I've just finished watching the second episode of season 3 of Sherlock, "The Lying Detective." I have also just finished scanning through several reviews of the episode online. Most of the reviewers seem to think this was a great improvement on the previous episode, "The Six Thatchers." I'm not sure I agree. I think it was good, and certainly, by the end, had plenty of surprises up its sleeve. (There will be some spoilers ahead, so if you haven't seen the ep yet, then read at your own risk!) And it's not that I didn't enjoy it. But to my way of thinking, the plot got so convoluted, and there was such an awful lot of blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality, that some of the plot points that I suspect were meant to be moments of "A-ha!" became, for me, moments of "Huh?"
I'm prepared to admit that I'm not enough of a mystery fan to really enjoy extraordinarily complex mysteries. And really, as I read and re-read the original Arthur Conan Doyle canon, I don't think his mysteries were always incredibly complex. Usually, by the end of a Holmes story, I think, "Oh, of course!" However, through much of "The Lying Detective," I found myself completely confused. (For example, perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention to the actresses who were playing "Faith," but when Holmes didn't recognize her at the end of the second act, I had already forgotten what she looked like, so I found his lack of recognition confusing.)
Meanwhile, towards the end of Sherlock's long game against Culverton Smith, I began to realize how similar this story was to Doyle's similarly named story, "The Dying Detective." So, as a longtime Holmes fan, that was enjoyable. Of course, just as I was skeptical about Mary's ability to jump in front of a bullet in the last episode, I was also skeptical of Sherlock's ability to "manage" his drug use in a way that still enabled him to function in his whole plan of thwarting the bad guy.
And can I talk about the many scenes where John talks to his dead wife? As pleased as I was to see more of Amanda Abbington, whose performance on the show I have always enjoyed, I didn't quite buy the whole thing. We've all seen movies and TV shows where someone talks to a dead loved one. I just think that the writers may have overused that particular trope.
Still, there were plenty of twists and turns that I found enjoyable: perhaps the most enjoyable for me was the development of Mrs, Hudson, played so delightfully by Una Stubbs. Was it believable that she could drive a sports car in a chase with police, as if she were some sort of stunt driver? No, I don't think so. But was it fun? Absolutely. And certainly, Toby Jones turned in a great, and creepy, performance as Culverton Smith.
Meanwhile, as I read all of those other reviews claiming that "The Lying Detective" was one of the greatest episodes ever, I can't agree, personally. But overall, I thought it was a worthy addition to the show's story arc. The cliffhanger at the end was nice, even though the "next time on Sherlock" kind of ruined any suspense that the viewer might have had about whether John will survive his encounter with the mysterious Euros Holmes. And we still don't know who (or what) Sherrinford is! Hopefully, all will be revealed in the next episode.
Oh, one more thing...watching the episode on PBS, I was disappointed that they had to censor the profanity that happened in some crucial moments. I mean, it's not like I couldn't understand what was going on, but it takes me out of my engagement with the story when the audio disappears, merely because American audiences are too sensitive to hear what the Brits don't mind. C'mon, PBS...
Finally, I keep wondering if the next episode, "The Final Problem," will be the last one they give us, or if there's still a future for the show after this season? I've read different theories online, about whether or not they'll keep going, but I don't think it's been announced officially at this point. Will they wrap things up, or give us another cliffhanger? Or will it be the kind of "wrap up" that Doyle thought he'd done when he wrote the original story of "The Final Problem"? Anyone's guess, I suppose.
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. And a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes.