“The Lying Detective” opens in a therapists office, this time it is for John (Martin Freeman). The recent widow is struggling to deal with the death of his wife, Mary (Amanda Abbington). “I’m letting my daughter down,” John says, barely keeping his emotions in check. However, there is something he’s not telling his therapist. He’s still seeing Mary. He glances back at his dearly departed wife, who stands behind him as he talks. Suddenly, there’s a car-crash \ and a noisy helicopter hovers over head. As John steps outside, a woman emerges from the car.
Meanwhile, millionaire philanthropist Culverton Smith (Toby Jones) stands in his office overlooking the London skyline. He circles a meeting table, which is lined with people. Suddenly, a group of masked nurses enter the room, each pulling an IV stand alongside. The people at the table are taken aback. Smith is going to inject them with TB-12, a drug which dulls the memory. “Is everyone ready?” Smith asks with a smile. They have no choice but to roll up their sleeves, as they are hooked up to the IV’s. The group around the table is diverse, there’s a judge, broadcasters, and even Faith, Smith’s own daughter. The heaviness grows in the room as Smith says, “I need to kill someone”. He flashes a crooked smile, no one at the table is going to remember a thing.
Three years later…
Faith Smith stands in 221B Baker Street, recounting the story to Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch). However, she admits that she has no idea who (if anyone) her father killed that night. The intrepid detective, despite being a mess himself, analyzes her carefully. It’s a reflex. He’s hesitant to take the case and first shoo’s her away. Suddenly, he catches up to his brain and quickly stops her. She’s desperate and suicidal, and he decides to take her out for chips.
Meanwhile, big brother (quite literally, as a matter of fact) is watching Sherlock as he walks through the streets. Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) and Lady Smallwood (Lindsay Duncan) hover in front of a wall of television screens. Mycroft looks over, as she asks him about the mysterious Sherrinford. His response is curt, “I get regular updates, Sherrinford is secure…”.
However, there’s one thing that Sherlock can’t reconcile in his head. Faith told him her life turned on one word. “Names are always at least two,” he says. Suddenly, Sherlock blacks out and is trapped in another confusing waterside flashback. When he regains his senses, Faith has disappeared. He wanders through the streets, trapped in his own mind palace. While his disorientation grows, it is quickly apparent that he is having some kind of an overdose. Despite his condition, he has cracked one thing. Culverton Smith is a serial killer. He takes up a social media battle with the titan, publicly accusing him of the crimes.
Three Weeks Later…
The scene returns to the car crash outside the office of Watson’s therapist. The mysterious woman climbs out of the sports car, it turns out it’s Miss. Hudson (Una Stubbs). “It’s Sherlock!” She cries, pulling John into a hug. “You have no idea what I’ve been though.”.
It turns out, we see what she’s been through. Sherlock madly tears through his apartment, waving a pistol. The walls are lined with crazy person rambling about Culverton Smith, and suddenly, he fires two shots into the wall.
Meanwhile, Mary hovers over John’s shoulder as Miss. Hudson dissolves into tears. Desperate to avoid a scene, John agrees to see Sherlock as a Doctor. As a matter of fact, this is just what Miss. Hudson wanted to hear. She opens the trunk, where Sherlock is handcuffed. “How did you get him into the boot?” John asked. And as a matter of fact, Sherlock isn’t pleased, “They dropped me, twice!”.
As they reenter the house, John gets a phone call from Culverton Smith. John isn’t sure how to react while Smith informs him that his people are sending a car. In fact, Sherlock orchestrated this meeting weeks ago. As John hangs up the phone, Sherlock rolls his eyes, “I anticipated reactions of people I know based on situations I devised, can’t everyone do that?” Suddenly worried that Sherlock is using drugs again, John wants a second opinion from Molly (Louise Brealey). She’s the one person who really knows how to see through Sherlock. Surprisingly, it seems that the detective has even predicted this. The doorbell rings, and it’s Molly. She tells John that Sherlock requested she come two weeks earlier to this address.
Later, Sherlock and John arrive at a television studio. Culverton Smith approaches each with a good natured hug. While they watch, the little man films a commercial for his new breakfast cereal. Consequently, the tagline is “I’m a cereal killer”. Has Smith been playing Sherlock? However, as the scene plays out, it seems the two men are actually playing each other. As Smith traps Sherlock and John into a hospital visit, they descend into a battle of wits.
They enter the hospital morgue, and Smith kicks the staff out. In fact, this is Smith’s “favorite room” of the hospital. Finally alone, Smith raves about H.H. Holmes, one of the earliest recorded serial killers. Smith talks fondly of how Holmes built an entire hotel just to kill people. Meanwhile, John is on edge, and finally asks Smith if he’s confessing to a crime. However, Smith expertly shifts the focus back to Sherlock. The self-destructive detective is high as a kite. Are any of his suspicions truly founded?
Sherlock suddenly stops him with a smile. It turns out, he has invited Faith to the hospital, aiming to throw a wrench into Smith’s carefully laid plans. As the door opens and Faith enters, he looks her over, “Who the hell are you? You’re not the woman who came to Baker Street”. While his plan crumbles, a rattled Sherlock grabs a scalpel and lunges for Smith.
Later, Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Watson sit at a table discussing the incident. While video footage plays, we see what transpired. Sherlock tried to stab Smith, but Watson stopped him. Sherlock is helpless as John releases all his pent-up emotion, pummeling the detective brutally. They flip the channel, landing on a news interview with Smith. The man mentions to the reporter that Sherlock is receiving treatment at the hospital. He smiles as he says, “I may even move him to my favorite room.”.
Meanwhile, Sherlock is alone and fast asleep in the hospital. Smith quietly moves a chair into the room. Watching the detective carefully, he puts on latex gloves.
Watson finds Mycroft has descended on Baker Street with his team. Agents buzz through the apartment, going through the place with a fine tooth comb. Mycroft is trying to figure out what drove Sherlock off the rails. He makes a small grammatical slip; however, this is all it takes for Watson to pounce. “Sherlock’s not your only brother. What is there, another one locked in a tower somewhere?”. Suddenly, the focus shifts as they discover Mary’s tape. John watches, as it plays, emotion spilling from his face. Mrs. Hudson quickly looks to Mycroft, “Get out of my house, you reptile”.
Meanwhile, Smith and Sherlock talk in the hospital. The Detective looks up at him, “I wanted you to kill me”. While he has his reasons for being there, Sherlock doesn’t want to die.
It’s a race against time as Watson speeds back to the hospital. The scene is tensely intercut between him, Sherlock and Smith’s confrontation, and we finally see the rest of Mary’s tape. “The only way to save John Watson is to make him save you… Go to hell, Sherlock. Go right into hell and make it look like you mean it…”. Back at the hospital, John finally bursts in as Smith has Sherlock’s monitors almost flatlined. As a matter of fact, he not only tried to suffocate Sherlock, but had been overdose him as well. While Smith tries to backtrack when faced with his crime, Sherlock reveals there were several recording devices hidden. While, Smith found three of them; in fact, there was a forth. John looks at the walking stick which held the recorder, “Am I that predictable?”.
Later, Sherlock and Watson sit in Baker Street. In fact, the Detective appears to have hallucinated the visit from Faith. Yet, Sherlock isn’t sure how she told him things he didn’t already know. At the same time, Mary still hovers deep in John’s subconscious, she pleads with him, “Go and solve a crime together. Make him wear the hat!”. Looking at his wife, John finally realizes that Sherlock didn’t kill Mary. In fact, she died saving his life, and it was her choice. Suddenly, Irene Adler’s infamous text tone shatters the stillness of the room. Is she not dead?
Finally, in a beautiful scene by Martin Freeman, John admits that he wasn’t the man Mary thought he was. In fact, it was Mary who taught him to be that man. He reflects on his moment of weakness in the last episode when he cheated on his wife. As an emotional Watson dissolves in tears, Sherlock gets up and the two men hug.
Later, as John again talks to his therapist, all seems cured. However, as she suddenly mentions Sherlock’s “secret brother,” something’s not right. When John questions her, she tells him that she spent a night with Sherlock, “We had chips!”. It turns out, she even left Sherlock clues that night. At the same time, the action returns to Baker Street as Sherlock finds her note. He wasn’t hallucinating her. He finds Did You Miss Me? scrawled on it.
As the therapist stands up, she pulls back her hair, revealing a flower. It turns out, she’s also the woman from the bus. “Who are you?” John asks. She pulls a gun, “I’m Euros. My parents likes silly names like Euros, or Mycroft, or Sherlock…”. Watson is stumped for words as she clicks off the safety, “Didn’t you ever think that Sherlock’s secret brother might actually be a secret sister?”. As the scene cuts to black, the gun fires.
The series four finale of Sherlock airs January 15th on your local PBS affiliate.
- This series has effortless weaved together humor with a surprisingly dark tone. This episodes dark tone mixed with humor (sassy Miss. Hudson, anyone?) upped the series to another level for me. A stunningly complex episode which I’m still digesting. How are you liking the series so far?
- While all have been good, Martin Freeman’s work has been stunning this series. He’s bringing John to some new places, and it’s interesting to watch.
- Finally, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Toby Jones. This truly creepy performance puts him up there with the truly great Sherlock villains.