Is it possible to have a normal life when your life often put your loved ones in danger? That was part of the premise behind the latest season of BBC America's "Luther," which followed one man's quest to stop evil even if he crossed one too many times. The results might have bordered on extremely dark at times, but the acting was still top notch to watch it unfold.
"Luther" followed DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) who always managed to stay alive and keep his job after he crossed one too many lines. Unfortunately, he might not be able to this time with DSU George Stark (David O'Hara) and DS Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird) finding ways to destroy his professional reputation. Stark and Gray managed to recruit Luther's friend DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown) in an effort to prove or disprove their theory. Unfortunately, Luther's professional workload has doubled after he was handed two very different cases by his boss DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) who Luther managed to win over by his ability to solve cases. One case involved a shocking vigilante killer who targeted criminals who got lighter prison sentences than they deserved to. The other case involved a revenge killing that could put a grieving father in prison for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, Luther's biggest complication came from his even messier personal life. He always had a complex connection with escaped killer Alice Morgan (Ruth Morgan) who always toyed with Luther for reasons only known to her. She came back into Luther's life after the vigilante killer decided to personally target Luther and those closest to him. The killer already claimed one innocent life and was set on harming Luther's new girlfriend Mary Day (Sienna Guillory) who had no connection to the case. When Luther was asked to make a choice between Mary and Alice, he seemed hesistant to reveal his true feelings. Will his choice have consequences for everyone involved or will Luther find his own happy ending after so much tragedy?
In terms of questions, the show managed to answer most of them, which makes viewers wonder whether Luther's story will continue or if this was truly the end. If this was the end, the conclusion seemed to be a satisfying one as Elba's Luther finally revealed his true feelings about Alice and avoided doing his usual cop song and dance. The finale's most memorable scene came towards the end of the episode when Luther was faced with the possibility of losing both Mary and Alice. It was a nice twist to see Elba's Luther struggling with more than a moral dilemma as he was forced to decide whether to save Mary or Alice. Even though Mary seemed like a logical choice, Elba and Morgan had a much stronger chemistry than he did with Guillory's Mary because she seemed out of place compared to the rest of the cast. Guillory's story often provided a sense of relief from the often disturbing scenes, but it didn't help that her character was painted as a bit of a wallflower that relied on others all little too much. She had a couple moments where Mary became assertive, but it was sadly too little too late. The show's other memorable moment came in the third episode when Brown's Justin was brutally slain in an unexpected moment that left viewers stunned at how sudden the moment was. It also gave Elba the opportunity to run through a wide array of emotions within the span of a few short scenes where he often said nothing but lay next to his dearly departed friend. Overall, the show's only mistake was that it had too many cases going on. There should only have been one case going instead of two that way viewers could focus on the vigilante killer story, which felt rushed due to the heavy workload.
As for breakout performances, Elba and Brown led the pack for very different reasons as two different cops who managed to find common ground in the end. Elba's Luther was often the wild card character who went to huge extremes to get the job done. He had one memorable scene where he dangled a potential suspect over a ledge to get information out of him. The moment was an eye opener that made viewers wonder if the character was poised to crossing a fatal line that could cost him everything, but he managed to stop himself from going too far. Elba managed to embody Luther with the right amount of unpredictability, vulnerability and slight gallows humor that made him a compelling anti-hero each season. When he was at his worst, Luther was the most interesting character to watch. Brown, on the other hand, had the challenging task of whether to be his mentor's ally or his enemy. The Luther investigation storyline offered Brown a chance to have his own story, which worked for the most part. Brown had a strong connection with Amuka-Bird's Erin that was never fully explored due to Justin's untimely exit. The show gave hints that Brown won't last past this season, but he still managed to pull off a strong performance that was full of morality and compassion that made his death all the more shocking. Brown's strongest scene ended up being his last one as he tried to stand his ground against a serial killer, which sadly was a losing battle that would only leave one of them standing. He embodied Justin with the right amount of strength and fear as he realized that his life was over, which was heartbreaking to watch. Hopefully, the show will find a way to continue in some fashion or at least allow viewers to have a decent amount of closure before moving on for good.
"Luther" aired its season finale on September 6th at 10:00 PM on BBC America. It's unclear whether there will be a fourth season, but the finale's final moments which seemed to give a definitive conclusion. There are rumors of a possible prequel/spin-off is in the works.
Verdict: Unfortunately, the show's fate remains uncertain due to its inability to make a firm decision on tone before the season was halfway done. Hopefully, the season finale's many twists will allow for the show to be given an opportunity to have another season to right some wrongs.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)