Another series of Sherlock has come and gone leaving us wondering if they will be another series. After watching The Final Problem yesterday evening, I decided to write a review on my overall thoughts of the episode.
This review does contain spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet, it may be best to wait until you have seen it.
Episode rating: 3/5
The Final Problem
I have to say that while it is not the best episode of Sherlock I have ever seen, it’s not the worst either. It reminded me of a crossover fanfiction with; James Bond, Saw, and the Ring (I’m not even joking). As soon as the episode starts, we are on a plane with a young girl who wakes up to see that everyone is unconscious resulting in no pilot’s flying the plane. It then flashes to Mycroft watching a Black and White movie in his own cinema room, before the movie is interrupted with family footage of a young Mycroft, and Sherlock along with their mother. It then goes on to to show Mycroft, picking up his trusty umbrella, and walking through the corridors where he meets a creepy girl calling his name, and a clown which was a bit like a representation of Stephen King’s IT.
We then see Mycroft’s umbrella is in fact a sword, before he removes the blade and we see it’s also a gun with apparently no bullets. As the clown stats to chase him, and we see Mycroft trying to escape, when suddenly the lights come on and in walks Sherlock, deer hat and all. Turns out the theatricals, where an experiment essentially set up by Watson and Sherlock to scare Mycroft due to Sherlock finding out about his sister, Eurus.
After the ending of last week’s episode, which saw John facing a barrel of a gun, we find out that it was merely a tranquilizer. The fact that the episode didn’t flashback to that moment to see how it led up to the plan of scaring Mycroft was disappointing. I would rather have saw it with my own eyes, rather than being told about it. It was a shame, because the ending of The Lying Detective had so much potential for this final episode.
The next day, (assuming its the next day), Mycroft turns up at Baker Street as a client. It was amusing to once again see Mrs Hudson’s give a witty remark to Mycroft about making his own tea. I just wish we got to see more of Mrs Hudson in Series 4. It’s here that we find out that the reason Sherlock didn’t remember his sister, was due to him suppressing the memories following a tragic event, which gets explained later in a plot twist. Mycroft, tells Sherlock that his sister has been kept in a high-security facility on a remote Island known as Sherrinford, which basically “contains the uncontainables.” However, its apparent that this isn’t the case. As more information is disclosed on their sister, her childhood you find is quite disturbing. There is also reference to Redbeard, the family dog as we were made to believe, but turns out there is more to the story, but before we can be told more, they are interrupted by a flying drone carrying a bomb.
The explosion sequence in my opinion was badly executed and the CGI wasn’t the greatest, it was almost comical if I’m being brutally honest.
While there was a lot of information to absorb in this scene, I found it quite touching when Sherlock tells Mycroft that John stays because he considers him family. It basically reinforces other scenes from over the four series that Sherlock isn’t as emotionally detached as everyone believes and we continue to see a more human side to him. What bothered me though, was that after the explosion, we see John, and Sherlock on a boat heading to Sherrinford, without any injuries. Yes, not even cuts on their face, considering they jumped out of glass windows. To me, it felt, sloppy and unrealistic. I know its a fictional series, but even a cut to the cheek or some bruising would have sufficed.
When we see the facility, it looks like your average Bond villain HQ. They even have a glass cell for Eurus, (yes, because no villain has ever escaped from one of them). As Sherlock enters, we see his sister in the centre of her cell playing a haunting piece on the violin, before she turns around to face her brother. The scene itself reminded me of M visiting Silva in Skyfall, the undertones where there, Eurus also reminded me of Silva in regards to her emotional state. This may have just been my interpretation, however, she is more calculating and smart, not to mention more twisted. It’s here we find out that whoever comes into contact with her, she can manipulate their thoughts. Here is when you click, that she is the one in control of the facility.
The episode also provides us with a flashback to Moriarty arriving at the facility five years ago to meet with Mycroft. Here, we find out that he granted Eurus a five minute unsupervised meeting with Sherlock’s nemesis. Seeing both Eurus and Moriarty in the same room gave me chills. The madness shared between them both makes you want to grab Mycroft and ask him what the hell he was thinking. The majority of the episode then focuses on John, Sherlock and Mycroft solving twisted challenges initiated by the Holmes sister on TV screens, with Moriarty taunting them with the odd “tick tock” as time slowly runs out.
The most cruel challenge I found was one that involved sweet Molly. Here we see Eurus, telling Sherlock to tell Molly that he loves her otherwise she will die. This was one of the highlights of the episode that left you at the edge of your seat, as the timer continues to count down. Luckily, Molly says those three little words and she lives. However, when Sherlock screams that he won, Eurus tells him that he didn’t win and that Molly was in no danger. The challenge was at most to show that Sherlock has emotional context even if he tries to deny it.
The final challenge, has the three of them in the room, and Sherlock is told to shoot either John or his brother. As soon as you are aware of the scenario, it’s almost as if Mycroft knows who Sherlock is going to pick, he decides to make it easier on Sherlock to carry out the task, by telling Sherlock to shoot John as he is “merely a distraction, and a little scrap of ordinariness for you to impress.” However, when Sherlock still refuses to kill either of them, he turns the gun on himself, ready to take his own life, eerily echoing the scene with Moriarty on the roof at St Bart’s. But before he can pull the trigger, he is knocked unconscious with a tranquilizer.
The climax of the story takes place at Musgrave, the Holmes family manor that was set fire to by Eurus when she was a child. As Sherlock tries to piece together the final challenge or the final problem, we see John inside a well, his feet chained to the bottom as water starts to pour in, slowly drowning him. While in the house, Sherlock finally realises that Redbeard wasn’t their family dog, but rather his best friend Victor, who Eurus killed by putting him in the same well as John who finds Victor’s Bones as he holds up a child’s skull.
Here we see a parallel, that Sherlock has already lost one best friend when he was a child, and that he may lose John, his current best friend to the same fate. The reason Eurus killed, Victor was because she didn’t have a best friend. She had no one. You can’t help but feel sorry for Eurus, it must have been difficult for a child her age, who was a genius to socially interact with anyone on a normal human level. It slightly echos, the Sherlock we see in Series 1, where he was often called a ‘freak’ by Sally Donovan and many other Scotland Yard officers because of his deduction ability and his interest in murders. Then John came along and treated him as a normal human being and slowly over the series made him more human.
The next time we see Sherlock he is running from the house, and we hear the girl on the plane starts to panic and tell Sherlock they are going to crash, while John is trying not to drown. As Sherlock works out the final clues, he realises the girl on the plane is his sister. He re-enters the house to see Eurus huddled in a corner in front of him. The plane itself turns out to be a metaphor for Eurus’ mind, where she has no one to ground her from her thoughts, unlike Sherlock who has John who keeps him grounded and human.
As the episode ends, we see John and Sherlock rebuild 221B and take care of Rosie, while Sherlock continues to visit Eurus at Sherrinford along with his parents and Mycroft. There is also one last video message from Mary, who gives a touching, if not cliche speech where she details how Sherlock and John are her Baker Street boys and are the best and wisest men she has ever known before the episode ends in a freeze frame with Sherlock and John running down the steps of Rathbone Place.
Overall, the episode seemed final in a way, and everything almost came full circle. Even if some parts were sloppy, and didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the series. Sian Brooke, who plays Eurus, did a brilliant job in this role and her acting was amazing. The episode itself, to me it felt like the past four series were almost a backstory to John and Sherlock’s lives and how they became the men in Conan Doyle’s books. I also loved how the episode touched on other books from the series, such as The Dancing Men, where we see the code on a blackboard in the final scenes, as well as the Three Garridebs. However, the scene that involved the Garrideb brother’s was vastly disappointing. I so wanted more from that scene, as it is one of my favourite books, so when I heard the name, I was excited to see where it would go, only to be left disappointed.
Then there was the build up from The Lying Detective, which ended on such an amazing cliffhanger and was a brilliant emotionally charged episode, but the conclusion was glossed over in mere seconds as if it didn’t matter. It made you feel cheated in a way and made you want more from The Final Problem. They could have gone so many different ways with this episode, the ideas where there, but it seemed that they had too many ideas and didn’t know how to execute them well.
Another problem I had with the episode, was the fact that most of the time, you were left wondering how they got from point A to point B. It frustrates me when they do it in movies as well, so it may just be a preference to explain those points, though I can see why it would be impossible to do so while trying to squeeze in the rest of the episode.
Moreover, the ending seemed rushed, in that It wasn’t explained how John managed to get out of the well considering his feet were chained. It could be that when the rope was lowered, that one of the rescue party went down to release him from the chains before he was pulled out? Again it can only come down to speculation on the individual. Also I would loved to have seen more of Lestrade in the episode as he only has a few minutes screen time.
However, despite the rushed ending, I did find it touching watching John and Sherlock both looking after Rosie at Baker Street and when Sherlock at the start of the episode considered John family and in a way I guess you could say he is, considering he has stuck by Sherlock through thick and thin, even at times when they fall out. It shows another level to their relationship, that they need each other and despite any obstacles that come their way, they will always find a way to overcome them together.
If there is a series 5, I will look forward to it, but if The Final Problem turns out to be the last ever Sherlock episode then I can safely say I have enjoyed every moment of this series, despite this episode being average at best. However no matter what happens, there is no denying that they will always be our Baker Street boys, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.