Luther is back, as all the reviews are saying, and he’s everything audiences remember. No character can look at nightmares like Luther does, and it makes him perfectly suitable to deal with this season’s villain. Since the first season the writers on this BBC gem have come up with several big bad guys, sociopaths, and just plain monsters. It started with Alice Morgan, the perfect psychopath that changed Luther’s life.
Now in Season 4 we got the monster. He’s a cannibal, and the crime unit is overwhelmed. Here enters Luther, who can somehow see past the horror of the case. This is why viewers love him. He steps into the situation with all the familiar intellect and urgency, but now he’s fearless. A few times in the episode Luther has these great moments where he stares powerful men in the face and makes them take a step back. It’s an important point to note, as it shows how Ripley’s death has changed Luther. Luther is fearless, numb, and possibly invulnerable.
Now Episode 1 has two storylines happening simultaneously. The first is concerning Alice Morgan. One of the big flaws in the previous season is the absence of Alice Morgan for the majority of the episodes, and Season 4 isn’t doing too much better. But we’ll get back to that. The second storyline has everything to do with the new criminal nightmare London has spit out. With this storyline, a new female lead emerges, and she’s best known internationally from HBO’s Game of Thrones. Rose Leslie plays the new DS on the block. Her character is much like a homage to Ripley as she’s young, fresh, and passionate. There’s lots of opportunity to play with her character more in the second episode, and hopefully, the writers take full advantage of that.
The entire episode plays like a movie with high production value and well-written subplots. The episode also references back to certain scenes as a method to play on audience expectations. The premiere ends with a fantastic cliffhanger referencing a mystery woman that briefly appeared in the beginning.
Now as this article from the Evening Standard points out, Season 4 is only two episodes. The first episode does a good job at setting up the plot, answering questions from Season 3’s ending, and establishing characters. One more hour of content might not cover everything brought up in this season, but Luther as a show does have a habit of condensing the story.