Into this year of the anti-hero returns Idris Elba as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, the London cop with rage issues.
Luther is the man who, in the first scene of the first episode in season one (shown on BBC America in 2010), let a suspected serial pedophile fall seemingly to his death. The suspect lived, barely, and Luther agonized over the incident, but the stage was set. Luther has been to dark places. He’ll go to many more.
Now, in the third iteration of the series, shown in four one-hour episodes this week, Luther has a series of challenges to overcome. The first is to simultaneously solve two crimes, one which is relatively straightforward and another that’s clearly the start of a series of lurid killings.
The relatively straightforward crime is meant as a trap for Luther. He’s being investigated by a former cop known as the Grand Inquisitor, DSU George Stark (played by David O’Hara), and by a former subordinate, DS Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who wants revenge.
Meantime, Luther meets a nice girl, Mary Day (Sienna Guillory), who offers Luther a chance at love and solace.
And ultimately Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) will rejoin the picture. She’s the brilliant killer from season one who forms a bond with Luther and once again will be relied on to bail the troubled hero out of a jam.
Luther has learned from his traumas (and he suffers another great loss in this season). He keeps his anger from boiling over and is smart enough to find his adversaries’ weaknesses. “He was willing to kill someone, practically, in the first season in order to get to the truth,” Elba said during a media call last week. “By season three, I think he’s managed to stabilize himself somewhat … so that he doesn’t get to that place as quickly and as recklessly, so it’s a massive change for him.”
As in past seasons, the streets of London, wet and gray with stabs of green neon and red blood, suit this complex character like the gray overcoat and red tie he never seems to change.