Review: Sherlock: The Final Problem (2017)


Sherlock: The Final Problem (2017)

Directed by: Benjamin Caron | 88 minutes | crime, drama | Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Louise Brealey, Amanda Abbington, Andrew Scott, Sian Brooke, Art Malik, Timothy Carlton, Wanda Ventham

sigh. We have already arrived at the third and therefore final episode of season four of Sherlock. It’s a pity. Can’t get a few next time? The difference with normal series is that the episodes – with a length of ninety minutes – are actually full films and therefore more labour-intensive, but the viewer is of course very quickly through a season. Anyway, we are ‘basically’ happy with everything we get, as it is usually a pleasure to spend time with these characters and especially these actors. Of course, this does not mean that we have to find everything equally good.

Unfortunately, there is a lot to like about every episode this season and this last episode is no exception. The relationship between Sherlock and Watson has fortunately been restored, but the digging into the psyches of the characters just goes a bit further here. Admittedly, this is not all negative: it even produces something intriguing here and there. More regrettable is that the makers apparently saw the need to add various sometimes very cheap action, thriller and horror elements to keep it interesting, at the expense of realism and credibility. If there is another season – and you still keep that wish, which is a good sign – there is hope that they will leave all this nonsense behind. Just ‘reset’ and rely on its own strength: then Sherlock is at its best.

It immediately starts on a false note. While the previous episode in its second half was still an intense, somewhat gruesome psychothriller with horror elements, in the opening episode the viewer has already ended up in a full-blooded (supernatural) horror film, complete with creepy clowns, ‘Child’s Play’, ‘Poltergeist’-like voices from the other side, and (dead) Japanese horror girls with hair before their eyes. Besides all the obligatory ‘smoke & mirrors’ of course. That this extreme style is explained a little later does not solve much. In fact, it raises a bunch of new questions. Not long after this opening, another problematic scene takes place: an absurd explosion (with very bad special effects), which is miraculously, and without further explanation, survived by those involved. So a pinch of Michael Bay in ‘Sherlock’, why not.

Fortunately, the prelude to this is well worth it again: Sherlock’s haughty brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) – it runs in the family – has to swallow his pride and sit on the couch with Sherlock (and Watson) to make his ‘case’ for him. to lay. That is, the story of their gifted but criminal sister Eurus (Sian Brooke). Also, Sherlock makes it abundantly clear – for the first time – just how important Watson is to him and how much he takes him for granted, he practically considers him family. This is also an interesting trend in the rest of the episode: Watson not only bumping after Sherlock, but actually coming to intelligent conclusions on his own, sometimes even before Sherlock or Mycroft could even think of it. They have become equal brothers in arms. Which is also necessary, as they have a common and ultra-intelligent enemy, for which they must join forces.

Until the threesome – but especially Sherlock – confront Eurus, ‘The Final Problem’ is actually quite compelling. But gradually it feels more and more contrived and unbelievable. Eurus (and thus the makers of ‘Sherlock’) throws a lot of theater into it, which ultimately comes at the expense of the drama. She presents our friends with impossible choices and moral tests, resulting in death and destruction. On its own with quite a bit of psychological tension, but at the same time quite predictable. In addition, Eurus is given such great powers and intelligence that it becomes difficult to sympathize with her or the situation. Furthermore, the denouement is indeed surprising, but at the same time it is an anticlimax of an urgent problem that had to be solved before that time. There is a good chance that the makers will not fully ‘get’ the viewers here.

Basically, for just about every plus there is a minus and vice versa. The fact that the revelation or development of Sherlock still works well is largely due to the acting skills of Benedict Cumberbatch, who gives his character – who increasingly remembers his troubled childhood – real pathos. Although the story of Eurus leaves something to be desired, the development and explanation of Sherlock himself is certainly satisfying. At the same time, you might wonder whether a deep dive into his psyche and seeking a cause for his seemingly unfeeling attitude does much good to the mystique and humor surrounding his character. Isn’t this just Sherlock? A brilliant detective. who is nice and sarcastic and bad with people, without caring much about this. By making him human and explaining everything, he could suddenly become a lot less interesting.

A next season could provide a definitive answer about this, but it is by no means certain whether this will come to pass. Everyone wants very much, but the busy schedules of the actors are increasingly difficult to match. In itself, this is the perfect ending for both scenarios: they stopped while all the characters have “fully” developed, that is, we understand why Sherlock and Watson are (become) how and who they are. And so it can end here. But the ending also just suggests that Sherlock can now continue as usual, with new things. Completely ‘clean’, healed and ready to take action. ‘The game is on!’

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