Ruth Wilson is a hugely talented actress, her portrayal of tormented, damaged women (such as Jane Eyre or Alison in The Affair) are sympathetic and thoughtful. It is no surprise then that not only is her role as Alice Morgan evidently a role that Wilson revels in but that she also excels in playing. Alice Morgan is, and this is no criticism, largely a one dimensional character. Her motivations are relatively simplistic given her sociopathic tendencies. This is not to critique the series of Luther in which Morgan’s character features, nor to critique Wilson’s performance. Luther is a series which largely deals in simple ideas executed in a complex and engaging way. Its villains largely fall in to the dichotomy of good or evil, with few shades in between: even Luther himself whose USP is that he doesn’t necessarily follows the law still adheres to his own strict moral code.
Alice is, at least initially, a wholly bad character. Killing her parents purely as a test of her own formidable intellect, it is clear that she is a character with whom we are supposed to feel little connection with. Yet her character’s lack of morals is brought into question through her attachment to Luther and as a result becomes not only sympathetic but a character with which we feel ourselves siding with.
This transition, from pure sociopathy to a character whose loss we mourn, is largely down to the performance of Wilson. Her Alice is witty, challenging and exciting to watch. Her attempts to both save herself and save Luther, with whom a relationship appears to have developed, are engaging and thrilling to watch. We find ourselves willing for Alice and Luther to be together, regardless of the implications.
For me, the most exciting aspect of Alice’s character is not only her loyalty towards Luther, but her unapologetic approach to her intellect. She is remarkably clever, a fact which she does not attempt to conceal. More interestingly, other characters, including Luther, do not reproach her for intelligence but eventually find that they are reliant on it and her. It seems ridiculous that it is rare to see a media text in which a female character can bask in her intellect but unfortunately, such a depiction is still rare. Perhaps then, that is why I enjoy Alice Morgan’s character so much. She does not attempt to hide or apologise for either her abilities or her nature: she is wholly happy with who she is.