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Luther: Series 4 Episode 2 Review

I’m not sure this was the intention, but I actually ended up feeling rather sorry for our deranged, cannibal computer nerd by the end of this latest Luther. It didn’t matter how many corpses he desecrated, which passers-by he dined out on or the number of creepy implements he toyed with, he just could never attract Big John’s full attention.

As his crimes grew in audaciousness, it almost seemed like some kind of cry for help. The more Luther ignored him, the sloppier he became in his endeavours in some kind of toddler-like tantrum. Gone was the complicated surveillance monitoring and hi-tech serial killing of the previous episode. Now he was forced to flag down motorists in the street while attempting to murder them.

Poor old Steven Rose. He just couldn’t compete with the legions of skeletons leaping out of Luther’s closet. As the second part of this Luther special picked up exactly where we left off last week, our mysterious person muncher has escaped into the depths of fashionable East London. But Luther still couldn’t quite focus fully on his murderous indiscretions. (Neither could the press it seems – something else which made me feel sorry for Steven was a press clipping which appeared to demote his murdering to the inside pages of the newspaper, as if this kind of thing happens in Hackney on a fairly regular basis).

As well as having old school cockney gangsters ‘green-lighting’ Big John’s assassination, with contract killers popping up and getting knocked down like a particularly violent game of whack-a-mole, he also had to contend with an alarming psychic, Megan Cantor, who was on hand to out-creep the absent Alice Morgan, so is sure to be a love interest somewhere down the line.

luther series 4 episode 2

This psychic appears to know a frightening amount about Luther, Alice and a case from the past that continues to haunt him. Luckily, there was a bit of downtime as the department’s entire IT squad (Benny) were slowly decrypting a selection of the killer’s hard drives, which allowed Luther to temporarily put the cannibal to one side and apply himself to this new development.

While the first part of this two episode mini season started out at an almost glacial pace, dribbling out fragments of story as Luther spent a lot of time glowering at the sea, part two really ramped up the intensity. The human hunter’s atrocities grew in their creepiness, the frequent contract killing attempts added an unexpected edge (and some excellent improvised retaliation from Luther, who calmly dispatches trained assassins with a bin and a fire extinguisher) while the Alice Morgan storyline provided a healthy dose of emotion.

I do miss Alice though. Despite everyone discussing her death, I assumed she’d be spotted waving at Luther from an overpass before melting away once more, so her conspicuous absence was disappointing. If Megan has been parachuted in as the new off-kilter Luther paramour, she has mightily large crazy-shoes to fill.

This two-part special felt a little like a line drawing enterprise. After the highly anticipated Luther big screen adaptation failed to materialise, this special seemed to be an attempt to hit the restart button and get Big John away from his seaside retirement cottage and back in his coat. So at certain times the implausibility even surpassed Lutherian standards, while new characters had precious little time to bed in and the denouement was fast and brutal, leaving it a little dissatisfying. But if this series does nothing but lays the groundwork for more Luthers down the line, I’ll take it.

What did you think of Luther series 4? Too short for our liking, we’d like to see a film!

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.

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