It’s a mixed bag of an episode although that is not to say I didn’t enjoy it.
Despite it brushing aside the mystery aspect early on in the episode I was still glued to the drama unfolding, John with his infidelities and Sherlock’s moments with Mary as her life started to spiral out of control once again. Why this episode doesn’t entirely work for me is due to a problem I had with it way back in season 3 and that is with the character of Mary herself. I still don’t buy, nor am I interested in her story as a once undercover operative/assassin. Perhaps the producers of the show realized this too as they decide to tie up the loose ends of her story and move back to the John/Sherlock dynamic (but who’s holding the baby?). John and Sherlock will never be the same, not due to the events of this episode but because John is now a father with increased responsibilities. At this point things will never be the same again no matter what happens after these events.
The Lying detective
This is a fantastic episode that has Sherlock dealing with a proper mystery and a decent villain this time round while at the same time flying completely off the rails as he delves into his drug habit full time, yet even at his lowest he is still a high functioning sociopath and parts of the episode take the time out to explain his methods in a little more detail rather than just waving a magic wand. It’s the best episode of series 4 and rightly ups the game at the end by introducing us to Holmes’ long lost sibling.
The Final Problem
I’m not entirely in love with this. The good points are that it’s filled with edge of your seats moment, beautifully shot, it blows open the mystery behind “red beard” and the third Holmes sibling, but on the other hand it’s taken Sherlock and made him larger than life. This was a criticism I mentioned back in my series 3 review where I worried that he was becoming Bond like in some ways. Even the Six Thatchers had him fighting off a highly trained Assassin. Of course, Sherlock is a well trained fighter but the appeal of this series has always been the mind and personality of the man.
Here, rather than just solving crimes he heads to a super prison to take on a super villain that is also his sister which he had completely forgotten about (see what I mean about larger than life?). A basic plot element such as a third Holmes brother has been strung out into a vastly complex string of mysteries and plans within plans. After all these edge of the seat moments and twists the ending of the episode falls flat on it’s face with Sherlock hugging his estranged sister and telling her it will be alright and… that’s it? We had to go through all that just to get a scene where he pats her on the back and all is resolved. Really? Really?!
Somehow after all of this we are led to believe that this episode might be used as a possible ending to the series with Sherlock finally being the Sherlock we all know and love from the books, with emotion and cool intellect working together now that he is free from his emotional blockage of youth. But I thought the Sherlock we had already was the Sherlock from the books.
As if to wrap everything up quickly and put a neat bow on this Greg appears at the end of the episode to say that Holmes is a good man. What reason has led to him saying this is not shown since he doesn’t pop up in other parts of the episode. Again, everything feels rushed, Sherlock doesn’t actually save John or find him, Mycroft disappears near the end only to appear unscathed and unharmed, mentioning something about being locked up in a simple cell which seems rather tame after all the psychological torment he has been put through with his brother. Molly Hooper looks almost suicidal in this episode yet there’s no follow up to that? Also, annoyingly Steven Moffat decides to link all images of water in Sherlock (totaling two) as some sort of inner psychological key to the man, except we didn’t even see water when he was shot at the end of season 3 by Mary. Moffat has done similar things in Doctor Who, linking up unrelated events or scenes as some sort of Master plan he had all along…
And what about “the woman” Irene Adler? Or John’s Alcoholic sister? What of them?
Ok, most things were wrapped up and there are no big plot strings left hanging. When and if a season 5 might happen is anyone’s guess. But I expect this is not the last of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes. At least, I hope not.
Favorite Quote: “It is what it is.” – Sherlock