REVIEW: Luther (S5 E4/4)

SPOILERS

It’s been a roller-coaster ride this week as Luther has hurtled to its (supposedly) final chapter. With his personal world collapsing in on him and an increasingly inhibited serial killer still on the loose, can John Luther roll the dice one last time and emerge unscathed?

A thoroughly efficient Palmer takes Luther through a series of checkpoints to ensure he is travelling alone, whilst he assembles a sniper rifle in anticipation of his arrival at the freezer where he has Mark and Alice locked up. Luther senses his situation is desperate and calls Halliday for a location fix on one of George’s known associates. This places the goon at one Hotel Octavian where – as luck would have it – George is residing at, portentously nursing his gun. A quick-fire alarm later and Luther breaches his hotel suite before knocking out his henchmen and demanding at gunpoint that George calls off Palmer from completing his job. A visibly deflated Palmer isn’t very happy he doesn’t get to kill some people, so decides to hang on at the location to see what transpires.

Back at the Lakes residence the team manage to access Jeremy’s safe to discover his personal scrapbooks which conveniently document his many crimes. Unfortunately that doesn’t help the poor gentleman Jeremy picks at random off the street to murder and hang off Southbank bridge – an audacious exposure in the intensity of his killings. Quite how Jeremy is able to be so mobile when there is a citywide man-hunt underway for him is one thing, but his ability to lift people off the street and murder them in private before such a public display is positively superhuman – the missing steps here requiring a light to medium dimming of your brain cells to play along with the plot. Unsated by his actions, he plans his next crime by booking an escort for the evening.

George travels to the location where Palmer is holding Mark and Alice. He assures Palmer his services are no longer needed, because he’s personally taken care of Luther – the detective is dead in his boot. Clearly having some trust issues, Palmer offloads a clip into the car just to be sure only to discover the boot is empty – before Luther pops up round a corner to incapacitate him with a bullet to the shoulder. For some inexplicable reason that is never made clear, George and Luther have teamed up to stop Palmer – but there’s time for one more double-cross when George executes the stricken assassin. He also manages to take a photo of Luther standing over the body with his gun out, proof positive the detective is corrupt and a chance to keep him in the gangster’s pocket. With this insurance policy tucked away, George seems satisfied to bury his resentment toward Alice, and leaves Luther to free her and Mark from the freezer. It’s all a bit too neat and doesn’t really gel with the rabid vendetta George has been promoting for the whole season – but we’ve only got twenty minutes to go, so c’est la vie.

Elsewhere Schenk and Halliday interrogate Vivien but she’s adamant she won’t help. Quite the opposite in fact – she’s the victim here. She was helping Penny escape when Luther came barrelling into Jeremy’s dungeon – and she knows nothing about Jeremy’s perversions. Schenk explains that Jeremy is dying and even if he is caught will be long dead before his case makes trial. But it’s a different story for her, regardless of the psychobabble she uses to extract herself from being complicit. Unfortunately for Vivien, Jeremy has detailed everything he has ever done in his journals using a cypher – crimes that will clearly implicate Vivien as much as him. Faced with her meticulously constructed private world crumbling around her, she offers up the one final fantasy Jeremy wanted to explore. His greatest wish is to play “Happy Families” by bringing people to a house of their own free will and murdering them before placing them in scenes of domestic activity (clearly Jeremy has been watching The Bridge). The only question is where does he intend to enact his most gruesome crime?

Schenk is called away when Benny’s body is discovered on the site Palmer picked, having been left there by a desperate Luther earlier. A misplaced musical overlay indicates this murder weighs heavy on Schenk, but isn’t given any breathing space to develop. Instead, CCTV footage places George at the scene and the embittered DSU miscalculates what occurred, proclaiming “you wanted it old school” – before arranging a SWAT team to take down the gangster once and for all. However, they have second billing to a demented Alice, who having been earlier misled by Luther that George was dead and her troubles were over, turns up at his mansion with an assault rifle (quite where she keeps acquiring heavy weaponry is beyond me) before unloading a barrage of bullets into his conservatory windows. Missing her chance to execute her nemesis, she flees whilst George shows Schenk the photo of Luther he took as insurance previously. Seemingly a fan of immediately taking things out of context without explanation, Schenk orders Halliday to bring Luther in.

Unfortunately for Halliday both her and Luther are on their way to the residence of the original witness in the first murder, whose house has been taken over by an increasingly uninhibited Jeremy. The detectives break in but it’s all too late – the house is full of corpses wearing masks of the killer’s face, set in scenes of domestic bliss. Luther sends Halliday to answer the door when Jeremy’s final victim turns up in the guise of an unlucky pizza delivery guy, but not before Jeremy springs out of the darkness and tries to kill the detective. Luther is hot on her heels however, and after a few meaty punches to the face renders Jeremy compliant he handcuffs the killer to a radiator. It’s all a bit disjointed and rushed, certainly not a satisfying dénouement to the sickening crimes Jeremy has committed over the season – especially considering that for such a verbose adversary his final line of giggling “do you like it???” hardly seems in keeping with his character.

Unable to rescue any of the victims in time, Luther is visibly crestfallen. A tearful Halliday accuses him of using her as bait to lure out Jeremy, but his protestations of innocence are rendered unheard as his partner is immediately shot in the head out of nowhere by a crazed Alice. I thought we might get out of this season without poor Halliday being killed, but as I predicted in Episode One – this is Luther. It’s a wholly unnecessary murder that feels like it was shoehorned in to re-assert Alice as a threat after so much time spent humanising her as a character over previous seasons.

Equally, her final act of turning against Luther because he lied feels like a lazy excuse to see the pair square up one last time in an abandoned construction site, just for an uncomplicated way to ‘end’ the show. A neat mirroring of the opening scene of the very first episode from series one sees Luther make a different decision to that time, when he tries to rescue Alice from falling – but she determines her own fate by slashing him away with a knife before descending to her death. A late arriving Schenk and team turn up after to slap the cuffs on a broken Luther and we fade to black.

This season has certainly been an improvement over previous outings, and the cast definitely seemed like they were enjoying the reunion. For committed fans, it leaves enough plot strands dangling that a new season could happen, even though the signs are this is the final run. But in the new landscape of crime drama, we have now Luther feels like all its options are ultimately played out. Its legacy is that as a genre, there are many creative paths you can adopt to tell a story – and while the show felt refreshingly different and vibrant once, it hasn’t managed to evolve into anything more meaningful than a constant remix of a doomed romance driven by the demands of fan-service, surrounded by disposable characters and paper-thin plots.

Andy D

FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE  TWO REVIEW CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW CLICK HERE

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. Seija says:

    Like I wrote yesterday, it ended with a shoot out – or many of them, actually. All I can say, this was a great, great final series. And even if the series shouldn’t return, there’s already talk (?) of a Luther film as in an interview with Empire Idris Elba said: “This season is not the end… But there are some real changes that will happen… Our ambition is it falls on the scale of Seven.” I hope there will be one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Seija. One thing is for certain it’s certainly been a big hit over the years and imagine it’s too lucrative a property to fully leave alone. If anything it might benefit from being a two hour film-style special in the future, they aren’t exactly complex whodunnits!

      Like

  2. Elizabeth Macpherson says:

    Thank you Andy D for your reviews. I learned a 3rd thing tonight (I didn’t learn anything in episode 3) of ‘what not to do whilst alone’ – do not answer the door to a known person holding flowers.
    I didn’t recap on previous series. Maybe I should have, as I’m sure I must have watched something else. What happened? :(

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Elizabeth Macpherson says:

      Ps: there was no need to take Luther’s coat off :( ;)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andy D says:

        I don’t think it’s necessary to have seen the other seasons. I’d argue you can get into it easily without prior knowledge. That coat always seems too small for him! He’s a strapping lad.

        Like

      2. Andy D says:

        Actually thinking about it that poor schoolteacher bookended the season first by being scared half to death by her ex-pupil then lastly being punched in the face when she thought she was getting flowers. Not a great week for her.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Seija says:

        That goes to prove that being a teacher is one of the high risk professions *lol*

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Seija says:

      Elizabeth Macpherson, you just raised two things that I didn’t quite understand in ep4: 1) who was the lady who opened the door to Doctor Lake, got punched in the face with a flower bouquet, and how did they know each other? and 2) why did they take John Luther’s coat off?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andy D says:

        Seija she was the witness of the guy trying to get in her flat, she was his ex_teacher. Jeremy went there because the police had just left it. And they took his coat off to hide the cuffs, a custom of hiding the ‘shame’ of arrest in this country.

        Like

      2. Seija says:

        Andy, so the lady who opened the door didn’t know Jeremy? I thougt she did because she smiled at him. Okey, I kind of had a hunch that was the thing with the coat – is that a thing to do with every criminal or is it reserved for erring police officers only?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Andy D says:

        Seija I think she smiled just because she thought oh lovely a bunch of flowers and mistook Jeremy for a delivery man. The covering the cuffs thing is usually reserved for police or just anybody arrested that’s perceived as not being deserving of the arrest, its a bit of an odd custom. I recall they did it to a colleague of mine many years ago arrested for fraud and they covered his cuffs as they walked him through the office (although it was clear being flanked by two Cops he was obviously being arrested). It’s an odd custom, a symbolic gesture I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Seija says:

        Thanks, Andy, for clearing that up. Now I finally can go to sleep and not toss around wondering about those :)

        Oh, it’s so going to happen, the Luther film! I just found this https://variety.com/2018/tv/global/luther-neil-cross-movie-idris-elba-ruth-wilson-1203092228/

        Good night!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Elizabeth Macpherson says:

        And there i was thinking that Luther had his coat removed, in order for him to feel naked!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Seija says:

        Elizabeth Macpherson, you may have a point there. Being stripped off your coat has kind of more symbolism to that as well IMO. Then a person is removed from all their rights, and in John Luther’s case, his right to be a policeman.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. COOKE says:

    Amongst all the bloodshed, I was really hoping that Halliday would survive (wounded, maybe, but alive). Most unnecessary casualty.
    I thought the stripping of Luther’s coat was quite symbolic – a bit like when people are cashiered out of the armed forces by being stripped of their insignia!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Jenkins says:

    I, too, was a bit baffled by the significance of Luther having his coat taken off, but I realised it was actually a gesture of respect from his boss, to cover his cuffs.
    Other than that, I found the whole thing absurd.
    I’ve not watched Luther consistently, but have seen bits of it before. I always thought it ridiculous that Luther could thrash around breaking the law at every turn with no consequences. This time, it became totally ridiculous.
    I counted 12 dead people by the end of the series – I might have missed a few – so it doesn’t say much for Luther’s abilities as a cop. The killing of Halliday, while expected, was particularly ludicrous.
    Finally, with neither Luther, Cornelius or Alice dead (come on – she isn’t, is she? – a fall like that would hardly kill someone with the supernatural abilities of Michael Myers) – we’re set up for the whole tedious business to get revived again.
    But I guess what galled me most was Luther’s crappy car, and the peeling wallpaper in his flat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Andy D says:

      We’ve technically already had the reboot with Hard Sun – same formula different actors. As Seija says the plan seems to be to move it into a film space, and Ruth Wilson is attached so she either survives or it’s a prequel of some sort…but what can I say? People seem to love it – I guess not everybody wants to invest in some complex 10-part drama. At least this time the villain of the piece was an equal opportunities killer. My main gripe with the series previously has always been Neil Cross uses sexual violence against women as a lazy narrative shorthand, which is a creative cul de sac he kept having to make more gruesome each season (exsanguination, live burials etc) to try and reverse out of. Also there were huge threads left from Season 4 which were just ignored this season, which is pretty dismissive of long-term fans. It all feels like “this will do”.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. marblex says:

    Alice dead… now that’s disappointing. Actually I thought the entire show fell completely apart in Ep 4. Too many hurriedly rushed endings.

    The lady in the house with the roses was the teacher from Ep 1 whose former student (Lee — the unfortunate dead witness) begged for entry after witnessing the first murder. That was about the only tie back that made any sense.

    Don’t really see how John can come back from this and with Alice dead, really, who cares?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      Episode 4’s wheels definitely came off the time Luther teamed up with George. It made zero sense. But judging by the general outpouring of positive comments online for the show, we’re in the minority! I’d imagine the film will be set sometime in the past with all characters alive and well – a soft reboot if you will with a new case to crack.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. marblex says:

        I thought the dynamic between Luther and Morgan was smashing — a love that truly was unique. Also I love smart characters and was quite annoyed that Alice killed Halliday — I was really pulling for her to survive. Also Benny’s death was a throwaway and what a waste of Howell’s (Foyle’s War) talent Ugh…

        Cheers and lets hope the movie is awesome because really overall, I thought Luther was a very intelligent production.

        Like

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