Conflicted, tormented, unorthodox, troubled, rebellious, brilliant, intelligent and loyal are all words that can be used to describe DCI John Luther, played superbly by Idris Elba, and he’s back on our screens as the second season of BBC’s Luther gets underway.
Season 2, episode 1, wastes no time in re-immersing us back into a world filled with intrigue, mystery, suspense and the downright creepy.
Following on from the first season, we learn that Luther has been working cold cases, his partner, DS Ripley (Brown), has been placed back in uniform – doing “actual police work” according to Luther – and the brilliantly psychotic Alice (Wilson) has been placed in a secure mental hospital. But the man who sought to end Luther’s career in season one, DCI Martin Schenk (Crowley), has since been promoted to DSI and appoints Luther and Ripley to a newly formed division called ‘Serious and Serial Unit’.
Along with new face DS Erin Grey, the team are quickly thrust into dealing with the horrific and bizarre when a new psychopath, whose chosen disguise of a Mr. Punch face mask (reminiscent of the puppet from the Saw film franchise) and a hooded coat, vows to instil fear back into the hearts and minds of the innocent civilians that walk the streets of London. With three brutal murders already under his belt, his identity is quickly discovered and the game of cat and mouse begins.
Not content with just the one ‘lunatic’, we are also treated to the return of Alice Morgan: the astrophysicist who murdered her parents, got away with it and then embarked on a secretive platonic relationship with John Luther, reminiscent of the relationship between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter. She’s incarcerated, for now, but her wit, her charm and her madness makes her one of the show’s greatest attractions.
It isn’t just criminals and psychopaths that Luther has to contend witheither. His personal demons seem to be hanging over him like a cloud of despair and misery, and we’ve yet to witness him smile. Living in what can only be described as squalor, Luther’s life looks empty and lonely when he’s not at work. His loyalties and constant need to somehow redeem himself also leads him to get involved in finding a young girl caught up in a brutal and depraved world of amateur pornography specialising in unconscious women.
This first episode has set the season up to be one of nail-biting tension, genuine scares and intelligent drama. We’ve already witnessed one shock ending and it’s unlikely this will be the last, or the biggest. The relationship between Alice and Luther has been reignited to an exciting degree and the masked madman hell bent on causing chaos and fear is a far greater adversary than we could have hoped for.