The following is a spoiler-filled episode review of Sherlock: Series 4, Episode 3 – The Final Problem
In The Final Problem – which may end up being the final episode of Sherlock, seeing as another season has yet to be announced at the time of writing – Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumbertbatch) and Dr. Watson (played by Martin Freeman) quiz Mycroft (played by Mark Gatiss) about Eurus (played by Sian Brooke), before traveling to the unknown island of Sherrinford to learn more about Sherlock’s secret sister.
The Final Problem, as an episode, had a tough job to do. Not only did it need to give us a satisfying end to the fourth series, it also had to be a solid end to the show, if the future of Sherlock is as uncertain as it seems. On top of that, it had to overcome the lukewarm fan response to the fourth series, and provide us with a memorable episode.
Now, I wasn’t a fan of The Six Thatchers for multiple reasons, but I did really enjoy The Lying Detective. In my eyes, we had had one underwhelming episode and one fantastic episode in the fourth series prior to The Final Problem. And while I did have a lot of issues with The Final Problem, which I’ll start to get into in the next paragraph, the positives really outweighed the negatives, and I think it’s going to be a fun episode to rewatch in the future.
But I did have significant issues with the episode. First and foremost, I just felt like there were some noticeable leaps in logic. For example, I think it was odd how, first, we see Sherlock and John jump out of the windows, but in their next scene there were no visible injuries. That’s a pretty big fall. Speaking of that explosion, by the way, it didn’t really look all that great, but that didn’t bother me, really.
The rest of my issues are really just about the ending of the episode. I was prepared to gush over how much I was loving the episode, but then, sadly, I don’t think The Final Problem stuck the landing, so to speak. As Sherlock was running out to the headstones, I was completely with the show. It was absolutely thrilling and captivating. But then, suddenly, Eurus goes from being a terrifying villain to being a scared and emotionally scarred woman being held by her brother. It was a seriously rushed ending to that storyline.
My final issue with the episode also has to do with the very end of the episode. I think it was a really poor decision to let another DVD from Mary show up, and an even worse idea to let her give the monologue as the episode – and, potentially, the entire show – came to an end. That entire epilogue also felt slightly tacked on, so to speak.
But I think there was a lot to love about The Final Problem, which was an episode that I really enjoyed a lot. The scary and silly Mycroft scene was super fun to watch, and, really, I enjoyed seeing Mycroft tag along with Sherlock and John. Gatiss’ chatacter had, possibly, his greatest moment in all of Sherlock, as he tried to make his brother’s decision easier, when Eurus ordered Sherlock to either kill John or Mycroft.
I also really loved how the episode felt like a mixture of James Bond, Saw, and the excellent Batman video game Arkham Asylum. Speaking of the Dark Knight, it was also great to see Sherlock’s very own Joker – Andrew Scott’s Jim Moriarty – return for a few scenes. It was only through ‘recorded messages’ and flashbacks, but it was all I ever wanted his appearance to be.
I also think that Sian Brooke has been a really great addition to Sherlock. Moriarty will always be the very best foe for Sherlock, but Brooke’s Eurus Holmes made the most of her time as a villain in the fourth series. I thought her scenes with Sherlock at Sherrinford were pretty electrifying.
Although Martin Freeman did a good job in The Final Problem, he didn’t have a lot of great moments in this episode. This episode was more about the titular character. Eurus was researching him – experimenting on him – and therefore it was always about Sherlock. And, as always, Benedict Cumberbatch was fantastic. We often take it for granted, but Cumberbatch really owns this role, and he did make me tear up once or twice in The Final Problem.
All in all, The Final Problem was an exciting, entertaining, and surprisingly cinematic final episode, which was marred somewhat by plenty of head-scratching moments, a rushed ending, and an underwhelming epilogue. It’s not a bad ending for the season, but if this was the final episode of Sherlock, then it is a somewhat disappointing way to end it.
That said, if it is, indeed, the ending of the show, then let me say that it has been a privilege to watch a fantastic on-screen duo talk their way into and out of some intriguing mysteries wherein they’ve bested brilliant bad guys and gone out of their way to save each other from harm. To me, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman simply are Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. That will probably never change.
I know there are some Sherlock fans that like to think the show ended with The Reichenbach Fall, but I do not belong to that group. No, instead I will mourn the loss of Sherlock like Dr. John Watson at the end of The Reichenbach Fall, if The Final Problem is the final episode of the show.
So, if you’re listening, Television Gods. Give us one more miracle. Please bring back Cumberbatch and Freeman. Don’t let Sherlock end. Not now. There are more stories to tell, more brilliant monologues for Cumberbatch and Freeman to deliver perfectly, and more ways for the writers to show us how much these characters care. Take your time, but know that if Sherlock returns for a fifth series, then fans will still have an appetite for deduction.
– Jeffrey Rex