Five days into 2019 we’ve had an entire season of Luther drop over the space of four days. After sharing my impressions with each individual episode, the full season of Luther is ultimately another casualty in a long list of shows that start out promisingly and eventually squander their potential. It’s a shame too as this season featured some really nice set pieces, helped along by the interwoven stories for Luther to deal with. When the dust settles on this one, a rushed conclusion and an indecisive ending kill off any early season optimism, with the only refuge being the rapid dropping of each episode.
While the fifth season showcases a completely original case for DCI Luther to deal with, the return of George Cornelius and Alice spell big problems for our detective and overshadow this serial murderer, especially during the final few episodes. For the most part, the story focuses on Alice who is on the run after killing a couple of Cornelius’ thugs after an exchange of stolen goods goes wrong. Convinced Luther is working with Alice to take him down, Cornelius goes straight for Luther’s loved ones, kidnapping Benny and offering a trade – hand in Alice in exchange for his trusted friend. This results in a somewhat underwhelming and disappointing finale after blood is spilled on both sides.
While this war is raging, and ultimately fizzing out, in the background, Luther is tasked with finding a new serial killer called Jeremy, who’s working in coercion with his wife, Vivian Lake. As the episodes tick by, their scheme is brought to light and what follows is a kidnapping and a race against time as Luther tries to track them down while dodging George Cornelius, handling his new partner and trying to keep Alice hidden and out of trouble.
The plots are a little messy and inconsistent, especially during the finale of the season but there’s still some really great individual moments here. Seeing the killer slowly crawl across a bus floor or the final scene mirroring that seen in the first episode of the first season are really nice touches and showcase the great work done visually. Luther has always been a show that’s excelled here and over the years there’s been some very iconic moments, thanks in part to the cinematography.
The characters, for the most part, are well fleshed out too although the newest addition to the team, DC Halliday, is a bit of a spare part. Her unusually cheerful demeanor feels a little off-putting at times and her persona change in the last episode to a more consistent character in this universe feels a little out of sorts. The closure to her character feels abrupt and unnecessary too; designed for shock rather than consistent character progression.
When it comes to talking points, no other moment is likely to divide the fan-base as thoroughly as the final scenes of the show. With no word on whether there will be a sixth season and unresolved narratives still hanging in the balance, the fifth season of Luther is one of the more obvious examples of a show in desperate need of more episodes to flesh out its narrative. While there is enjoyment to be had here, especially during the opening episode which is very good indeed, Luther is likely to be remembered for its disappointing finale, especially given its impact on the season as a whole. A shame for sure but if a sixth season is to be announced, hopefully Luther can straighten out some points here and redeem itself. If not, Luther bows out with a whimper rather than a roar, bringing an underwhelming end to an otherwise enjoyable season.