Was ‘The Final Problem’ the perfect last episode for Sherlock?
Yes, I think it was.
A disclaimer first: I don’t actually know if this was the last episode of Sherlock. I rather doubt it is, to be honest. However, the question was definitely on my mind throughout The Final Problem; after all, we’ve sat through weeks of speculation and debate, with plenty of cagey answers from Cumberbatch, Freeman, Moffat and Gatiss. Going into it, there was a palpable feeling that this genuinely could be Sherlock’s last bow.
And across the episode, too, it felt that Moffat and Gatiss had been writing with that eventuality in mind – realising that, even if they weren’t actively choosing to end the series, the rising success of their two stars would make it increasingly difficult to continue to schedule further seasons.
Which in turn begs the question – did it work? Was this a good enough ending for the adventure we’d followed over the past seven years, if it had to be?
In many ways, yes. Most immediately, it’s clear that The Final Problem was dedicated to ensuring that all the best aspects of Sherlock got their moment to shine; in that regard, no stone was left unturned. Lestrade, Molly, Mrs Hudson – even Moriarty got to return, bringing with him the same frenetic energy that characterised the show in its early days. There were plenty of classic Sherlock rug pulls too; look at how it was revealed that the prison governor was under Eurus’ control for an example of the quiet intelligence that has always characterised the show. With The Final Problem we got an episode that was as tense and engaging as The Great Game, as intimate as A Scandal in Belgravia, and as intelligent as The Reichenbach Fall – surely this is an episode that, even in its own right, would go down as a classic in Sherlock’s history?
More than that, though genuinely felt as though this was an episode dedicated to completing the story we’ve seen unfold for years – note the call backs to The Great Game and The Abominable Bride, and the subtle allusions to A Scandal in Belgravia. There’s something almost holistic about the construction of this episode, drawing together the sum total of the programme’s almost decade long history, and concentrating it into one 90-minute story.
In the end, The Final Problem reasserted the value of Moffat and Gatiss’ particular vision of Holmes – as an adventurer, as a hero, and as a good man. There’s a real joy to this depiction, and an innate understanding not just of what makes him so compelling, but of how he’s changed over the years. Consider Lestrade’s final lines, perfectly delivered by Rupert Graves – a declaration that Sherlock is in fact a “good man”, paying off the question first posed in A Study in Pink, all those years ago. And, indeed, that’s the final solution to the problem of Eurus – it’s Sherlock’s kindness that saves her in the end. It is the fact that he’s a good man that makes him a hero.
And that’s what makes the final montage so triumphant. Sherlock Holmes, and Dr Watson, in 221B Baker Street. Even if we don’t see them again – and despite it all, I suspect we might, one day – it doesn’t matter, because we know that’s where they’ll always be. Solving crimes, helping people, and saving the day.
As it should be.
What is the future of Sherlock?
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