[Review] - Luther, Series 3 Finale, Episode 4

Courtesy of the BBC
"What is it about the people John Luther loves?"

There has been no discussion, as far as I can tell, about a fourth series of Luther, in much the same way that there was no discussion about a third series at first. Recently, the focus has been more on the possible Alice spin off, or the film prequel. And I think that's for the best. After three series, John Luther has had the absolute worst of life handed to him, misery enough for ten lifetimes. And now it's passed. While I wouldn't consider the ending he got a happy one, it was as clean a break as he might have been able to expect, considering his luck (which, if it was down to the jacket, good gods).

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that will kill you, and eat you. How's that sound?

Last week, I said that Tom Marwood undercut every bit of public sympathy he might have gained, by killing Ripley. And Luther brought this fact up several time in this episode, but always in the future tense. The suggestion that Marwood wouldn't kill John because it would undermine his message, despite the fact that the BBC is widely reporting that Marwood is the suspected killer of Justin Ripley. Unlike last week's use of social media, this week we didn't get to see any of the fall out from the Ripley killing. We didn't get to see the repercussions of the mob mentality, the public reaction to Marwood's actions, and the inevitable kick back on those that had supported him. In real life, anyone who had supported Marwood would have been turned on by the now righteous mob. And there would have been those still loyal to his cause, despite his actions. We saw none of that, as the action pivoted between the three points of Luther, the Series and Serial Unit, and Stark's safe house. There was no time for sociology.

Alice then. As much as I love her, restraining her to the final episode made her feel too much like a deus ex machina, a way to get Luther out of one last pinch. Which I would have been fine with, except that her initial appearance made very little sense. She claims she saw everything on the news, though none of the reports that we were privy to made any mention of the detainment of John Luther. So how did she know where he was and what was happening? The show sets up a perfect explanation, but never follows through with it. Alice has been in London for weeks, and might a good running arc this series been Luther having a guardian angel. In the first three episodes, when Luther was in particularly tight spots, to have someone looking after him from a distance? To seed to sudden reappearance of Alice in a way that makes her seem as brilliant and obsessive as we know her to be, instead of just capable of perfect timing? As it stands, and as much as Ruth Wilson was a delight to see again, her role here seemed just to exist to get someone else on that roof.

Or, anyone at all, because I'm struggling to see the point, now after it's all said and done, of Mary Day. Because let's be honest here, John Luther is a man of extreme empathy, that is one of the reasons Alice is attracted to him, he cares in all the ways she can't. Anyone on that roof, with a gun to their head, whether he knew them or not, would have put Luther into an impossible situation. He would have been no more able to tell Marwood to pull the trigger on a perfect stranger then on someone he loved, or hated. Erin Gray would have been suitable for the roof, if only to prove to her once and for all that he is a man of conscious. And she was right there as well, with flesh wounds and a chip on her shoulder. The scene was tense as is, because I honestly had no idea which way Luther would side, and considering that this show has shown little compunction over the killing of primary and loved characters, there was every possibility that someone would die on that roof. Luther's impossible choice was palpable.

For once, John made all the right moves (save one), and it was everyone elses stupidity that worked against them. Stark's single minded obsession and clouded judgement had him arrest Luther despite there being no reasonable evidence for the arrest other then bullheadedness. Then move him, allowing him to him to be taken. Then involve Mary, yet again. Then not take the Marwood threat seriously, which in the end made him slightly more aerodynamic. Marwood too, becoming increasingly unhinged, kidnaps a pregnant woman straight after killing a police officer, then a child murderer and threatens mass murder, all the while knowing that John Luther is going to be gunning for him at maximum, a man who has already tracked him twice. A death wish is one thing, but stupidity is something else indeed, and never once during the oddly tertiary kidnapping storyline did Marwood gain any sense of self awareness and realise he had become what he was trying to prevent. John's biggest mistake was putting himself in the position to get shot (apparently though, just a flesh wound, considering he never got it treated, and appeared to have walked it off by the end), and keeping Mary's location on his phone. That was just dumb.

So, is this the end? Is Luther done, in both senses? Can he just walk off with Alice, and divorce himself from this world? He claims in this episode that once Marwood is taken care of, he's done and out of it, a claim he made many times in series one. I don't believe that John is capable of doing anything else. I think that his empathy, his strict morals and ethics, and his honest belief in justice would make him incapable of giving it up. He'd always find some excuse to be pulled back into the fray, always find some new monster he'd have to fight. It's possible that in Alice he's found someone who could tolerate this behaviour, but I also question their ability to put up with each other. Despite their obvious devotion (and refreshing asexuality) towards each other, I question how long Luther would be able to turn an eye away from her tendencies, and how long Alice would put up with his righteousness.

While I would like to think that, if a fourth series ever appeared, we might see them operating a private investigations firm together, functioning as perfect counter points to each other, I think I'd much prefer to leave things here. Brevity is a blessing, and knowing when to end is a kind of enlightenment. Do prequel films, all you like. But the timeline should end here, with an eternal "what now?"

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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