After a two year wait, we finally get to revisit the world of the BBC’s Luther; upon reentering the life of Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, we see that not much has changed. He’s still the dichotomous good cop/bad cop brooding about the rainy streets of London, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The premiere episode opens with Luther finishing his day on the job and making his way home; while he does this, we’re shown a woman doing the same. At home, Luther is still mourning his wife and basically living like a hobo. The woman is another story, though. She gets to her apartment, puts on some tea, mills around the place for a bit: just being there, you know? She gets undressed, gets into bed, and for some reason leaves the light on. Whatever.
Then sweet shit on a stick! Some dude just comes scooting his ass out from under her bed! He stands over her; watching her sleep, like you do. She wakes up suddenly, and we cut to the series’ fantastic opening credits. Luther is back.
The next morning, Luther and his partner Detective Sergeant Justin Ripley are tasked with investigating the woman’s murder–because the under-the-bed guy didn’t just pop by for a spot of tea–the guy killed her and dressed her up in what Luther describes as a “Siouxsie and the Banshees look”. Luther does his detective thing and quickly deduces that the murder resembles one he’s seen before (in case files); they have a copycat killer on their hands, most likely.
That’s when Detective Superintendent Martin Schenk shows up in his fancy scarf and pulls Luther away. As they sit in his car, Luther describes the morning’s “fetish killing”, and Schenk drops some information on Luther: he’s being pulled off of this case and put onto a case of a murdered cyber activist. Luther doesn’t understand why he’s being pulled off a case involving a murderer who is likely to kill again and put onto a case of a “revenge killing” that won’t likely lead to more murder victims. Schenk say it’s out of his hands, but if Luther can handle both, he can pull double duty. Of course Luther says he can because he’s Luther and has nothing else. Luther goes back to speaking with Ripley and tells him to check the old case files for things similar to the fetish killing–to see if it is a copycat killer.
Before he can do that, Ripley receives a phone call informing him that he must go meet with Detective Chief Inspector Erin Gray in a remote parking garage, for some reason. The two of them take a short car ride to a restaurant, where they go through a series of hallways, stairways, and doorways which all lead to a room; in that room stands George Stark (David O‘Hara), a retired detective who has been “unretired” for a “special project”.
That special project is John Luther; Stark is investigating Luther because of all the people who keep ending up dead around him. Fair reason, I’d say. It’s really about time people took notice, really. This is similar to the storyline on Showtime’s Dexter when Frank Lundy came sniffing around for Dexter Morgan. Although the situations are vastly different, I like that an in-universe character noticed these strange things that occur in John Luther’s life. These are the kinds of things that we the viewing audience take for granted because events have to happen for there to exist a television series; something strange happens to the main character every week, and that’s what makes the show interesting for us to watch, but nobody in-universe ever stops to go “Why does all this shit keep happening?” Well, George Stark–like Dexter’s Frank Lundy–is asking that question.
Stark tries in vain to convince Ripley of Luther’s guilt–as well as asking if Ripley is a homosexual with feelings for Luther; Ripley isn’t having it because he’s a good partner. Ripley refuses to answer any further questions without a union representative present, and Stark threatens him again; this time with a charge of being an accessory after-the-fact to Luther’s alleged crimes. Then Stark goes IRA and gives Ripley a piece of Luther’s strong-arm medicine by placing him in a chokehold for a few moments, while calling him a liar. Gray tells Ripley to just read the file.
Elsewhere, Luther calls into the station to see if any old cases match the earlier fetish killing. One does: masturbation, toe-sucking; yep, sounds like a textbook fetish killing to me. As he’s about to hang up with the station, a car pulls out in front of Luther, and he has himself a minor fender bender. The driver of the other car is an attractive, aloof lady (character’s name is Mary Day, and she’s played by Sienna Guillory). Luther coyly flirts with her, gives her his information–even though the accident was her fault–and goes on his way to his next crime scene… but not before getting one last glance at her. Me thinks something may be brewing here.
Back in the unfinished restaurant basement/police hideout, Ripley has just finished reading the file. They have nothing solid on Luther. Here we get some exposition; it turns out it was Stark who saw to it that Luther was assigned to the “revenge killing” of the cyber activist. He wants to see how Luther handles the investigation and hopes to catch Luther in a crime. That’s why he plans to have Ripley wear a wire.
Luther has finally made it to the scene of the revenge killing (of a Jarrod Cass). I’d hate to be the family of this guy, considering how long it’s taken the detective to even show up at the scene. As Luther is nonchalantly glancing at the body, Ripley shows up, and we see Stark is listening to their conversation; Ripley agreed to wear the wire.
Turns out, one of Cass’ other hobbies was being an internet troll, so he had a ton of “enemies”. Luther goes into super detective mode, though, and begins to question why the murderer(s) would have looted the place; Luther suspects Jarrod was hiding something expensive.
Somewhere else in town, Creepy McKillPeople exits a train and heads into his apartment, which has an interesting décor to say the least; it’s a bunch of pictures of ladies’ faces with the eyes cut out. That’s a bold choice, but I wouldn’t sacrifice the feng shui of my living space, just to make an artistic statement. No, wait, the dude’s just a murderer von serial killer. He loads some pictures from his latest kill onto his computer, leans back, and I’m glad the camera cutaway right there, because I don’t want to see what he did next.
The old case that matches today’s fetish killing is called “The Shortage Creeper” (or something like that). It doesn’t matter (unless it does, later…). What surely matters, though, is the investigation into that case was huge 30 years ago, and Schenk is going to go question the case’s lead detective, who has since retired.
Meanwhile, Luther and Ripley are at an apartment building to question a loan shark to whom they suspect Cass owed money. There’s a bit of a back-and-forth, the loan shark tries to run, and Luther proceeds to lift the dude up and over the balcony to scare him. Yep, nothing but good, solid police work going on here. As you’ll recall, Stark and Gray are listening into Luther’s actions via the wire on Ripley; they hear the loan shark screaming bloody murder as he’s hanging over this balcony, and Gray tries to see what exactly is going on. Alas, Luther pulls the guy back in, just as Gray is about to witness the harmless fun.
With Stark and Gray listening in, Luther and the loan shark have a conversation where Luther comes precariously close to coming right out and saying he doesn’t need evidence the guy killed Cass because he can just frame him. He doesn’t say that, of course, because where’s the fun in that? The loan shark was at the scene, so there’s no need for Luther to do any “fitting up.” The dude says Cass was dead when he got there; he just took his phone and laptop. They get the laptop and clear out.
Instead of having the guys at the station look into the laptop, Luther convinces Ripley to do it himself, to have the case move faster. While Ripley is doing that, Luther gets a phone call from the woman from the crash earlier. She’s made the call under the guise of admitting the crash was her fault, but it’s clear what’s going on; she’s the love interest we get to see Luther fuck it up with this season.
On the laptop, Ripley finds a memorial website (seemingly a Facebook page) that Cass had defaced. The two of them go to the home of the site’s owners; they are the parents of a dead girl. The girl’s father tells the detectives of how they had received fake messages from trolls that were supposedly from their daughter, and they were sent obscene pictures of their daughter’s face photoshopped onto other women. People actually do this shit, and they think it’s fun. The father asks if Luther or Ripley would like a glass of water, and we get to see another small moment of Luther being a brilliant detective without having to divulge what he’s doing: Ripley declines the water because that’s the polite thing to do, right? Well, Luther says he would like the water. Why? Well, the father goes into the kitchen and promptly collapses into a pile of sadness and tears. Luther saw that the father was about to lose it and knew he didn’t want to do so in front of his wife. Neil Cross, the series’ creator, has said before that Sherlock Holmes was an inspiration for the character of John Luther, and these are the little moments the show throws in to differentiate Luther from Sherlock. Sherlock, because of that character’s nature, would have openly pointed out the fact that the father was about to lose it, and the father would have burst into tears right there in the room, confessing everything. Anyway, I just love small things like that.
Luther goes to the father’s side, sits with him, and consoles him. While they’re in the kitchen, Ripley has to question the mother about the father’s whereabouts when Cass was murdered. Ripley thinks maybe the father killed Cass, but Luther says he doesn‘t; his priority is the fetish killer, anyway.
Meanwhile, Schenk is at the home of the lead detective of the old Shortage Creeper case. He knocks, but there’s no answer; he looks through the mail slot and sees a body. Looks like that detective won’t be much help…
As Luther and Ripley are going into the station, Ripley stays behind to go talk with Gray. Ripley tells her she’s stupid for showing up there because Luther will see her (which he does); Gray “fake” kisses Ripley and makes like she and Ripley are sneaking around and seeing each other. She thinks that will cover for Ripley’s odd behavior that Luther has surely noticed. Gray and Ripley believe the dead girl’s father killed Cass, and Gray tells Ripley he needs to convince Luther to do the right thing and arrest the father (his name’s Ken Barnaby, but if I say “Ken Barnaby”, you won’t know who the fuck I’m talking about).
Inside the station, Luther is engrossed in the fetish copycat killer. Ripley says he’s going to look into something on the Cass murder, and Luther kind of just shrugs him off like “Yeah, you do that.” At the same time, Schenk shows up and informs Luther of Ronnie Holland’s death (the lead detective on the Shortage Creeper case). He was murdered, of course. They stand there and stare at the wall for a moment before Luther cracks the case: the fetish killer put a mask on the woman he murdered to make her look like she looked thirty years ago. He’s taking the “copycat” thing way too far.
We’re shown the Copycat Fetish Killer approaching a house, and then a quick cut to Ripley having some bins searched; this is just serving as an interstitial scene, so we can go right back to the house and see that some time has passed. There are now people inside, and the killer is nowhere to be seen.
Luther and Schenk are still at the station going over the case; they find out that this morning’s victim was part of another case thirty years ago. As this information breaks, Ripley phones Luther to inform him he lifted a clean print from a cell phone that was used to film Cass before he was murdered. When Luther hears this, you can see he’s visibly upset that Ripley did this because he also “knows” the murderer is the girl’s father. Ripley pushes Luther to do the right thing and bring in Ken Barnaby (the girl’s father, remember?). Luther agrees, so he calls Barnaby to arrange for him to come in. Barnaby very calmly agrees to come give them his fingerprints. Well, it would seem maybe he didn’t do it, right? Why else would he so…
… wait, what is he doing with that blender? Why is he taking off his watch? No! Noooo! Dude just made sure they won’t be getting his fingerprints by chopping them the fuck off WITH. A. BLENDER. Damn.
After this, Gray and Ripley are at the Barnabys’ home, and Gray goes all shitty by blaming Luther for Barnaby giving himself the nickname “Stumpy”. I dislike her. She’s like the Yoko Ono of Ripley and Luther’s partnership.
Remember the house where the Copycat Fetish Killer was lurking earlier? We check back in with the people who live there: a man and woman. The woman is someone else connected to a case thirty years ago. Luther calls them, but before they can answer, Ripley interrupts Luther and causes him to put the phone down. Ripley accuses Luther of warning Ken Barnaby. What the fuck, Ripley? Dude just chopped his fingers off with a blender; I’m not sure how Luther could have stopped that from happening. When Luther reacts to this accusation with seemingly genuine confusion, Ripley drops the talking and starts the whomping. Of course, as we saw Luther lift an average-sized man earlier and dangled him over a balcony like it was nothing, Luther is much stronger than Ripley, so he just flings him to the ground all like “What the fuck is your problem?” Schenk sends the both of them home.
Meanwhile, the guy Luther was calling has since hung up the phone, and we see he and his wife just go about their business some more. The two of them get into bed and have a bit of stereotypical marriage banter where he wants to have sex, but she doesn’t. They turn out the lights, but before they can get busy, some weird noises start coming from their otherwise quiet house. It basically sounds like cats fucking, if you’ve ever heard cats fucking. If you’ve never heard cats fucking, be thankful. She starts to call the police, but he stops her. He’s all, “I’ll just go up into the dark attic and rescue the cat.”
Dude’s in the attic, right? So he sees the killer sitting right there under some plastic like Grandma’s furniture. Apparently, the Copycat Fetish Killer’s M.O. is just sitting in one place for a really long time. Instead of freaking out, the dude gets right up in the killer’s face like, “I don’t remember buying a grown man.” What happens? Dude fucking dies. No shit. The killer slams the dude’s head through the ceiling. Instead of running out of the fucking house, the woman hides in the closet (after refusing to get out of bed until she was certain her husband was dead). While in the closet, she can’t even manage to breathe softly, without making loud scoffing noises. That bitch wanted to die.
Luther, on the roof of a building, calls the car crash lady and asks her out for a drink. Then, for some reason, they meet on that same roof where he was; Luther loves meeting women on roofs of buildings.
The episode ends with Ripley inexplicably going to Stark and agreeing that somebody needs to stop Luther. Do what? That doesn’t make any damn sense; Ripley seems to be thinking with his penis because he liked that “fake” kiss Gray gave him.