Luther Review: Series Three, Episode Two

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Ellis is a fetish killer. This makes every move of the victim profound and significant. When he’s hiding in the wardrobe, watching his intended victim disrobe (I won’t reveal who it is), gently removing her shoes and socks, each action is suddenly infused with this power. Anything could happen. Even though we’re clearly watching through Ellis’ eyes through a crack in the wardrobe, so pervasive is Kevin Fuller’s performance. It almost becomes overwhelming – every silent cut and artfully framed shot is perfect. That he never spoke a word all episode – not pointedly so, he just didn’t – was perfect for the character. The smile he gave when he was with Carney was horrifying, as was his journey on the bus, slowly contemplating his fingernails. And his trudge past Greggs – shudder – it’s enough to chill you to the bone. His end may feel a little bit melodramatic, and not quite “in tone” with the series, but he got his just desserts.

A special mention must go to DSU George Stark, a man who may go on to become Luther’s main antagonist in the series. I find it really difficult to understand why those who ensure that law enforcement are kept in check are consistently portrayed as either extremely anal or borderline psychotic, and George Stark is both of these. He and his partner in crime Erin Grey, who apparently managed to wrongfoot Luther by feigning a relationship with the seemingly treacherous Ripley, are a singular force. If Luther is breaking the law, he should be arrested and sent to prison. I understand that Luther needs something to fight against, and that the story requires a series-length arc, but it’d be nice to see a sympathetic character rooting out bent coppers. It’d be like Game of Thrones – ultimately, nobody is good or bad. Everyone is flawed. Would that be a bad thing?

Ripley doesn’t get much to do this episode. Sure, he solves the case of the internet troll all by himself, but at what cost? What has society gained by sending his murderer to prison? It really felt like he could have turned a blind eye, or at least not fought quite so hard for his arrest. Perhaps it was to turn our emotions against him before the final reveal, I don’t know. Didn’t quite work for me. He may be proven vindicated by the end but we need them back together again – he’s not a big enough character to carry his own story, really. Flesh him out a little more. Give him a more personal stake in the action. Who knows, maybe put him in a little jeopardy – I’m not suggesting he should become Kim Bauer, not quite.

Well, maybe a little.

And finally, Mary Day. What the hell was that about? They just kept missing each other all episode, until she confronted him like some crazy stalker? This story better be going somewhere, and at the rate we’re currently working I’m expecting nothing less than her being revealed as the Shoreditch creeper. Something big. If it just peters out, then that’ll be a real disappointment – I’m hoping that she’s going to find out about George Stark’s investigation, and go postal on his ass. Something diginified and British like that.

This week was solid overall, but just couldn’t help but pale in comparison to the pure gold of Luther‘s previous episode. Still, it did the job ably, and the hour flew by. On to next week!