A crime drama series starring Idris Elba as a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions.
Luther season 3 is sure to be debated like so many other series before it that have been accused (by some viewers) of deviating too far from center in later seasons. With just 4 episodes in which to close the saga of DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) there was much storytelling to be done, and showrunner Neil Cross split the season into two-episode halves, which both managed to sustain the style, tone, and twists that make Luther a police drama unlike almost any other (for better or worse). And yet, it often felt like somewhere lost in middle was the character that drove the series in the first place.
This show has always been distinguished by two things: its hero and its villains. The mad killers that Luther hunts have typically come in two varieties: nightmarish woman-killing stalkers and rampaging gunmen – and season 3 gave us both in the forms of serial killer protege Paul Ellis (Kevin Fuller), followed by psycho vigilante Tom Marwood (Elliot Cowan). While John Luther was (obviously) present in season 3, the thematic arc of the season had less to do with his inner workings and more to do with the question of where his character fits into the moral spectrum of today’s world, as measured by supporting characters like ‘Anti-Luther Squad’ members DSU George Stark (David O’Hara) and DCI Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird); DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown); or even new characters like Tom Marwood and Luther’s new “pixie” love interest, Mary Day (Sienna Guillory).
While this larger perspective was an interesting way to bring final measure and closure to the exploration of who John Luther is, it also left us at a distance when trying to get back inside the head of the character himself. The season 3 opener spent a great deal of time indulging in either the sort of horror movie scares that has made Luther a no-go for plenty of female viewers (seriously, this show often depicts a woman’s worst nightmare of being attacked) – or setting up the ‘Anti-Luther Squad’ storyline, which ended suddenly and unceremoniously in the final episode when DSU Stark has his guts blown out by a marauding Tom Marwood. Very little actual Luther in there (the season, not the guts…).