that, we are given two menacing psychopaths for Luther to face off against and the tragic case of a nasty internet troll getting brutally slaughtered in a storyline, where you might just side with the killer. As far as premises go, this is hardly a lead balloon.
The direction this season was superb. I enjoyed some of the wide shots that really squeezed every last drop of suspense and drama from a scene. It is the kind of camera work, where the simple shots work best. The cast is so impressive that they can handle the script without any flashy jump-cuts or tricky techniques. The showing off from the camera crew can kick in when the action is dialled up a notch and then we are usually at the edge of our seats, wondering how our characters are going to get out of this mess.
Most of us were mainly interesting in the two psychos who get in the way of the main plot and add more to Luther’s plate. For the first half of the season, we were given Kevin Fuller as the fetish killer, Paul Ellis. Ellis was creepy in subtle ways. The camera held on his expression for long moments and the actor managed to be terrifying, while simply riding the London bus, reminiscing. The first episode gave Ellis stalking several victims and we were always unsure where he would pop out from. The writers also gave him an interesting backstory, which paired him with revolting killer, William Carney. Carney, on his death-bed and looking like Mr. Burns, is a fantastic nemesis for Luther to pair off against, especially when he whispers the line ‘muscular vaginas’. Chilling stuff.
Narrowly topping Ellis, is vigilante, Tom Marwood, beautifully portrayed by Elliot Cowan. Despite his iconic sawn-off shotgun and brutal murders, Marwood never loses his ‘kind voice’, making for his showdowns to be some gripping TV. He also throws some hard choices at you and you cannot help but wonder if you want Luther to save the escaped paedophile that Marwood wants to publicly execute. This however, cancels the fear factor out. I cannot be scared for a paedophile’s life, meaning that Cowan’s character has to rely on story, which thankfully falls the correct side of good. Cowan will be one for the Luther archives I feel.
Season three’s main flaw is not being season two. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this season a lot, but I enjoyed the second season a whole lot more. The villains, while good, weren’t as memorable as Cameron and Milberry. Sometimes the focus felt a little off: the action was often off of Luther and focused on the potential victims. Ellis’s scares were good, but they took far too long to set up. Episode 2 was mainly three nurses wandering around a house, reacting to creaky floorboards, only for Luther to show up at the end and do his thing. The same went with the Marwood finale. It was good, but there never seemed to be much threat to Luther himself, which hurt the tension somewhat. Also, the last episode only heated up at the very end. What I liked about season two was the fact that all of Luther’s problems happened at once and Idris Elba has to pull off a miracle to solve them all, emerging squeaky clean at the other end. Here, without spoiling the ending, the two problems (Stark and Marwood) kind of collided with each other. It was meant to be climatic, but in hindsight, they kind of all but cancelled each other out. Luther just had to show up in the end and finish his problems off, like a kid with ants. It wasn’t as easy as that, but it could have been a lot tougher for the cop. As a result, it felt like another day in the office for Luther.
Final verdict: Fantastic direction, great casting, shock emotional sucker punch. The only flaw is a little lack of focus in the story.