Spoilers throughout, naturally
The final episode of this season of Sherlock (and perhaps forever) was both great and disappointing. It had all the brilliance of The Great Game – possibly my favourite episode of all time – but was, again, over complicated like the first episode of this season.
The opening of the episode was as exciting as ever, a plane filled with dead people except a little girl who hears a phone ringing. When she picks up, Moriarty’s voice is back and as exciting as ever. The scene after this, in which Mycroft gets scared into revealing there is a Holmes sister, is fun (there’s a clown…) but again reinstates the idea of creating whole scenes for the sake of it. There is great imagery, and they have created a haunted house that I guess is plausible. Just because it is plausible doesn’t mean it should have been done, however. John is alive, after the cliff-hanger of the week before, and they establish that yes they do have a sister called Eurus. All of the tension and build up of the episode before is destroyed. She’s not as dangerous as she seems, after all she only tranquilised John. Sherlock has comically tricked Mycroft into revealing the truth. It was a disappointing start after last week’s episode.
‘It contained everything that has gone wrong with Sherlock and everything that’s right with it’
After this scene was one made simply to recreate the tension and danger they had just removed: it was a bomb scene. There was so much wrong with this scene I’m not sure where to start. Firstly, the CGI of the actual explosion was subpar. It would be rude to the James Bond franchise to try and compare the two. Having the characters in slow-motion jump out of windows and down stairs just felt silly – would they really have survived the blast, and would jumping out the first floor window not have at least given them a sprained ankle? The last fundamental problem with the scene is how implausible it is, how the character of Eurus – who is obsessed with Sherlock – would not have seriously tried to have killed her plaything. This is seen later on when Sherlock threatens to kill himself, and Eurus has to tranquilise him.
These first few scenes, excluding the plane scene, can easily be cut. It is only when Eurus, played by Sian Brooke, enters the episode that it starts to come into its own. She is marvellous. Eurus has managed to take over the whole island prison, and finally her brothers are here to come and play with her. The episode was like a high stakes version of The Crystal Maze, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The boys had to work out the various mind games and puzzles, with Eurus dictating to them through a screen, moving around the prison as they passed each level. It worked really well, it was like the Great Game again.
The last ‘level’ was where we finally found out the mystery of Redbeard. The revelation that he was not a dog, but Sherlock’s best friend, actually worked. Eurus’ riddle that asked Sherlock to come and find her in her room was also devastating. It is then that we find out she is actually the girl stuck on the plane, all alone and unable to save herself. Instead, Sherlock is the one who can save her. This whole part, the last quarter of the episode or so, was a bit muddled. I think it was effective, but I can understand why it might be a stretch too far for others. The ending felt very much like a back up farewell, just in case it is true that this is the last episode ever. Greg’s line that Sherlock was not only a great man, but a good one, is the final problem – finally Sherlock has found his humanity.
‘[It] felt very much like a back up farewell’
All very well and good, but what about Moriarty? I cannot describe my excitement when Moriarty appeared on our screens again, as fabulous as ever – my flatmates seemed to sit up a bit straighter. The revelation that it was five years previously, and that yes he is very much dead was disappointing. It’s difficult however, because while there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to have Andrew Scott’s Moriarty back in my life, I equally think bringing both him and Sherlock back would have been a cop out. But using his image throughout this season, and at the end of the last, was also baiting fans out. Either way, I’m not happy but I also have no idea what they could have done instead. Sorry.
So, the episode and season are at an end. I enjoyed parts of it, it was exciting. I’m carefully ignoring the scenes I think should have been cut, but that’s okay. The episode was just a bit gratuitous. It contained everything that has gone wrong with Sherlock and everything that’s right with it. If it is the last episode, then I’ll be sad to see it end on such an uneasy note, but I’ll happily be re-watching the first two seasons yearly for the foreseeable future.