Erroll: You've opened up a can of...not worms. Geese.
The new Luther Season 5 isn't interested in explaining things, or at least not explaining much if it can help it. As the show usually does, it drops viewers right into the middle of DCI Luther's current case, chasing down a young criminal in a shipping container yard. Meanwhile, somewhere else in the city, a young lady is walking home, and passing a group of hoodies on her way. One breaks away, following her home, but no, this isn't the sort of petty crime Luther is known for starting out with, so it's not that much a surprise to learn it's a fake out. She's a teacher, he's a wayward and stoned student. Unfortunately, he's doped up enough to decide to explore when he hears someone cry out across the street. Now the tables are turned, and it's the hoodie being pursued, having dropped his phone in terror, most likely to his doom.
Not that Luther has time for all that right now, though one assumes it will drop on his desk in the morning. In the meantime, he's been waylaid on his way home by George Cornelius (Patrick Malahide) and his gang. Cornelius' oldest son is missing, and he's "just making sure" Luther wasn't involved in the disappearance and the ransom he's paying to try to get the kid back. After all, they didn't end on the best of terms in Season 4, with that whole Luther chaining him to the radiator bit. Still, it's nice to see a bad guy other than Alice make it a two-season run, even if Luther really doesn't have anything to do with the kidnapping.
Luther makes it home just in time for tea with the boss, DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), one of only two characters who has starred in all five seasons alongside Elba. Don't worry, the other, DS Benny Silver (Michael Smiley) will turn up in a minute. Schenk is here to check in with Luther about his newly assigned partner DS Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku), who is already fast tracking it through the department, and conveniently also there to join him in scoping out the latest body found in the park. It looks to be our wayward hood, Lee Peck, who for his trouble lost his eyes and tongue along with his life. Luther, being the smart one, immediately figured out where our killer came from. There's a house across the street with an extra victim nailed to the floor.
The dude who now defines the concept of "Nailed It!" is Paul Redford, a man whom Luther immediately decides is a professional at this sort of murdering fun, or at least didn't reach nailing level from a standing start. Halliday proves herself useful by (most likely correctly) deducing Pack's eyes and tongue cutouts were the killer's punishment for intruding on whatever private act was going down with the nails. She also picks up why the killer isn't being picked up on CCTV, they've sown an LED rope into the hood of the jacket to white out their face.
While Luther is out trying to figure out where Cornelius' kid has gone, a significant clue comes in from one Vivien Lake (Hermione Norris). She's a psychiatrist claiming one of her patients seems to have disappeared, and might "escalate," which doesn't sound at all good. One has to wonder if this is the same naked patient viewers saw her checking in on earlier? He was admittedly unnerving, but let's be clear, so is she. She claims his name is James Houser, and he's got sexual fetishes for days due to childhood abuse, including the need to "prick." It's precisely the sort of thing that sounds all like the answer just walked in off the street, and this will wrap up nice and easy. But seriously, when has an episode of Luther ever worked that way?
Whatever it is, it's not working fast enough, because they're another victim, female this time, killed in broad LED light on a bus, cameras everywhere. Luther and Halliday put the pressure on Lake to reveal Houser's whereabouts, but she insists she knows nothing and then promptly calls him as soon as they leave her alone.
The result is Luther and Halliday track him to Hampstead Woods and chase him down...but when they find him, it's because he pops up behind them, with his throat pre-cut.
None of that makes any sense, does it? That's because Houser is a red herring, not unlike communism. Lake wanted them to trace her call, follow her to the woods, chase down someone they thought was him and then hand over a body. The real person they were chasing is in the boot of her car (Enzo Cilenti). Upon arriving home, she removes him from the vehicle, forces him to undress and hoses down after beating him up, and then sticks a pillowcase over his head. That's a funny way to treat one's husband, I must say.
But Halliday is too sharp for all this. She's caught on something doesn't add up, though she's not sure what. Not to worry, Luther will soon have help in solving the case though. Of all the people heading to his house to see him as the episode ends, the one who gets there first is Alice (Ruth Wilson). Oh, darling, we've missed you.