Monday, 23 January 2017

Sherlock: The Lying Detective

"I'm the widow of a drug dealer, I own property in central London, and for the last bloody time, John, I'm not your housekeeper!"

The character of Culverton Smith is, at one level, the embodiment of an idea explicitly referred to in the script: what if all the serial killers we know about- mentally subnormal, odd and marginalised- are just those who get caught? What if, every so often, there is a rich and powerful serial killer who simply kills with impunity? There's a blatant subtext here: Smith stands for Jimmy Savile, and that obviously informs Toby Jones' (excellent) performance; he even has his "own" hospital. There's a reason why Sherlock Holmes declares Culverton Smith to be the very worst and most despicable adversary he's ever met.

This is a plot by Steven Moffat which is surprisingly straightforward and relatively free of his usual narrative tricks, although the camerawork remains as clever as is usual for Sherlock. It isn't really a whodunit, either; like Columbo, the tension lies in whether or not Sherlock can prove the guilt of the obvious killer.

No; the narrative tricks lie elsewhere, in the interplay between Sherlock and John, and in their interactions and slow reconciliation. And yes, Sherlock is almost... nice, at times here. He certainly reacts sensitively, for him, when John confesses that he is not the man Mary thought he was, and had been flirting by text with another woman. It is here, with the character stuff, where we see the more traditional Sherlock narrative cleverness. And it's good telly. And yet- it's about time we had a proper, clever whodunit, don't you think?

Nice cliffhanger, though,,with Sherlock's sister, whom I assume to be a baddie...

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