Let me be clear and say to all of you that I don’t do much television. Even if I did, I’d probably find myself recapping shows long after their original run, and unfortunately, Neil Cross’ Luther is one of them. I’ve long heard of the acting talents of Idris Elba on The Wire, along with his much professed love of all things Arsenal, but after watching all three seasons recently, I find it regrettable that I didn’t see his work sooner. Luther is a brooding whirlpool of urban mayhem and Idris Elba’s portrayal of him is at the center of it all, serving as both anchor and sail.
The plights of Luther throughout the show would not be complete without a host of other characters who serve to question his moral limits while offering him sincere support. Despite his separation from his wife Zoe, Luther’s main female counterpart is the cunning and scene-stealing Alice Morgan (portrayed by the talented Ruth Wilson). After murdering her parents in the very first episode of season 1, Alice develops an uncanny attraction to our detective after he deduces her involvement in the matter without any solid evidence. Luther initially views this relationship as an annoyance as he juggles between his marital problems and his duties, but as the second and third seasons unravel, we slowly find that the both of them begin to confide in one another in such a way that thoughts of something more are left lingering for us in the series’ end.
In addition, a detective series wouldn’t be complete without good old precinct regulars, namely his clear-eyed protege Detective Sergeant Justin Ripley (Warren Brown). The straight arrow of the bunch, Justin acts as both Luther’s trusted partner and moral compass when many of the show’s antagonists test his conscience. This especially comes to a boil at the end of season 1 when another one of Luther’s fellow inspectors commits a very desperate crime and pins all the blame on him. However, we wouldn’t have a gripping show if the challenges to Luther’s conscience didn’t have its consequences, and what you’ll find in season 3 is a new juggling act for our protagonist as he juggles a new threat in the form some very vindictive co-workers that goes a stretch beyond your normal internal affair shenanigans.
If it sounds like I’m being vague here, then believe me when I tell you that it is on purpose. Don’t expect the brilliance of Sherlock or the class of Poirot here since Luther’s hook is all about how the search to nab wicked men make virtuous men both obsessed and miserable. In addition to that, the consequences aren’t the typical mouth-offs like “Yeah, she took the kids and moved to her Mom’s” kind, it’s the violent, yelling punch a fucking hole in my wife’s door kind…NON-STOP. Now, if you have a hard time believing what I am writing, then you’ll have no problems seeing it since we have one fine actor doing his best to paint a very dark portrait for us.
In the end, Idris Elba’s award-winning portrayal of Luther, from the weary eyes to the hunched shoulders, along with his dogged gait and razor-edged wit, is a sight to behold. In respect to the series as a whole, we not only witness how one detective’s obsessions lead him to more compromising consequences, but it challenges the old notions of why we seek light at the end of ANY tunnel in the first place. For a man like Luther, light at the end of the tunnel obscures the true purpose of emerging from it altogether, and to do so, one must be willing to trudge deeply into the darkness.