Without Ruth Wilson, this show is nothing. I said it!
Yes I know Idris Elba is the shows lead, but the absence of Alice Morgan is seriously a downfall in the shows season 4 two part episode. This at the time was written as a two hour finale for the show, but now with a FIFTH season starting next year, let’s just hope that Ruth Wilson can take some time from ‘The Affair’ and come back to save John Luther one more time.
But let’s crack on with the review.
Luther never gets old. The serial killers may get more twisted and warped with each case but Idris Elba remains as compelling as ever as the tortured detective – he just needs to shrug on that grey coat again and Luther is back.
It’s been four years since the events in series three but Idris reprises his role effortlessly and there’s a sense of familiarity that is surprisingly comforting.
Watching Luther again is like having coffee with an old friend – a dark and brooding mate who’s spent far too much time by himself – but a friend nonetheless.
Creator Neil Cross has dreamt up yet another horrifyingly gruesome story for John Luther to be thrown headlong into. There’s plenty of gory murder scenes complete with blood-spatters and body-parts that has become a key signature of this series.
We’re still in mourning for his slain partner Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), who made a brief walk-in appearance one last time tonight but we kind of knew he was dead and gone.
Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie makes an appearance as DS Emma Lane, who seems to be Luther’s new partner. But given his track record – plus Darren Boyd’s Theo Bloom getting bumped off in the first half hour – it’s not looking good for her.
However the real absence was that gaping Alice Morgan-shaped hole. There was a feeling of loss without Ruth Wilson’s iconic enigmatic genius killer that we all love.
Where were those luscious red lips curled up in that disturbing smile and that flame-coloured hair flying in the wind and those psychotic eyes with a hint of laughter behind them?
There weren’t any of those knife-edge moments between Luther and Alice where he could kiss or kill her in a split second – both equally as plausible.
The truth is that Luther isn’t Luther without Alice Morgan. She better be turning up again next week otherwise there will be hell to pay from fans. But we all know Alice isn’t dead, not really. That woman is bulletproof, we’re just waiting for her to pop up again.
Getting back to the case itself, Steven Rose (John Heffernan) – the voyeuristic cannibal with a tendency for some real visceral nastiness – is one the sickest killers that Luther has come across.
While blood-sucking cult killer Lucien Burgess from series one was pretty terrifying and mask-wearing, Spring-heeled Jack psychopath Cameron Pell from series two was sinister, Steven Rose is quite something else.
Yes, it may be on the formulaic side with plenty of police procedural tropes but this gritty, urban noir is still as great as the first-ever episode – it’s just a shame there’s only two episodes this time.
Yes, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) and DS Emma Lane (Rose Leslie) may have caught cannibal serial killer Steven Rose (John Heffernan) but the concluding part to this story proves to be deeply unsatisfying.
Not only do we fail to get any closer to finding out the truth about Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) but Megan Cantor (Laura Haddock) proves to be a poor substitute for her, there’s not nearly enough sinister smiles or kookiness that made us fall in love with the flame-haired, genius murderess in the first place.
Then there’s the attempt to cram another case into this episode, which really demands your attention otherwise you’re likely to get lost in a matter of scenes.
Series three also had two cases running along simultaneously as DS Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird) tried to force Luther to investigate one murder while he was also on the hunt for the S’n’M copycat killer finishing off the work of a previous killer 20 years later.
Both that story and this episode make for an unwieldy viewing experience as you try to keep on top of everything.
The fundamental problem is that there is not enough time to justice to both the Steven Rose case and this secondary investigation involving a child murder.
On top of that is the bounty on Luther’s head as well as the mystery of Alice. Viewers needed at least two more episodes to really delve into these cases.
The end result is a battle to keep up and withdrawal symptoms. You get the sense that creator Neil Cross tried to pack quite a few ideas into these two stories and by doing so he leaves us unsatisfied.
The only bright spots are the case itself that Luther manages to solve in the nick of time with all the typical race-against-time adrenaline rush that we love this Brit grit drama series for and Rose as John’s new partner.
You start to get a handle on her and realise she’s cut from the same cloth as Luther in a way that even DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown) wasn’t.
There’s much less questioning on her part, she’ll do things the right way but not by the book and that’s why she is such a great character.
Luther needs an ally in a way he has never needed one before and she’s just what he needs at this moment in time.
Unfortunately it was always going to be a big ask to fill two episodes with all the searing brilliance that we usually get over four hours. Basically, we just need more Luther in our lives. So there’s only one question left…