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Luther’s final outing – or is it? Series five finale review

PUBLISHED: 10:50 05 January 2019

Luther (C) BBC - Photographer: Des Willie

Luther (C) BBC - Photographer: Des Willie

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A serial killer creating his own still-life using corpses, a three-hand shoot-out, two shock deaths and something even more shocking: Luther doing some police work. Luther finale reviewed: CONTAINS SPOILERS.

I’m not sure that even Luther can come back from what happened in the finale of the fifth series – and more to the point, I’m not sure that I want him to.

As Schenk removed our hero’s greatcoat in order to protect his modesty, or rather his handcuffs, and he was led away to an uncertain future but one that could well see him becoming prison pen pals with Vivien Lake, I thought to myself: “I bet he’ll get out of this” before realising that, of course, he really shouldn’t.

This last episode of a four-part rollercoaster which has seen us through the first difficult days of January (doing nothing to help anyone trying to give up booze for the New Year) was predictably action-packed.

It began with Palmer holding Alice and Mark captive in an industrial fridge (villains have access to the best crime backdrops) while Luther set out to find them, or rather George Cornelius, who was lounging in a high-end hotel bedroom with another heavy unable to do their job, ie to protect him.

Forced to tell his hitman to stand down, Cornelius and Luther then came to an unlikely and frankly inexplicable understanding which involved both of them paying the former’s hitman a visit.

Palmer was reluctant to relinquish his quarry and so was swiftly dispatched and Mark and Alice were rescued, but not before Cornelius took a damning photograph of Luther at the scene with a smoking gun and warns him that he’ll use it if Luther ever crosses him again (he doesn’t have long to wait).

Finally at the police station, where he has to introduce himself to people, Luther helps Halliday question Vivien Lake who, when shown evidence that her husband has made a ‘confession book’ swiftly gives the detectives the information they need to track him down.

I say that: no actual police detective would manage to track down Jeremy Lake with the scant information that Luther is given, but this is Luther and he has super powers.

As Vivien crumbles, so does Schenk, who is telephoned with the news that Benny’s body has been found and that Cornelius was involved.

He quietly arranges for police to storm Cornelius’ house and narrowly thwarts Alice’s attempts to pepper him with machine-gun bullets from outside. Cornelius wastes no time in pulling his trump card: that photo of Luther he took about five minutes ago.

In horror, Schenk calls Halliday – who is speeding towards the house where Lake is living out his most awful fantasy – and tells her to bring Luther back to the station immediately.

Of course Luther predicts this conversation and of course he refuses to go, because he is about to apprehend the Demon Doctor of North London.

The only person having a grand old time in this finale is Jeremy, who has been living his best life out and about in London – he’s suspended a man who bought organic bread upside down from a bridge wearing a plastic mask of his own face and taken the tube to the school teacher from the first episode’s house.

There, he rings the doorbell, punches the teacher in the face with a bunch of flowers and sets about phoning some friends: a plumber, a sex worker (I don’t think the two are related), pretending the house is his own.

Luther and Halliday arrive – she texts Schenk to update him – but by the time they break into the house, everyone is dead, other than Jeremy who poses as a pizza delivery driver, luring Halliday downstairs so that he can kill her, too.

But Luther works out what’s happening – of course – and catches Jeremy before he can land a killer blow, cuffing him to a radiator as he asks the detective whether he enjoyed what he found.

Outside, Halliday accuses Luther of setting her up as bait to catch Jeremy and, as he protests, Alice arrives from the shadows and shoots Halliday square in the forehead – poor, cheerful Halliday, we knew she was too chipper for this dark world.

(This was literally a minute after my husband said: ‘She’s going to die’ and I said “no, they couldn’t bring back the series if she dies”. Shows you what I know)

She then turns the gun on Luther and as Schenk arrives, the pair chase after each other and find another disused factory in most densely built-up city in the UK where a fight ensues and, just as Alice is about to shoot Luther in the head, he pushes her and she trips off the edge of scaffolding in a plot borrowed from every soap opera ever made.

He tries to stop her falling but she slashes his hand with a blade so that she plummets to her death (or so we presume) – she’s been dead before, of course.

As Schenk arrived to find an injured Luther, it was clear that this was one mishap that our hero wouldn’t be able to talk his way out of – his boss removed his cape, clipped his wings and led him away.

Was this the best series yet of Luther? No. Was the Alice storyline stretched too far? Yes. Was it as bad as those episodes in 2015? No. Will it be difficult to see Hermoine Norris in Cold Feet in a week’s time and not imagine her as a ruthless psychopath? Yes. Did this series deliver what I bet will be some of 2019’s most chilling moments on the small screen? Definitely. Should Luther return for a sixth series? I don’t think so. Will we miss it? Hell yes.

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