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Sherlock, The Final Problem review: Could confusion ever be entertaining?

The episode -- with all its over-the-top explosions, pirates appearing out of thin air, painting crying tears of blood and detectives who cannot spot an entire missing wall of glass -- felt like being given a heavy dose of one of Sherlock’s infamous drug cocktails and made to solve a murder mystery.

tv Updated: Jan 23, 2017 11:27 IST
Soumya Srivastava
Sherlock

The episode felt like being given a heavy dose of one of Sherlock’s infamous drug cocktails and made to solve a murder mystery. (BBC)

Spoilers ahead

‘Not knowing is part of the fun,’ said Penny once when Sheldon struggled to find out how Howard pulled off a magic trick. ‘What’s that? The motto of your community college?,’ he spat back at her, visibly frustrated at not having an answer.

Like Sheldon, a lot of us have been left searching for answers after the sheer disappointment that was Sherlock’s probable last episode, The Final Problem. No Penny, ‘not knowing’ is no fun at all.

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The episode -- with all its over-the-top explosions, pirates appearing out of thin air, painting crying tears of blood and detectives who cannot spot an entire missing wall of glass -- felt like being given a heavy dose of one of Sherlock’s infamous drug cocktails and made to solve a murder mystery. The characters changed their entire personalities in the name of a twist, plots that had been left hanging through the entire series are taken up only to be discarded again seconds later and melodrama is played as the biggest piece of the puzzle in a show that never previously had to depend on it.

No matter your love for the series as a whole, you owe it to yourself as a lover of television before anything else to accept that Sherlock jumped the shark a long time ago. It has all been a downhill ride ever since the third season began and has ended (hopefully) at this very sorry episode.

Mark Gatiss in a still from Sherlock. (BBC)

Ever since Moriarty shot himself on that terrace all those years ago, Sherlock has struggled to create a new villain who could match his diabolical mania and also his intelligence. This season, Culveton Smith (the one defeated by a recording device) was followed by Euros Holmes, Sherlock’s own psychopathic sister.

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While the build-up to her was inviting, the actual picture was no fireworks. The blame of it doesn’t lie on actor Sian Brooks, who did her job perfectly, but on the writer who wrote her as a heartless murderer the entire length of the episode except in the last 10 minutes when it was finally time to wrap up. In the last 10 minutes, she very conveniently turns into mush when Sherlock gives her a hug. Decades of planning to kill him and all it took was a hug? Like everyone else on this show, all she needed was just a bit of Sherlock in her life to make it all ok.

What’s worse that they didn’t stop with the bad villains here itself. They even brought back Andrew Scott and managed to do what we didn’t think was possible: Ruin Moriarty. Just to imagine him in a room, recording himself imitating a ticking clock, makes me cringe. He can vogue all he wants to Queen but those videos cancel it all out.

Andrew Scott in a still from Sherlock. (BBC)

And then there is the sorry story of Molly Hooper. While my frustration with the episode is incredible indeed, I must accept that the part where Sherlock makes Molly say ‘I love you’ to him by lying to her was one of the finest moments of the season. The performances by both Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey deserve praise for bringing out the tense situation and the utter tragedy of it all so perfectly.

However, the tension in that moment also stemmed from the anticipation of what is to come. What will happen to them when they actually meet? Will Sherlock pretend to be in love with her? Will he break her heart again? Instead of answers to these questions, we were given a short, incredibly cheesy montage of Sherlock’s perfect little life after the incident. In that short montage is a glimpse of a grinning Molly at Sherlock’s door. What are we to make of it? Is she back to being Baby Watson’s most dependable babysitter? Is she back to just being the Molly who has a crush on Sherlock?

Or is there more?

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Not just the part with Molly, the entire climax is made to haphazardly fit within 10 minutes. The crashing flight was all in Euros’ head, she turns from a psycho who just killed at least five people, to a member of the Holmes family where brother dear visits her for violin sessions regularly, Watson is back to solving crimes with Sherlock, finally remembers he had a daughter, Mycroft gets some yelling from the parents and all is well.

There is no point mincing words anymore. Sherlock had absolutely nothing good to offer this season and it took 4.5 very good hours of our time that we could have spent watching far better things. It’s time we gave up on it and stop asking for any more seasons. To semi-quote Lestrade, Sherlock is not a great series, it is a good series (please note that that is not meant as a compliment at all unlike the very unclear, very weird actual quote).

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