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Television series

Luther: Season Two

Arresting TV, in more ways than one.

Rod Lott December 27th, 2011

For its second season, BBC's Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated "Luther" was reduced from six episodes to four, but nothing else has been sacrificed. It remains stunningly good television.


Living in a personal hell following the murder of his wife at the end of season one, Detective Chief Inspector John Luther (Idris Elba, "Thor") throws himself into his work — namely, two big, bad crime sprees that divide this bunch into halves.

First is a serial killer donning a creepy Mr. Punch mask, who vows to be the new Spring-Heeled Jack for this generation of Londoners. Second is a seemingly random and awfully deadly crime spree committed by a man who chooses who to slay and how literally by a roll of the dice — like the Virginia Tech shooter playing a real-life "Dungeons & Dragons" game.

That in itself would be enough, but events from the previous season have consequences that carry over, like the wife of a prostitute killer Luther put down, feeling she's owed, wants him to retrieve her daughter from her current so-called "life": being a "death porn" star (that, we learn, is paying to have sex with an unconscious girl). Luther's attempts to save her, in every sense, play out in a season-wide story arc.

As with the first year, these episodes are not whodunits; we know almost  immediately who's doing the dirty deeds. The thrills are in Luther's pursuit of them, often via methods that are ethically questionable. As a former colleague puts it, Luther's "not a dirty copper. He's a man over a barrel."

Devious Alice (Ruth Wilson, TV's "The Prisoner" remake), meanwhile, is in a mental institution, and only briefly seen in the first half. Hopefully, her role as second lead will be restored in season three, but that's hardly a drawback. There's plenty going on in her absence — something no doubt achieved by the consistency in writer/creator Neil Cross and director Sam Miller in place across all six hours.

As invested as they are, naturally, is Elba, who remains as intense as one can get without taking a character over-the-top. He owns this character, and deserves every accolade thrown his way. No superhero, he's as fallible as you or I, and that's what makes him so fascinating. —Rod Lott

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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