‘Luther’ Season 4 Recap: A Short, Thrilling Return for Idris Elba’s Exceptional Detective

     December 18, 2015


Warning: If you haven’t yet watched Luther Season 4, which BBC America ran as a TV movie, there are spoilers!

After a two year break for the show, and a leave of absence for DCI John Luther (Idris Elba), the indomitable detective returned to solve more of London’s grisliest crimes. Season 4 has reinvigorated Luther with a new drive and new energy, yet it also included a lot of payoff for long-time fans. Several things felt familiar immediately, even despite the fact that Luther was wearing a green parka and hiding out in what looked like Broadchurch (wouldn’t that be a crossover?) Flashbacks to the death of his former partner, DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), were a reminder to viewers that for Luther, everything is personal. Meanwhile in London, a maniac started off his spree by killing a woman home alone — Luther’s trademark horror story.

Luther himself is driven by justice and haunted by its miscarriage (which we see play out in the plot about the missing boy killed by one of his classmates in an old case). But after three seasons of seeing everyone he loved die, he threw away his coat. He was feeling broken and needed to be brought back. His connection with Alice (Ruth Wilson) represented a darker side of a Luther’s complicated personality, one that ultimately puts him somewhere in between the rigid protocols of the police department, and Alice’s chaotic view of life (and death). Yet after the police department continued to fail him, and his most major connection to it — Ripley — was gone, Luther seemed ready to put that part of his life aside and take a leap with Alice, running off with her and living out his days … doing what, exactly? Would he have ever been satisfied?