Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sherlock: The Lying Detective

Hi there! Before we get started, this is a recap/review kind of thing for the latest episode of Sherlock, The Lying Detective. So if you have not seen this episode, be warned: there be spoilers up ahead.

Not sure why I channeled a pirate for that. 

Nevermind. Here we go....

After last week’s shocking turn of events, we find our Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are both in downward spirals from their grief over Mary’s death. But that grief is expressed in radically different ways between the two men. 

For John, it’s a total shutdown mode that borders on denial to the point that he’s still carrying on conversations with Mary. Mary, although she’s dead, continues to sardonically challenge John as much as she did in life. But John clings to his hallucinatory wife even as he clings to the false notion that he has himself under control. 

Meanwhile, Sherlock is the exact opposite, in full on meltdown, his emotions and his much vaunted abilities of deduction are spinning wildly out of control. Down on himself for his role in Mary’s death and high on the drugs he’s strung out on, Sherlock is what one might call “a hot mess”. A sputtering mad man barely in control of his faculties, not knowing what is or is not real. 

So of course he’s on a case. Culverton Smith, a super rich businessman and philanthropist, is Sherlock’s target. Our manic detective is convinced that Smith is a serial killer. 

And he’s right. Smith is a smarmy scum bucket of an excuse for a human being who uses his power and influence to take life whenever he feels the need. In a bit of hubris, he actually confesses this to a group of friends and Faith, his daughter. But he has given them a drug that removes their short term memory of the conversation. All the benefits of confession but without the little picky part of being arrested. 

Faith appears to have remembered some of that confession and has come to Sherlock Holmes for help. Holmes is so strung out that he can barely help himself but he takes the case after the two spend a night wandering the streets of London. 

Which brings us up to the sports car. Spinning wildly out of control through the streets of London while pursued by the police, we can only assume that Sherlock Holmes, in a crazed and manic state, is behind the wheel as the car rushes up to the curb of the house where, conveniently enough, John Watson is having is first session with his new therapist. It turns out, however, that the driver is none other Mrs. Hudson. The sports car is belongs to her; she is the widow of a drug dealer, after all. And in the trunk, handcuffed, is Sherlock Holmes. Mrs. Hudson, it seems, has had enough of Sherlock’s antics. She takes a gun away from Sherlock and uses it to force Sherlock to accompany her while she sought out John. 

Hold on a minute! John had just decided a mere days ago to seek out this new therapist and scheduled this appointment.

How did she know John was at that location at that particular time? Before we can answer that question, the doorbell rings and we now have a new question:

How did Culverton Smith know that Sherlock and John would be there to send a limo over to pick them up? And then the doorbell rings again and we have a new question: 

How did Molly Hooper know to be there to provide medical attention to Sherlock? 

The answer to all three is that Sherlock knew John would be there… two weeks ago. (In the case of Molly, three weeks ago.)  Yes, even before John knew he would be there, Sherlock knew. 


Molly isn’t happy with Sherlock because whatever he’s doing to himself, its killing him. But Sherlock isn't concerned about that right now. He has other plans. 

About that limo from Culverton Smith…

Seems Sherlock has been making very public accusations against Smith, accusing him of being a serial killer. Smith, instead of being upset with Holmes, actually spins this into publicity for a new cereal his company is making. (Cereal killer? Get it?) So Smith invites Sherlock and John to meet him at a hospital that his fortune has helped build. Sherlock is going along with this because he’s springing a trap on Smith that involves luring Smith’s daughter to an encounter which will expose Smith as a cereal… excuse me, serial killer. Except when Faith shows up, it’s not the woman Sherlock met earlier and she says she’s never met Sherlock before at all.  The meeting with Faith… was an hallucination?! 

This pushes Sherlock into all out freak out attack mode as he snatches a scapel to stab Culverton Smith. But John intervenes to save Smith’s life by punching Sherlock. Hard. And a lot. Then he kicks him too. Very hard. And very much a lot. And Sherlock doesn’t fight back. For a moment, the tables are turned and its John Watson in a meltdown while Sherlock is in a shutdown. 

Watson goes to 221B Baker Street to find Mycroft Holmes and his spooks tossing the place. Mycroft is trying to figure out what dear brother Sherlock is up to. Mrs. Hudson is on hand to laugh at how little Mycroft understands about his brother. The item is discovered that is the source of Sherlock’s attention: the envelope with the disc from Mary Watson, the one where she gives him a case: to save John Watson. 

But right now it looks like Sherlock needs saving. Spent from the weeks of abuse he has put his body through (and the beating he took from John Watson sure didn’t help), Sherlock is in a very weakened state. And enter Culverton Smith who’s there to add Sherlock to his list of victims. As the guy who financed this hospital, Smith knows all the good places to hide. And he knows the best people to kill. People die in hospitals all the time. 

But before Culverton Smith can kill Sherlock, John Watson arrives to save the day. Culverton is arrested and he confesses to all his murders. Now that it’s out in the open, he’s rather enjoying the experience of confession. 

Meanwhile, John and Sherlock…. Well, they don’t quite mend their fences but they do seem to be moving forward. it seems that Sherlock's investigation of Culverton Smith was just part of the larger case he was on, to save John Watson. Mary told Sherlock in the video that John could only be saved if Sherlock himself needed saving. 

Knowing Mary's final mission for Sherlock and her deepest concerns to get John to move past his grief, John finally says goodbye to Mary. It is quite an emotional moment, so emotional in fact that Sherlock walks over to John and hugs him. 

You read that right. Sherlock gives John a hug. 

No, Mrs. Hudson didn't poke him with a stick. He just... did it. Hugged John. Because. 

Oh, the feels. The feels!

Except our story is not quite over. Later, Sherlock finds a sheet of paper that serves as evidence that his meeting with Smith’s daughter may not have been with his actual daughter but it certainly was not an hallucination. It also has a message embedded in the paper itself. 

"Miss me?" 

Ooh boy.  

And John is meeting with his therapist again. John’s feeling a bit better about things but that doesn’t last long when his therapist reveals a more sinister side. Turns out she’s impersonating the real therapist and had also impersonated Smith’s daughter. She reveals herself to be Euris, the secret Holmes sister! She doesn’t like the look on John’s face so she thinks she’ll put a bullet through it.

And we fade to black. 

WHAT THE HELL????????????

Where to start with this thing? OK, let's start at the bottom, where the slugs and worms dwell and just say that Culverton Smith is the slimiest, skeeviest criminal bastard that Sherlock and John have had the misfortune to encounter. Spewing bile between jagged yellow teeth, Smith is just---ugh! What is it with Toby Jones playing such scumbag bad guys? The only negative I have is that Jones does such a good job being such a bad Culverton Smith, it's hard to imagine anyone being in business with him in order for him to be as successful as he is. 

And then there's something about Mary. After breaking our hearts last episode by dying to save Sherlock Holmes from a bullet, the pieces of our hearts are pulverized to dust by Mary Watson's continued presence. As a manifestation of John's subconscious, we know she's there because John can't let go of her. But if she is a product of John's own mind, Mary remains a keen observer  with her acerbic comments on what John and Sherlock are up to and what they need to do next. If not for the underlying tragedy of it all, I think I would enjoy a spin off series, The Adventures of Dr. Watson and His Dead Wife Mary.  

The dichotomy of how John and Sherlock are addressing their grief is most pronounced, John holding himself in check in a cold, steely reserve while Sherlock is on fire, a crackling ball of thought and emotions that even he can't keep up with. The moment in the morgue when John stops Sherlock from stabbing Culverton Smith, however, inverts this dynamic in dramatic and brutal fashion: John gives in to the fire of his anger while Sherlock gives up and takes it. This switch up of the status quo established in the first 2/3 of the episode is a crucial moment. It's an extreme course correction but it's necessary to get John back in motion again and make Sherlock stop.  

The Lying Detective finds Sherlock placing his own life in danger to challenge a serial killer and it's up to John to save him. If that sounds familiar, well, it is. The very first episode, A Study In Pink, finds Sherlock placing his own life in danger to challenge a serial killer and it's up to John to save him. But the differences are profound. In the first case, Sherlock's face off with the serial killer is to satisfy his own curiosity. In last night's episode, Sherlock has placed his life in jeopardy for a purpose beyond himself, to save his friend, to save John Watson.  

There are two key character developments in this latest episode of Sherlock that I have to address. One involves Mrs. Hudson. She has quite a few kick ass scenes in this episode. Confronted by a raging Sherlock holding a gun, she deftly takes the gun away from him and takes control. She drives like a maniac in her red sports car with Sherlock handcuffed in the trunk, then puts John Watson in his place. And she spells out right to Mycroft's face how stupid he is in trying to figure out his own brother. Mrs. Hudson is nothing short of amazing. 

The other development involves a character that has heretofore been unseen on the show and has only been hinted at before, the third Holmes brother. Not part of the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherrinford is referenced as the older brother in later works by other writers but never actually appears as a character. So there's been quite a bit of speculation about if and how show creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss would integrate this character into their version of the Holmes myth. The answer, it seems, is to review that the secret Holmes brother... is actually their sister. 

Enter Euros who reveals to John Watson she is impersonating his therapist... as well as Faith in her meeting with Sherlock... AND the red girl on the bus John had the texting affair with. 

A lot of people went nuts on the internet about this revelation, that the secret brother was instead a secret sister. But there is something to consider that my daughter Randie brought to my attention. 

Flashback to the episode: 

  • John visits an unconscious Sherlock in the hospital. John leaves behind the cane he used to use before he first met Sherlock. 
  • Culverton Smith sneaks into the room via a hidden passageway and proceeds to strangle Sherlock even as he confesses to his crimes. But John returns to save Sherlock. 

This is where it gets complicated: 

  • Sherlock notes that Culverton confessed to being a serial killer. 
  • Culverton counters that no one will believe a drug addict like Sherlock. 
  • Sherlock says the recording devices in the room would've picked up the confession. 
  • Culverton asks if Sherlock is referring to the 3 recording devices that Culverton removed from the room earlier.
  • Then Sherlock notes that's a funny thing about people: why do they always stop at three?  

There's a recording device in the handle of John's cane. 


So you may think you have a handle on this situation. There are two Holmes brothers and a sister, not three brothers. 

Funny. Why do people always stop at three? 

We'll see how this plays out next week as Sherlock reaches the end of Series 4 with... The Final Problem. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

Another new post coming up in 12 hours at 5 AM Eastern Time.  

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