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Channel: BBC One
Recurring cast: Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley, Aimee Ffion Edwards, Nikki Amuka-Bird

The first season of Luther was surprisingly good. While not terribly original, it still boasted some great performances and some dark set-pieces that made it a worthwhile piece of television. However, no one expected the second season to be a stand-out piece of television in what could be the best season the BBC have ever produced.

Let’s start with the bad: Luther has been relegated to four episodes, rather than six. It works as a two-parter, so we really only get two killers to chase down, on top of an overlapping plot. We could argue that the overlapping plot doesn’t have long enough to get going, but the climax races on with such heart-stopping tension that this is hard to believe. The four episodes are over before they’ve even started.

However, those four episodes are fantastic. We start with Luther being brought back to the force to head a new division in the police force. His new boss is the guy that brought him down last time, but in a sign of good faith, Luther is allowed to bring back some of his old team. Therefore, we get Warren Brown’s Justin Ripley (who is given a lot more to do this season, thankfully), back into the fold and then the writers push us into the direction of the story. While Luther tracks down two devastating killers, he also has to try and protect a friend’s daughter from a gang, who aren’t happy with her trying to break free from the hardcore porn business. Yes, this season is no darker than the last, but if you can stomach it, it is a rewarding season.

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This season is best known for the first serial killer, Cameron, who goes around London wearing a punch mask and making ‘art’. He is terrifying when he is on-screen, giving the viewers nightmares and showing us that BBC are ready to make some disturbing shows at last. Then we have the next villain, who kills supposedly at random. This character is surprisingly just as menacing as the masked murderer, his crimes more brutal and hard-hitting. Some of the set-pieces the writers give these two villains are remarkable, squeezing the most drama out of the situation. The stories are written perfectly, coming across as a masterpiece of a show.

Idris Elba is once again, the star of the show. He is a formidable sight and the writers now know what works and what doesn’t. We are given some tricky situations for Luther and Elba squeezes out of them with little effort, really showing us the genius of the character. The ‘on the verge of suicide’ element has gone, probably for the best, but we are still given the foolhardy bravado from the first season. If anything it’s more prominent here. There is something very climatic about Idris Elba facing a deadly serial killer, dousing himself in gasoline and announcing himself the boss that needs to be killed. This season doesn’t disappoint on any front.

Final verdict: While short, this season acts as a lesson for any TV show. Dark, beautifully directed and with a great actor at the helm.

Five stars

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