On the previous episode of “Luther”, as recapped by Fearless Admin, absolutely everyone was in trouble. Luther’s colleague Benny Silver (Michael Smiley) survived kidnapping and torture at George Cornelius’ (Mr. Malahide) hands only to be shot dead by the fearsome Mr. Palmer (Anthony Howell), a grimly efficient hitman hired by George to kill Luther. George still believes Luther had something to do with Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) kidnapping and later killing his son Alistair (Andrew Mullan), after brazenly walking into his (George’s) house disguised as a Russian hooker. George was warned off hassling Luther by Luther’s boss, DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), in a charmingly nostalgic scene in the back of George’s Jaguar, but it’s safe to say that George doesn’t appear to have taken the warning all that seriously. And Alice is still stuck on her “Option 2”, wanting to kill George for reasons which are a little vague, if not strictly motivated by revenge. Mostly she appears to believe killing George will remove any obstacles to her and Luther running off together. Oh, and serial killer Jeremy Lake (Enzo Cilenti) is still on the loose; his wife Vivien (Hermione Norris) is now in police custody. but refusing to cooperate.
A Meeting with a Hitman
And now, on to the finale! The episode opens with Mr. Palmer giving Luther directions to an out-of-the-way spot where Luther is to exchange himself in return for Alice and Mark’s (Paul McGann) safety. Poor Mark was roped into the whole mess when Luther turned up on his doorstep with Alice and Benny in tow. Palmer is holding Alice and Mark in a warehouse freezer; he seems willing to let Mark go, but not Alice. Luther demands proof that Alice and Mark are still alive, and Palmer sends him a cell phone shot. What did all of these people do before cell phones? And where do they keep finding these abandoned warehouses?
But First, A Side Trip to the Hotel Octavian
However, Luther has no intentions of walking into Palmer’s trap without some leverage. He enlists DS Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) to help him find a man named Ronald Massey who, as it turns out, is one of George Cornelius’ henchmen. (Note: It’s not explained how Luther knows that this particular henchman will be with George, but whatever.) Massey and George are currently holed up at the swank-looking Hotel Octavian, presumably because the heat’s on George at the moment. There’s an interesting little moment when Massey makes himself at home by lounging on a dainty-looking chaise with his feet up. George silently shakes his head in disapproval – but doesn’t say anything, presumably because it’s not his furniture.
Luther decides to get the other guests out of the way by setting off the fire alarm. Massey is perturbed by the alarm and wants to evacuate, but the canny George refuses to budge. “We’ll go when the hair on your bollocks starts to sizzle,” he growls at Massey. However, Massey can’t resist opening the door to check what’s going on – and is promptly head-butted by Luther. Oops! Should’ve brought more henchmen. George is prepared for the situation, as I’m sure he usually is, with a truly enormous revolver in a shoulder holster. It was so impressively huge I had to look it up; the Internet Firearms Movie Database tells me it’s a Smith & Wesson Model 686 which mostly means to me that… it’s *BEEG*. Unfortunately, the gun doesn’t do George much good because Luther soon wrestles it away from him. “Call him off,” Luther orders George tersely, referring to Palmer.
Ever pragmatic when his life is at stake, George calls up Palmer and tries to call off the hit. “Uh, yeah, I actually need you to hold off on that [the hit] for a bit,” says George, trying to sound casual with a gun in his face. He reassures Palmer he’ll be paid anyway; all he needs to do is tell George where Mark and Alice are and he can take the rest of the day off. “Go to the pictures or something,” suggests George helpfully. Haaaa! Only George would tell a professional hitman to go to the movies. 😀 It gets even better when George says Palmer can “pack [his] sandwiches and go home” after texting him the address. Palmer is understandably suspicious at this sudden change of heart, but texts George the address nonetheless.
Ending It… One Way or Another
What follows is an incredibly tense stand-off between George and Luther. Luther knows George had a hit out on him and was prepared to see him dead, and Luther could shoot George right now with his own gun if he wanted to. George mentions that Palmer told him “a copper’s dead” – Benny – but he “didn’t ask for that”. “Didn’t you?” demands Luther, not believing him. “Your mate chucked it in for free, didn’t he?” “So where does that leave us?” asks George, still relatively calm. Luther responds by cocking the hammer and pressing the barrel into George’s cheek. “I came to off you for Benny,” he says. “I’m going to end this,” he adds, switching his aim to George’s chest. Long moments pass while George refuses to blub or flinch, although he’s plainly dreading the shot.
Then unexpectedly, Luther drops his aim. “All this eye for an eye bullshit, it’s just a game, isn’t it, George?” he says. “You don’t want this. You don’t want any of it. Do you?” George remains silent; he seems genuinely confused by this turn of events. “You lost your discipline, George,” continues Luther, taking on an almost scolding tone. “You robbed Alice, she robbed you back, now Alice is dead. That’s not her fault, that’s your fault.” Luther adds that Benny’s death wasn’t George’s fault, but his. “I couldn’t shoot you in the head because I made a mistake. But if you can shoot me then go ahead and do it,” challenges Luther, adding, “It doesn’t change anything, does it, George?”
“What I lost was my son!” growls George in reply, unimpressed by all this philosophy. Then unexpectedly, Luther hands George’s gun back to him. “Take it,” says Luther quietly. “Eye for an eye.” George takes the gun back, cocks it (wait, didn’t Luther already do that?) and points it at Luther like he really means to use it. He certainly looks as though he’s instantly more comfortable and confident. “You think I won’t do this and piss on your body after?” he growls, eyeing Luther with a cold stare. “Go on, George. Just do it,” goads Luther. There’s a looonnnng moment of tenseness… and then…
George Arrives at the Rendezvous
We cut to the rooftop where Mr. Palmer is awaiting Luther’s arrival, sniper rifle trained on the parking lot below. He’s slightly surprised when George’s burgundy Jag shows up, with only George in it. Palmer greets George with a certain amount of suspicion, pointing a pistol at him and demanding he disarm; George obligingly removes his (very large) revolver with an exaggerated amount of care. Palmer demands to know where Luther is and George replies, “He’s in the boot,” further affirming he’s dead “as a dodo’s grandad”. George tells Palmer that he didn’t have to find Luther, Luther came to him (true), and that he’s not entirely sure how Luther knew where he was (also true). But despite Luther being a “clever old sausage”, he was “not bulletproof”. However, Palmer – who’s still very wary of his erstwhile employer – insists that George open up the boot to show him Luther’s dead body as proof.
So, George unlocks the boot with his key fob and… before Palmer opens it, he shoots a couple of bullets into it, just to be sure. “OI!!” protests George, completely understandably. Looks like he might need to take his Jag to the Shining Bonnet Car Wash for some body work and detailing! He can take the cost out of Palmer’s paycheque. When Palmer finally does open the boot, it’s empty (and very clean!), aside from a spare tire. Palmer hears the click of a gun cocking, sees George has reclaimed his gun – and then hears another click from behind him, because Luther has arrived. So, George didn’t shoot Luther after all!
(Temporary) Peace In Our Time
“I don’t get it,” says Palmer, which is sort of understandable, since George was paying for him to kill Luther. Luckily, George is willing to explain: “Peace in our time,” he says, cheerfully misquoting slightly. “I’m Adolf, he’s Neville, you’re the Sudetenland.” Haaaa! Naturally, George has no qualms about double-crossing his own employee. “You’re gonna go down. You’re gonna go to prison for killing my friend. Do you understand that?” adds Luther, to Palmer. He also says he’s perfectly willing to shoot Palmer if he doesn’t surrender and lie about it to Schenk later. Palmer considers it for a second or two… then suddenly turns to shoot Luther, who fires first and wounds him in the shoulder. “What did I tell you? You’re going to jail,” says Luther. “And you’re going to hate–” But then he’s interrupted by a second shot from George, which kills Mr. Palmer decidedly dead this time. Apparently Luther didn’t reckon with the fact that George wouldn’t want Palmer alive and able to testify that George procured his services – to kill a cop, no less. And George’s peace treaties only last so long.
“Sorry, old bean,” apologizes George casually, as if he’s accidentally trodden on Luther’s toes. “Couldn’t take the risk.” He then takes out his cell phone – I thought at first he was trying to get a refund on his payment to Palmer – and snaps a photo. (Is he posting it to Instagram?? George’s Instagram must be amazing and frightening.) As it turns out, he’s merely gathering insurance by photographing Luther standing over Palmer’s dead body. “You, smoking gun, damning evidence and whatnot. All in the cloud. Whatever that actually is,” he notes with some satisfaction. George does love his technology. And Luther doesn’t protest this at all.
Then George asks Luther to return the gun: “I think it’s one of mine anyway,” he says offhandedly, as though Luther borrowed a garden rake. He carefully takes hold of the gun with a handkerchief but doesn’t seem to wipe it clean of fingerprints; maybe he’s saving those as evidence, too. “You’re a clever one, ain’t you, George?” says Luther, with grudging respect. “You would’ve been a good copper.” “Nooooo,” scoffs George. “Too honest to have been a copper.” Well, he’s pretty honest about being a thief and liking it, so that seems entirely plausible, and hilarious. He also tells Luther – referring to him as “John”, so back on that familiar first-name basis again – that Schenk came to him because he (Schenk) knows something isn’t right between George and Luther (to put it mildly). Luther says he’ll be able to straighten it out with Schenk because Schenk trusts him. “So do I,” replies George, “but only ’cause I’ve got this,” flourishing his cell phone. See, you don’t get to be an old crimelord without learning a trick or two. I was, however, a little surprised that the fearsome and efficient Mr. Palmer was dispatched so handily; I figured he’d be around for a lot longer in this episode, causing more problems. Oh well.
Alice is Still Pursuing Option 2
Luther finds Alice and Mark and is able to free them before they freeze to death. While Mark and Luther argue about notifying the police about Benny’s body, Alice loots Palmer’s body for any weapons he had on him – which are more than a few. Luther tells Mark they should go back to his house and “clean the scene”, which surprises Mark. “What’s happened to you, John?” he says, in shocked tones. Luther doesn’t answer that. Once at Mark’s house, Alice demands confirmation that George is dead, and Luther lies that he is, saying he took care of George. Alice emphasizes that it’s important Luther not lie to her about this, “because [he’s] the only person who ever told her the truth”. But once Luther leaves, Alice checks up on his story by phoning George’s house, only to find he’s very much alive when he answers the phone himself. Uh oh. What could possibly happen if/when you lie to your psychopathic, murderous girlfriend?
Bringing It Old School
Back at the police station, Schenk and Halliday interrogate Vivien Lake, trying to figure out what Jeremy’s next move will be. Schenk is interrupted by a phone call informing him of Benny’s murder. He’s shattered, but tells the investigating officer to “keep schtum” while he’s investigating. Later, the officer shows Schenk CCTV footage of the parking lot where Benny’s body was found, revealing that George somehow was involved. “All right, George,” Schenk says quietly, almost to himself, but with an unmistakable tone of “enough is enough”. “You wanted it old school.”
Later that evening, George is finally alone in his big, empty house, doing some well-deserved brooding over a whisky with a surprisingly sentimental song (“I’ll Be Seeing You“) playing in the background. His son is dead, he didn’t shoot Luther when he had the chance, he backed out of his paid-for revenge hit, Alice is still out there, and he’s had more guns pointed in his face today than is perhaps the norm, even for him. Little does he know it’s about to get much worse before it gets better. Schenk’s tactical team is swarming through his front door (without bothering to knock) and Alice is in his backyard with an assault rifle, ready to exact her own revenge. George stands in his well-lit kitchen – making himself an obvious target, which seems uncharacteristically careless of him – and only starts to suspect something’s up when his security floodlights go off, illuminating his backyard. This can’t be good!
Alice opens fire from the back while the tactical team storms in the front, almost simultaneously. Gunfire smashes through the kitchen windows as George ducks away, belatedly realizing that his revolver is just out of reach, over on the counter. He’s under attack from two different directions at once but he still makes a lunge for his gun – and actually grabs it – but it’s too late, the police have swarmed in and he’s completely outnumbered. This would have to be the evening he gave his henchmen the night off! However, the police don’t spot Alice, who makes her getaway while George surrenders. So that’s what Schenk meant by “old school”. Just as well George surrenders, since his gun surely wouldn’t have had enough bullets.
George Makes a Deal
Schenk strolls in once all the action is over, looking well-satisfied with how smoothly things have gone. George’s hands are ignominiously zip-tied behind his back, but even this doesn’t phase him much. “Martin, I think maybe it’s time we discussed getting me some legal protection?” suggests George, no stranger to being arrested. But Schenk admits to George that he actually needs his help. He can’t figure out what happened to Benny and he needs “a show of goodwill […] An upfront payment. Right now” on George’s part, which seems to suggest he’ll make a deal, and at the moment, Schenk holds all the cards. George grimaces at “upfront payment” but silently agrees, gesturing for his hands to be freed. An officer snips the zip-tie and George takes out his ever-present cell phone, showing Schenk his “insurance”: photographic proof (however misleading) of Luther’s involvement in Palmer’s killing. Schenk appears almost reluctant to take the phone, as if he’s afraid of what he’ll see. He already suspects Luther is dirty, but he doesn’t seem to want it confirmed. Then just to rub it in, George adds, “Now, I told you, Martin, your lad’s a wrong ‘un,” in tones of avuncular concern. Well, George isn’t entirely wrong, but he’s definitely slanting the situation to his advantage.
And that is the last we see of George! We don’t know if he just successfully negotiated a deal by providing Schenk with evidence of Luther’s wrongdoing, although it seems likely he might still be subject to some kind of criminal penalty for all the other stuff he’s done. Will he go to prison or not? Our George is hardly an innocent lad, after all. The rest of the episode goes by in a rollercoaster of events. Spoilers ahoy!
How It Ends (In More Ways Than One)
Luther and Halliday successfully track Jeremy Lake to the house where he’s been playing a particularly gruesome game of “Happy Families”. It’s completely awful, but Lake is weirdly proud of what he’s done – rather like Alice was proud of some of her more horrible acts. While Luther and Halliday are arguing over whether Luther used Halliday as bait to draw out Lake, Alice shows up – and suddenly shoots Halliday dead, in the head. She’s angry at Luther for betraying her by not killing George, and she seems angry at Halliday too, perhaps as a representation of Luther’s devotion to his job. Then she shoots Luther, but he’s only wounded. Alice runs away to a building under construction and Luther chases her, while Schenk – shattered by the proof of Luther’s guilt – calls in yet another tactical force to bring Luther in. Luther pursues Alice to a high spot inside the building; Alice shoots him again, but he still won’t go down. He tells Alice she’s trying to “free [her]self” from her attachment to him, which might be close to the mark. It ends up with Alice dangling off a scaffolding while Luther tries to haul her in with a wounded arm; Alice slashes at his hand with a knife (taken off the dead Mr. Palmer) and Luther is forced to drop her. It seems that Alice is really dead, this time.
Poor Schenk arrives on the heels of his tactical team. He’s completely devastated by everything that’s happened, including that he’s forced to take Luther in. He accords Luther a little bit of dignity, however; he growls “Not that way!” at an officer who starts handcuffing Luther behind his back. He handcuffs Luther in front and covers the cuffs with Luther’s coat, as a show of respect. The series ends with Benny and Alice dead and Luther (and possibly George) seemingly facing prison. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens next.
Well, things have just gone from “Complicated” to “Extremely Complicated” in the Luther-verse. Luther is under arrest for the murder of Mr. Palmer, which will require him to disclose how Benny became involved in the whole George Cornelius/Alice Morgan thing in the first place. Schenk also has DNA evidence directly linking Luther to Alice, who had been presumed dead up until now. Anyone who could possibly corroborate Luther’s story is dead except for George, who has a vested interest in not helping Luther. So George and Luther are still up a tree that’s on fire, and the conflagration is getting mighty close. Luther did manage to help Halliday track down Jeremy and Vivien Lake… but Halliday got killed in the process, which isn’t going to look good for Luther, either. Why would anyone ever want to be his partner? It’ll be very interesting to see how series 6 manages to get George and Luther out of these dilemmas; Admin and I are already hoping that George has a flashy lawyer who’ll get him acquitted of all charges. But that might be too easy.
As always, it was wonderful seeing Mr. Malahide get a lot more to do as George C. this time around; it was very entertaining to watch. That “VIOLENT” notation on George’s police record is certainly justified. He showed us everything from fatherly grief at Alistair’s death to just barely restrained rage at his underlings’ incompetence, to an unflinching unwillingness to betray his feelings when he had every reason to think Luther was going to shoot him. As an added bonus, we had George’s casual, personal charm when dealing with Schenk and Luther one on one; Mr. Malahide gave him a lot of unexpected warmth, depth, and humour – for a violent crimelord. We even got to see him dodge gunfire. We thought George was intriguing in his first appearance in series 4, and this just confirmed it. We’re looking forward to George making a triumphant return in series 6. He has such undeniable style!