Sherlock: The Final Problem. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Sian Brooke, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Louise Brealey, Amanda Abbington, Andrew Scott, Art Malik, Timothy Carlton, Wanda Ventham, Simon Kunz, Richard Crehan, Matt Young, Tam Mutu.

The line between villain and the psychopath is such a fine one that it sometimes crosses through the gossamer lining that just separates them. The line is shrouded in mist, it feels its way like oily tentacles and where someone as anarchic and disturbing as James Moriarty is seen to be the epitome of darkness and criminality. It is to the likes of Eurus Holmes, seemingly respectable if seen in a different guise, that true evil plays out, evil not for the sake of causing mayhem and the eyes on control of the fortunes of the people in their grasp but one that it born of jealousy, of manipulation, high functioning narcissism, anger and sibling neglect. It is in that neglect that the villain disappears and trouble begins.

Sherlock has been a series of high quality thought, to take Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective and transplant him into the modern era does not require much imagination but to do in such a way that the new stories match and even in some cases surpass the original is the work of insane beauty; yet as a high the series reached in the previous episode The Lying Detective, somehow the steam that has driven the four series on, came to a partial halt, before chugging along to its inevitable and dare be suggested, twee conclusion.

The magic of the previous act, the reveal of Sherlock and Mycroft’s sister in the drama was to behold a potion of sincere charm and thrill that was every bit as good as television that an audience could ask for; to then take her and use her nothing more than a psychotic but genius gameshow host begging just to be loved by her brother was a two sided coin, yes it showed the dysfunction in the family perfectly, it revealed the storm that rages in some people’s minds to the point of absolute calm terror but it also suggested that the writers found it difficult to pull away from a possible ending that was anything but comfortable, no terrible cliff hanger, no final reckoning that foreshadowed death as anything but a hug and the ability to perform as a violin duo.

If there was a beauty in the mania it was the return, albeit in hindsight of Andrew Scott as Moriarty, the true arch villain, berserk, high functioning and strangely alluring to the dark, his was a captivating performance in which the audience may have regretted his eventual downfall some years earlier.

If this is the end of one of television’s most bankable series in years then it is to be thanked for having achieved something superb across its tenure in the planning guide but as an ending, it surely deserved something more dynamic to finish the day.

Ian D. Hall