I thought I'd take a little break from my catching up on Elementary, and try to watch the final episode of the BBC's Sherlock, entitled "The Final Problem." Honestly, I couldn't get through it; it's simply too ridiculous. I reviewed the episode (or season finale, whatever you want to call it) on this blog, as well as on I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere. Just for kicks, I thought I'd take a look at the AV Club review of the episode as well. Their critic gave it a D+ rating, which I think might be just a bit too negative. However, as I was scanning comments on their review, I quite enjoyed the following lengthy comment by a user named "SkullKid." I think it accurately sums up many of the problems with the episode, in a most entertaining way.
Here's my review of the final episode of Season 4 of the BBC's Sherlock, and possibly the final episode of the entire series. This review was originally published on I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.
"It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen" [FINA]
[Editor's Note: this is the eighth in our series of reviews for Series 4 of Sherlock. There are spoilers below. Don't say we didn't warn you.]
Where to begin? How does one describe this beautiful mess, this sublimely ludicrous end to a season that has delighted and frustrated so many viewers? Well, I guess we have to start with the obligatory spoiler warning. I mean, for the love of all that is Sherlockian, don't think about reading any further until you've watched the final episode of Season 4 of Sherlock: "The Final Problem."
Let's start with that title: despite the obvious reference to perhaps the most famous of all Holmes stories in the Canon, this episode has little to do with Doyle's story of the same name. Moffat and Gatiss had already plundered Doyle's "The Final Problem" back in Season 2, with "The Reichenbach Fall." So plot-wise, there's not much in the way of references to that source material, other than a certain air of finality at the end of the episode. But more on that point later...
There are references to the Canon, of course, as we have come to expect from this series: the reference to "The Three Garridebs" (just their names—the plot point is completely different); the "Dancing Men" reference in the final montage. Perhaps other more eagle-eyed Sherlockians will detect other clues. And there was a delightful detail in the final shot, where a placard on a building clearly reads "Rathbone Place," a cheeky little extra-canonical tidbit. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.
As a fan of comic books when I was younger, I can't help but think that the island fortress of Sherrinford was reminiscent of Arkham Asylum from the Batman series: a place where only the most brilliant of the criminally insane reside. Meanwhile, the writers made the parallel to Silence of the Lambs explicit in the scene where Sherlock first visits Eurus at her cell, and a guard refers to the famous film/novel. Eurus certainly brought Hannibal Lecter to mind right away.
Perhaps one of the biggest laughs I got (maybe the only laugh, considering the dark tone of the episode) was when the camera panned down through the floor at 221B, to show Mrs. Hudson vacuuming her floor, while listening to Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" on her headphones. No, that's not right, I did laugh at one other spot: the great musical cue at the beginning of the flashback to Moriarty's visit to Sherrinford, wherein he's listening to Queen's "I Want to Break Free." Typical Moriarty flash and cheese, all in one delicious moment.
The Critical Question
At this point, though, I have to ask myself: canonical references and humorous musical cues aside, what about the rest of it? Did this episode, in fact, make any sense?
No, I don't think it did. For all their attempts to really wow us, with all the suspense — will Sherlock shoot Watson or Mycroft? Will Mrs. Hudson perish in the explosion? Will Molly Hooper die because she won't say "I love you"? — for all that, much of the action felt horribly contrived to me. If anyone has watched any of the Saw films, there's often a point in those elaborately executed torture traps where the viewer thinks, "How could anyone possibly set all of this up?" In the case of Eurus Holmes, a woman who had been incarcerated for much of her adult life, I found myself thinking the same thing: even with the help of the guards that she had (almost magically) talked into doing her bidding, there was just too much planning and almost superhuman omniscience involved in setting up her elaborate test of brothers Sherlock and Mycroft.
Speaking of superhuman, we're also forced to believe that Sherlock, John and Mycroft (not to mention Mrs. Hudson) all walked away from the huge explosion at 221B, with nary a scratch on them? For heaven's sake, Sherlock and John were blown through a second story window!
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.