Friday, January 20, 2017

Sherlock Series 4 Reaction: "The Final Problem"

Three weeks into the new year, and Sherlock is already on hiatus. We are the fandom that waits. And we have waited a long time for this season finale. What did we think of "The Final Problem"? How did it measure up to the rest of season four? Let's find out. Spoilers included.

Synopsis: As Sherlock and John try to track down Eurus and learn who she truly is, they find themselves trapped in a dangerous game that has been years in the making. 

Kristen C.
This episode. I can’t even handle it. No. First, this episode was sensational for the sake of being sensational. They played mind games that made no sense, introduced a machete clown for no reason, and created drama where there didn't need to be anyway. Second, there was no mystery, nothing to solve. It was just Eurus coming up with lame hoops for Sherlock to jump through. And third, it had nothing to do with any other parts of the series. It was a sad excuse for an episode of Sherlock, and I’m mad about it.

What I liked
That entrance. That glorious entrance was, hands down, the best part of the episode, if not the entire season. And, in a season of disappointments, the absolute most disappointing part was the phrase, “five years earlier.”

What I didn't like
The characters
This episode was the final nail in the coffin for the Sherlock characters. Sherlock and Watson, and even all the other characters to an extent, are no longer dynamic, interesting characters; they were writers’ playthings, doing very little in character and doing whatever it took to move the plot forward. It's as if the writers skimmed a few fan theories and were like, “Yeah we can do that,” but didn’t actually bother putting thought into it.

Why would you do that to my precious Molly??? And how did it shake out?? I’m assuming they’re on good terms, since she was in their flat at the end, but they never addressed what came of it. I wanted to see that. If they were going to spend so much time on emotional drama, they could have at least let us see how it all played out.

What a useless excuse for a human being. We all knew what kind of character he was; they didn't need to hammer in that he was a useless coward. And, for supposedly being the only person who knew what to do with Eurus and how to communicate with her, he did exactly nothing as she led them through her labyrinth of idiocy.

It would have had more impact had they left him as a dog. Having her kill a child was unnecessary for her character development and morbid for the sake of morbidity, and it completely shot a hole in all of Sherlock’s credibility. He is, after all, the detective who remembers everything. BUT NOT ANYMORE.

What in the heck kind of high security prison doesn't require biometric identification???

Eurus (the character)
She was by far the show’s weakest villain. If she was a psychopath, as everything they told about her suggests, everything would not have been fixed by a hug. That was such a weak plot fix. Everything they said about her and how she acted were two totally different things. She's supposed to be smarter than anyone, but she doesn't act it. Never once do we see her being “smart.” She has no grasp of how Sherlock is going to respond to being told to kill people, which totally negates her supposed ability to know people’s minds. She might be a savant at recognizing patterns, but Sherlock and Mycroft are smart because they can do this AND they understand people. That's literally the entire point of the show.

Eurus (the plot line)
She can mind-control people. Sure, let's gloss right over that. She goes to visit Sherlock and John, just to go right back to prison. Why not? She played her “game” while also being the girl on the phone. Even with some kind of multiple personality disorder, that's a stretch. She and Moriarty planned the entirety of the last four seasons in a five-minute conversation. Yeah, that makes sense. What did she even want with Sherlock and John? We didn't mention that. Nobody had a purpose for doing anything. And it pissed me off.

This episode was essentially a reset. It's as if the writers got tired of where they were going with the series and started over. But, like, really pathetically. They put no effort into it. They killed off all their good, interesting characters and replaced them with one-and-done, exceedingly less interesting characters and villains. If this is the end of the series, which I could totally see it being, I’m going to pretend this season doesn’t exist. Badly done, Messrs. Moffat and Gatiss, badly done.

Jaime Heller
I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about season four of Sherlock before the finale. From a glance, the show seems to be including a lot of fantastic moments and wonderful dialogue that feels like coming home. But when I stop and think about the plot lines and the overall story arc, I feel… disappointed. There is no substance to them. It’s just a lot of craziness thrown into a 90-minute episode that looks good from the outside, but in all actuality, is a disaster.

And “The Final Problem” was the worst of them.

I could get over the mediocre plot of the premiere because I could focus on how much I adored Sherlock with Rosie or Sherlock’s friendship with Mary or even badass Mary running around the world. I could look past the strangeness of the trippy, heroin-high second episode because there were touching moments between Sherlock and John, Mrs. Hudson driving a kick-ass car, and a wonderful performance by Toby Jones. But I cannot ignore the catastrophe of “The Final Problem.”

The plot line was confusing, convoluted, and cracked. Eurus was a terrible adversary. She wasn’t clever. She was a stereotypical horror movie villain that had nothing to ground her to this world and these characters. You’re telling me that the entire Moriarty plot was her idea? I can’t get behind that. I just can’t. That not only ruins this episode, but every episode that came before; every Moriarty moment crumbles into nothing. (Honestly, at this point, I’m just going to ignore everything after season three and pretend it didn’t happen so I can enjoy my Moriarty moments.)

Most of what occurred wasn’t a mystery to solve, but suspense created purely for shock value. It was one giant mess to make fans scream in agony as they watched the show. Because honestly? That’s what happened. As I watched the episode and felt the suspense build and things were revealed and events happened, I was freaking out. Full on curling into fetal position because I didn’t want anything bad to happen. But when all was revealed, when they saved the day, and everything went back to normal (too normal for my tastes), I felt… empty. There was nothing there. It was all a passing feeling that left as soon as it came. And I don’t want that to be my Sherlock show. I want Sherlock to be the show that continues to blow my mind while providing me with better writing and cinematography and acting than most other shows (so it's worth waiting two years for). I want Sherlock to impress me and make me want to re-watch the episodes several times over. But I don't want to re-watch "The Final Problem" (and maybe not even the rest of season four).

In addition, as the season progressed, things became more and more morbid. Sure, I can handle Mary being an assassin and receiving orders to kill people. I understand a world where that happens. But I don’t understand a world where a well-liked entrepreneur gets off by offing people. (He was a creep.) I don’t understand a world where Redbeard is actually a child trapped in a well and no parent even noticed? No parent did anything? Only Baby Sherlock was searching for said child? Where were the adults? Where were the police? Where was the British government?!

It was disgusting. And again, it happened for shock value.

Even if they wanted to keep it as a child for a morbid twist, it would have been more intriguing if that child wasn’t just Sherlock’s unnamed “best friend.” It would have been much more interesting if that child had been a fourth Holmes sibling, the other Holmes brother that we all through was Eurus. If I can come up with that theory in point-two seconds while watching the episode (because when they first revealed Redbeard was a kid, I almost choked and thought "There is another Holmes brother" in a Yoda voice), you’ve got to be kidding me that so-called “genius” writers couldn’t.

There was a lot in this episode that didn't make sense and was never fully explained. (What happened with Molly? What does Eurus do all day?) And suddenly John and Sherlock's relationship is back to being thick as thieves, no questions asked, no change in dynamics without Mary around, nothing? No, that's not what happens after Mary dies; their relationship does change because that's how life works. And you're still trying to convince me that Mary and Moriarty are truly dead for good? I still don't believe it. I can't believe it. I can't believe that this show would get rid of two of the better characters simply for plot.

Overall, this episode strayed far from the characters we’ve come to know and love. And why? To make people talk? To make fans scream in their rooms while they watch the episode alone? Do they want this show to get canceled or to lose its fanbase? Or has it grown so popular that there are too many fans with too many ideas to appease? I’m just disappointed and unimpressed.

The best moment of the entire season was Moriarty’s glorious entrance. I’ve been waiting a long time for him to return, and it was brilliant. And then we read the words “Five Years Ago,” and I gave up all my hopes and dreams that this episode would turn out for the better. (Thank you, Andrew Scott, for giving me a little hope.)

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so disappointed in a show recently (other than maybe, Doctor Who, and that's still Moffat’s fault). There are shows I roll my eyes at because of the terrible writing, but they’ve always had mediocre writing. There are shows that ended in disappointment, but I can brush it off because the rest of the show was fantastic. But this? This is sad. This breaks my fangirl heart. There was so much potential wasted.

I hate to say this because I don’t want to give up hope, but maybe this should be the end of Sherlock.

Jamie Stewart
The short version is that I found "The Final Problem" to be very disappointing. I felt like a lot of the emotional character development we've built up for a lot of these characters has been utterly destroyed. And there were so many plot holes that I had a hard time getting into it.

Yes, Sherlock is more approachable now, but we never got to see him confront all this pain. He's been continually neglected by his best friend, whom he kills and dies for, with no apology on John's part for literally kicking him while he was down. John's whole story this series was just hard to watch. It didn't feel like the John I came to know. I was severely hoping Mary wasn't actually dead just to excuse that overdramatic death scene. When Sherlock got shot in the chest, he passed out instantly. Meanwhile, Mary leaves Rosie without a mother to jump in front of a bullet that Sherlock could have easily sidestepped if she had enough time to jump in front of it, and then she gave a whole dying speech. And she just keeps sending DVD's from the grave, apparently.

What they did to Molly's character was perhaps the most atrocious. She started off the entire show as some meek and plain girl who just adores Sherlock. As the series goes on, we see her evolve into her own person. She can exist and be successful outside the confines of what Sherlock is to her. And what do they do with her last scene possibly ever in the show? They push her character development right back to season one, where she was a plot device who only exists in the context of Sherlock Holmes and his feelings towards her.

Everything having to do with Eurus and the prison island was so strange. It was like Saw but instead of murdering strangers it was murdering my favorite show. The whole plot was so convoluted and forced that I truly didn't care. Me, a girl who has Sherlock Holmes literally tattooed on her shoulder, didn't care. These weren't the characters I knew them to be, they're not the same as we left them three years ago. And I get it, people change. But if you honestly believe John Watson, who watched Sherlock jump off a building, was going to let him stick a gun under his chin, you don't know the John Watson I know.

I think the writers lost a connection with these characters or misunderstood our connection to them. Also, they're just pulling deus ex machina's out of their butts for nearly every conflict and calling it "clever." If this really is the last series of the entire show, and maybe it should be, it was a terrible let down. It actually hurts to look at gifs or see images from this series. Fandom can hurt, babes. It can really, really hurt.

What did you think of "The Final Problem"?

1 comment:

  1. Agree with everything you said. I really, really disliked this season. After the first episode, I was keeping an open mind, thinking, "Okay, I guess they had to shake things up." The second episode was just bizarre and I hated Final Solution most of all. Everything seemed to be for shock value. There were SO many plot holes and things that made NO sense that I can't even. Mycroft and Molly were unrecognizable in that episode. I'm just going to pretend I never saw it at all.
    Jen @ YA Romantics