Luther episode 5 review

After an uneven fourth episode, the fifth marks something of a return to form for BBC series Luther, says Mark Pilkington


And so we come to the penultimate episode of Luther, and making a change from the self-contained episodes so far, this is the first of a two-parter which ends in a cliff-hanger for the season finale.

The action begins with a wealthy art dealer and his wife taken hostage by a gang of kidnappers posing as removal men. Their leader is a particularly nasty character with a tattoo covering his entire face, obviously someone who takes styling tips off of Mike Tyson. It turns out he is after stolen diamonds, diamonds for which the art dealer refuses to disclose their location.

Angered at this, the tattooed kidnapper decides to release the art dealer and, as a guarantee of his return, he keeps his wife as ransom until he comes back with the diamonds. As a show of just how serious he is, he cuts out the poor woman’s tongue and promises more bloodshed until he has the jewels in his possession.

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At a loss as to what he should do, the art dealer enlists the help of Luther, telling him that his wife had actually swallowed the diamonds and that he was afraid to tell them in case they decided to cut her open and retrieve them in the most bloodthirsty way possible. Quite why he didn’t carry a packet of laxatives with him is another story.

Luther decides to give him substitute diamonds from the evidence room instead, as a means to fool the kidnappers and release his wife. However, when it comes to the crunch, while the police force surveys him making a drop in a shopping centre, he decides to run away with the real diamonds and leave his wife to her grisly fate.

It turns out that Steven Mackintosh’s character, DCI Ian Reed is connected with the plot to steal the diamonds, and appalled that the kidnappers have taken such extreme measures to guarantee their arrival, runs around like a headless chicken trying to figure out a way to prevent himself being found out and connected with the plot.

Whilst this is happening, Luther does what any hardened detective on a case involving the risk of human life does: discusses his future relationship with his wife. When it turns out that she doesn’t want to know him any more – surprise, surprise – he launches into a fit of rage and trashes his office. Again.

Eventually, the kidnapper, who it turns out was only wearing a fake tattoo to prevent him from being identified, finds out the true location of the diamonds, and guts his hostage. This is no surprise, really, as judging by past episodes, Luther seems to have a bad track record of rescuing women in peril.

Realising that the case can be traced back to him, DCI Reed panics and kills his contact in the underworld, then heads to a hotel room where the kidnapper himself is staying. However, just as he is about to do away with the kidnapper and finish covering his steps, Luther bursts into the room.

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After a brief stand-off, he shoots the kidnapper before he can reveal his part in the set-up and just for good measure tries shooting Luther as he makes his escape. Luckily for our man, he misses.

Knowing that the game is now well and truly up, he ends up luring Luther to his wife’s house. Before Luther can get there in time, however, he accidently shoots Zoe. When Luther turns up at the house, and as the police sirens can be heard outside, he finds the body of his wife dead on the floor. Crying in pain and rage, a distraught Luther is forced on the run as it is obvious he has been framed and will now be blamed for the shooting.

This all sets itself up perfectly for the final episode of the first series, albeit rather improbably. Then again, as I have mentioned before, Luther is best enjoyed with your brain fully disengaged from any sense of logical thinking.

All in all, not a bad episode to watch, although I really did miss not seeing more of Alice’s character. Whilst her relationship with Luther is pushing the boundaries of realism, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun one to watch. Her absence in this instalment is very much noticeable and I found myself watching it waiting for her to appear, but alas it wasn’t to be. Still, on the plus side, judging by the next episode preview, she will feature fairly heavily, so it looks like it will be business as usual on the Alice-front.

Whilst it is ever so slightly unbelievable that a hardened detective like Luther would allow himself to be framed quite so easily, overall this is an entertaining episode, and one that sets the scene nicely for the climax of the series next week…

Read our review of episode 4 here.

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Luther airs on BBC 1 and BBC HD on Tuesdays at 9pm.