What better way to start a new year than with some dubious policing, violent serial killing, and an irascible old-school gangster. (You can check out recaps for S04E01 and S04E02 to get familiarized with Gorgeous George.) Yep, another series of “Luther” has aired, and it is bonkers.
DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) is once again up to his eyeballs in it. He’s on the path of a deranged serial killer but other matters just have a way of popping up. Luckily, he’s got a new DS, the delightfully chipper Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku), to keep the serial killer story going as well as the ever reliable DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley). That is a good thing because Luther is always being distracted by the likes of George Cornelius (hooray) and Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson). Wait, in’t Alice dead? Spoiler: No, she in’t.
George and the Spice Girls
Luther is outside minding his own business checking out a damaged tail light when a van suddenly veers into the scene. A bunch of masked thugs hop out, zapping him with a stun gun despite his suggestion they “relax” and shove a bag over his head as they drag him off.
Luther finds himself in what appears to be a deserted nightclub. He’s tied to a chair and is being buzzed with that pesky stun gun while also receiving a few choice punches. The hood is removed and before him stands his old frenemy George Cornelius surrounded by a gaggle of goons.
Luther is only mildly surprised, “George, what is all this bollocks?” Good question. Well, George isn’t in a mood to reminisce about old times, asking in a deadly serious tone, “Where is he?” Luther hasn’t a clue who George is talking about and receives a bzzzt for his ignorance. Luckily for him, the chair is a flimsy one, and Luther isn’t exactly a 9-stone weakling. He’s also secretly unscrewing one of the bolts holding the whole thing together.
George finally reveals that he’s talking about his son Alistair. Luther at least knows he’s the “older one” who “washes the money”. “Allegedly,” George points out, never being one to incriminate himself even when he’s torturing a DCI tied to a chair.
“Okey dokey,” says George who decides to play a variation on Russian roulette. He plans to ask a maximum of five questions. The gun clicks twice, and in all the excitement the chair gives way allowing Luther a chance to free himself. Luther then commandeers the gun and the situation.
At that point, George, with his hands in the air, becomes rather more gentile. “You really don’t know, do you?” No, he doesn’t. Luther tries to get more information on the lad’s disappearance, but George becomes a lot more circumspect, “Ah, see. Now you’re fishing.” He even gets annoyed when Luther actually offers to help, “I’m not a 12-year-old girl. I take care of my own business.” Charming. Anyway, George doesn’t seem to think any of this interrogation stuff is that big of a deal and excuses himself by saying he was just doing his “due diligence” in making sure Luther isn’t a part of it.
Luther doesn’t see why he should be part of anything, but George reminds him about the whole radiator business from last series. Oh George, but didn’t Luther give you a bunch of Alice’s gems? Luther also got you to plant narcotics so he could get a conviction. In other words, George, you’re mates. Well, they aren’t so matey now because Luther just wants to go home. “Leave me alone, and tell the Spice Girls to back off as well.” Zig-a-zig-ah.
Errol and the 70’s Dogs
So Luther gets his co-worker Benny Silver (Michael Smiley) to help glean some information on the Cornelius issue. Benny enlists one of his grasses and Cornelius flunky Errol Minty (Michael Obiora) to duct tape a mobile phone to his chest, so he and Luther can listen on in a surveillance van. Errol wants no part of it because he knows full well how dangerous George is. He’s particular worried that George will feed him to his dogs. “Actual dogs. He’s got dogs. Like them ’70s dogs. Dobermans” That part is hilarious. Of course George would have ’70s dogs. What else would you expect from an old-school gangster?
Anyway, Errol, despite his protests, is kitted up and put in place for some espionage while George receives a ransom call on a rotary telephone that also looks like it came from the ’70s. George, to a room full of mostly baldies: “Everyone keep your wig on, keep schtum.”
Whoever is on the other end wants money, and Allistair is paying the price. Poor George, he is clearly dealing with someone very dangerous because he tries to be the voice of reason. “It’s not how we do things in the civilized world. Or what’s left of it.” Oh for the good old days. Anyway, he agrees, “You get your money. I get my boy.”
As they get set to leave, the ever canny George notices that something is amiss with Errol who is looking a bit “peaky” and even “clammy”. George politely asks,”Could somebody point a gun into Errol’s face, please?” About a dozen guns suddenly rise up in a rather cartoonish (I mean that in a fun way, it was hilarious) fashion. “Just one.” No need for overkill, right.
George tells Errol to lift his shirt. “Oh, you don’t have to bend over mate, just lift your shirt.” Errol, understandably, is very reluctant to comply. Luther and Benny, stuck in the surveillance van, can only listen helplessly. They know the whole thing has been rumbled and that the outlook is very bleak for Errol. Errol has no choice but to lift his shirt, revealing the mobile phone taped to his clammy chest. You really can’t get anything by George Cornelius. He didn’t get where he was by being unobservant.
George talks into it, “Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello. What’s all this then? Oh, John. I suppose this goes to show you really don’t have a Scooby about what’s going on. But you’re still curious, you little tinker.” Well, the jig is well and truly up, but mostly I just love the way he calls Luther a “little tinker.”
Things get bad when George lets Luther know that Errol is in the same situation Harry Sampson was in. Benny, also listening in on he conversation, asks Luther what happened to Harry Sampson. He got blowed up, that’s what happened. It is now a race for time as Luther and Benny have to figure out where the heck Errol is being taken off to.
Luckily, they do catch up with poor old Errol and even remove an explosive device which has been placed around his neck before it goes kabloom. But, now, they are stuck having to protect Errol because he’s no longer an employee of Cornelius Enterprises.
George Has a Boomstick and He Isn’t Afraid to Use It
So, George goes to the pool where they plan to do the drop off for his boy’s safe return. He finds a mobile phone showing video footage of Alistair in one of the gaudily painted changing rooms that have seen better days. George’s helplessness rises to the top in a moment of seething fury. But, then a figure moves in from the other side of the pool. George opens his coat and whips out a shotgun and begins shooting at the now fleeing figure.
Whoever it is, George has clearly clipped ’em because there are drops of blood left behind. He seems to be a bit more in his element at the sight of someone else’s blood. “Yeah, you run. I’ll find you. I’ll get you.” The sense of helplessness is gone, replaced with a steely determination.
Hey, Everyone, It’s a Party at Luther’s
Some hours have passed and Luther is zonked out at his tiny kitchen table. DS Halliday has hit upon some new ideas in the serial killer case, so she and Schenk (who knows something is up with Luther) plan on paying Luther a little late night visit to bounce her ideas off of him (and give Schenk a likely excuse for a bit of snooping).
Meanwhile, George is with his goons having a little nightcap. I love that one of the thugs can been seen in the background having a nice cuppa out of a very pretty teacup and saucer. It is a nice touch.
Anyway, George thrusts his glass down as an epiphany hits him. “Luther! He knew. He must have known,” and they all go marching off. You’ll have to have your tea later, boys.
So, Luther is snoozing while Halliday and Schenk as well as George and the Gang are all off to pay him unwelcome visits. But there is one more visitor. There is a knock at the door and who should it be but an injured Alice. “Wotcher.”
This was a great opener. While I didn’t go much into the serial killer aspect, I will say it was decidedly scary. Enzo Cilenti (an actor I happen to like very much) and Hermione Norris are excellent in their roles as the world’s most creepy couple. Now, I don’t much care for serial killer stories because they are too scary and grotesque, so these recaps won’t spend too much time on their plot.
What they will focus on, of course, will be George Cornelius, and he was a delight. I love all of his scenes with his dark humour, and his old-school ways. The bit where Errol riffed on about the ’70s dogs was brilliant. George’s fiendish glee at noticing Errol’s discomfort and utter enjoyment over the whole thing was perfect. It is pretty clear that Mr. Malahide was having a whale of time in this role and that gusto shows in his highly entertaining performance. More please!