Luther 301 Review – Trolls, Fetishists, & Internal Investigations

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Image courtesy BBC America

Luther never seems to get a cut-and-dry murder case and in this, the 3rd series of episodes nothing’s changed.

No sooner is he called to what looks like some kind of fetishist killing than he’s ordered by his superior onto another case that doesn’t seem quite as up his alley.  It’s the killing of someone who’s basically a professional internet troll.  Luther’s boss, DSU Martin Schenk, says the orders came from higher up, but tells Luther if he can manage both cases he’ll look the other way.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaLuther’s partner, DS Justin Ripley, is called to meet with DS Erin Gray who has always thought John Luther operated outside the law.  Now she’s working on an internal investigation of him along with DSU George Stark who seems to have a personal stake in catching Luther breaking the law.  These two are working out of the basement of an abandoned restaurant and attempting to recruit Ripley to their cause.  And by the way, it was Stark who got Luther moved to the case of the murdered troll.

Back at the station, Benny the tech guy discovers the fetish killing is a copycat to several that happened during 1978-1981.  The problem is now the killer would be in his 70s today.  He would be much too old to be at it again, especially when you consider the victim was dressed in 80s-style clothing and a mask was placed over her fact to make her look like someone else.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaJust as Luther gets off the phone with Benny, his car is hit by a woman named Mary Day.  It’s just a fender bender, but the two exchange phone numbers.  Luther continues on his way and meets Ripley at the scene of the troll killing.  Ripley is wearing a wire put on him by Stark in an attempt to get any evidence against Luther he can.  The two interrogate a suspect who’s just a low-level criminal and while Luther does some questionable things during this interrogation he falls short of giving Stark and Gray what they’re looking for.  On the plus side for Luther, they recover the victim’s laptop which has record of people he harassed online.

The sicko defaced a memorial Facebook page for Cathy Barnaby who suffered from epilepsy which apparently ended up being fatal.  They interview the parents of the girl, a mild-mannered father and a crippled, quiet mother who tell about the escalation of the defamation to the site.  It began to get obscene to the point the father couldn’t continue to describe it.  In fact, when he goes to the kitchen to get some water, father Ken breaks down in tears.

Luther, Ripley, and thanks to the wire, Gray, know that Ken is very likely the killer.  His alibi is weak and he had every reason to want the person defiling the memory of his daughter dead.  Luther is reluctant to follow up, probably because he knows he would do the same thing if he were to be in that position.  Gray pushes Ripley to get Luther to arrest Ken and she takes Luther’s reluctance as a sign he thinks he’s outside the law.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaBack at the station Luther figures out that the woman killed in the style of the old fetish killings wasn’t a random victim.  She must’ve been someone the killer had his eyes on and after he killed her he made her look like she did back in the early 80s.  The thing is, we’ve seen bits of the person who’s doing the killing and he’s definitely in his 70s which means he’s not the original killer.  So just how did he come by the information about the victim from a crime committed over 30 years ago?

They find that the detective originally assigned to the case kept files on his investigations.  There was another young girl staying as a lodger in the home when an intruder was discovered when several friends entered the house, but the intruder got away.  The detective believed him to be the killer, but his superiors disagreed and that thread in the case was cut.  This retired detective was found dead in his home, killed by blunt force trauma a couple of months earlier.  This is a pretty good sign that the retired policeman was onto something.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaRipley has found evidence in the internet troll killing case.  The killer videoed the troll begging for his life with his own phone then removed the SIM card once done.  Ripley found the card in the trash and there is a clean print on it.  Luther reluctantly calls Ken Barnaby to ask for a set of elimination prints and he agrees to show up at the station in the morning.  After the call, Ken calmly walks to the kitchen, turns on the blender, and places his right hand in it.

Ouch.

Back on the fetish case, Luther discovers the name of the other girl staying at the house all those years ago.  She’s gotten married and has a new last name, but Luther worries she could be the next victim.  Just as he places a call to the woman, Ripley comes in accusing him of tipping off Ken Barnaby.  A fight ensues and Luther drops the phone, failing to check on the woman.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaThe younger copycat killer is lying in wait in the couple’s attic where he purposefully makes a noise.  The husband goes to investigate and is quickly dispatched by the killer.  The wife hides in a hallway closet, but at the end is discovered by the killer.

We’re not shown what happens to the woman yet, but we do see Ripley going to Stark and agreeing that Luther needs to be “taken down.”  The rift between these two partners seems to be growing.  Will Stark and Gray get their chance to stop Luther, someone they see as a dirty cop?

I’m not telling, but what I can say is it’s going to be tremendous fun finding out, so keep tuning in to BBC America all this week for the rest of this explosive final series of Luther.

IMPORTANT PROGRAMMING NOTE:  For tomorrow’s broadcast only, Luther will air at 9/8c instead of 10/9c because of the broadcast of Broadchurch in its regular time-slot.

So don’t forget, Luther airs Wednesday at 9/8c, then Thursday and Friday at 10/9c.

Luther on BBC America’s site

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Tom Gardiner