Kicking off the new year in textured, woollen style, Idris Elba returns from the sparkling heights of Hollywood both to the dark criminal underworld of London and to our screens as DCI John Luther, the beloved grizzled detective whose passionate actions always seem to belie the honourable intentions lying just beneath.
But, something is off in this first episode.
After choosing to begin with an unnecessary, although deliciously characteristic, chase scene through some shipping containers, followed soon after by another round of Russian roulette with our Luther as the increasingly lucky victor, the exposition of Wunmi Mosaku’s DS Halliday over a cup of tea between Elba and Dermot Crowley, as Martin Schenk, is unreasonably clunky. This results in doing both Mosaku and her stellar performance of Halliday a disservice.
Nevertheless, after this slightly shaky start, things do start to look up.
Fan favourite Alice Morgan, played by Ruth Wilson, returns as well at the end of episode one, despite having been alleged to have died in the previous season, and you can safely assume that related hijinks are bound to ensue.
Returning too, in this first episode, is Patrick Malahide as George Cornelius, the refreshingly old-school London gangster, with a brand new bone to pick with our John and a lot of nasty ways to pick it.
This new season of Luther delivers on everything we’ve come to expect: sex, gore, violence, drama, unhinged white people killing other people (mostly women) and really liking it, and a view of London as simultaneously glamorous and derelict.
As the season warms up, it really does come back into itself.
With brilliant performances from all the cast, especially Hermione Norris as the ice queen psychiatrist-wife-murderer Vivien Lake, is there a better way to bring in the New Year?