Review: Sherlock – ‘The Final Problem’


A lazy story full of incoherency and plot holes leaves a bitter taste in fans' mouths.

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We had to wait three years for Sherlock to properly come back, and it’s already over. ‘The Final Problem’, the series’ – and maybe the show’s – final episode, was supposed to be full of promises, on the edge of a new era for our favourite detective; but all it brought was bitter deception.

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch), John (Martin Freeman) and Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) have to face the Holmes’ secret sister Eurus (Sian Brooke). The Baker Street sociopath seems to have trouble remembering her, but something deep is hiding in Sherlock’s past, and he wants to unveil the truth. But Eurus has been waiting a long time to meet her little brother, preparing some little cases to solve and torture…

First, the writing behind the episode clearly lacks coherence, containing numerous plot holes, and a high level of predictability. How could John and Sherlock fall by the window after an explosion, and hours later be on a boat to Sherrinford? The entire first half-hour could have been omitting in the script anyway… and how did the police not think about looking in well? How could brilliant-minded Sherlock not realise that the little girl on the plane was fake, as it would mean the plane must have been flying for hours? Did John really cheat on Mary with Sherlock’s sister? If Eurus really manipulates and reprogrammes people, why didn’t she do the same with Watson? Moffat and Gatiss seem to have written ‘The Final Problem’ for the wrong franchise…

I cannot deny the thrill behind some scenes – the laughs created by Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) dancing on the Number of the Beast of Iron Maiden; Moriarty’s (Andrew Scott) fabulous heart-racing return to a Queen melody; and the tears when Mycroft tried to manipulate Sherlock into killing him. But that’s pretty much as far as the compliments go. Most of the episode was a pantomime, like Sherlock’s taunting of Mycroft in the first five minutes, normally confined to American TV series that don’t know when it’s time to say goodbye. The scenes that shone were only exceptional thanks to the actors who were there to raise the quality of this episode. The worst is that there was so much potential wasted.

Credit: BBC

While Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss always congratulated themselves for driving the series with original material, this time they went way too far. Sherlock Holmes does not have a sister. Regardless of that, her motives are superficial, there are no real issues. Plus, one third of the episode looked really familiar… Sherlock having to make deductions in a short amount of time to save someone, exactly the plot of Series 1’s ‘The Great Game’, but with a lot less of imagination.

The main criticism for ‘The Final Problem’, and the entire series four by extension, is the total absence of case. We want to know about Sherlock’s detective stories, and not to watch what is primarily backstory of the detective. Though it was great fun to be reunited with our favourite characters, all three episodes lack a focus on a case, and fail to approach what little mystery they do find with that peculiar atmosphere that made Sherlock famous.

It will only be remembered by the great performance of the actors which made the episode a little more bearable. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers an as-always outstanding performance as Sherlock Holmes, while Mark Gatiss is gifted a real opportunity to explore new aspects of his character. The chemistry between Dr. Watson and Holmes was perfect, and it was a pleasure to watch after the turmoil of the rest of the series. Finally, Louise Brealey is superb as the overwhelmed and eternally tragic Molly Hooper, that she only get to play for a sadly short scene.

So, it’s already the end for Sherlock’s Series 4, and the expectations haven’t been met. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see our 21st Century Victorian detective solving real mystery in Series 5. Maybe the show will one day come back to where it stood in its early years. But if this was a real goodbye, then it is said with a real bitter taste.

Sherlock‘s fourth series is available to watch via the BBC iPlayer.


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Second year Business Student. Loves Sherlock, writing, books and coffee.

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