Episode two of BBC One’s gritty new detective drama starts off with a bang. Two police officers are gunned down under a railway arch whilst investigating the body of a man who has apparently been injured in a gunfight.
However, things aren’t quite as they seem, as he suddenly jumps up and guns them both down without warning. Bending down over one of their prone bodies, he pauses to swap their patrol radio with one that he was keeping in his pocket, before calmly walking off into the night.
The scene then switches to the next day, where we see Luther standing deep in thought on the rooftop of police headquarters whilst his ex-wife’s new boyfriend (whom he assaulted in the last episode) is giving a statement inside. Luckily for Luther, he doesn’t want to press charges. Luther comes down from the roof and all is well with the world once again.
Or at least it is until the next scene, which brings us to the investigation of the railway arch murders. Luther guesses correctly first time that it was a set-up and both officers were walking into a trap. But why? Good question.
Back at the station, Luther deduces from watching CCTV footage of the killer walking calmly away from the murder scene that he is most likely an ex-soldier, and asks his partner to look into any recent cases of returning army personnel brushing with the wrong side of the law.
As he is contemplating this new case, arch-nemesis Alice Morgan calls his mobile to tell him that she is at the hospital next to the man he put into a coma seven months ago. After a brief confrontation ending with her again threatening to go after his ex-wife Zoe, she hangs up, leaving a stressed Luther with yet another reason to change his mobile number.
Continuing to investigate potential suspects for the man who shot the police officers, looking through the files Luther ends up with his most likely suspect, a returning squaddy who himself is the son of an army officer sent to jail for murdering a policeman. Talk about keeping it in the family.
His hunch (as ever) proves to be right, as in the next scene we see the suspect pass a lone female police officer walking back through a housing estate, shooting her in the stomach as he does so.
Within minutes, back-up has arrived, with half a dozen officers arriving at the scene to investigate. This turns out to be a trap, as seconds later, shots are heard as the lone gunman has set himself up as a sniper on a nearby roof, taking pot-shots at the officers below him. Luther and his colleagues manage to escape, although not without some casualties first.
As the police lick their wounds, the killer uploads a video onto YouTube, of all places, declaring that the murders won’t stop until his dad has been released from prison. A sign of the times, if ever there was one. What next, status updates on his Facebook page?
Searching his father’s prison cell, police officers find a mobile phone SIM card hidden within his possessions, with only one number stored on it. Now all they need to do is track down the killer…
Unfortunately, when they track down the building the SIM card’s signal comes from, it turns out to be yet another trap, and more police officers are killed in a blast.
The killer has been listening to the police’s moves thanks to the radio he swapped at the beginning of the episode, a fact that Luther only just now picks up on, too late to save the lives that have already been lost.
After interrogating his the killer’s father and finding him to be no help, Luther takes things into his own hands and publicly mocks the killer on TV, trying to rile him and setting himself up as a target.
Meanwhile, Alice turns up again, having broken into Luther’s ex-wife’s house to cause more problems with accusations about Luther.
As the episode draws to a close, Luther manages to frame the gunman by holding a conversation over the radio with his police chief, knowing full well who was listening in, and thus leading him into a trap. When the two finally come face to face, Luther convinces him that his dad wasn’t all that he thought he was, making him question the very reason he started killing police officers in the first place.
Driven mad by this, the gunman, in true Deer Hunter style, decides to play one last game of Russian roulette, loading one bullet into his gun then spinning the barrel, uttering the words ala Johnny Rotten, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” as he starts to play the game.
When it comes to the last bullet, and it is obvious he has lost, just as he is about to shoot himself, Luther grapples him to the ground and places the cuffs on him before he can do any more damage. He then ends up sharing a cell with his dad and they live happily ever after. Or at least he gets put into jail and the keys are thrown away.
It all ends with Luther meeting Alice on a bridge, as yet again he warns her off his ex-wife, Zoe, and she promises not to go near her again. She even starts to think of herself as his friend, which is probably even more worrying.
The second episode in a series of six sees the main characters being fleshed out, and Luther’s relationship with Alice is slowly starting to develop. By the end of the episode it is obvious they will have an affair of some sort, almost becoming the physiological detective equivalent of Mulder and Scully.
Once again, the acting is of a superb standard with Idris proving he was worth every penny they paid him. One niggle I did have was how, whilst I can appreciate her character needs to have a reason to keep contacting Luther, Alice was almost annoying in how she randomly kept calling him up or turning up at Zoe’s house to threaten her.
Aside from that, a solid episode, although the bad guys this time around did seem a little one-dimensional and formulaic. Still, it’s a hundred times better than any other detective drama the BBC have thrown at us for years, so I won’t complain too loudly…
Read our review of the series premiere episode here.
Luther airs on BBC 1 and BBC HD on Tuesdays at 9pm.