In Luther S05E03 the stakes which are already up a burning tree as RFodchuk has described get even higher and hotter. In the previous episode, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) had just murdered Alastair Cornelius (Andrew Mullan) despite there being an entire posse watching over him at George’s sumptuous gaff. George, still unaware of Alastair’s fate, had kidnapped and tortured Luther’s co-worker Benny Silver (Michael Smiley) in an attempt to cajole the titular detective into handing Alice over. Oh, and that serial killer and his wife are still hard at work, so there is literally no rest for Luther these days.
George Needs His Kip
DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) is out hunting for Alice who in the previous episode had left a lipstick written message indicating she favored “option 2” (ie, offing George) on her mirror when he receives yet another badgering phone call from George.
George: “John, it’s getting late. I need to get my kip. I do hope you’re not playing for time.” Even when he’s in the middle of torture, George manages to be amusing. The torture itself though isn’t at all amusing. Benny, a genuinely nice character, is a bloodied mess. George cruelly takes another snap of the broken Benny and sends it via smart phone to chivvy Luther on.
Luther finally secures Alice who is still wearing her (itchy) blonde escort wig and cuffs her. She at least suffers some minor comeuppance having to wear the uncomfortable wig while her hands are bound behind her back. I hope it has lice!
Luther drives to the station and leaves her in the car. He has a video link set up so he can monitor her on his phone. He sends a still of her still in the wig to George as proof that he’s kept his word. George, pleased, gives Benny some much needed hope, “Looks like your mate’s come through, old sausage.” With that George and several of his henchmen walk off leaving a very confused Benny behind.
George rings Luther once more, “Hi. Meet me at Milton Arches in 45. Once she’s in my care, I’ll make a call. Your oppo here is free to go.” Now, I do expect he is being genuine, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered with the “old sausage” line. Just think how much simpler it would all be if Luther did as George says. By the end of episode 4, I’m pretty sure he’s wishing he’d done just that.
George Cornelius, Legitimate Businessman
Still at the station, Luther logs on to a police computer to research George’s various business interests and their locations. Perhaps Benny is at one of them. George, who is described as 63 and violent, has a surprising number of art galleries. Who took him for a connoisseur?
There are also a few places Arthur Daley would probably be interested in investing in such as Dapper Dolly’s Dry Cleaners and Shining Bonnet Car Wash. I can almost hear Terry moaning, “leave it out” as Arfur hands him a sponge and bucket for a day’s graft. “Sorry, Terrance, but they have to wash a few cars, otherwise Inland Revenue becomes suspicious.”
Anyway, as expected, Alice manages to ditch her wig and free herself. Luther reunites with her back in the car where she finds out about Benny’s predicament and Luther’s half-hearted plan to hand her over to George. The big teddy-bear just couldn’t go through with it,unfortunately.
She and Luther go to the Cornelius owned Lock ‘n Roller Self Storage (those names) where Luther figures (correctly) Benny is most likely being held. Together with a bit of arson they manage to free Benny. Hooray! I still think he should have handed Alice over though.
George is not-so-patiently waiting by the drop-off point for Luther to deliver Alice. Needless to say, George is apoplectic when he receives word of the rescue. “What? Fucking what?”
The rest of what he has to say is conveniently drowned out by train noises as he furiously throws his phone down and crushes his face helplessly into the back of the driver’s seat.
Benny Visits the Doctor
Luther enlists the help of his (sort of but not really) friend Mark (Paul McGann). I think it is actually a medical doctor that Benny needs, folks. Whovian jokes aside, Alice and Benny are to stay at his place for a while. No, Mark is not enthusiastic about this at all. The last person he wants in his lovely home is creepy Alice Morgan. He wants them out before his wife gets home at the very least. To Alice, “Don’t drink all the orange juice.” To Benny, “and don’t get blood on the sofa.” Poor Mark. He seems a nice and gentle guy, and things are just going to go from bad to worse for him.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
George is on his way home when he spies DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley). What follows is an absolutely delightful scene that makes for a very welcome change of pace from all the terror and mayhem. I appreciate these little moments of humour to balance out the brutality.
George is partly concerned, partly pleased to see Schenk. Seems they have history together. “You looking for business, darling,” he joshes as Schenk plops arthritically in the seat next to him.George is very bemused by his surprise guest, but is more than happy to take a stroll down memory lane. “You know, the last time we had a chat like this, off the record, on the QT, I swear you were wearing flares.” Schenk also has a good memory for fashion, “And you were wearing a sheepskin coat and a pair of Foster Grants.” Awww, man. I bet George looked dishy in that ensemble.
Well, Martin wants to know what George was doing around Luther’s gaff. George plays the innocent, “A police officer? Living round there? Stone me.” Well, the DSU Schenk we know is a lovably owlish looking chap, but it seems George recalls a different side of him. “Ah, well, you make me nostalgic for the dead days, Martin. Time was you’d have dragged me out of this motor and beaten my tripes out with a pick-axe handle.” Crikey!
Luckily, those days are done and dusted. George reckons Luther is “bent as a pin” and shares his incredulity over his weird relationship with nutty Alice, “I met his lady friend. God above!” Well, that is putting it mildly, but if someone shocks George, you know they are very shocking indeed. Schenk has already figured a bit about Alice and Luther, but knows better than to start hitting George up for information because despite his many faults, old school George ain’t a snitch.
But, we do get a see a wee bit of Schenk’s tough side as he warns George off Luther with a determined “or I’ll have you.” George seems almost happy to see this side of Martin. I think it makes him feel young again. Not that we need George Cornelius feeling any more spry than what he already is. Anyway, he doesn’t take it too seriously as he mutters, “yeah, yeah, yeah,” with about as much conviction as a teenage boy being told not to stay up too late.
Donnie Gets His Final Kip
George finally gets home. “Shifts over, Donnie, go home and get some kip,” he says, addressing the head goon who foolishly let Alice in to do her worst with Alastair. George really is fond of his kip, but there won’t be any rest just yet. Well, not for George anyway.
George inquires about “his nibs”. Donnie (Gary Hailes) coyly states he hasn’t heard anything since the “present”. George tenses up immediately realizing that something unexpected has happened. Donnie clarifies about an escort, thinking George must have sent her as a welcome home treat.
George quickly stalks up to Alastair’s room and barges through the door. There he finds Alastair dead on a blood soaked pillow, the long pin still jammed in his ear.
George is anguished, obviously doing his best not to scream and cry as Donnie continuously reaffirms his ignorance. He genuinely believed the escort was just that, an escort hired as a welcome home present for Alastair.
While I’m certain Donnie was a dead man no matter what, he certainly didn’t help his case by helplessly saying “she just walked in.” She being Alice Morgan.
The sheer thought that *she* of all people could just waltz into his home like that and murder his son while under Donnie’s protection is obviously going to be far more than what George could ever forgive. George stands up, pulls a gun from inside his jacket, and shoots Donnie three times.
Paging Mr. Palmer
Downstairs George makes another phone call, but not to Luther this time. He apparently has a number for a burner phone belonging to a professional assassin known as Mr. Palmer (Anthony Howell). “Mr Palmer? We spoke once before. Is it convenient to talk?” George is being terribly formal, so you know contacting this guy is pretty serious stuff.
Still at Mark’s, Luther, with Alice nearby, rings George. He says he’s sorry for all what has happened, but that George has to stop all of this. Otherwise Luther threatens to take him and his family down, brick by brick. “You’ll be the king of a smoking hill, mate. Understand?”
“My son is dead, John.” You can hear the hurt and anger in George’s voice. Luther claims to feel bad about it, but he still demands George back off. George rings off, and we see that Mr. Palmer is sitting next to him in the car. Mr. Palmer says George should have lied and arranged a meeting. But, George just blows that off saying Luther would have known he was lying. George confirms a financial transfer on his phone, paying Mr. Palmer for his upcoming services.
Of course, while all this is going on, Luther still has proper policing duties to do. He has to go see DS Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) about that serial killer situation. Alice isn’t happy about that because she is itching to kill George. Actually, it sounds like he and Alice are planning to rid themselves of the George situation once and for all, but is Luther planning on getting rid of George or is it actually Alice who is on the chopping block?
Benny’s Last Stand
Well, right now the only ones on the chopping block are those Luther is actually supposed to be protecting. Benny, still holed up at Mark’s, calls Errol (Michael Obiora) from Mark’s landline. Unfortunately, Mr. Palmer is there with a gun trained on Errol. He gets the landline number is able to trace it to Mark’s address. He then shoots Errol in cold blood.
Mr. Palmer goes to Mark’s and forces him to contact Luther. Benny, Mark and Alice are all in danger, though Luther is really just concerned with the first two at this point. Luther says he’ll go to Cornelius and hand himself in. “You can do what you want to Alice, but leave Benny and Mark alone, do you understand me?”
Mr. Palmer needs Luther to get over there and will not negotiate. He levels the gun at Mark when Benny stands up. Benny begins verbally describing Mr. Palmer so that Luther will be able to deal with him later. It is a horrible scene as Benny marches to his death. Mr. Palmer pulls the trigger, and Luther is helpless to do anything as he hears his dear friend Benny being shot dead. Luther promises to go, slamming the car door so hard the glass shatters. And that ends episode 3.
In the previews for episode 4 we see Luther aiming a gun at George’s face. It also appears that in a different scene Alice has a gun trained on the Cockney crim at a much further distance. If George were a cat, I wonder which life he’d be on right now.
This was a very tumultuous episode. As is usually the case, it goes from dark humour to horrible violence at the drop of a hat pin. Of course, my favorite scene was the one shared by Patrick Malahide and Dermot Crowley. Their little trip down memory lane is hilarious. I’d love to hear those two reminisce over a couple of pints. But, all that bonhomie came to a screeching halt when George discovered what happened to Alastair.
Oh, what a fury he felt when he realized Alice of all people had just plopped on a blonde wig and waltzed into his home and murdered his son while the goons were giggling downstairs like schoolboys. The look on his face was terrifying.
So what happens next? Benny did not deserve to die, and I don’t blame Luther one bit for wanting revenge. But, we sure don’t want anything bad happening to George. However will it be resolved?