Where do I begin with “The Final Problem”? How about I start with a confession. I didn’t stay up for it. Despite the fact that it premiered at 7:00 instead of 9:00 and all my desires to do so, my husband’s late night at work meant that I had to wait until Monday to watch the episode. I mean sure, I could have watched it without him and pretended to be surprised when we watched it together, but only if I’d had the sociopathic skill-set of a Holmes sibling. Alas, I’m far too empathetic… and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep spoilers to myself. Speaking of spoilers. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen the episode.
So, having not seen the episode live, I also had to avoid the internet for a day-ish. Considering Monday was a holiday this was harder than it sounds. I did see plenty of headlines pop up in my feeds regarding the “mixed response” of fans. I therefore assumed that the episode probably left fans feeling underwhelmed. It was with that expectation that I started the episode.
Well, starting off underwhelmed was the way to go, considering the unexpected horror-film style intro. Seriously, I had no idea who was closing doors or hiring clowns until Sherlock stepped in with all the smugness possible as he announced the deductions that 90% of fans had. Sherlock had a sister who had been locked up at a young age for being even more of a sociopath than her brothers, and if anyone had been paying attention last season or throughout this one, she’d likely done something like kill a “dog”. And, even before Mycroft said that’s what she’d done (before we got to the final creepy reveal), it was creepy enough with him recounting how she responded to a question about pain by saying “which one’s pain?”. If your child cannot discriminate between emotions and sensations, and seems a tad on the experimental and manipulative side of things, you MIGHT want to have them seen by someone. Clearly the Holmes’ thought their daughter was too adorable to do anything awful… until “Red Beard” (again, I’ll get to that in a bit)
Now, the opening was awesome and sure them getting into the facility was fun. And I defy any fan to have been anything other than thrilled when Eurus touched Sherlock’s hand through the glass that wasn’t there. But the rest of it… I don’t know that the rest of it really held water in the “awesome department”
Where to begin with the problems of The Final Problem. Maybe it was the shift in tone. A small child killing a dog and presenting its potential demise to parents and siblings through a riddle is one thing. But a child killing a sibling’s friend takes it to a whole level that it really didn’t need to go to.
It was a bit too gruesome, and (if I’m going to nitpick) didn’t make as much sense as it could. If Eurus killed Red Beard and presented the riddle because of a driving need to control and manipulate, that makes sense for a highly advanced sociopath, and it lines up with all the paces she put Sherlock through at the prison (and I mean seriously, who expected she’d let any of those three brothers live?!?!). And it makes sense that in her heartlessness she’d want to torture Sherlock for having a heart (hence all the toying with Molly Hooper).
However, for all her cold calculations, her motive in killing Red Beard was because she had no one to play with, and was therefore jealous of her brother (and therefore willing to give Watson’s location up when Sherlock reached her emotionally) felt a bit off, and made her far less menacing.
Basically at the end she just needed a few more hugs, I guess. Maybe if Mycroft had just let Sherlock visit his sister in prison a couple times this whole thing could have been avoided… think of all the lovely violin duets the guards could have enjoyed.
Also maybe it would have been nice to get a mystery that made sense. I know that Sherlock is the “World’s Greatest Detective” and I know that his powers of deduction are beyond that of the average Joe, and in the case of the show certainly beyond the average viewer. However, most of the mysteries we’ve had over the years have been great challenges, and often (especially with Moriarty) puzzles with a lot at stake. This one set us up with a potential plane full of victims, and yet everything at the end just kind of fizzled out, being solved by headstones with random numbers and a random song. Yes Watson’s life was at stake, but that hasn’t changed since the season one finale.
Also, are you telling me that Sherlock’s family had no idea that there was a well on their property, or that the family left Eurus unsupervised enough to pull off a murder like that?
Anyway, those are all the things I definitely didn’t love about the episode. When it comes to Andrew Scott showing up as Moriarty, that’s where most of my feelings are mixed. I mean sure, every time he’s on screen it’s fabulous. I could watch him set up murders and mysteries for an entire “real” season (and by real, I mean something at least 12 episodes long instead of 3). But I can only imagine that if Sherlock gets a season five, after having been in Sherlock’s mind, in recorded videos, and in flashbacks, that Moriarty will pop up as a Cyborg.
To some degree he’s either dead or he’s not and as fun as it is to see him, the inability of Sherlock (the show not the character) to move past a character that it was perhaps too hasty to get rid of may actually be its final problem.
Where does it go from here? Clearly there’s no one bigger or badder, and clearly Sherlock’s sister is now fine with her confinement. Perhaps if we got more mysteries instead of monsters we’d feel more satisfied. But alas, all we get is three episodes per season, and despite their longer length it’s just not much time to do more that set up the big bad for each finale.
Thoughts on the final episode? Let me know in the comments.