Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BBC Sherlock S4E2 "The Lying Detective" - Review and Recap

sherlock john watson 221 b baker street image picture screensaver wallpaper poster

There will be spoilers throughout and the readers who are yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip this post.

This episode begins with John Watson (Martin Freeman) speaking with a new psychiatrist, someone who is not as understanding and friendly as Ella was. Their session is interrupted by a speeding car that comes to a grinding halt outside. Readers expecting to see Sherlock's grand entrance are in for a huge surprise: instead it is good old Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs).



Mrs Hudson forces John to talk to Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is lying in the trunk. Sherlock has seemingly gone completely off the rails after he publicly accuses Culverton Smith (Toby Jones) of being a serial killer.

In the meantime, Sherlock receives a client who claims to be Faith (Culverton's daughter). She claims that her father is planning to murder someone. Sherlock realizes that Faith might be suicidal and Sherlock tries to talk her out of it by going for a walk together and having chips.

Culverton invites Sherlock and John to his charity hospital. Sherlock borrows Culverton's cellphone and texts Faith asking her to come to the hospital. When Faith arrives, Sherlock is shocked to discover that the lady who posed as Faith at 221 B Baker Street is not the one standing in front of him.

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At this juncture, Sherlock loses it completely and is about to attack Culverton with a scalpel. John intervenes and roughs up Sherlock badly enough that he bleeds.

Sherlock is admitted to the hospital and Culverton promises publicly that he will take good care of his illustrious patient.

John Watson (Martin Freeman) watches the DVD sent by Mary and realizes that Sherlock is putting his life at risk to pull John out of his depression. John races to the hospital in time and stops Culverton from killing Sherlock by suffocation.

This episode was a distinct improvement over The Six Thatchers. Sherlock returns to catching criminals even if he does not do much of deductions. Cumberbatch regains some of the verve and enthusiasm that he has shown in Seasons 1 to 3. He was effective in the monologue scene and especially his closing conversation with Mrs Hudson.

Speaking of Mrs Hudson, Una Stubbs owned this episode. Her dialogue delivery has never been better in my humble opinion. From her dramatic entrance to her forcing Sherlock to hand over handcuffs to displaying her insights into Sherlock's habits, it is Una's show all the way. Her exchange with John about owning the sports car and her response to his request was hilarious.


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While Freeman is good as John Watson, there were some anomalies in the episode. Mary's statement about John never accepting help from anyone was quite out of character. To the best of my knowledge, the canonical Dr Watson is never above accepting help. If anything, it is Sherlock Holmes who works alone and does not share his plans with others till the last moment. This was a jarring piece of writing from the two writers, who have always claimed to be huge fans of Arthur Conan Doyle.

But the most cringeworthy scene was seeing John beat up Sherlock viciously. While Gatiss and Moffat can justify this as John's pent up anger over Mary's death, this was something that ACD's Watson would never do. At this point, Freeman's Watson is as distant from the Canonical Watson as Nigel Bruce's bumbling version is.

The other good performances were given by Toby Jones as Culverton and Sian Brooke as Eurus Holmes. Toby is equal parts creepy and equal parts funny. He nails the part of the serial killer who almost openly confesses to being one.


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Sian oozes menace as the third Holmes sibling. She does not display any of the over the top antics of Andrew Scott's Moriarty. Her disguises were pulled off successfully and credit to the make up department for a job well done. It is a pity that all this good work will be undone in the next episode...

Click here to read the list of Canonical References in the episode. Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.

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Image Sources: Hartswood Films, BBC Wales, Masterpiece theater

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