Review: Luther (S4 E1/2), Tuesday 15th December, BBC1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 24/11/2015 - Programme Name: Luther  - TX: n/a - Episode: Luther S4 (No. Ep 1) - Picture Shows:  DCI John Luther (IDRIS ELBA) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Steffan Hill
(C) BBC – Photographer: Steffan Hill

Ah, Luther. It’s crazier than a box of frogs, but so knowing in its craziness that all critical faculties fly out of the window. DC John Luther (Idris Elba) himself is disturbed, his accomplice Alice (Ruth Wilson) is a certifiable loon, and the London in which Luther operates is a serial killer’s paradise. No wonder this two-part Series four (the Luther movie that never was?) opens with the big man standing on a rooftop gazing into the abyss – the abyss which, as our old mate Neitzsche said, will gaze back into you. He’s still mourning the loss of his wife Zoe, still uncertain whether he should have gone with Alice, still convinced that he has a mission as a policeman, still determined that everyone else should stick to the rules, while he breaks every one.

DCI Bloom (Darren Boyd) and newbie DS Lane (Rose Leslie, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones) visit Luther in his self-imposed exile in a clifftop cottage – ‘Close to the edge’ remarks Bloom – ‘Closer and closer every day’ replies Luther. See what they did there?
Alice is apparently dead, drowned in Antwerp – do we believe that? Luther certainly doesn’t. Someone, a shadowy figure, takes a burner phone from Luther’s desk, and further questioning is delayed when the brutal murder of a young woman, Chloe, summons Bloom and Lane to Hackney Wick.
Prime suspect is husband Alistair, who seems to have butchered his wife and eaten her heart – but CCTV shows that someone had stolen Alistair’s identity, and he’s found similarly murdered in his dental surgery, with a wallet planted there. The wallet leads to another mutilated victim, where there’s another wallet… well, you get the idea.
Luther speeds into action, his trusty motor starting first time, and goes to question snitch Errol about the death of Alice, having recognised one of his boys in a photo in Alice’s file. Errol admits his man was hired by an old-school gangster, Cornelius (Patrick Malahide). Cornelius isn’t happy to be rousted at home, even less to be clobbered and driven off in Luther’s boot. His son gets clocked too, after trying to wade in with a golf club, which is presumably to indicate that the family’s gone respectable. Cornelius admits to trying to buy stolen diamonds from Alice, but plausibly denies having her killed.
Bloom finds Dressler, another victim of the cannibal killer, with his head and hands missing, dissolved in a bath of lye. By this time, Bloom and Lane are so out of their depth that their only option is to call in Luther. But as they speak, Bloom opens a fridge (full of body parts?) and there’s a huge explosion, killing Bloom.
Luther now puts on his Policeman’s Coat, marking his return to duty, and lectures Lane on the importance of playing the investigation straight – ironic as he still has Cornelius manacled to a radiator.
Meanwhile the cannibal killer watches news reports on his bank of monitors, sitting naked like something out of Hannibal and phoning his victims’ families to torment them.

Dressler’s laptop had been infected with spyware when it was serviced, as had those of the other victims; so is IT nerd Steven Rose the killer? By the time his hideout is found he’s purged his spy files. Luther chases but loses him, and he soon claims another female victim.

Finally the mysterious girl who stole Luther’s phone approaches him, claiming to have a message from Alice.

Up until now, everything kind of makes sense; we have the question of whether Alice is dead (well, we don’t trust the Belgian cops, do we?), and if so, who killed her; and the issue of the cannibal murderer, who seems to have some as yet unclear method in his madness. But are the two cases connected? Not even Luther seems to think so yet, but we wouldn’t mind betting there’s a link.

We’re already missing Bloom, but warming to chirpy Lane; unfortunately, since this is only a two-parter, we’re unlikely to get much development of her character.

And inevitably, when Cornelius gets out of those handcuffs, Luther is going to be in trouble, either from the harshest disciplinary ever, or from Cornelius’s eyeball-gouging thugs. Whichever way this ends, we don’t think Luther will be able to settle back into his clifftop cottage – he is indeed living on the edge.

Chris Jenkins

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