Luther, “Episode Three”

After last week’s slightly disappointing effort, Luther‘s third episode strikes a better balance between a specific procedural case, the budding relationship between John and Alice and the unraveling of John’s personal life. It’s still messy and sometimes scattershot, but there’s more good stuff happening here.

One thing I’ve noticed about Luther thus far is that it’s clearly interested in going further each week. The case is even grosser and more violent than the one from last week, John’s personal life continues to get messier and the relationship with him and Alice is getting weirder and more personal, even if he doesn’t want it to. I assume the intent of this is to bring Luther to some sort of breaking point, and that’s an effective approach that I am really enjoying.

Here, the killer is super-creepy: He abducts women, holds them for 10 years and drains their blood, then leaves their frozen bodies for the police to find. From the beginning, it’s much more compelling that last week’s case, as there’s a lot of licking, peeing and creepy stuff that while gross, is still engrossing.

But of course, the most interesting portion of this third episode centers around John and Alice. She is featured more here, and because she supposedly wants to help John, she hires some women to beat up on Zoe’s boyfriend and then film it so he looks completely embarrassed. However, because Alice doesn’t really understand how “helping out” works, she has the violent ladies say John had something to do with the attack, which of course backfires and causes some problems for John at work.

What’s really compelling about the relationship between John and Alice is that both he and us at home are unclear whether or not Alice is completely misguided, insane, deadly or a combination of all three. Sure, she could have easily had Mark jumped and dropped Luther’s name as a way to screw with him, but she sure sells the earnestness in a way that suggests she really is socially awkward in a way that is only accentuated by her insanity. There is a fine line between insane and eccentric with some insanity mixed in, and Alice is straddling it in an entertaining way.

And of course, John and Alice’s relationship is only going to get more complicated now that Alice has unintentionally, but still kind of intentionally pushed Zoe back into his arms. It’s clear that Alice is infatuated with John, and again, it is unclear exactly what her motivations are, so it’s very possible that Zoe and John are in even more danger than before.

I don’t have much more say about this episode or the series in general. It clearly hasn’t been as strong in the post-pilot episodes, but it’s still an intriguing experience thanks to the solid lead performances.

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