The final episode of season four of Sherlock took us on an emotional tour de force, leaving this viewer mentally exhausted yet satisfied. So often we find ourselves able to predict the outcome of a plot, or have absolute certainty that all of the characters will survive. As “The Final Problem” unfolded, I had genuine concern for each character’s well-being. Admittedly, even my rock-solid confidence that Sherlock and Watson were safe was also shaken. While this episode was rich and fulfilling, the greatest mystery now is will we get a season five? We’ll touch on that later. But speaking of the number five, let us dive into my top moments from this week’s Sherlock.
Smarter than her brothers with zero empathy, Eurus managed to creep me out more so than any previous villain. To imagine a child responding to being asked why they are cutting themselves with, “I wanted to see how my muscles work” or inquire Mycroft as to which feeling “pain” was is horrifying. The moment when Eurus’ hand met Sherlock’s, revealing there was no glass between them caused an audible gasp from me. Watching Eurus’ plan unfold as she lead Sherlock, Watson and Mycroft through her psychological maze was utterly disturbing. That Redbeard reveal? That sparked another round of expletives from me.
For just a few moments, I thought that they were going to pull an ultimate WTF with a reveal that Sherlock’s arch-nemesis was indeed still alive. But in classic Gatiss-Moffat style, it’s revealed to be a flashback. Seeing Andrew Scott again as Moriarty was a real treat, and while we did not get much dialogue between Jim and Eurus, witnessing them almost meld into each other through clever filming and the glass partition was beautifully disgusting.
Last year, I predicted that Mycroft Holmes was going to die. In my eyes, they were making every move a writer does when they are prepping a character to perish. The eldest Holmes brother was being increasingly humanized so the viewer cares about him more, ripening that moment for when death comes to be all the more sorrowful. As Eurus was leading the boys through her game and Sherlock was instructed to chose who lived between Watson and Mycroft, I thought the moment was at hand. My eyes were filling with tears as Mycroft was purposefully antagonizing Sherlock to make the choice ‘easier’. Sometimes, it is truly wonderful to be wrong.
This scene was so chock-full of emotions, I hardly knew what to do with myself. First, I was a fit of nerves, worried to pieces that Molly was about to meet her end. Was she going to answer her phone? Was she going to say it? Was Eurus still going to detonate the (turns out there weren’t any) explosives ? Seeing Molly struggle as she finally told Sherlock that she loved him broke my heart for her. Then, seeing Sherlock devastated as to what he had done, destroy the coffin, broke my heart again. Yet like Sherlock, Watson and Mycroft we try to be like them and be “Soldiers today.” What a line.
Should this prove to be the absolute finale, we were gifted with a gorgeous and complete ending. They presented a sweeping montage, with appearances by Lestrade, Molly, Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson and Baker Street itself reforming. There were also intermittent glimpses of Sherlock and his sister playing their violins for the family, all the while underscored by a moving narration by Mary Watson. The last part of which turned the water works for me to full blast, which I will share with you here: “When all else fails there are two men, sitting arguing in a scruffy flat like they’ve always been there and always will. The best and wisest men I have ever known, my Baker Street boys, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.”
Last, we have to mention that final shot, a moment that was evocative of classic Batman and Robin as the boys ran out to their next adventure. The nod to a Sherlock predecessor of Bumberbatch, Basil Rathbone in the building plaque, was not only meant to be a poignant reference to cinematic history, but was to represent that Sherlock and Watson had become the heroes we know them to be. This is not speculation by me, but according to Moffat himself.
There is hope to be had for a season five, as all parties from Moffat and Gatiss to cast and crew have voiced interest. But should that prove to be this iteration’s curtain call, it was truly one for the ages and I will be forever grateful to my Baker Street boys.