Sherlock is back on form in The Lying Detective

Sherlock: The Lying Detective - Credit: BBC
Sherlock: The Lying Detective – Credit: BBC
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Make no mistakes – ‘Sherlock’ is back… and better than ever.

After a lacklustre opening episode, ‘Sherlock’ Series 4 was off to a rocky start. It was worryingly disappointing, with the legendary detective moving away from the casework we know and love, and drifting towards becoming a pretty bog-standard all-action hero.

But the detective we know and love is back.

The game is on, folks… and ‘Sherlock’ is putting his thinking cap on.

**Warning: Major ‘Sherlock’ Series 4 spoilers ahead**

– Sherlock Trades Sleuthing for Spying in Series 4
– Moriarty: The Real Villain of Sherlock Series 4?
– Will Sherlock End After Series 4?

After last week’s episode, ‘Sherlock’ is at a crossroad.

Mary is gone. John can’t bear to speak to Sherlock, and Sherlock himself is… well, he’s gone to hell. Still reeling from the fallout of Mary’s death and clearly unable to cope with the path his life has taken, Sherlock is back on the drugs.

And he’s been hitting them hard.

Sherlock looks a bit worse for wear - Credit: BBC
Sherlock looks a bit worse for wear – Credit: BBC

It’s probably the most destructive we’ve seen the great detective in the entire history of the show… and it makes sense. He’s lost everything – all the people who mean the most to him in the world, gone in an instant.

But of course, it all turns out to be a bit of a ploy…

Of course, Sherlock is upset. Of course, Mary’s death hit him hard and of course he’s absolutely gutted to have lost his best friend. But it turns out that Mary’s last wish put Sherlock on this path for a good reason – to save John Watson. And her video message explains it all. John will never accept an offer of help, and so it’s down to Sherlock to manufacture a situation where John has to help him, instead. It’s ingenious, and it really shows just how Mary had the measure of both of them.

And it worked a treat, too.

Essentially, Sherlock makes John think he’s lost it. He’s back on the hard drugs, he blames himself for Mary’s death… and he spectacularly ropes John into helping him unmask a serial killer who has been hiding in plain sight. (For the record, the way Sherlock gets everyone in one place – the psychiatrist’s office – is brilliant… and sets the tone for the episode. Sherlock is back on top form).

Introducing Culverton Smith - Credit: BBC
Introducing Culverton Smith – Credit: BBC

The killer? None other than Culverton Smith (played by Toby Jones) – a high-powered entrepreneur and philanthropist who’s been hiding a dirty little secret. He may be high-profile and constantly in the limelight, but he has a hankering for murder.

And it’s up to Sherlock and John to bring him down.

Obviously, this is all part of Sherlock’s plan to get John back from the brink after Mary’s death. But it’s more than that – it’s also a beautifully crafted mystery. The case begins with Culverton’s daughter coming to Sherlock for help. She knows her father was planning to kill somebody but doesn’t know who. She only knows that her world hinged on a ‘single word’.

That word – ‘anyone’. He wants to kill anyone.

Sherlock rounds up his pals - Credit: BBC
Sherlock rounds up his pals – Credit: BBC

But as the case progresses and Sherlock finds himself getting closer to his killer, things don’t go quite according to plan. The daughter who gave him all that info turns out to be a figment of Sherlock’s imagination – a drug-fuelled hallucination.

But how did she know so much? The truth is a lot worse…

Throughout the new series, we’ve been drip-fed information about the third Holmes brother – Sherrinford. The twist? It’s not a brother at all… Sherrinford turns out to be female, and the very psychiatrist who John’s been turning to after Mary’s death. Oh, and she was ‘E’ too – the enigmatic woman who John was attracted to on the bus.

Not only that, but Sherlock doesn’t seem to have a clue what’s been going on.

How does that compare to last week’s episode?

Well, it absolutely blows it away. This is hands down one of the strongest episodes of ‘Sherlock’ we’ve seen for a long time. The acting is superb throughout, with Toby Jones adding a suitably creepy veneer to proceedings as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman find their feet as Holmes and Watson. Oh and Mrs Hudson kicked some serious ass. Definitely not just a housekeeper…

As for Sherrinford, it looks as though she might even be a more worth adversary than the enigmatic Moriarty. Unless of course, they’ve been working together…

At the moment, we know very little about Sherrinford (also known as Euros) except that she has John Watson in her sights, is presumably extremely dangerous, and definitely seems a bit mental.

But will she be a match for Sherlock Holmes?

No doubt we’ll find out next week.

‘Sherlock’ Series 4 concludes 15 January 2017 on BBC One.

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What did you think of Sherlock’s new villain in The Lying Detective? Will she turn out to Sherlock’s greatest adversary? Leave your comments below… and follow Ryan Leston on Twitter or Facebook for more on the latest TV shows.