Sherlock “The Lying Detective” recap and review
After last week’s killer episode, Sherlock returned with an interesting case with a freakish villain. Did this episode fall into the same problem a lot of midseason’s of Sherlock fall into (being an ok episode but a low point for the season)? I think it might have…
After a great season opener with the shocking death of Mary, I was expecting this episode to focus on the aftermath of Mary’s death, and this episode certainly had lots of that. Mary’s presence in this episode felt suffocating at points and I didn’t really like the choice that the writers had made by making Mary, John’s invisible friend. I could understand why they did it because Mary was such an important part of John’s life after the fall that they needed to wrap her character up and they needed to put a close on her character. However I felt her comments and presence took away from an otherwise good case for Sherlock. I really hope that after John’s admission of cheating that Mary has gone away forever. I really don’t want to see her presence in the next episode because I think it slowed this episode down a little bit and I don’t think it will be necessary for her character to appear next episode. I think the episode left a lot of fun new threads which will be much more interesting to explore in the finale of this season; Mary is not one of them.
The episode started with John talking to a new psychiatrist. I thought some of the dialogue in this bit was exquisite and really helped to show what state of mind John was in. This is possibly the worst state we have seen John in since Sherlock’s ‘death’ at the end of season 2. His daughter is staying at friends and he’s not able to cope. The thing I really liked about the exchange between John and his doctor is the part where he questions why things are understandable because he doesn’t feel like his actions since Mary’s death are unacceptable and he thinks he’s letting his daughter down. John is holding himself to such a high standard that him failing to meet that makes him angry and disappointed in himself. I liked this humanity John showed because out of the main characters he is the most human and it was almost heart-breaking to see him think that he wasn’t doing well enough even though he was dealing with the grief of losing his wife. I think the way Martin Freeman played John in these scenes was so natural and I really liked it.
Then we cut to the first scene introducing the villain of the episode (Toby Jones as Culverton Smith). I really liked Toby Jones in this episode and, in my opinion, he is my third favourite villain of the series (just behind Magnussen and Moriarty). He brought something very creepy to the role and the boardroom scene where he drugged his guests with a drug which causes short term memory loss was a great introduction to his character. It was a very interesting sequence because it was dark and shot really well. I liked how the main scene was mixed in with another blurrier scene involving Culverton’s daughter Faith. I loved how it was filmed as it made it seem different and added some interesting visuals.
The first Sherlock scene was also very interesting. When he met ‘Faith’ for the first time in his flat, I felt the scene was weird. He wasn’t as sharp as he usually is because he was so high. I think it was how Sherlock was dealing with Mary’s death and John ignoring him, however Mary’s message seemed to go against that and I feel that the message made what could have been a good story arc about Sherlock turning back to drugs non-important. The one thing I really didn’t like about the Faith and Sherlock scene was the slow-mo bag throw. They used slow motion a couple of times in this episode and I don’t understand why they did it to be honest. Sherlock is not the Flash, and the slow motion scenes just didn’t work. Their walk around London was good and I liked when they ended up sitting on a bench in the Southbank area. The part where Sherlock was hanging off the rail behind the river was strange but I liked how Faith had disappeared. The little clip with Redbeard and a child (I think that child may be Sherlock’s sister because we found out at the end of the episode that his sister was the one pretending to be Faith, and I think Sherlock probably had an idea, deep down, that Faith wasn’t actually Faith.)
I liked the police chase with Mrs Hudson. I didn’t expect the sports car to be hers, and I thought the whole situation was pretty funny. I thought that Sherlock becoming obsessed with Culverton Smith added to a sense that he had lost his mind, and the scene in the morgue later on, was pivotal. It was very clever. The events that took place after Mrs Hudson arrived at John’s therapist’s place were very interesting because even though Sherlock was high, he had planned everything that happened afterward about 2 weeks beforehand. Seeing Sherlock being so clever even thought he is so broken and such a mess is great.
The cereal killer moment was very light and funny, and showed how slippery Culverton was as a character. He is probably the most off putting Sherlock villain because he is such a freaky character and is so slimy. I really liked the character. I like Toby Jones and I thought he was superbly cast here (I don’t know whether that is a compliment or not).The scene at the hospital with the kids showed how much Toby Jones was needed in this episode. The dialogue was good but Toby Jones added something to it and he played off Benedict Cumberbatch so well. The queen metaphor was very powerful especially since Culverton was a pretty much untouchable figure. Sherlock’s best villains are those who seem to be untouchable in my opinion.
The morgue scene was one of my favourite scenes of the episode. I liked how all of the stories Culverton told during the entire hospital sequence related to him (e.g. the HH Holmes story (the guy who built the ‘killing’ hotel)). It was a very nice way to give hints towards how Culverton was killing people. The climax of this scene was spectacular. I loved the dialogue leading up to Faith’s appearance between Sherlock and Culverton. It was very intense and this is just another example of Sherlock’s writing team being great at their job. I loved the twist that Sherlock had never actually met Faith before,it was another woman posing as Faith. It was an awesome, believable twist. Sherlock’s reaction was priceless and the realization that he had gotten it so wrong was fascinating. I thought he had actually lost his mind!
I gasped when it looked like Sherlock would stab Culverton. To me it seems like this season is evolving into something very different and I’m not 100% sure why. I think they may be building to another confrontation like Magnussen and Sherlock, because I think this season has been very unpredictable so far (and I doubt it will change as I have no idea what will happen next episode). The part after where John beats Sherlock up was pretty sad too because you could tell that John wasn’t beating Sherlock up because of Culverton but because of his wife’s death. The little touch at the end where Sherlock said “I killed his wife,” was just the cherry on top.
The last Culverton and Sherlock scene of the episode seemed a little reminiscent of the scene in A Study in Pink where Sherlock is trying to outsmart the poisoner at the end. However this scene is better because there was a lot of tension in the scene. Even though I doubted they would kill off Sherlock, there were moments I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know how the scene would end. I liked Culverton’s confession to Sherlock as Sherlock was ‘dying’. It was so well written and rounded out Culverton’s character in a good way. He was a clever serial killer in the way he decided to kill his victims (in a hospital) but I thought his confession was his only real stupid action. However it could be forgiven since Culverton didn’t know about the recording device in the walking cane.
The final things I wanted to say before I wrapped up my review on this episode is that I loved the Irene Adler easter egg/cameo (the ringtone) in the penultimate scene. I had expected there to be an Irene Adler easter egg/cameo somewhere in season 4 but (like Mary’s death) I didn’t expect it to be in this episode. It was a nice nod though. Also I have to mention the final scene of this episode. The biggest twist of this episode was finding out Sherlock had a sister who had been John’s therapist, the woman on the bus, and the woman who pretended to be Faith earlier in the episode. I loved this twist and I think this will have a huge impact on the finale episode. I think she may be involved in a lot of things, especially with the miss me message. I think Moriarty may have just been a puppet, and Euros may have been the woman behind it all. I’ve got a feeling that the season finale will answer questions which people may have thought they already had answers to.
Overall, this episode was good. It had some great twists and Toby Jones was an excellent villain but it wasn’t quite as good as the first episode of the season. It had a very interesting case and seems like it is heading down a very different route than most seasons of Sherlock have headed before. The main things I disliked about this episode were the slow motion sequences (they were beyond unnecessary and served very little point) and Mary’s ghost. I really hope that Mary’s storyline is tied up now because her presence seemed to hurt this episode quite a bit. This episode wasn’t bad but it could have been better with some different choices narratively and visually. It’s probably one of the better mid season episodes Sherlock has had, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fantastic episode.
Chelsea Baines covers Entertainment for MFST, you can follow her on Twitter @ChelseaBaines
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