Luther is back… but not as you remember him.
Luther is perhaps one of my favourite series on television right now. Which is saying a lot, I watch a lot of TV but even then I don’t like everything I see. It takes a lot for me to genuinely love a series. The first few series of Luther was enough to make it into my black book of amazing shows. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out we were being given another series of Luther having been off the air for a few years. Can no British series be consistent these days? I guess Idris Elba is a busy man, I should know being his best mate and all. I was even more excited when it was revealed that Alice was coming back… which actually… leads me on to my first criticism of the series.
If it were down to me… I would have left Alice’s return a secret. I understand why they did it but I think the fact that Luther was coming back was enough of a hook to get people to watch. Alice was just an added bonus. Can you imagine the social media frenzy that would’ve ensued if we had no idea Alice was coming back then she reappears at the end of the first episode. Would’ve been a stroke of genius. But that’s just it with television these days, no one can keep a secret. Everything has to be out in the open and everything has to be spoiled. This is only a minor criticism I have of the latest series however.
Now it is no secret that this series is very different to any series of Luther that preceded it. The show has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings but I don’t think people expected it to get quite this dark. Now I know Luther has always been a dark show but this series takes it one step further in both aesthetic and themes. We get scenes that seemed to be washed of colour and criminals that go to despicable lengths to get what they want. Even Luther himself seems to be travelling down an even more dangerous road and one that he might not be able to come back from. Everything in this series surprised me but not always for good reasons.
Let’s start by speaking about the overarching stories of the latest series shall we? The criminal we focus on in this series is a doctor who kills his victims for some sort of sexual release. We see him kill a victim very early on in the first episode and he gave us some of the most memorable scenes from any episode of Luther. To name a couple, the bus scene and the pre operation consultation. We get four episodes with this criminal when normally we only get one or two so it gives us a real in depth look at the relationship he has with his wife and his psyche.
However even though Luther is a crime drama and its roots lie in a crime of the week format, the “crime” for this series does take a bit of a back seat and I think it sometimes seems as if it’s getting in the way of the story that is really trying to be told. Let’s be real the only reason why they included the killer doctor was because they needed a crime to be solved because that is essentially what Luther is. But I think the season would’ve worked fine if it was just about Luther, Alice and Cornelius. There was no way they were going to do that though. Let’s now talk about this story in particular. I think George Cornelius is a very good character and I love seeing bodies be dropped constantly. But I think the story was a bit… thin. It was all very much, you did this to me so I’m going to do this to you. I mean this is fine but I missed Luther using his brain to outsmart his adversaries and being cunning and using Alice to get into the minds of the people he was trying to catch.
Which leads me on to my next point. I completely understand why they decided to have Alice and Luther’s relationship deteriorate like this. Let’s be real, their relationship was hardly sustainable. But Luther and Alice work so much better when they’re working as a double team with the sexual tension and Alice being more of an advisor and accomplice. Seeing Luther and Alice ultimately come to blows by the end of the series was actually hard to watch and means there’s no going back for my favourite double act.
But with Alice going down this destructive path I think made it much easier to kill her off. It was clear that this would probably be Alice’s last appearance in Luther. I was pretty sure she had to die but was still holding out hope. But the audience love Alice and there was no way they could kill of such a beloved character. So what they decided to do was make it so the audience wanted her dead. And how do they do that? Have her mercilessly merk off DS Halliday for apparently no reason whatsoever. Alice is supposed to be a genius but this series she seemed to be a bit of an idiot. She used to be so calculating and calm but now we see her killing off Cornelius’ son and not caring about the consequences. But also this could mean that Alice herself knew she was on a path of self destruction.
I don’t want to seem like a complete downer though, There were some nice throwbacks this series. Luther speaking about Rose, Alice’s line about forgetting to yawn and the Nina Simone track to end the series. OH OH OH and bloody Mark North, I love that guy. SO glad they brought him back. I think it was crucial that this series of Luther acknowledged it’s roots seeing how far they strayed away from the formula that made it a success.
I also think Halliday was a great character to introduce into Luther but she in no way got enough development which made her death pretty pointless. Yes I was gutted she died as I think we could’ve got more from her but it was in no way as emotional as Benny or Ripley’s death. I think they set up her character very well, a plucky young detective who is a bit bumbly but also very smart and outright tells Luther that she is unwilling to lie for him. I was waiting for their relationship to be developed a lot more but it just never came. And its clear that there was no relationship there when Luther is seemingly unaffected by her death.
Oh and this is something a lot of people won’t care for but I do. The music! I used to absolutely love the music in Luther. I will never forget the scene where that clown guy is driving those kids in the van. The m
usic that plays is beautiful and haunting at the same time. There weren’t really any moments like that, the only time I really took note of the music was at the very end but only because it was a throwback to the first series.
This post makes it sound like I hated this series. I really didn’t, I just miss the classic Luther and wish they would revert back to the old formula and make Luther catching the criminal of the week the main focus of the story. It was good to see where Alice and Luther are at and also what happened between series 3 and 4 but if this show is ever to come back in the future please can we have Luther in his jacket being his brilliant self with a plucky young sidekick, amazing plot twists and absolute brutality.
I give Luther series 5 a 6.5/10.