After a rocky start with the series premiere “The Six Thatchers,” the second episode rescues Sherlock with a solid plot, well-deserved tears, and a lot of anxiety for the fandom. “The Lying Detective” is worth watching for many reasons. Most importantly because you get to see Mrs. Hudson driving a red sports car with Sherlock in the trunk, while being chased by the police.
Not that Mrs. Hudson’s badass moments aren’t reason enough, but there are many aspects of the episode that make it one of my top favorite.The first thing that makes “The Lying Detective” interesting and over-the-top eccentric is how trippy it is. If you are not a fan of Sherlock moving words around in the air or the show’s unique change of scenes, then you might not like this episode. This is Sherlock on drugs. Literally.Our favorite consulting detective is high for a big part of the episode. This means he will pause time to examine objects in midair, walk on walls and build windows as if he were playing a live-action Sims.
One of the weird things about Sherlock is that the episodes have entirely different moods. They can range across the genre spectrum quite drastically. With “The Lying Detective” we have, if not the first, the most effective, nerve-wracking thriller in the Sherlock series. Even with the show spanning across different genres, the formula of the plot usually remains the same: There is a mystery Sherlock will solve with clever deductions that will amaze everyone. The viewer doesn’t have a lot of guessing to do as far as the cases are concerned. This time is different.
“The Lying Detective” puts the viewer on the spot, having us frantically piece together pieces of the plot. (And probably failing miserably.) Sherlock cannot be trusted with everything he says because there is the chance he might be lying. When he is being honest his instincts cannot be trusted either. The episode has you constantly questioning every scene. What is Sherlock up to? Is this really happening, or is he hallucinating? This was an hour and a half long of my friends and I endlessly yelling at the screen, “What the hell is going on?”
This episode, just like the season premiere, is full of emotional scenes. I have to admit I am a sentimental moron. I like shows and movies that put characters in emotional situations. But I thought the first episode’s “emotional scenes” were cringe worthy. Sherlock dramatically repeating, “I made a vow.” to protect Mary seemed out of character. Mary’s death scene was cliché and melodramatic, something not even the participation of incredible actors can fix.The emotionally charged moments in the two episodes are as different as day and night. “The Lying Detective” handles these tough scenes with more subtlety and naturalness. And that makes them more impactful. John, who has become isolated in his grief, sees the ghost of Mary everywhere. She talks to him and cries for him. She stands at the corner of every room and he imagines what she would say. These scenes are effectively tender and heartbreaking.
Then there is the morgue scene. Sherlock has a breakdown where he attempts to stab Culverton Smith, a millionaire businessman, who he believes is a serial killer. John gets in the way to stop him and then he loses it. He beats up Sherlock mindlessly as all his anger starts to emerge. John thinks Sherlock is lying about Culverton, tricking him into something once again. He feels he can’t trust his best friend. Above all, he is mad because he believes Mary would be alive if it wasn’t for Sherlock. John’s agony comes out in violence, and Sherlock is helpless without the strength or the intent to fight back. The scene is at once devastating and slightly terrifying.
Lastly, there is the reconciliation scene at Baker Street. This one has a lot of things happening at once. John tells Sherlock he knows he didn’t kill Mary. He turns to Mary’s ghost to tell her about the girl on the bus, something that has left him extremely guilt-ridden (even though they only texted.) Sherlock glances at where Mary is supposed to be standing, with a heartbreaking look of surprise. “I’m not the man you thought I was, I’m not that guy. I never could be. But that’s the point. That’s the whole point. Who you thought I was is the man I want to be,” John says at the end of his speech as he starts to cry. Sherlock stands up from his armchair and, slowly, slightly awkwardly, hugs John. Our self-proclaimed “high-functioning sociopath” comforts his friend.
And then right after that scene that ends in a hug, leaving viewers reaching for tissues, we have the big reveal of the episode: the long-awaited mystery Holmes brother who turns out to be a sister. As John talks to his therapist, he realizes she knows a bit more about his life than he has ever shared. She reveals herself as Eurus, Mycroft and Sherlock’s sister, as she points a gun at him. “Didn’t it ever occur to you that Sherlock’s secret brother might just be Sherlock’s secret sister?” she says. The reveal is so surprising and phenomenal I don’t even care that it sounds like a soap opera plot twist.We discover she has been making appearances in the series all along. She was the pretty redhead sitting on the bus flirting with John. She was the woman pretending to be Faith, Calverton Smith’s daughter, a shy blonde with glasses and a walking cane, making nervous conversations with Sherlock and winning his sympathy. As the therapist, she is gray-aired, calm and assertive.
How could we miss all that? The only face that is purposefully not shown closely until the end of the second episode is the therapist’s, to prevent an observant viewer from recognizing her as one of the other two characters. But the others stare right into the camera and we still miss it. Eurus’s disguises are truly remarkable. Not only her look, but her voice and mannerisms are different each time. Someone give this woman (and that make up team) an Emmy, please.
So, why is Eurus back? Is she as horrible as she seems? Does Sherlock remember her? We see at the very end that Sherlock discovers a hidden “Miss Me?” message Eurus left him when she disguised herself as Faith. Up to this point, the “Miss me?” message has been associated with the supposed return of Moriarty. But if this was Eurus’s message all along, then that changes a lot of assumptions. “The Abominable Bride” becomes perhaps Sherlock’s quest to discover the return of his sister, not Moriarty. Is there a connection between Eurus and Moriarty?
We will find out with the series finale “The Final Problem”.
Image: Copyright © 2017 BBC