Sherlock Season 4 made a tremendous farewell with “The Final Problem” aired last Sunday, January 15th, 2017. All mysteries are solved, all demons beneath the roads we walk conquered, the life has returned to its normal pace. But the impact “The Final Problem” and Sherlock Season 4 made on us and the emotions we got from watching this truely outstanding blockbuster are imperishable.
If you asked me to describe “The Final Problem” crowning Sherlock Season 4 in a few words, I would say “heart squeezing”, “breathtaking”, “thrilling”. Here Sherlock has to deal with the ramifications of Mycroft deeds. It is all connected with the family, memories, old demons that have come out from their cover after a long wait.
You must remember that in the previous episode we got to know that Sherlock and Mycroft had a long-lost sister, Eurus. She pretended to be a passanger in the bus flirting with John, then Culverton Smith’s daughter and finally John’s therapist. At the end of “The Lying Detective” she disclosed herself before Dr Watson aiming a gun at him. Fortunately, the film creators decided to save his life. Really, two deaths of key characters would be too much.
Sherlock “The Final Problem” is a mixure of film genres with a perfect amount of humour spice. It opens as an thrilling action presenting us a frightened girl in a plane full of asleep passangers and crew team including pilots. Then the story gets more horror as we shift to London just at Mycroft’s home. There Sherlock and John put on a horror act for Mycroft in order to make him tell the truth about Eurus. The situation scares Mycroft alot. And from here the story takes it rapid development.
Mycroft confesses before Sherlock and John. He tells them about Eurus’s outstanding mind abilities which are beoyong Newton’s. However, Sherlock remembers only fragments from his childhood. He lost his best friend ‘Redbeard’. This traumatized him alot and his mind gave a protective response to it by transforming the memories. Later we will talk about Redbeard more. But now let’s return to the film genres mixed in the story.
After the horror thriller we are treated with an action blockbuster scene. And that is when Sherlock, John and Mycroft flee from the patient grenade. The filmmaker masterly add a pinch of humour even to such a nervous scene. And then “Boom!” The explosion – and classic survival of heroes: Sherlock and John jumping from the window.
Now, the tension level arises as we are taken together with the heroes to the super-secret highly secured island – Sherrinford – the government institution where the most dangerous people are kept. The island is designed as a fort, “a prison within a prison” as Mycroft describes it. That is the place where their sister Eurus has been kept since her childhood. Due to her outstanding mental abilities the girl didn’t have friends, she was not emotionally connected with anyone. Being kept in this highly-secured isolated secret prison cum asylum she was examined by scientists and was made to solve top-secret cases related to national security. She was treated and used as an object with peculiar abilities.
The Sherrinford part and the rest of “The Final Problem” is more a psychological thriller than a detective story we are used to, watching the previous episodes. A peculiar feature of this episode is that is stuffed with flashbacks unveiling the viewers past events. So we can relate the outcome.
Mycroft has always thought the situation in Sherrinford is under his total control. But he underestimated his sister’s abilities and overestimated the people working in this secret institution if not to mention his own mistakes. Eurus understands human psychology so well that in a 5-minute conversation she “enslaves” anyone. As Mycroft says, “She does not just talk, she re-programs” one’s mind. Moreover, for her services for government she demanded gifts from Mycroft. Although he cleverly uses “the deduction thing”, sibling feelings didn’t allow him to refuse the demands of his sister. And one of the gifts Mycroft brought to Eurus was… Moriarty.
The part with Moriarty return to Sherlock show is awesome. It could not be better. It is made with such delicate cinematic taste, humour and suspense. I would say it is, without a doubt, one of the best scenes in the episode. We see Moriarty getting off the helicopter in Sherrinford under the Queen’s hit song “I want to break free” which is accompanies by raptorous applause. Just a spectacular appearance of Sherlock’s main rival. It may seem to someone too much ostentatious. But why not? After all, Moriarty is like this, he likes making unordinary shows.
Till the moment Moriarty meets Mycroft we’re made to believe that the villain is really back. “How could he survive?” – this question repeats again and again in our mind for the next moments until Moriarty meets Mycroft. At that time we are shown that this is an event which took place five years ago.
Moriarty was a Christmas gift for Eurus. In five minutes of unsupervised conversation with him she recorded short video messages of Moriarty including the famous “Miss Me?” to terrorize Sherlock and make everyone believe that Moriarty resurrected after death.
Now, let’s return to the psychological thriller. As I have mentioned above five minutes is enough for Eurus to cow anyone into her submission. And she used her ability to gain freedom from the place she has been kept. She enslaved the Governor of Sherrinford and the prison became under her control.
When Sherlock goes to see Eurus in her ‘ward’ he doesn’t notice the absense of the glass between then. And here we’re getting tricked together with our detective. Really, we, the viewers, are put in same circumstances with Sherlock and can make our own conlusions based on what we see.
Eventually, Sherlock, John and Mycroft are locked in the prison and have nothing to do but to obey to what Eurus. She puts them in critical situations where they have to make difficult choices. For, instance, she takes the Governor’s wife as a hostage and says that she will leave her alive if Mycroft or Watson shoot the Governor dead. Mycroft refuses to take the gun, then Sherlock asks John who agrees but ultimately is not able to make the final shot. In arising tension the Governor shoots himself. In return, Eurus shoots his wife, too, and blames John in her death as the condition of her staying alive was Mycroft of John shooting her husband.
Why do the three men obey and play according to the rules of the obsessed woman? Not because she is the sister of Sherlock and Mycroft. There is something more. Eurus makes a call and they hear a voice of a girl who is in a big plane and everyone except the girl is asleep. Sherlock talks to the girl in order to help her to land the plane. With every solved puzzle and passed trial Eurus allows him to talk to the girl for a minute.
After the trial when Sherlock has to save Molly’s life by making her tell him “I love you”, the tension get too high and we get another strongest, emotional scene – Sherlock breaking the hearse furiously. He cannot stand the “vivisection” Eurus makes them going through. In fact, there is no logic in her trials. At last she make an elimination round where Sherlock has to choose, either to shoot Mycroft or John. Again death? Who’s turn now? Family or the best friend? At last, Sherlock decides the only way to end up Eurus’s game is to go against the rules. He aims the gun at himself but gets a dart in his neck and looses his conscious.
Here we’ve reached the concluding part of “The Final Problem”. As Eurus says, this time Sherlock has to solve the first problem in his career, the puzzle from his childhooh. He has to decode the song Eurus used to sing when she was little. And the answer will save two lives: John who is chained at the bottom of the deep well with Redbeard’s remains and the girl in the plane.
Before that Sherlock remembers Redbeard. And we get to know that Redbeard was never a dog. He was Sherlock’s best friend Victor. They were inseparable. Eurus felt alone as her little brother spent all his time with Victor. She kept the little boy in the well and created the song in which she coded the directions how to find. But no one could ever find Victor.
As tension goes to the boiling point Sherlock, at last, understands that the girl in the plane is actually his sister Eurus. The scene when Sherlock finds and enters her room is very touching. He realises why Eurus has become what she is now. She was detached from all the human values like love, family, friends. She is pure brain that does not know any attachment to any anything and anyone. Sherlock hugs her and asks to help him to find and save John. Happy end!
I would emphasize the outstanding camera work and music. These two aspects make the episode complete and fill it with the magic that makes us empathize the heroes and drag us deep inside the story twists.
No one can explain the core point of the episode better than the creators of the show. Here is what Steven Moffat said about Sherlock “The Final Problem” in his interview to the Metro:
Sherlock finally understands he’s stronger and smarter than Mycroft in a way. But not because he is actually smarter, because he’s less smart. Because his emotions, his connections to human beings, the wisdom he has gained from the connections in the world make him stronger.”
He sees that partly because the extreme Eurus, who has no connection to anything, is just pure brain, not understanding anything about what it is to be human – that makes him realise that everything he has worked towards, everything he has tried to strip away from himself, and tried to deny about himself, is what makes him the strongest one.
He isn’t as smart as Eurus, he isn’t as smart as Mycroft, but he’s always going to win against them because he is better and stronger. (Steven Moffat)
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