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Luther: Series 4 Episode 1 Review

The question that’s been haunting dedicated Lutherians was uttered by his part-time serial killer pal and occasional paramour Alice Morgan at the end of the last series: ‘So now what?’

The general consensus was that the show, and the detective, were most probably toast. I mean, HIS BIG LUTHER COAT GOT THROWN INTO THE THAMES! Surely if anything signified the end of John’s tenure as a DCI, it was that heartfelt bout of symbolism.

We all presumed he’d head off with Alice to have a few emotionally troubled children while setting himself up as a particularly focused driving instructor in the Home Counties. But, as any fan of the procedural knows, if you’re a copper who has stopped being a copper and vowed never to be a copper again – soon someone is going to be knocking on your front door demanding you return.

And so in Luther series 4 episode 1 we soon discover that Luther has left London and apparently moved to the 1950s, setting up shop alone in a quaint seaside bungalow and suddenly using phrases like ‘totally disco’ and ‘tickety-boo’. Is Luther attempting to land a regular role in Heartbeat? The noises of exertion that pretty much every character makes when getting into or up from a chair throughout the show suggests the producers are skewing for an older demographic.

Luther series 4 episode 1

Luther’s brooding, clifftop bliss is interrupted by a couple of old compadres from the force who are asking after Alice while additionally being distracted by the activities of a cannibal with a creepy fridge fixation. These events provoke Luther into whipping the dust sheet off the Volvo and heading back to his old (literal) stomping ground.

Within minutes of paying his Congestion Charge, Luther is popping into a threatening dubstep pub (a pub step?) and generally bloodying the son of a leading underworld mastermind. Ah yes, this is far more cosy territory. And once he’s assigned a new partner, Emma Lane, in the hunt for the organ munching miscreant, things perk up considerably. He’s even back into his old overcoat, as he appears to have a whole rack of them in storage.

Viewers outside the capital will find Luther’s half-derelict crash pad to be repressively dismal, while those of us in London are left wondering ‘how can he afford a home by the sea AND an open-plan, pied-à-terre with natural wood flooring and authentic period details on a detective’s salary?’ But fans of the show have learned to douse the entire enterprise with a generous pinch of salt.

Luther series 4 episode 1

The identity of the killer cannibal geek is soon exhumed and Luther is defiantly prodding around his singularly grim compound, which plays that creepy ‘Mama’s Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird’ song on a loop – suggesting either our suspect or Neil Cross enjoys a good horror movie trope. But, as this is a two-parter, our boy slips through Luther’s grip and spins his murderous rampage into next week’s instalment.

The ‘so, now what?’ proffered at the end of Luther’s last adventure is answered with a breezy ‘business as usual’, at least for this inaugural series 4 episode. The light nudging it took to get John back in the big coat might strike some as slightly rudimentary in terms of storytelling, but lovers of Luther know you have to leave the realistic behind and dive headlong into the mayhem to get the most out of the show. While it took a while to get rolling, by the time both of Luther’s investigations came conveniently crashing together, we were slavering for next week’s conclusion.

Dale Shaw
Dale Shaw
Dale Shaw

Dale Shaw is a television and radio writer, journalist, screenwriter, performer and musician. His first book, Letters of Not, was published by The Friday Project in 2014, with his second, F**k This Journal, published by Headline in 2015. He has written for The Now Show, The News Quiz, Russell Howard’s Good News, The Impressions Show, That Mitchell and Webb Sound, One, School of Comedy, as well as for The GuardianIndex, Huffington Post, BBC Online, Washington City Paper and many more.

Follow Dale on Twitter.

1 Comment

    “totally disco” is a callback to the Jenny character from series 2.

    The wires do that a fair bit, with Luther repeating lines from other characters (mostly Alice) like the “when I first learned about a black hole” speach from Luther a season or so after Alice first delivered it – there have been a few others that jumped out – I don’t remember them all without rewatching

    “Totally Disco” in s4 does cream where the eff is Jenny these days? It’s clearly on the mind of Luther and the writers…

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