Spoilers! Review: Sherlock S4E3 - The Final Problem

Well another series of Sherlock is over. Did we see the result coming.....?

Well. If this series of Sherlock has been one thing,  it has been consistent. Every single episode has divided the room.

At the end of episode two we had John facing the armed and dangerous third Holmes sibling who had been masquerading as, amongst other things, his new psychiatrist.

Episode three sees Sherlock endeavouring to come to terms with the fact that he has a sister. A sister that he'd forgotten thanks largely to a combination of trauma and Mycroft. The idea that their parents had never spoken about her or had photos in the house is something that we'll just have to skip over.

Our intrepid duo and Mycroft head to Sherrinford which turns out to be a secure(ish) island facility where Euros has been since an early age. It transpires that she has brainwashed the staff and has been able to come and go at will. It also turns out that she has had Moriarty do her bidding as part of a long standing plan of revenge against her brothers. I can take a bet that most of the fandom went nuts after seeing Moriarty on screen only to end up slightly more subdued two minutes later.

The rather isolated setting made me think of the Basil Rathbone film The House of Fear which remains my favourite of his series. But enough of that....

Euros' vengeance takes the form of a series of psychological tortures imposed on the trio which are, in part, designed to make Sherlock remember his actual childhood as opposed to the memories he had made for himself. Shutter Island meets Saw would be one way of looking at it.

Is Redbeard all he seems?
Ultimately it is a good old fashioned sibling rivalry story with a healthy dash of resentment thrown in.

A large number of Canon references have been built in. Most obvious are those which draw on The Gloria Scott and The Musgrave Ritual. I'm not entirely convinced that they were used well but - "it is what it is" (the clear catchphrase of the series).

Lestrade and Molly were underused again but I suppose that was inevitable for the plot to work. Everything depended on a sense of isolation for the main trio. The scene with Molly was close to heartbreaking to watch.

It was, overall, a good episode but it was a little too far away from what I look for. For me The Lying Detective is the stand out episode of the series. In fact I consider last night's episode the weakest of series four.

At the end we're shown the duo rebuilding their lives and accommodation and apparently returning to the more conventional crime solving of series one and two. Steven Moffat has apparently stated that if there is a series five it will return to solving crimes now that Sherlock's back story has been fully fleshed out. I certainly hope so. If there turns out to be no series five they have left it in a place that could be seen as a natural conclusion.

Online reaction has, as I said above, been split. Some adored it and some hated it. Those who've lost faith in the show are not likely to have it restored by this finale. I have seen that some who disliked episode two have been brought round by episode three.

Overall I liked it and it was an improvement on series three which I think lost its way.

I certainly hope for series five and the return to adventures solving crime.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here



  1. I'm still in my mind palace trying to cope with the end of series 4. Maybe it's because English is not my first language, maybe because my stream stopped several times (yes, I watched through a keyhole) maybe because there are so many different details still to understand.
    But it was a very thrilling ending that clearly have left me speechless. If it's the end, so be it. But as a dedicated fan, I do hope there will be series 5 somewhere in the future with Sherlock and John solving crimes together.

  2. "It was, overall, a good episode..." !? What the hell was this whole series about? If you say it was an exploration of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, either of the Canon or pop culture, may I remind you that Moffat and Gatiss have conclude that Sherlock Holmes is the way he is because his psychopathic six year old non-Canonical sister killed Sherlock's best friend; Sherlock suppressing all memory of her; Eurus (ucch, that's supposed to be clever?) being locked away, but like the Joker in Arkham running the asylum; controlling Moriarty, thanks to an incredibly stupid Mycroft; Euros responsible for who knows how many deaths, all because she wanted Sherlock to play with her? And we're supposed to be okay with Sherlock making regular visits to play (the violin) with her because, what, family is family? There is nothing Canonical in that and as for in Sherlockian pop culture, this is indeed uncharted waters, although it could be a fit for movie James Bond brother Blofeld's "I am the author of all your pain" ridiculousness. This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach allows the fan to pick and choose whatever bits they like and dismiss the rest, like the as-filmed super-speedy Mary jumping in front of an already-fired bullet to save Sherlock. Well, if you liked it, okay, I respect that. All the more reason for us traditional Sherlockians to hawk the superiority of the Dolyean Canon.

    1. And again I have to agree with Mr O'Leary. All this stuff happened - supervillain Moriarty was practically neutered - because Euros wasn't invited to Sherlock's and Victor's pirate games? Please.

      Let alone the nonsense that little Victor apparently spent the weekend at Holmes manor and when he disappears - what happens? They must have called the police (missing child, remember?) who would have staged a massive search. And yet nobody remembered or found the well? When 'child in a well' is practically a classic?

      And then all that misery gets better with a brotherly hug (love conquers all). Yeah, sure. I could've written a better episode when I was twelve years old.

    2. This Sherlock is not about logic but emotion, as Series Four keeps reminding us, Ms. Ketelsen. But even on that emotion-storytelling-criteria, "The Final Problem", unlike "A Scandal in Belgravia" does not work. It makes no emotional sense. Magnussen deserves a bullet to the brain but the far more evil Eurus deserves forgiveness and love? BBC Sherlock maybe a clever show, but it's not a smart one. What a waste.

    3. What a waste, indeed. How am I to connect with the characters on an emotional level when I'm constantly propelled out of the story because I cannot suspend my disbelief long enough to engage?

  3. i thought it was great really cleverly done remember its a modern day take on a nineteenth century set of stories its a 21st century adaption based on the stories of Conan Doyle its not tied exclusively to the books otherwise it wouldn't be set in modern London so there is artistic licencse to play with it for the modern generation....thought its wss very cleverly done thumbs up from me!!!!

  4. It's completely over the top, with so many leaps of faith required by the viewer that we're continually in the air ourselves. My non-Sherlockian wife loved it precisely because it was so weird and non-traditional. I'm still reserving my opinion - I've now watched it twice and I don't think I've picked up all the nuances yet. I have to say though that the sequence from Moriarty arriving on the island through to his meeting with Eurus is absolutely fantastic television.

  5. Alistair, have you seen this wonderful review?