Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes
Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson
Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes
Una Stabbs as Mrs. Hudson
Sian Brooke as Eurus Holmes
If there isn’t going to be another season for Sherlock, The Final Problem is going to be the best conclusion to Gatiss and Moffat’s incarnation. This episode really provided some good insight into how Sherlock became how her is, it also took him to a happier, stronger place, as well las much closer to the character that is known in other adaptations.
The episode last week, concluded with the big reveal of Eurus, the lost and forgotten sister of Mycroft and Sherlock, who has been posing as different characters through the season and manipulating her brothers. The last scene showed her shooting John. In real Sherlock fashion, that particular cliffhanger has been pushed to the side, as he was shot with a tranquillizer, though you don’t actually get to see how it is even played out. Eurus, we have learned is the youngest of the Holmes children, and was considered to be a genius, but her intellect actually placed her above some of the smaller moral concepts such as good and evil.
It has been discovered that Sherlock has no memory of her because of a traumatic incident that happened during his childhood. Eurus drowned Redbeard, which was revealed wasn’t the family dog, but Sherlock’s friend Victor Trevor, and because of this Eurus created the Sherlock of now. The detached, cold, and analytical man was completely changed because of this event. That was until he met Dr. John Watson in the episode A Study in Pink.
Placed within a new context, Watson and Holmes’ friendship had acquired a more powerful and renewed significance. Watson had been giving Sherlock back something that was violently lost as a child. Now the whole show can be read like Sherlock is returning to a place where he is ready to make friends.
Family, friendships and all the messy emotional stuff that have been created really dominate the episode. We have learned that Mycroft had locked Eurus in a secret facility called Sherrinford, which according to Mycroft was where demons were kept. He had even lied to their parents stating that Eurus died in a fire. Interestingly enough, Sherrinford was one of the names that Conan-Doyle had played with for Sherlock, and has often been used to refer to an older brother in the Holmes canon.
Through most of this episode is being taken place within a grim prison on a remote Scottish island. We then learn that is far from prison, as Eurus genius actually lets her reprogram anyone that she comes in contact with, it was how she was able to come to London secretly, whether it was to share a bag of chips with Sherlock or flirt with John on the bus.
Eurus is actually in charge of the asylum, and Watson, Mycroft and Sherlock have instantly become prisoners. What comes after this is a bunch of uniquely placed and cruel puzzles that have been created to test Sherlock’s deductive and reasoning skills. Following the end of each problem, Sherlock gets a larger problem: he is able to talk to a little girl on a plane that is losing altitude. Everyone else is unconscious, and he has to race against the clock to work a way out to save her.
In the last act, Eurus is actually revealed to be the little girl. Her intellect translates her overall experience into a unique puzzle that Sherlock has to solve. It was basically a cry for help in a very cryptic language that only he would understand. It is an interesting and surprising reveal, although a bit hard to swallow. In just a single moment, Eurus goes from heartless murder to a very terrified girl who just wants a hug from her older brother to make things seem okay. She is then returned to Sherrinford where she can have visitors, as if she doesn’t pose any danger to those around her despite her ability to control minds.
During Eurus’ wicked tasks, Sherlock states “This isn’t torture. It’s vivisection.” That is the whole point of the episode; suffering Sherlock has discovered why he is how he is and how he can change.
The final episode
Season 4 has been a really hard and uneven journey, but The Final Problem has a lot of focus and momentum. Once everyone has arrived at Sherrinford, the episode really progresses through various puzzles that have escalating stakes that have allowed Sherlock to really shine, as well as allow Watson to be properly by his side. The presence of Mycroft has really added a bit of extra dynamic of these scenes.
The last 10 minutes had the feeling of goodbye. Then there are scenes of 221B Baker Street in the process of rebuilding after a huge explosion had destroyed it earlier, then Mary’s voice has celebrated John and Sherlock’s friendship, which was the solution for the Final Problem. Watson helped to connect Holmes to a younger version, before Eurus’ crime completely changed him to a cold and calculating creature. At episode’s end, you can tell that Sherlock is more human and comfortable than ever, as he holds John’s baby without having any type of discomfort, there is a smile and then he remembers Lestrade’s first name.
The future of Sherlock hasn’t been decided, but if this is the last bow for Benedict Cumberbatch, then The Final Problem seems to be the sincerest and fitting goodbye.