Luther: Series 1, Episode 4

source: http://wilderlands.tumblr.com/post/31151358445*cue opening minor-chord music* Crap. Another middle-aged, white, male serial killer doing creepy ritualistic things to some woman.

*cut to credits* More on these in the Stray Observations.

*cut to Luther waking up in only the bottom 3rd of the screen.* Phone ringing to wake him up: cliched choice. Purple sheets: good choice. No Zoe: very good choice.

*cut between briefing meeting and Luther throwing a ball into a child-sized mitt* Making the ball his ‘thing’ he does to think is fine. Why the mitt? For the love of heaven, it’s unnecessary and distracting, and if it turns out to be the mitt of The Child He Couldn’t Save, I’m going to throw something through a window.

I may be overanalyzing a bit. Back to regular review format.

This episode handles the antagonist’s life far better than the last episode; dwelling on how seemingly normal his life is, rather than his macabre preparations for the crime and then perpetration thereof. Drawing a parellel between sexual fantasy and murderous fantasy, rather than conflating them, was also a better step.

Themes

  1. Dennis (the killer) washes his hands a lot, and looks at himself in mirrors; that’s his own theme.
  2. There’s also a lot of doors being entered and exited through; thus the killer continues a major theme of the show.
  3. Last, Luther lays all the pictures of the crime scenes out in an ordered circle, mimicking the semi-circle of purse items Dennis arranged around his victims’ heads; this continues a series theme of Luther having/doing/thinking something in common with those he’s chasing. In addition, they’re both having love triangles with their wives. (In a stretch, the racial parallels are there, too.)
  4. The sound mixer put the same notes from the opening scene over the different score of the scene where the killer gives the necklace to his wife.
  5. The liquid off-screen (urinating, water pouring) as the focus on Dennis’ wife’s/Zoe’s pensive face: parallel.
  6. Dennis asks both his wife and the escort to go upstairs.
  7. Alice and Dennis make identical finger motions before they move on their victims.

This show doesn’t suffer from lack of attention to detail and parallels. The BBC is obviously treating this series – like Sherlock – as more a series of movies, with divergent techniques and dramatic arcs. And Christ-figure poses.

Sometimes, though, details can be too much. Luther promising to make Ripley a tape of Bowie songs was great, but he heterochromatic eyes also being a reference to David Bowie is far too much. Unless, of course, we’re going to find out Alice has bugged Luther’s office, or is omniscient. No, really, it’s just too much. Know when to stop.

Luther has no problem putting things on the back burner and letting them simmer. The Luther/Alice relationship happened in the first two episodes, and now is just An Established Thing that comes to a boil whenever: ratings. Here, Luther’s first episode nemesis appears after more than an hour of show-time; no small time span when a series is only 6 episodes. It’s a gutsy and appreciated move to trust your audience to remember things like this. On the other hand, sometimes they just can’t let well enough alone. The unevenness in tone may be due to writers, directors, having to fill time, or just the series finding its legs, but I do hope it resolves in favor of the former, and shortly.

Another aspect that’s less even now than it was in the beginning is Zoe and Mark’s relationship. It was going to come to a head soon, but the fact it happened because Mark listened to someone who paid thugs to beat him up and is an acknowledged master manipulator makes me say ‘you’re not smart enough to be with Zoe anyways.’ Maybe that was the point. But did it have to become riddled with clichés, too?

Episode 5 will tell.

Stray Observations

  • I’m going to do a blog post about opening / closing credits. Probably more than one. This one will be included. The right mix of James Bond theme, modern creepy, and lyrical relevance.
  • It took me a beat to realize Alice’s story was a joke. I was waiting for a diatribe about the justice system and its preferential treatment of certain crimes / social classes. Perhaps I need to lighten up. Maybe eating some uranium.
  • I’m going to be That Person: taxi driver was super obvious. I was yelling it at the laptop.
  • ‘Yelling at the laptop’ is the new ‘yelling at the TV.’
  • That was the best pickup line I’ve heard from a serial murderer in a long time.
  • “It chafes my brain” is my new go-to phrase when things are difficult.
  • I love that Idris Elba: The Copper is so much less in control than Idris Elba: The Gangster.

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