Despite the well written and incredibly tense episodes, Luther’s 2nd season does feel like a step down in quality compared to the first. With only 4 episodes, the overarching story line involving young girl Jenny (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) and her mother feels rushed and underdeveloped, overshadowing the great work put into the two-part episodic cases that are more endearing than last year. With extra episodes and time used to flesh out the characters, the second season of Luther could easily be its best yet but there’s no denying that this season does make for a bit of an unbalanced watch.
Picking up in the near future after the finale last year, the first episode is a little rushed as the characters scramble into action and return to their familiar roles. The time lost between the end of the first season and the start of the second is never really explored either which makes for a bit of a disjointed watch. The 4 episodes this year are broken up into two individual cases with a loose overarching story line running through all four. Both cases are given two episodes as well and focus around mental instability; one depicts a man obsessed with the theatre and another a man who turns murder and bloodshed into a game. Both cases are well-paced and when Luther focuses on these cases rather than the drama outside of it, the series excels.
Aside from the overarching plot issues, the second season is still highly enjoyable and manages to keep the essence of what made Luther such a good show to begin with. The cases are endearing with the new two-part format giving more time to flesh out the characters and gives a better sense of urgency. Of course, emotionally impulsive John Luther (Idris Elba) is still the focal point of the show and his charismatic performance ultimately drives the series forward despite being less aggressively unhinged this year. The rest of the characters are equally appealing too, with new girl DS Erin (Nikki Amuka-Bird) underrated in her role questioning Luther’s motives. It’s unfortunate this angle isn’t explored in more detail as the scenes involving her are generally excellent and stand out alongside the cases themselves.
Although the second season is a step down for Luther, the show still boasts some high quality drama with thrilling and highly entertaining episodes throughout. The two-part format benefits the show too with Idris Elba driving the narrative forward as charismatic John Luther. This four episode season does struggle with its pacing though and the overarching story isn’t quite as strong as the one woven through the six episodes last year. Luther is still a great crime thriller series with the two cases arguably better than last year. It’s not perfect but this highly enjoyable series is still great quality drama.