The Final Problem (Sherlock)
|"The Final Problem"|
|Episode no.||Series 4|
|Directed by||Benjamin Caron|
|Produced by||Sue Vertue|
|Cinematography by||David Luther|
|Editing by||Yan Miles|
|Original air date||15 January 2017|
|Running time||89 minutes|
"The Final Problem" is the third episode of the fourth series of the British television series Sherlock and the thirteenth episode overall. The episode was first broadcast on BBC One, PBS, Channel One and 1+1 on 15 January 2017.
A panic-stricken little girl wakes up on an aeroplane and finds everybody asleep. She picks a mobile phone up and hears Jim Moriarty announce "Welcome to the Final Problem".
Mycroft Holmes is at home where Sherlock and Watson disable his home security to trick him into revealing his sister, Eurus, exists. At 221b Baker Street, Mycroft explains that Eurus was an era-defining genius on par with Sir Isaac Newton, with abilities far greater than Sherlock's and Mycroft's, coupled with a total lack of empathy. Mycroft reveals that their parents sent Eurus to a mental institution after she kidnapped and drowned Sherlock's dog Redbeard, and after she burned their home down. Mycroft withheld this from Sherlock because Eurus had psychologically traumatized him as a child, leading to Sherlock suppressing his memories of her. An adult Mycroft then sent her to a maximum-security facility in the North Sea, Sherrinford, and told their parents that she had died. When Mycroft insists that she is secured, a quadcopter carrying a motion-activated grenade flies into Sherlock's flat. John, Sherlock, and Mycroft flee as the bomb detonates.
Later, John and Sherlock hijack a fishing trawler to travel to Sherrinford and carry a diversion plan out so that Sherlock can reach Eurus' cell. Mycroft and John corner the prison governor, discovering that he has explicitly disobeyed Mycroft's protocol and has allowed Eurus to interact with prison staff. Using her skill to manipulate everyone she speaks with, Eurus has effectively taken full control of the prison. Meanwhile, Sherlock talks to Eurus, but she attacks him and knocks him unconscious. The guards lock Sherlock, John, Mycroft, and the governor together in Eurus's old cell.
Mycroft reveals that five years ago, he granted Eurus five unsupervised minutes with Moriarty as a Christmas present in exchange for detecting national security threats to Britain. During this time, Moriarty agreed to record video messages for her. In the present day, Eurus leads the captives in a series of psychological ordeals, forcing Sherlock into sinister games to save lives while videos of Moriarty heckle him. Although Eurus forces Sherlock onward with the prospect of saving the girl on the aeroplane, he eventually stops the games by threatening to shoot himself when she orders him to shoot either John or Mycroft. Furious, Eurus uses tranquilliser darts on the three of them.
Sherlock wakes up near his family's old house. He speaks to the girl in the aeroplane to try to guide her in landing safely. John wakes up at the bottom of a well. When he finds human bones there, Sherlock realizes that what he thought was his dog Redbeard was in fact his best friend, Victor Trevor. Eurus threw him into the well and left him for dead because she felt left out of Sherlock's attention as a child. Sherlock then deciphers the real meaning of the song that Eurus originally taunted him with when Victor went missing, which reveals that she wants him to find her. Sherlock deduces that the girl in the plane is actually Eurus's mental metaphor and that the game has been a cry for help. With Eurus' puzzle solved, Sherlock is able to send her back to Sherrinford after rescuing John.
Mycroft explains to his and Sherlock's parents, who are angry that they had been told that Eurus was dead, that she refuses to speak to people anymore. Sherlock frequently visits her and they play the violin together, giving performances for their parents and Mycroft. While helping Sherlock repair his destroyed flat, John receives a video sent by Mary before she died, encouraging him to continue working with Sherlock.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2017)
The title of the episode is a reference to "The Final Problem" (1893). The episode was partially based on "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual" (1893), which it directly references. Watson's mention of the east wind and the name of Eurus Holmes are a reference to "His Last Bow" (1917), where Holmes says, "There's an east wind coming, Watson." The three Garrideb brothers seen in a puzzle sequence are an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" (1924). The character Victor Trevor is a reference to "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" (1893), where he appears as Holmes' first ever close friend, albeit in university rather than in childhood. Jim Moriarty's brother is mentioned as a broadcast station master, a reference to The Valley of Fear (1915), where James Moriarty's brother is noted to be a railway station master. The message on the coffin lid is a reference to "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" (1911). The closing shot shows Holmes and Watson exiting "Rathbone Place", a reference to Basil Rathbone, who played Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films and a radio series. In the final sequence, "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" (1903) is referenced with the following cipher seen on a chalkboard, which reads "AM HERE ABE SLANEY":
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2017)
Leak and investigation
On 14 January, one day before the episode's broadcast, it was released online with Russian dialogue. Both the official Sherlock Twitter account and members of the Sherlock team acknowledged this and asked people to not share it and keep the Internet free of spoilers.
On 16 January Channel One Russia, the network holding the rights to the broadcast in Russia, issued an apology, having determined that the material had been hacked from their system. Channel One Russia announced it was conducting an investigation, while BBC, through BBC Worldwide, announced its own full-scale investigation of the leak.
Broadcast and reception
The neutrality of this section is disputed. (January 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
"The Final Problem" received mixed reviews from critics. Among the more positive reviews was Sean O'Grady of The Independent who gave the episode four out of five stars, stating that "Benedict Cumberbatch and Tim Freeman [sic] are their usual accomplished double act" although suggesting "Maybe Sherlock needs a little more reimagining". Meanwhile, Michael Hogan of The Daily Telegraph gave the episode five out of five stars, praising that "the dazzling script delivered laughs, excitement, and emotion .. we were left with a wiser Holmes and Watson." He also commented about the possibility of series 4 being the last series for Sherlock, stating "if this was the last-ever episode, which it surely won't be, it worked well as a sign off." Louisa Mellor of Den of Geek wrote "this was fun to watch. Fun and ultra-tense with a terrific, whooshing sense of momentum. It went like the clappers, held its breath, went like the clappers again, held its breath some more until you thought you might pass out with the dizziness." Neela Debnath of the Daily Express was also positive, writing "I can't fault the thrill ride that The Final Problem takes viewers on from the begin to the end. Sherlock has clawed itself back from the edge." Two separate reviews in The Observer or The Guardian were positive, with one describing it as too byzantine, but "much better than it looked" and the other writing "with a visual swagger far beyond the budget – and including an eerily beautiful high-security violin duet for Sherlock and Eurus – this was a fine way to go."
However, some reviews were more critical. A third Guardian review was negative, stating Holmes had "become a parody of himself". Kaite Welsh of IndieWire scored the episode a grade of B-, writing "Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss wrap up their 13th episode on an elegiac note, musing on the legend that is Sherlock and Watson. It's just a shame the rest of the episode was such a mess, really". Ian Hyland of The Daily Mirror stated that he preferred it "when Holmes and Watson were just solving fairly believable mysteries. If it went back to that I'd welcome another series or two with open arms." He compared the series to the BBC series Taboo, suggesting that the latter would be a better television series for those who love Sherlock. Aja Romano of Vox also criticized the episode, praising the usual drama of Sherlock, but being critical of the fact that the episode "collapses into a muddled mess of melodrama and confusion ... there is even less logic." Romano considered the episode to be an anticlimax, saying "the episode feels like a window dressing on a completely different story." Christopher Stevens for the Daily Mail ended up awarding the episode zero stars (following his one-star review of The Six Thatchers), highly critical of what was seen as poor writing, describing the "problems" of the episodes as "all so callow, so contrived, so undergraduate" and a proneness to become self-satisfied.
Issues of representation within the episode were raised by some commentators. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw of The Daily Dot called the episode the "most sexist" of the TV show. She noted that Eurus, a stereotypical female villain, "ticks every box for the kind of madwoman who gets locked up in an asylum in a 19th century melodrama" and commits crimes only motivated "by a desire for male attention."
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- Sean O'Grady (24 November 2016). "Sherlock season 4 episode 3 review: 'The Final Problem' maybe needs reimagining". The Independent. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Michael Hogan. "Sherlock episode 3: The Final Problem, review: 'an exhilarating thrill-ride'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
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- Kaite Welsh. "Sherlock Review: 'The Final Problem' Is A Problematic Season Finale". IndieWire. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- , 16 January 2017Updated10:33, 16 January 2017. "I preferred it when Sherlock and Watson were just solving fairly believable mysteries - Ian Hyland - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Johnson, Nathanael. "Sherlock season 4, episode 3: "The Final Problem" might be the series finale. If it is, it's a huge disappointment". Vox. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Driver, Ben. "CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Sherlock's now so clever-clever, it's stupid". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Stevens, Christopher (19 October 2016). "Do BBC bigwigs give a fig about Sherlock viewers? | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. "'The Final Problem' is season 4's most entertaining 'Sherlock' episode—and its most sexist". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 19 January 2017.