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Sherlock: “The Lying Detective” Is a Dark, Poignant Look at What It Truly Means to Love

Sherlock and John in

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Sherlock and John in "The Lying Detective".

Ashley Kim, Managing Editor

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JANUARY 8, 2017- The second installment of BBC Sherlock’s season four, directed by Nick Hurran and written by co-creator Steven Moffat, is everything that makes Sherlock one of the most loved, critically acclaimed shows on television. Action packed and twisted, it appeals to all of the thrill-seekers, the ones who watched Sherlock for its adventurous, modern spirit. More importantly, however, this episode of Sherlock unveils the strong relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in a way that has never been seen before.

 

In “The Lying Detective”, the second episode in the three-part series, Sherlock Holmes faces his most evil enemy yet- business magnate, philanthropist, and TV personality Culverton Smith. Sophisticated and humorous to the public eye, Smith is an icon in Sherlock’s Great Britain. In fact, no one seems to think that anything is wrong with him, except Sherlock Holmes. When Culverton Smith realizes that Sherlock is after him, he begins to play games with Sherlock, eventually driving Sherlock to insanity.

 

“The Lying Detective” is based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Adventure of the Dying Detective”. In this canon story, Holmes feigns poisoning in order to get a murder confession from the doctor Culverton Smith. This original story is very similar to the TV episode, where Holmes gets high on stimulants and other drugs in order to do the same.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (John Watson) had amazing, layered performances that really brought their characters to life. Their chemistry could have not been better, and seeing those two skilled actors together, doing a show that they both love with all their hearts, was amazing. I was also particularly impressed by the performance of Toby Jones, the guest star who played the villain Culverton Smith. He was everything that Smith was supposed to be- chilling, sinister- and more.

 

There were also hilarious moments, especially the ones with Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock’s landlady. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not everyday that you see a kind old woman handcuff Sherlock Holmes, put him in the trunk of her bright red Aston Martin, and drive at top speed while being pursued by a police officer on her way to John Watson’s house.

 

NOTE: SPOILERS BEGIN HERE. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE EPISODE.

 

“The Lying Detective” is not only an episode with a bold storyline, but also an emotional episode that focused on the strong character development of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Both Sherlock and John have many flaws – Sherlock does not know how to love others, while John does not know how to be loved. This episode is set in the darkest point of John and Sherlock’s relationship, where the two once-strong men are at their most vulnerable.

 

There was a twist that cannot go unmentioned. The mysterious woman on the bus, the lady in red that visited Sherlock’s house, John’s strange new therapist all ended up being the same person- Eurus, the secret Holmes sister. Her identity as the “other one”, mentioned in “His Last Vow” by Mycroft, is intriguing. Who is Eurus? What is her past? Why did she point the gun at John Watson? Is she connected to Moriarty?

 

Throughout the episode, John grieves for Mary, his deceased wife whom he lost a few months before. Sherlock mourns for Mary as well, as he vowed to protect her but failed. Sherlock even goes to the point of blaming himself for Mary’s death. Both men come to terms with their loss in this episode and show that even if they might have lost someone, they still have each other. John admits that he cheated on Mary and that he isn’t the perfect man that Mary thought he was. He reflects on his past actions and admits his imperfections. And Sherlock? Acknowledging that Mary gave his life “a currency that he does not know how to spend” shows that he truly has changed into a more emotionally aware man. Sherlock learns throughout this episode to love, to express compassion, and to talk about all the emotions that he has feared for most of his life.

 

All these questions and loose ends should lead to a very interesting finale, which is entitled “The Final Problem”, airing on PBS Masterpiece on January 15.

 

END SPOILER

 

Ultimately, “The Lying Detective” epitomized the BBC Sherlock we all know – a thriller, an audience and critic pleaser, and an emotional drama. Featuring an acclaimed cast and the addition of a powerful villain, this episode is one for the books.

 

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