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Idris Elba is a great actor, but the plot is so full of holes I didn't finish the series.
Series 1: John Luther is a maverick cop that's both a Sherlock-type genius and a Marlowe-type man on the edge, a combination that works so well (wouldn't a man who thinks too much be haunted by the evil he sees men do?), I can't believe it hasn't been successfully done for television before. That Luther is played by Idris Elba and created/written by Neil Cross aren't exactly strikes against it either! As with most police shows, there is a case-of-the-week, but this is a world with more far-reaching consequences. Some cases aren't put to rest so easily. Indeed, the first episode's villain becomes a regular character, a genius criminal who might as well be the devil on Luther's shoulder. Add a cast of actors I really want to watch - Indira Varma, Paul McGann, Saskia Reeves - and I was left feeling those 6 episodes flew by too fast. Guess what I immediately ordered?
Series 2: Luther Season 2 is still good, but it suffers from having lost Season 1's triumvirate of female characters, two of which do not appear at all. At only 4 episodes, the season's arc about Luthor protecting a young prostitute from very bad people indeed, builds more quickly and furiously than the previous season's Alice story, and provides the required opportunities for Luther's ethical dilemmas. The two cases, each taking up two episodes, are as imaginative and disturbing as those from the previous year, and Luther's new unit features strong characters, both new and old. Not everyone is well-served, however. Saskia Reeves' Rose has disappeared from the story, Alice has some good moments but is largely absent, and Paul McGann's character Mark seems adrift in storylines that are not truly his own. I'm glad for his presence generally, but I'm wondering why he's still in Luther's life and if he shouldn't be used more like Alice was, as an angel/devil on Luther's shoulder. While S2 is a step down from S1's brilliance, Luther remains well above most police dramas in quality.
Series 3: There's more mystery solving in what should have been Luther's final season, a conclusion that's happily ambiguous to let the audience make their own choices for Idris Elba's tortured homicide detective. The four episodes that make up the season are really about Luther deciding who he wants to be and confronting his own nature, especially in the second case in which he is pitted against a street vigilante. If it's not okay for that guy to bend the rules to gets things done, is it okay for Luther to do so, badge or not? Meanwhile, his partner's loyalty is tested by a ruthless Internal Affairs team who may be as bad as Luther is when it comes to bending the rules. So everywhere he looks, there's a mirror showing him a rather unflattering picture. Needless to say, it's riveting television as usual.
Series 4: Did Luther really need a fourth series (and now an announced fifth)? I thought Series 3 ended quite perfectly, with Idris Alba's character having gone through a soul-confronting arc and ending on a note that was just ambiguous enough to let the imagination fill in the blanks. Series 4 is just 2 episodes (as opposed to 4), just enough time for a serial killer case and a reason to "pull him back in". The B-plot about Alice Morgan's presumed death and the consequences thereof tries to create a new femme fatale for Luther, but the series' length kind of means it's all a bit of a rush, and at times a little hard to get a handle on. Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones' Ygritte) plays his new partner and works well in the role. I feel I might have accepted a coda at this point, but this is clearly a transition instead. I had said my goodbyes and may ultimately regret keeping up with the show.
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