Welcome once more to our Sherlock Discussion, featuring J.A. Prentice (JA), who is Right, and Jaden C. Kilmer (JC), who is Wrong. Coincidentally, J.A. Prentice is writing up the blog post as well as being objectively right about all things ever.
Read on for our debate about the merits of Moffat’s latest episode, “The Lying Detective!” Be warned: there are SPOILERS afoot.
JA: Overall thoughts?
JC: Is it cheating to use the same Macbeth quote twice in two days?
Learn more Shakespeare.
JC: Fine let me find my Inception review and I’ll use that verbatim
JA: Holy crap, this is actually happening.
We’re going to argue.
JC: Probably not I’m being a bit hyperbolic but I have concerns.
JA: I think that this was the best episode of Sherlock since Series 2, easily a hundred times better than last week’s disappointment, brilliantly constructed, full of character depth and insight, contained a better-written Mary than last episode despite her being dead, and was a genuine masterpiece.
So that’s going to be at least a two point difference right there.
JC: I think it was a definite improvement that was overly stylish and flashy and needed to be stripped down
So you liked it more than season 3 episode 2? (Note to editor fill that in with the episodes title)
JA: That one was also excellent, but I think it’s better by a little.
JC: Both were really flashy, ambitious, and confusing at first. But while that one pulled it all off neatly this one left me going “um… I *think* that made sense?”
But I’m not sure.
JA: I think it all made sense in the end. It’s what I like in Sherlock: bewildering, strange, unexpected, but ultimately straightforward.
As opposed to last episode, which was just straightforward despite looking pretty and having some good performances.
JC: It’s undoubtedly better than the last. But I do think ultimate enjoyment here relies on whether you think the script was as clever as Moffat thinks it is.
JA: I thought it was.
I was never certain if Sherlock was right or not until the end, which was great.
JC: I think it was SO stylish and SO convoluted, especially at the start, that it was trying to make people go “ah, forget it, we don’t need to understand. It’s Sherlock.”
Which is why I brought I*******n up.
JA: What was it that didn’t make sense to you?
JC: The opening. So, Sherlock knew the day that he would go too far into his drug addiction, and that Mrs. Hudson would bring him to Watson? AND he brought in Molly at the right hour? Molly was useless by the way. She showed up, looked confused, took her check and went home.
JA: Going too far in his drug addiction to get Watson to try to save him was the plan, so I’m assuming he planned when he’d go too far and anticipated that Mrs. Hudson would almost certainly take him to Watson because she thinks he’s the only one who could help him.
And he knew the hour because he knew when John would be there.
It’s a little far-fetched, but he’s supposed to a super-genius.
JC: Ok Molly part makes sense now. But it still feels overly contrived, even for Sherlock. Like, exactly how he can both be so far into the drugs that he’s having complete acid trips and delusions but also be perfectly planning this thing doesn’t add up to me. It’s what I really mean by the script being overly stylish and flashy. I think it really tried to hide some sketchy logical jumps.
JA: The whole point of doing all that, though, was to prove that he WAS capable of perfectly planning the thing despite the complete acid trips and delusions. That’s what he tells John. He’s proving that his mind is still working.
JC: And that is where it doesn’t really work for me. So he’s off his shit on drugs but also still perfectly functioning. That wasn’t the case last time he relapsed wasn’t it? And he went “few weeks from death” this time.
JA: Wasn’t last time he relapsed The Abominable Bride, where he solved Moriarty’s reappearance whilst also recreating the Victorian era in his head?
Seems consistently still a genius to me.
JC: I was referring to Season 3’s premiere. Unless I’m all wrong because THIS SHOW TAKES SO DAMN LONG BETWEEN SEASONS I FORGET EVERYTHING
JA: I don’t think he relapsed at all in Season 3.
JC: OK after a quick google it was the last episode of season 3, when he says he’s undercover for a case. I dunno, that part just didn’t work for me. It was just so flashy and show-offy that I couldn’t even process it.
JA: Oh, right.
He was clean, in that episode. Molly said so.
JC: Did she?
JA: I think so.
JC: At least that episode was paced. As in, it had pacing. Like, it was aware of the general concept of pacing.
JA: This episode was paced.
JC: This one was… a bit like watching ADHD on a screen.
JA: That’s Moffat for you, though. This time it really worked for me as opposed to say, Time of the Doctor, which was just a mess.
I felt it slowed down when it needed to and gave some great character moments: John and Sherlock at the end, Sherlock and “actually his sister,” etc.
The scene where Sherlock takes her gun was great.
JC: I don’t think it came together at all, now that I’m thinking about it. Like, I adore The Sign of Three because all the strangeness came together and all the little pieces formed this big whole story, but this episode is doing like six barely related things at once. Part of it being the last episode’s fault, sure, but I would’ve much more liked to see a pure Sherlock vs Dream Lord episode than Sherlock vs drugs vs Dream Lord vs Shelock vs Watson episode
Trademarking Shelock btw.
JA:Eh. Sherlock vs. Drugs is necessary to make Sherlock vs. Dream Lord work and Sherlock vs. Watson is necessary to make Sherlock vs. Drugs work.
Without the drugs, nobody would have doubted Sherlock thinking he was a serial killer.
Especially not the audience.
Without Watson and Sherlock having some kind of issues, him going back on the drugs wouldn’t work so well.
JC: So you don’t think it was overstuffed?
Last episode felt very understuffed.
Like a sandwich made entirely of bread.
And not great bread. Average supermarket bread.
JC: Last episode and this episode have opposite issues for me. Last one left me going “is that it?” this one left me thinking I watched a 30 minute Sherlock episode hiding in 60 minutes of deflections and set up.
Everything with Dream Lord I loved.
JA: Toby Jones is fantastic.
I just saw him in Witness for the Prosecution and he was completely different.
JC: And he was riveting here. But yeah, all the parts of this episode didn’t make a cohesive whole for me.
As I said at the start, I’m left going “I guess it makes sense?” rather than getting a full blown epiphany feeling like in Sign of Three where it all comes together.
Like when you go into a movie and you’re told how amazing it is repeatedly and you’re waiting for the good parts to happen
JA: It didn’t really have that same sense of epiphany, I agree. But I think the rest of the episode was stronger.
JC: Well I feel every episode of Sherlock is amazing in terms of acting and direction, if that’s what you mean
JA: I mean the dialogue, the plot, everything. It had some great insights into the characters, like John wanting to be the man other people think he is and Sherlock talking about how “Your death is something that happens to everyone else.” (or whatever the exact line is). I don’t remember Sign of Three having anything on that level.
And there’s the whole tension of whether Sherlock is right or not, which worked really well.
JC: I never really doubted it.
JA: I thought they might be ‘adapting’ the not-Doyle story “The Seven-percent Solution.” Which was by the guy who directed my two favorite Star Trek films and featured Moriarty being a result of Holmes’s drug use making him obsessive.
Moffat was definitely inspired by it at least.
JC: Oh yeah… Moriarty. Is that ever getting resolved? I see no hints of them returning to it next episode.
JA: I guess there was the “Miss Me?” written on the piece of paper.
So maybe Sherlock’s evil sister is linked to Moriarty?
BTW, forming a new theory right here: Sherlock is saying “I love you” to her in the trailer.
JC: Possibly. All I know is Evil siblings getting introduced late into a show’s run is usually not a good sign for the show’s quality.
JA: Unless she’s not evil. We didn’t see her do anything bad in this episode, right? Unless I’m forgetting something big.
JC: She monologued.
JA: I monologue.
Damn, you have a point.
JC: Also she possibly shot Watson.
Well we all know she didn’t but she shot in his general vicinity.
JA: Because Watson is obviously dead. RIP.
But it does feel like they’ve forgotten the Moriarty thing, which is a classic Moffat move.
“Ah, yes, something blew up the TARDIS and caused the cracks. I’ll… I’ll get back to that.”
JC: It’s starting to get more and more annoying as Sherlock adds on more and more loose ends.
JA: It’s just occurred to me that The Six Thatchers would be much better if it had Moriarty’s game from beyond the grave kill Mary instead.
And it would make more sense for John to blame Sherlock.
JC: That’s where I thought it was going the whole time.
JA: I think it was supposed to be a twist, where you think it’s Moriarty but then it’s actually about Mary, but that was a bad idea because “It’s actually about Mary” was the same twist as Literally. Two. Episodes. Before.
JC: Or does that mean it’s a great twist because no one thought they’d use it again so soon?
Still a bad idea.
JC: Anything else to argue over before closing thoughts then?
JA: I can’t think of anything specific.
Give thy closing thoughts.
JC: OK so my score is gonna be a lot higher than you and the people reading this in the future are gonna suspect because my issue is that it’s lesser than the sum of its parts, but all the parts individually are great. Dream Lord is, as I said, riveting. I didn’t mention it before but Mrs. Hudson gets something to do again and is fantastic. Mary is better dead than alive. BUT I think the script is overconfident. Kinda like Sherlock himself, actually. All sorts of flash and style and twists obscure leaps in logic and dead ends and also obscure the actual story itself. So it was like watching half a Sherlock episode with a bunch of segues from episode 1 and into episode 3. It should have felt more of a standalone. That said, it gets a 7/10. I think.
7.5. I gave the last one a 7 and this is better.
JA: My score is going to be either as high or slightly higher than people expect, because it couldn’t actually get any higher. I thought this episode was suspenseful, insightful, and a work of genius. I was never sure if Sherlock was right or not until the line about the “favorite room.” The characters were fantastic. Moffat’s conception of Sherlock is a very complex character who often gets simplified down – both inhuman and human, caring and detached – and I think the scene where he throws the gun into the Thames is the best example of that. The breakneck pace worked well for me, since it never felt like anything important was being rushed over. There were a lot of great funny moments, like Sherlock’s message to Mycroft. As I said, this is easily the best episode of Sherlock since Series 2 at least. The cliffhanger was another thing I didn’t see coming and I’m very interested to see how it revolves.
More than one point difference!
And there you have: a real, legitimate disagreement. Between this and Rogue One, it can only be a matter of time before these discussions turn into violent fistfights. Join us next week to see if this turns out to be the case with The Final Problem!