‘Luther’ Series 3, Episode 3 Review

Noooooo! Not Ripley!

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Nothing is black and white. This week’s Luther pitches vigilante justice against former criminals against Luther, the man himself. ‘It’s complicated’, says Luther. No s*** Sherlock. Couple of questionable elements (like, why is it just Luther and either DS Ripley or DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) and possibly one other at the crime scenes?), but so many things right about this episode (script, acting, pace and London so beautifully framed).

Luther continues to face an increasingly corrupt investigation, after one too many episodes of being in the wrong place at the right time (which is kinda the nature of his job really). Things unravel in spectacular fashion when vigilante, Tom Marwood (Elliot Cowan) starts meting out his own justice against all past offenders whose crimes and ‘light sentences’ caused the greatest public outrage.

Marwood is driven by the loss of his wife several years before. The plot’s been done before. Just replace ‘wife’ with other loved ones or prized possessions. Death Wish, Man on Fire, Kick Ass. You get the picture. Marwood is now a trained killer with a well-groomed greying beard and a stylish black woollen coat. While Marwood racks up the body count, Luther and Ripley come up with a plan, spearheaded by Ripley no less, to get to the ex-cons before Marwood does to stop and trap Marwood. When cornered, things don’t go well for Luther and certainly not for Ripley. Marwood’s last victim is former convicted paedophile, Dennis Cochran (Rupert Procter). By live streaming Cochran’s tearful confession online and asking the public to vote on what justice they would have for him, an angry mob stands between Luther, Ripley and Cochran’s life swings in the balance.

Meanwhile, DCI Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird) ‘her mind full of scorpions’, tells Ripley she may have ‘taken a wrong turn’, after she confronts Mary with her file against Luther. Ok, maybe Mary’s no white rabbit and it’s just bad plot pacing having her rush the kiss in the second episode. Her role is purely to highlight how lost in love Luther is and has always been.

This brings me to the rule of Luther – ‘secret or die’, which in turn brings me back to Marwood, a cornered criminal and Ripley facing the business end of a shotgun. Now I know I shouldn’t fall in love with the characters in Luther and it serves me right for the next thing I know I’m looking at his soaking, reddened chest and Luther rushing to his side. And then there were tears. Never mind whose, ok. Sniff. Luther is left holding the bloody body of the dearly departed and I have a new level of respect for the show’s writer, Neil Cross and the producers. Clearly, he’s thrown out the rule book. Bromance, romance, career, sanity, the life of a central character – all hanging by a thread in a single episode.

What’s left for the series finale? The rule book says either piece it back together as best you can or blow the file to kingdom come. The finale promises to be a devastating and amoral conclusion for Luther.