Previously, on Luther: “Episode 2”
When we last left Luther, he had his tongue down the throat of his new love interest Mary Day, after he had just learned that his partner Ripley actually hadn’t turned on him. All and all, it was a good day to be John Luther.
Episode 3 opens with a group of friends out bowling; two of them, a man and woman, leave together, park the car, and the guy makes his move. Apparently, the woman had been waiting three years for him to do this (the dude was really waiting for the right moment). They’re talking when, suddenly, a group of thugs, hooligans, rapscallions? A group of chavs start banging on the car with baseball bats and demanding the couple exit their vehicle. They pull the guy out and beat the shit out of him. The woman runs, but they catch her and start beating on her.
That’s when some guy shows up all Batman-like, wearing a long overcoat and an even longer face. The punks try to intimidate him, but this guy isn’t having any of that shit. There’s a bit of a short stare down, and you think there’s about to be some kind of vigilante fistfight breaking out; instead, the dude reveals a shotgun, and he proceeds to mow down one of the criminals before chasing the others off and firing the gun again off-camera. The couple stay behind; the man is badly injured on the ground, and the woman is comforting. The vigilante comes strolling back to their side; he looks concerned about them. Then we hit the opening credits. This series has, by far, the best cold opens around.
We jump to Luther’s place, he’s getting dressed, and Mary is there. If her presence isn’t enough to tip you off, you can tell she stayed the night by the fact that she’s wearing only a t-shirt. She grabs up a photo of Luther’s dead wife and asks him a handful of questions about her. Luther answers, but he’s clearly like “Yo, we just fucked, and it’s more than a little uncomfortable for you to be asking about how much I love my wife.”
Ripley rings the doorbell, Luther answers and asks him to come inside. Ripley is take aback by this because Luther never asks Ripley to come inside “Not ever”, as Ripley says. He’s understandably pensive at the prospect of being asked inside, considering the fact that it’s entirely possible Luther didn’t listen to the recording that revealed Ripley wasn’t turning on him and is still pissed off. Of course, we know that’s not the case because we know Luther did listen to the recording. Why, then, is Luther inviting Ripley inside? Because he wants to introduce him to Mary! He introduces Ripley as “Justin, my mate; I love him.” Aw, that’s sweet. Luther is all kinds of happy and content right now; that can only mean something terrible is probably going to happen. Let’s stay tuned to see.
Luther and Ripley leave Mary at Luther’s place and drive to the earlier crime scene where the vigilante shot the two hoodlums with a sawed-off shotgun. He’s left a paper on each body’s mouth which reads “www.for-caitlin.com 11.AM”. Luther and the other detectives don’t know who the hell this Caitlin is, but the website goes live in a few hours; it’s hosted in another country, so they can’t just pull it down. People have been tweeting about this, so the detectives have no chance of containing it.
Back at Luther’s, Mary is leaving, when a knock at the door reveals that George Stark and Erin Gray are still on the case… or, they’re at least still knocking on Luther’s door for some reason. They know Mary’s name before she says anything. Hmm…
At the station, Luther is interrogating the woman who was attacked in the car. She says the man told her not to be afraid; he had a “kind” voice. The vigilante held the man’s hand until the ambulance arrived, so she understandably has no interest in helping Luther and the police find him.
We jump from that interrogation back to Luther’s home; Stark and Gray are also interrogating Mary. She doesn’t want to cooperate, but they won’t let her leave. They tell Mary about how Luther’s wife died (she cheated on him and was later murdered). They’re attempting to scare Mary away from Luther, and it appears to be working. They hand her a file, she looks inside, and then she covers her mouth. Those motherfuckers.
Again, back at the station, Ripley is looking over cases involving “Caitlins”, when Luther interrupts him to tell him he should move on. From the case? But they just started–oh, he means Ripley should move on, in terms of his job. Luther thinks Ripley should become a detective chief inspector. Then Schenk interrupts Luther’s interruption to tell the two of them they have to get somewhere.
They rush out to a new crime scene where a man has been hanged; he has a “Caitlin” paper on his mouth. This man is someone Luther and Ripley recognize; he got 4 years for letting two parents beat and starve their daughter to death without doing anything to stop them. The vigilante is apparently killing people whom he feels were not dealt with properly by the justice system.
The website finally goes live. It launches with a video of the vigilante revealing that his “Caitlin” is his wife. She was raped and murdered by a man who had been let out of prison early. He contends that the criminal justice system has failed, and he wants to end that failure. Elsewhere, the vigilante is sitting in a park; he checks Twitter and sees that people are reacting to his website and is happy.
Luther is rewatching the video, when Ripley comes into tell him they know who the vigilante is: Tom Mauerwood (sp?), an architect who, since his wife’s death, has been doing tons of training in stuff like krav maga. To try and get out ahead of the vigilante, Luther suggests finding the ten most debased scumbags in the city and putting eyes on them. Schenk delivers a great line: “How can we narrow down the possibles? I mean, depravity is hardly in short supply in this city.” With some very short work, they figure out how to narrow them down.
We leap over to Mary Day; she has left Luther’s place, and she’s going into work. She calls Luther and asks if he can meet with her. Luther can tell she’s upset; he asks if she’s okay, and she tells him about Stark and Gray. He’s all mad, like he should be. She tells him not to meet her at work, so they meet in a public place. She just plainly asks him to his face, “How did your wife die?” He tells her, and she doesn’t believe him; you know, because Stark had a file. Files mean everything. He tries to tell her Stark and Gray were lying, but Mary tells Luther to stay away from her. This sucks because Luther didn’t fuck it up this time; it was someone else’s fault.
Just then, Ripley rings him up, and Luther has to switch into detective mode. They’ve narrowed down the list of possibles. Luther is like, “Alright, good; keep up the good work.” Then he hangs up and calls George Stark. Luther arranges to come to Stark’s basement. When Stark hangs up, Gray gets up and puts her coat on like she’s all pissed. Stark asks her what she’s scared of, and she says she’s scared of “what this is turning into”. What? Okay, that might make sense, if she hadn’t just tagged along with Stark to Luther’s place and intimidated Mary right alongside Stark. She needs to decide whether she’s okay with Stark’s shit or not.
Meanwhile, we see the vigilante is still sitting out in the park. Some guys walk by, and the vigilante follows them. Looks like he’s eyed his next victim.
Luther shows up at Stark’s lair. The two of them circle each other and stare deeply into each other’s eyes. Stark begins to speak, and Luther jumps in to tell him he can come after Luther all he wants, but he has to keep away from Mary because she’s off-limits. The next couple of minutes might as well have seen the two of them whip out their dicks and start measuring; that’s basically all it was. Luther does some warning, and Stark does some ridiculous posturing where he tells Luther his problem is that he has spent his entire life thinking “You’re the whirlwind”, which sounds like a fair criticism… until seconds later, when Stark contends that “I’m the whirlwind”. Stark’s entire character is ostensibly “Luther is bad; I’m just like him, but I’m okay because I’m not Luther.”
The vigilante has followed the three guys from the park, until one of them splits from the other two and goes home. The vigilante knocks on the guy’s door, pretending to be a courier or something. I feel okay with offering the description, because that’s essentially the way the vigilante approached getting into this guy’s apartment. “I’m from downstairs. Sign for this package. What is it? Oh, it’s… uh… a book or something…” And that shit worked! The guy opens the door, and the vigilante barges inside. The vigilante’s phone rings; at the same time, Luther is calling another guy: someone the vigilante knows. The vigilante hangs up his phone, while Luther arranges to meet the vigilante‘s brother-in-law.
Luther shows up at what appears to be a junkyard. There’s nobody there… except the vigilante! He has the shotgun pulled on Luther, but Luther runs, anyway. He eventually makes Luther stop and makes him hand over his phone and wallet. The man complains about the fact that men on bail commit so many murders; he and Luther agree that sucks. What follows is a conversation between Luther and the vigilante about… vigilantism. The vigilante questions whether or not Luther has ever been tempted to administer any personal justice, and Luther is all, “Nobody has the right to do that!” The dude asks Luther to give him two days; Luther says no, of course, and tells the vigilante that he’s going to end up being killed to death.
Erin Gray comes into the police station looking for Luther; when he’s not there, she settles for speaking with Ripley, and then we cut away before she actually says anything. Later, we’ll hear a recording of her saying nice things about Luther…
At the junkyard, Luther unties the brother-in-law.
Then we jump right back to Erin Gray. She’s basically there to say she made a mistake. Again, however, she’s stopped from really saying anything, when Ripley’s phone rings. Luther wants him to come to the junkyard… and bring him another phone. This provides a nice insight into Luther’s social life, when he asks if the new phone has all of his numbers in it. Ripley says, “Yeah, all 6 of them.” Luther goes all, “What? Who needs more than 6 numbers?” Ripley also brings mention of Erin Gray’s visit. That’s when Luther bolts off and tells Ripley to cover for him.
The vigilante has Luther’s phone now and takes that opportunity to listen to Luther’s messages; we see him listen to the message Mary left Luther in the previous episode, and what is this guy going to do?!
Where was Luther going? To Mary’s work, clearly. He goes in and tells her, again, that he didn’t do the things Stark said he did. Luther uses some awkward, metaphorical language to basically say “I’ve done some things, but not the things they said I did.” Then he tells her he will tell her the whole truth… before he can do that, though, Schenk phones Luther to tell him about the guy from earlier; the guy the vigilante was fucking with when Luther called the junkyard. The vigilante abducted that guy, and Schenk is telling Luther about that. Luther hangs up, and he–of course–has to leave Mary without actually resolving anything. However, for whatever reason, she’s very understanding of this (it‘s particularly incongruous with her earlier behavior). Luther gives her a key to his place, and tells her he’ll be home late. I hope this doesn’t go where it looks like it’s going.
Luther shows up at the abducted guy’s flat; this guy’s a pedophile, and that’s why the vigilante chose this guy. Luther turns on the super-detective mode in his brain and spits out some observational knowledge to realize the guy‘s keys were gone. The vigilante took the guy’s keys. Why did he do that? They don’t know, and I don’t fucking know.
The vigilante has the pedophile locked in a building, in front of a camera. The pedophile talks about his crimes, and the vigilante is going a bit Joker from The Dark Knight, now. The vigilante is giving the viewers a choice between hanging the pedophile or saving him. They decide the guy’s fate (it’s also a bit like the movie Untraceable, although that was more of a condemnation of tabloid media).
After the video ends, we see the vigilante come back into the building where he’s keeping the pedophile. He’s brought a pulley, some cable, etc; all the tools needed to hang this guy because he knows which option people are going to choose. Then he checks Twitter again, and we see lots of tweets saying things like “This is justice!” and the like. Not surprising. “Bread and circuses”, as Luther says; nothing new.
Schenk is worried there will be copycats, but Luther isn’t really paying attention, as he’s busy thinking of how to stop the vigilante. “There’s nothing worse than personal pain made public.” Luther and Schenk plan to go find one of the pedophile’s victims and have her plead for the pedophile’s life. Luther and Ripley go out, and they find a woman; she agrees to do it. While the woman heads off to do something that must be extremely difficult, Luther and Ripley are headed to confront one of the pedophile’s known associates.
They find the guy at a bar; he tries to run, but that shit doesn’t work. Luther reveals why he thinks the vigilante took the pedophile’s keys (remember how we didn’t know why he did that?). Luther thinks the vigilante has taken the pedophile to their… Luther calls it a “clubhouse”, and I’m going to stick with that because I have no interest in delving any further into a description of that place.
While Luther and Ripley are questioning this guy, the news breaks in on the television at the bar, and it’s a press conference where the woman is going to plead for the pedophile’s life. As she’s describing that the pedophile ruined her life, we see several cuts from Luther watching the press conference to the vigilante watching the press conference. As the woman gets close to the point when she’s going to ask the vigilante to spare the life of the pedophile… she says… kill him! Not that it wasn’t telegraphed from a mile away, but that’s still some heavy shit, right there.
The press conference explodes in commotion: cameras flash, people start yelling questions, and Schenk is like “Aw, fuck me sideways!” Back at the bar, Luther grabs the man he was questioning and slaps him around, making him eventually reveal a location.
Luther and Ripley rush off to try and get to this location. Meanwhile, the vigilante is now hurriedly trying to go ahead and get the pedophile ready for hanging. He gets the guy up, hood on his head, cable around his neck, and then he stops to take a quick selfie. Before we see the guy hanged, we cut to the station; the vigilante tweets the photo with the address of where the body is.
Luther and Ripley are running to try and get there; a mob is also forming at the location, and the vigilante opens the doors to let everyone see the pedophile standing there on the gallows/a box, about to be hanged. People have their camera phones out, taking pictures and videos, and the vigilante stops to seemingly bask in the attention, which wouldn’t seem to mesh well with his message, but whatever. The mob gets quiet, until someone chunks a bottle, and they get rowdy again. Before the vigilante can finally hang the pedophile, Luther shows up, and the vigilante has this look on his face like, “How did he find me?!” That doesn’t make all that much sense, since the dude just tweeted the address. Did he think coppers don’t use Twitter?
The vigilante hastily kicks the chair out from under the pedophile’s feet and runs. Luther pushes his way through the crowd and grabs onto the pedophile. He saved him before he died! Another job well done… wait, the crowd is attacking Luther, now. Luther fights a few of them off, and then Ripley is able to get to his side. Now it’s okay; Ripley can keep them away, while Luther saves the guy… wait, Luther tells Ripley to go after the vigilante. Ripley does this, and the crowd continues to attack Luther…
Finally, more officers show up, and Luther is valiantly continuing to fight off the crowd; although, I can’t help but think it’s looking more like Luther is pulling on the hanging pedophile instead of holding him up. The officers come to Luther’s aid, and he’s all “He’s still alive!” and leave them to deal with it all, as he runs after Ripley and the vigilante.
Ripley catches up to the vigilante, and the vigilante pulls the shotgun on him. He tells Ripley to back off, but Ripley won’t. He wants Ripley to let him go, but Ripley won’t. This scene mirrors the earlier one between Luther and the vigilante, only this time it’s the vigilante who is cornered; Ripley even repeats the vigilante’s own words to him, “We’re on the same side.” For a brief moment, the vigilante lowers his gun… but then he picks it up again and shoots Ripley. He’s dead immediately, and this is where someone starts cutting onions, because Luther is finally able to catch up, and he sees Ripley on the ground. He does the whole, “No, you’re okay! You’re okay! Get up!” thing, and you feel the weight of this moment even harder by the way Luther reacts to it. This is a character who has lost several people he loves, starting with his wife, a memory that was just dredged up by Stark and his use of it to manipulate Mary. He’s experienced this time and time again, which drove him away from loving anyone (like Alice). Now, Ripley’s choice to not turn on Luther, even when Luther was sure he would, finally allowed Luther to admit that he loved Ripley just this very morning. Now he’s lost him. He can’t love anyone because they all end up dead.
The vigilante calls Luther and leaves him a message blaming him for Ripley’s death. Meanwhile, Mary is still at Luther place, waiting for him to come home. Who arrives? The vigilante. He cocks his shotgun, and credits.