Sherlock is Garbage, And Here’s Why That’s Okay

Title stolen from this video, which I highly recommend.

Imagine it’s 2012, and you hear there’s a new show about Sherlock Holmes. Maybe you’re a fan of Doctor Who and you hear it’s got the same writer. Maybe you don’t know much about the original stories.

You’re blown away. The production values, the twists, the cliffhangers, and the chemistry between the two leads have sucked you in. The writing feels sharp and brilliant, the characters iconic, and the ships plentiful. And then it goes on hiatus.

Over the years, you hear people criticizing the show, and maybe you agree with the general gist of it. The Series 2 premiere was weak, and kind of regressive; the gay elements come off more as offensive mockery; and is Moriarty really coming back?

As Series 3 comes and goes, it’s clear that Sherlock is a unique show, but not a particularly smart one. Great for a laugh at some Cumberbatch sass, or an overblown drama, or if you like having text all over the screen.

I happen to enjoy that kind of thing, even if I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite shows. As season 4 came closer, I realized what Sherlock was to me. It was, and probably always was, a comedy. A lot of it, like Sherlock’s character, worked for me on a dramatic level, but it was always more the jabs and the unpredictable events than an investment in the mystery. This put me in the perfect place for Series 4.

This is not my defense of Series 4. The premiere was an utter shitshow, focusing on one-off characters with more backstory than they could fit, with an utterly mechanical ending. The second episode was far more exciting, but not to the high tier that other people put it on.

This is not my defense of Series 4. This is my claim that “The Final Problem” is one of the best episodes in the series.

The Villain

Eurus is the ultra-Sherlock. Sherlock spends the series flaunting his thought processes. His priorities are above that of the average human.

Eurus throws out the most basic priority: happiness. Emotions are just in the brain, so any effort towards fulfillment or conscience is mere obedience to evolution.

She’s incapable of being reasoned with, utterly ridiculous, and irredeemably violent as such. As a character she’s a mess, but she embodies what the show always was: a display of extreme situations and absurd people.

The Twists

First off, the big twist was foreseeable. There was a resemblance between Eurus and the girl on the plane. Not to mention it’s a Moffat show. If you end an episode and start the next episode introducing a new female character, they’re probably the same character.

Throughout, the episode twists and turns viewers’ expectations to get the most violent results possible.  It’s pretty offensive and insulting – it’s a key part of what people hate about the episode. But it also hits harder than any other part of the show. This show’s always done nasty things – time to go all in.

The Little Things

Sherlock becomes a pirate. What more is there to say? Moriarty’s introduction sequence is  similarly glorious. Long enough to dazzle, but quick enough to keep him dead. This episode was comical and alive in ways the other episodes of the season were lacking.

The Failures

If I had no problems with this episode, it would probably be my favorite one. It’s first half was basically the best the show had ever been in regards to character, presentation, and sheer shock.

The most obvious is the villain being defeated by the power of love. So much of a mystery’s strength is the moment of the solution’s insight and catharsis. This was sadly missing.

Also 15 seconds after arriving, Jim outstays his welcome. The gay joke has gone to the most boring possible places. His purpose in the episode is to make pre-recorded snarky remarks and weird noises, and most of them annoyed me even more than they annoyed Team Holmes.

These things don’t make the episode better, but they’re suitable nails for the show’s coffin. It was never the highest drama or the finest adaptation. It was over emotional pulp with a recognizable name stamped on it.

I don’t think I’d mind some more.


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