Luther is known as an exceedingly creepy crime drama series, and the first episode of this season certainly lived up to that descriptor – seeing Paul Ellis (played by Kevin Fuller) writhe from underneath his unsuspecting victim’s bed, like a giant fleshy worm, and the smash cut to black the second she laid her eyes on him, was opening scene perfection. Your heart was probably pounding before we’d even seen the man himself.
It’d be pretty damn hard for anything to top that episode for sheer content – Ellis’ murder, the murder of the internet troll, the introduction of potential love interest Mary Day, the beginning of George Stark’s investigation into Luther and the sight of Ken shoving his hand into the food blender was enough for four episodes of any other TV show, at least (the length of your average Luther season, in fact). So how could episode two possibly maintain? Well, it couldn’t. This episode was nowhere near as good as last week’s, but that doesn’t denigrate this one: it compliments that one.
After the reveal that Ellis was setting about recreating a crime from years ago – the Shoreditch creeper murders – going as far as dressing up his victims post-mortem in Siouxsie Sioux post-punk gear, it was inevitable that we’d get a little bit more of his history this episode. And boy, did we ever. With the addition of a crap wig, Paul Ellis walks us straight to his mentor – William Carney. An evil binman who killed middle-class women on his route, changing his M.O. to prostitutes when the police got on his tail, he’s living in a nursing home after serving his 25 year sentence. He killed Ellis’ mother, while Ellis watched from the wardrobe – a nice bit of foreshadowing to the events later on in the episode, when he does just that while lying in wait for his next victim.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. By some good old-fashioned detective work, Luther manages to establish the link between Ellis, Carney, and the ongoing murders, which leads to a dramatic (if not slightly underwhelming) showdown in a townhouse in central London. Why underwhelming? Well, it all felt a little bit neat. None of the visceral power of Ellis ramming that guy’s head through the ceiling in the last episode, none of the creeping horror of realising he was attempting to hide under a sheet of plastic; not even the electric tension of that near-miss Luther and Ellis shared as they crossed paths in the nursing home. Seeing Luther desperately searching up and down the street from atop that van/stall/whatever as Ellis passed by was a perfect metaphor for the existential angst at the heart of Luther. So close, and yet so far. The answer is always on the other side of a piece of glass, waiting for Luther to smash through it.
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