Episodes which take place inside a character's mind are usually a pain in the arse to watch, as you never know what's real and what's not. So to have an episode which mostly took place inside the minds of two characters, should have been a complete mindfuck. Let's face it, we barely know what's going on in this show when people aren't off their tits on drugs or hallucinating with grief, so what chance do we stand when such colossal weirdness abounds?
The success of tonight's story depended upon it selling several embedded artifices. Firstly, it had to have a central actress capable of pulling off three completely different characters. If we'd for one second suspected that fake-Faith was E, or that John's therapist was fake-Faith, then the whole edifice would have crumbled. Thankfully, Sian Brooke was utterly brilliant. Her accents, wigs, and sheer acting ability all contributed to an almost pitch perfect execution, so that when the final reveal did come, it utterly floored me. Even if you did guess that there was something fishy about John's new therapist, it would have taken a leap of Sherlockian proportions to deduce her true identity.
Secondly, they had to make sure that the actress that played Faith (Gina Bramhill) looked enough like Sian Brooke that we wouldn't notice that fake-Faith was, well, fake. They achieved this by using all manner of camera trickery—quick shots, long shots, shadow shots, profile shots, blurred shots—and by introducing Faith along with six other seemingly secondary characters. By dividing our attention and distracting us with improbable medical procedures and revelations, it was difficult to take everything in, particularly when the bulk of our attention was focused on Culverton. So when Faith turned up at 221B Baker Street, all we could really remember was her pale complexion, fair hair, stick and spectacles. See, we do look at faces, Eurus; we just can't remember much about them. In fact, everyone looks basically like this:
The rest of the episode centred on getting the band back together. The plot wasn't enormously complex, as we knew from the get-go who the murderer was, but the fun came in trying to guess what Sherlock was up to, and why he seemed to be failing so hard. In fact, in terms of humour, tonight's episode was up there with 'The Sign of Three'. Cumberbatch was his usual energetic self, putting to good use his Shakespearean training as he belted out Henry V whilst shooting up the lounge, but the award for most bizarre plot twist must surely go to Mrs Hudson for outsmarting, handcuffing, and kidnapping Sherlock. Preposterous? Yes! But so funny that I didn't give a damn.
It was also nice to see Mary back, despite her still being dead. I'm always a bit iffy about 'head conversations', especially when there's some sort of confessional/last words element to them. The living component always seems to have a cathartic time of it all, but since they're only ever talking to themselves, it always feels placebo-esque. However, John confessing his minor-infidelity to essentially himself (and of course, Sherlock) did inject some pathos into the proceedings, and Martin Freeman sold it like a pro. I say 'minor infidelity' as I was expecting something far worse than just texting, but the whole sequence did a terrific job of getting across that we should all be carpe dieming it, striving to be as good as others see us, and that Sherlock should be off knobbing Irene Adler.
I'm in two minds about Culverton. On the one hand, he was a gloriously evil shitbucket; on the other, why did they have to so blatantly model him on Jimmy Savile? Viewers outside of the UK might not be aware of Savile: like Culverton, he too had a Yorkshire pedigree, was comfortable around corpses (possibly a little too comfortable), had free reign in a hospital where he was primarily a fundraiser, and abused patients like there was no tomorrow. Obviously, Savile was more of a serial child-abuser than a serial killer, but the hallmarks were abundantly clear. Still, kudos to Toby Jones for playing such a despicable character so convincingly. The scene where he questioned Sherlock whist sitting amongst young impressionable patients made my skin crawl; a definite case of art imitating life.
Of course, as with any episode of Sherlock, there was a shitload of stuff that you just had to go along with. That Sherlock predicted everyone's reactions so precisely—even down to the timings—admittedly stretched credulity, but having Eurus then predict Sherlock's predictions, was outright bonkers. Likewise, Sherlock being able to pull all manner of complex deductions out of his baked brain, but missing completely that Eurus was not the same woman as in the photo, or that fake-Faith was actually his sister, seemed like something of a convenient failure. I know, he was off his head on 'tea' for most of the episode, but some of his deductive blunders felt a little too contrived at times.
So now that JohnLock has been more or less resurrected, where are we story-wise? Mary still seems to be dead, Eurus appears responsible for the 'Miss Me?' messages, so presumably next week's episode will be Eurus' backstory. Did Eurus actually kill John? I mean, I know next week's episode is called 'The Final Problem' and that in the original story Sherlock 'dies', but since they already did that in 'The Reichenbach Fall', surely they don't intend to substitute John's life for Sherlock's? Would they even dare?
—I can't believe how far that wheelie bin went after Mrs Hudson hit it with her Aston Martin.
—I love the way they cut this episode together. Each scene switch seemed to complete the previous scene, usually to comedic effect.
—Where on earth did the flower in Eurus' hair come from? It appeared out of nowhere.
—'Why do people always stop at three?' Presumably Sherrinford is still out there somewhere?
—The subtitles say 'Eurus' whereas the official interviews say 'Euros'. I don't know.
Sherlock: 'I know.'
Fake-Faith: 'I meant the chips.'
Mycroft: 'Everybody dies. It's the one thing human beings can be relied upon to do, how can it still come as a surprise to people?'
Watson: 'You cock.'
Watson: 'Utter, utter cock.'
Sherlock: 'Heard you the first time.'
Sherlock: 'It's okay'
Watson: 'It's not okay.'
Sherlock: 'No, but it is what it is.'
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.