LUTHER “Season 2 Episode 3″ – One of the biggest gripes I have with police procedurals is that they do not focus enough on the characters: they’re plot driven shows rather than my preferred choice of character driven. Criminal Minds, Law and Order, they all follow the plot driven formula and spend, in my humble opinion, far too much time on the criminal, and not nearly enough time on the police officers investigating the case.
With Luther, I think I finally realized what these other shows are missing, and it is not, contrary to my own belief, more time for character development, but two things: first actual detective work. Too often on Criminal Minds the characters will turn to Garcia. Tap, tap, tap she goes on her computer, and poof, the crime is solved using some obscure parameters like: “white male, in his twenties or thirties, with daddy issues somewhere in the Los Angeles area.” Luther avoids this mess of storytelling by using actual detective work. Sure, sometimes Luther’s genius is a bit too convenient, like his random stab in the dark about the killer of this week’s episode using a dice to pick his victims only for the scene to cut to the killer literally tossing die on the pavement. But for the most part, the detective work done on Luther is there to serve two purposes: solve the crime and show us the audience just how smart the police are. Luther’s belief that criminals are dumb does not take away from the criminals-if anything it adds to the suspense, whilst making Luther himself look like a genius.
The other thing that Luther has which the likes of Criminal Minds and Law and Order lacks (and believe me, I like both of those shows but they’re the only two cop shows I watch with any regularity) are genuinely scary bad guys. You can do this better in a show lasting only four episodes rather than a show with twenty four hours to fill, but very rarely have I been as chilled by a killer on any American procedural as I was by this creep from this week’s Luther. This guy was young, white, skinny, a bit short, but this is a guy who walked into petrol stations and fancy offices filled with people with a water pistol filled with some sort of acid or kerosene (does anyone know what was in it?), a small bat and a hammer and completely freaked the hell out of me. It was creepy stuff. Even his theft of a corner shop and the off screen stabbings of three people were effective in their scariness.
There was a whole subplot with Jenny, which has turned out to be the season long arc given that there are only four hours in this second season. It’s been an interesting arc thanks to the weird situation and some very good acting: the breakfast scene between Luther and Jenny was one of the best scenes of the episode. I’m not sure where it’s going, but given that the guy Jenny killed at the end of this episode was supremely creepy and creeped out by those coming after him, presumably the people after this guy are going to come after Luther and Jenny so, yeah, that’s probably not great for either of them.
I want to give a quick shout out to the arresting script from Neil Cross (“Look at yourself”) and some of the best directing I’ve seen on television in a long while (well, okay, since the “Baelor” episode of Game of Thrones).
These three episodes have been very compelling and I can’t wait for what the finale has cooked up for us.
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