03/07/2013 04:14 BST | Updated 01/09/2013 06:12 BST

'Luther' Series 3 Episode 1 Review: Unbearable Tension, And That's Just Idris Elba And Warren Brown...

Increasing buckets of Idris Elba love, knowledge that it's probably the last series, not to mention a Golden Globe win for the lead actor, have raised expectations so high of this third series of 'Luther', it was going to be impressive if they could match them, let alone exceed.

But exceed they did, through two seemingly diverse plot-lines - a copycat killer on the loose, an internet troll murdered in his own room - an unretired cop determined to bring that maverick Luther down, and even the brewing of a romance.


Luther's got a lot going on in this third series

Of these, it was actually the romance that felt a bit contrived, with the old car-crash meet-cute we've seen time and time again. On the other hand, I guess they had to meet somehow, Luther isn't exactly the dance-floor-hogging type of Romeo, and the chats about his name were sweet, so hopefully this frisson will warm up properly.

His bromance with Ripley, on the other hand, was becoming increasingly complex, and this brought out the best in two fine actors, with Warren Brown matching Elba every blink for frown.

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The power is all in their stillness, with the writers and actors all confident enough to slow the action right down, whether it was Luther calmly sitting down on the kitchen floor with a victim's father, or Ripley staring unblinkingly into the abyss of his devil's dilemma.

Much credit to the latter's own storyline too, as it moved from his wavering worship of Luther, into frustration at his antics, his apparent sympathy for a criminal, and finally his willing compliance with the plots against his unpredictable boss.


Increasing tension between Luther and Ripley could be the undoing of them both

With this culminating in Ripley, unthinkably, bugging his colleague during their encounters with suspects, suddenly we knew that Ripley knew that every word of maverick justice being meted out by Luther was going straight into the ears of the man set on sealing his doom.

This made for an unbearable tension between Luther and Ripley, even more than in those scenes where one poor man appeared through the bedroom ceiling slightly less comically than Frank Spencer managed back in the day.

With these levels of deceit, one-upmanship and mental chess-playing, the scenes between the two of them became worthy of - apologies, I'm going to say it - 'The Wire'. If Idris Elba and Warren Brown are tiring of filming this particular cop drama, they're hiding it well.

Also on HuffPost:

Idris Elba's next film, Pacific Rim, has debuted its new trailer, a day after the return of Luther. Watch it below, will you be checking out the movie?