Monday, 23 January 2017

Sherlock: The Final Problem

"I wrote my own version of the nativity when I was a child. "The Hungry Donkey". It was a bit gory. But if you're gonna put a baby in a manger, you're asking for trouble."

I've not been quick in blogging this episode so I've not failed to notice the divided reaction which seems, anecdotally, to be more negative than not. And one of the main criticisms I hear- that this is yet another non-whodunit- is a valid one in that Moffat and Gatiss are certainly not writing what their audience wants and expects from Sherlock. But here lies, I suppose, the question: are writers mere hacks hired to give an audience what they want, or are they artists who may transcend such considerations? There is, of course, no easy answer, and I do not claim to be firmly on either side. But I will make the obvious point that giving the audience what that want connects very awkwardly with giving them surprise and unexpected events. I will also note that I enjoyed this episode very much. And that Mrs Llamastrangler was deeply affected, to the point of tears at the end.

This episode is a series of interlocking puzzles and fun little intellectual games, all with a touch of the macabre, but it is of course really about the character stuff, an excuse to explore the psyches of not only the fascinating Eurus but also Sherlock, John and the pleasingly foregrounded Mycroft.

If there's a disappointment it's the relative lack of Moriarty, whose games from beyond the grave do not come close to living up to expectations and whose screen time is painfully limited. But Eurus is a superb creation and Sian Brooke gives an incredible performance. It's so very clever that, after all the misdirection hinting at a third Holmes brother called "Sherrinford", this is simply the name of the prison where Eurus does her Silence of the Lambs stuff.

There are clever nods to The Musgrave Ritual and The Three Garridebs, but here we are quite moving away from a Holmes canon that the series may have outgrown. Certainly, each character- including Mrs Hudson, Molly and Lestrade, gets what would work as a final scene, suggesting that this may have been intended as a possible finale. I suspect no one connected with the show really knows whether or not Sherlock will ever be back, what with everyone being so very busy, but that this was designed as a fitting finale if need be. I hope it isn't, and I'm sure the creators do too. After all, we end with Sherlock and John both back in 221B Baker Street, and The Dancing Men...

And yeah. Mrs Hudson vacuuming to "The Number of the Beast". Awesome.

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