Luther series 3 episode 4 review

Review Tom French 23 Jul 2013 - 22:00

Luther concludes with a pacey, exciting finale that delivers the ending fans were all pulling for...

This review contains spoilers.

As finales go, that was pretty damn good wasn’t it? We got the return of Alice, a fraught cat-and-mouse chase with a compelling villain, and a fitting bittersweet ending. Last week’s episode of Luther was an uneven thrill ride with an emotional crescendo that really delivered. This was a high-octane blast from start to finish. There was no let-up, and no padding. It also provided a highly satisfying end to the Luther story.

The wonderful Ruth Wilson finally makes her return as the obsessive killer Alice. She makes an explosive entrance – literally – rescuing Luther from the grip of Stark and Gray, and the theatricality of it suits the character down to the ground. Wilson slips back into the role as if she had never been away, bringing the same weird allure as before. If anything, Alice is even more psychotic than ever. Alice’s intellectual sparring with Luther has been an element sadly lacking from this third series, so it is nice to have it back again. I had somehow forgotten how darkly funny Alice can be. Her quips about Mary being a fairy, and her bravado in walking into Luther’s office add comedic touches through an otherwise tense episode. It was also nice to have Alice point out to Luther what he knew all along – he may yearn for normality but his love affair with Mary was always doomed to fail.

There is no happy ending for Mary here. Her romance with Luther ends, and she is left alone, traumatised, locked up in a police van. Luther tore through her life, devastating it as he went. I really felt for the character. This is largely down to Sienna Guillory, who has been impressive throughout the series. Alice’s description of her as a fairy is apt, with her daffiness offset by an ethereal, unworldly quality. If Guillory turned up in more shows as a result of this role, I certainly would not object.

There is no happy ending for Stark either, with vigilante killer Marwood shooting him en route to taking Mary and Alice hostage. Stark has been the one major disappointment throughout this third run of Luther. In the opening episode, an intense performance from David O’Hara promised much. In the end, his character never felt fully developed, and the subplot of Stark and Gray trying to bring Luther down felt like an unnecessary distraction. This was proven to me when Stark was shot dead and I felt nothing. No sadness, no anger, no happiness, nothing. O’Hara did the best with what he was given, but ultimately the series would have been better served using his screen time to build Luther’s relationship with Mary, or delve deeper into the ongoing criminal investigations.

Stark’s killer Marwood goes completely off the rails in this finale. In the previous episode, he plays himself as a martyr, targeting deviants and criminals following the rape and murder of his wife. The murder of Ripley has derailed that plan, as does Luther’s intervention. In last week’s review I yearned for more scenes between Idris Elba and Elliot Cowan, and we were lucky enough to be given two major confrontations between the two. The scene with Luther, Alice, Marwood and the camcorder provided great tension. That great scene was trumped by the confrontation between Luther and Marwood on the Paragon Tower roof, the deranged killer offering Luther a Sophie’s Choice style scenario – save Alice, or save Mary. Mirroring the internal battle in Luther’s mind, the scene was heart-racing. The rooftop setting and tragic choice may have been clichés wheeled out by Neil Cross, but the scene is just exhilarating.

We get the ending we all secretly were pulling for. Luther leaves the scene of the crime having bid farewell to Mary, and meets Alice on the same bridge where he nearly choked her to death in series one. The two walk off together, presumably never to be seen again on BBC television.

So was it worth bringing Luther back? Most definitely. The Stark and Gray storyline may have been left wanting, but ultimately this third series has provided more than enough thrills, chills and great acting to merit its return. This final episode provided plenty of excitement and great character moments to cap off a wonderful series. I wonder when the Luther movie is coming out...

Read Tom's review of the previous episode, here.

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What an ending!! Amazing

How dare they mess with my heart by making me think he would shoot Alice!!

Loved it! Tuesday nights will not be the same :-(

I really do hope that the film isn't a prequel or origins story. That's been done to death. Make it lead on from this season.

the film is going to be based on the book Luther The Calling which is a prequel leading up to the first episode

season 4 already !

Ok, at the risk of looking really stupid what the hell did sticking a nail in the door do?

Haven't read the book, but if it features Zoe and Ian (if not more of the series 1 lot too) that will be well worth doing. Hopefully we'll get some Luther/Alice action set post-series 3 in the future too.

She used the nail to hit the percussion cap on the back of the bullet which she wedged in the door, in turn shooting marwood in the arm.

Unortunately, they've said this is the final series.

I think doing the Luther movie as a prequel is a BIG mistake. It means no Alice for one thing. I think there'd be so much more to having it set as a sequel to the 3 series...

Fully agree, wonder if there's enough people that feel this way if we could somehow let the writer know etc. Maybe they'll consider that as after all no point releasing stuff no one wants? :/ Still I can't see the BBC being willing to let this just drop off the TV can you?


anyone else annoyed that erin lived while justin was dead?

Wait, there is more. A movie is on its way, and a possible Alice spinoff for the BBC.

They should do an Alice Spin-off like a female Dexter

Hold on, I've been shot in the leg, but I can walk and drive my way across London

I was thinking the same thing, wasn't sure if it was foot or leg at first, but seemed to be able to climb stairs too. He must be a hard man.

I wanted Alice and Mary to team up and fight crime for a new series.

Ruth Wilson as...The Doctor

Fully disagree... the opening of season 1 was never fully explored but has plenty of potential to make an outstanding prequel.

Except there is a book covering all that and any prequel would mean no more Alice in the film and I kind of want to know what happens to Luther afterwards... :/

To let the brilliant character of Alice just disappear would be madness. Also a Luther TV movie every two or three years would excellent. Idris Elba is one of the standout actors to emerge from the UK.

An Alice spin-off was announced a while back. My guess is that it will be set during the period in-between series 2 and her return at the end of series 3. That said, I'd love it if Alice (the show) brought back Luther (the character) in one of its later series.

Is it just me who was getting annoyed every time Marwood cocked his shotgun? He did it so many times for no apparent reason. Really grates on me, this need for them to add this little touch as a 'I'm ready to kill you now' visual and audio cue to someone holding a gun.

Alice describes Mary not as a fairy, but rather as a pixie. Look up 'manic pixie dream girl' to see what that's all about.

Some of the best television around. I love this series, the character, everything. Personally I thought that bringing Alice back was an unnecessary distraction and almost felt like they were trynig to force her into a story where she wasn't really needed. But obviously once she was here I loved her all over again. She's SO much fun.

Just brilliant all round.

I second that motion. She would be absolutely brilliant!

Difference is she wouldn't kill bad people, she'd kill whoever she chooses for whatever reason.

The first time I've ever agreed on a female chosen to be the Doctor.

God, I love Alice, she's dangerous sexy.

Who in there right mind would not commission another TV series of Luther, it has clearly gone from strength to strength! Please BBC, lets not have another The Fades situation...

I do hope this is not the end. This character is so interesting. A movie would be great. One thing you are totally right about is the sub plot of them trying to bring him down felt like a waste of time to me. When Stark was shot, I was like good. But I wanted a more dramatic ending for him.

Lol!! Its luther!!! Of course he can mate :D

That part was incredibly unrealistic, but I've learned to suspend my disbelief when watching Luther.


You guys are missing the obvious if a prequel is brought forth. The killing of Alice's parents wasn't the first time Alice has killed anyone. Why would anyone think that? Suppose, just for a moment, that Alice had killed before. She watches from afar as the murder was investigated, becomes intrigued with a certain DIC Luther. And arranges a "meeting" by way of her parents death. In this scenario she could be interwoven with the beginning of Luther's career. Albeit, from afar, but has continuously been there, lingering in the shadows.

Interestingly enough, I feel like the real ENDING of the series, the resolution for the character is when he makes sure that Marwood stays alive. Because the seminal event for John Luther, the event that made him the morally gray hero that he was, was letting Henry Manson die in that first episode. If you remember, Luther interrogated Manson in the exact same way, to find a missing girl, and then once he had the information, he let Manson fall to his (presumed) death. This was Luther's redemption, in not letting his enemy die, even as he begged for it. Alice and Mary, and all of the rest, was really icing on the cake.
In terms of clever endings, this still has nothing on the way Luther beat the Dice Man in Series 2. That's the one that made me think THIS IS MY KIND OF GUY.
I think Luther's done at this point. Not the best ending, but the one that pleases all the Luther-Alice shippers at least. It was a hell of a good run.

what a brilliant idea! somebody tell Moffat, only problem is Moffat cant write women, but maybe next time.

Yesssss! Thank goodness I am not alone.

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