One crazy cop: ‘Luther’ season 2 in review

Senior Television Writer
10.19.11 29 Comments


Because season 2 of “Luther” debuted on BBC America right in the middle of the network TV premiere crunch, and because the series ran here so far after it aired in the UK, I decided to wait until all four episodes had aired before weighing in on the season. That way, everyone’s on the same page, no spoilers, and I actually had time to watch it all (which I didn’t a month ago). Some quick thoughts on this season coming up just as soon as I roll my dice…

As I said when I reviewed the first season, I think “Luther” is a show with two tremendous performances at the center (though Ruth Wilson was much less central this time around), but one that suffered the first time out from both familiarity to other similar UK dramas about brilliant-but-damaged cops and from some wobbly plotting. (Though a lot of interesting things happened in the last couple of episodes of season 1, I could never get past Luther’s cop buddy turning into the big bad completely out of left field.)

Season 2 was more of the same, for the most part, with Idris Elba kicking ass and taking names, acting-wise, with serial killer stories that couldn’t resist fetishizing the killers and their heinous deeds (this felt especially true of the twins from the third and fourth episodes, who may as well have been “Criminal Minds” villains), and it rehashed various bits from similar shows. (Both “The Shield” and the original UK “Touching Evil” had stories that climaxed with mentally fragile cops dousing themselves in gasoline to stall a killer.) The one plus is that I thought this year’s version of “Luther is forced by crooks to do shady things” felt better-integrated than last year’s. On the other hand, Luther’s impressionable young ward was a much less interesting foil in the latter episodes than Alice, and though Luther staying to protect her speaks well of where his head is at (and keeps the show going for the upcoming third season), I didn’t like the character much.

So all in all, a mixed bag, but Elba’s so damn good that I’ll keep watching for him, even as the show around him is so often iffy.

What did everybody else think? Are you glad the show is continuing, or do you feel you’ve seen everything this character and format have to offer?

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