The committed, determined and flawed British cop John Luther (Idris Elba) is back for a third season investigating dark crimes. In the latest four part series, Luther hunts a fetishist committing multiple murders, investigates the murder of an internet tormentor and becomes the target of an obsessed vigilante. To further complicate things, two of his colleagues are trying to destroy him by turning his partner against him all while he begins a new romance. Did I forget to mention that Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) returns? Will Luther finally give in to the connection he’s always felt to the dangerous and seductive criminal?
“Luther” is a series that isn’t afraid to disturb you. The murders are brutal and the bad guys are creepy and unhinged. This season is no exception as John moves through cold and cloudy London desperately trying to stop the next crime before it happens. The fetish murders have an eerie connection to crimes committed in the 1980′s but John’s focus is torn when he’s put on another case involving a man whose guilt leads him to a shocking decision. When former colleague Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and her boss George Stark (David O’Hara) decide to bring him down by putting pressure on his partner Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), John’s sense of betrayal becomes a further distraction. Will Ripley’s loyalty finally crack?
In the second part of the series, a man avenges the death of his wife by killing those he feels were not justly punished for their crimes. John’s pursuit of the serial killing vigilante leads to consequences that may send the detective spiraling out of control. The case also draws Alice back into Luther’s life. Their relationship is as complicated as Alice’s damaged psyche. Will she be the tipping point for John’s battle with his darker inclinations?
While villains like Alice (a charming multiple murderer) give “Luther” a wickedly fun edge, the show’s tension is its greatest strength. The pace is fast and focused but it’s the feeling of near constant pressure that sets the series apart. In almost every scene, there is something at stake, whether it’s someone’s life or John’s shaky relationship with his morality. His ever present temptation is to do the wrong thing for the right reason. Justice, for Luther, is full of gray areas yet his identity as a police officer means he exists in a world where law and order is black and white.
Luther’s addiction to seeking out and stopping evil in the world has come at great personal cost. It is his best quality but also his undoing. Will he ever find peace? The unhealed grief, lying just below the surface threatening to overwhelm him, suggests the answer is no. Then again, nothing about this compelling series is quite that simple and that’s what makes this flawed hero worth watching.
“Luther’s” third installment runs from September 3-6 at 10 p.m. EDT on BBC America.