Luther: Series 3 Episode 2 Review
Reviewed by James Amos.
“He’s a good man; he’s got a good heart. Don’t break him as a way of getting to me.”
The last episode of Luther left us with a scene of utter horror as the killer ruthlessly murdered two more victims. We also saw Ripley falling to the side of Stark as he agreed that someone needs to stop Luther.
This episode opens with a solemn scene; we witness the results of the murders and the killer shamelessly making his way home. Even perhaps having a moment of reflection as he looks at his hands in horror; hinting at a more human side to his cowardly and brutal mind. The episode in itself continues on in this eerie and solemn pattern; however this does not mean we get anything less intense than what we had the previous week. In fact, this episode picks up the epicness that last week narrowly missed out on. This seems strange as Neil Cross doesn’t see the need to add anymore murders to the mix; instead he leaves this episode to simply be a hunt for the killer himself. In a way that could go terribly wrong, without another murder to see the killers ruthless capability we are left with nothing more than Luther’s frustration as he tries to pinpoint his next move. This works perfectly.
Instead of leaving the tension simply for the scenes in which a murder is about to happen; Cross threads it in throughout the entire episode. The tension of whether Luther will indeed catch the maniac before he kills again. We even see Luther open the door for him, unknowing he’s just walked past the man he’s fighting to take down. Along with this we still have Stark’s continuous need and enjoyment of tracking down Luther, waiting for him to slip up. We see that this hunt isn’t actually a job to him; it’s a passion. His sheer enjoyment of lurking around Luther’s flat shows us that this is a man content with what he is doing, which makes him all the more dangerous for Luther. Although Stark’s plan takes more of a back seat in this episode as the killer, now known as Paul Ellis, shows his ‘work’ to his idol and mentor William Carney. William Carney, who now resides in a care home, is revealed to be the reason Paul now kills these victims in such a way. He is himself the murderer who killed Paul’s mum in front of his eyes. Now that we as an audience have been given the killers motive as well as his mentor’s part in the whole scheme, all which is left for us is to watch Luther identify his next move and take him down. This is, unfortunately so, where the episode falls a bit flat.
Once Luther realises who is next on Paul’s and William’s list we are given a rather shoddy conclusion to the whole thing. It starts well, instead of making eerie animal noises to entice the victims the killer instead makes bumps in the night (Cross yet again playing with our irrational fears). The two women in the house, one of which we see is a carer of Williams, are then tied up and are presumably seeing their life flash before their eyes before Luther miraculously shows up just in time to stop Paul in his tracks. There is then a lot of fumbling about before the killer gives up and throws himself out of the window. The scene is shot marvellously and it does keep your eyes glued to the screen, however I’m more for witty conclusions than the killer actively throwing himself to his death. After all, these two episodes have been leading up to what should be an epic conclusion, and this just feels a bit lacklustre and feeble. We are given a bit of a satisfying sigh of relief however as William is shown a picture of Luther and the victims enjoying a group photo after the events of the night; literally a middle finger to the evil maniac. It nearly makes up for the poor finish, but if an episode takes a full hour to show the hunt for the killer, of course you’re going to feel let down when it ends the way this did.
All in all however, the episode remains in itself excellent television. It’s epic, tense and is carried along beautifully by the brilliant acting of both Idris Elba and his co-star Warren Brown. When it comes to television, these two are the best you can be watching. I also would be foolish not to mention one of the last scenes of the episode where Luther finally meets the man preparing his downfall, Stark. Here, Luther basically demolishes his current plan with just a few words. Luckily this isn’t the last we’ll see of Stark, and hopefully he’ll bounce back from this with something that will properly challenge Luther. I for one have no doubt Cross has something planned that will drop our jaws and keep us screaming at our screen. With this apparently being the last series of Luther, I for one hope to see this come into effect.