Luther: Alice + John 4ever

Why can't they get married and have babies and live happily ever after?

I'll admit it, I was late to the party when it came to BBC One's hit crime drama Luther. I'd only heard of the show after the first two series had been broadcast, and tragically, I had no idea who Idris Elba was - but once I dipped my toe into the murky waters of John Luther's world I was hooked. DCI John Luther is an instinctive maverick copper with a short fuse but ultimately good heart. While he is fiercely dedicated to his job in the Serious Crime Unit, off-duty Luther is plagued by the demons that come with relentless exposure to the underbelly of the city of London.

The first episode opens as dynamically as any glossy US cop drama with a dramatic gliding pan into a scene of flashing lights splayed across a residental street, car doors flung open and agitated police officers rushing to bust into an unsuspecting home. "John says she's here, so he's here" says a DCI to his Superintendent as we cut to a white man dressed in a smart coat, shirt and tie who is presumably John. The man frantically navigates an abandoned industrial building, while elsewhere in the same block a black, hooded man does the same. The pair meet at opposite ends of a bridge and square off John Wayne style before the hooded man hurtles towards his opponent letting out a pained battle cry as he pushes him to hang off the bridge. Only when the hood begins to taunt the suit, referring to him as 'Henry', and question him about the crime is it clarified that the black man is in fact John Luther. It is this type of punchy storytelling that is the hallmark of the show, as in a few seconds John is shown to subvert the expectations of your typical police officer, both in his methods and his appearance.

What keeps me glued to Luther however, is the bewitching onscreen chemistry between potential star-crossed lovers John and twisted murder suspect Alice(Ruth Wilson). John meets Alice at the scene of a crime and from then on struggles to shake her from his life. The pair are presented as strange kindred spirits in a world they struggle to comprehend, and their sexually-antagonistic friendship is the heartbeat of the first series. I don't know whether it is Wilson or her character that I'm in love with, but her disjointed femme fatale persona compliments Elba's sometime quiet intensity perfectly. She is the Catwoman to Luther's Batman, constantly toeing the line between good and evil, and always with style.

Alice sees something of herself in John and she recognises and acknowledges the distance from which they inhabit their respective worlds...John on the other hand, doesn't want to see it, and this intrigues her. 

"If the character of John Luther represents that part of us that wishes that we would get involved, that we would do the right thing no matter what the cost to us, Alice represents the opposite," explains Luther creator Neil Cross. Wilson's expressive interpetation of Alice steals the show for me, communicating so much through a mere curl of her lip or raised eyebrow...

Idris Elba too is a force to be reckoned with, winning the Best Actor Golden Globe last year for his stellar performance (to the apparent bewilderment of Hollywood). There have been murmurs here and there about him being the next James Bond - the prospect of which may actually convince me to get involved in a franchise I have thus far successfully eluded, and this year he stars alongside Naomie Harris as Nelson Mandela in Nelson: Long Walk to Freedom. It would seem that Elba's career is far from reaching its peak. Director Guillermo Del Toro phrases it best when he says:

"Literally objects start moving when the guy enters a room. He's an actor of uncommon power and uncommon humanity".

I expect to see some more of that power wielded effortlessly in the third series of Luther this summer, and with Ruth wilson confirmed to also be returning for the season, the pair's fiery onscreen relationship is bound to add some colour to the show's backdrop of London's dreary skyline.

 Illustration by Tamara-Jade Kaz.