‘Sherlock’ Recap and Reaction: ‘The Lying Detective’

Graham Host

Sherlock fans were devastated last week when the enigmatic Mary Watson died taking a bullet meant for Sherlock. Pinning the blame on his best friend, Watson severed ties and sank into the grips of grief, depression, and mourning. London’s famous consulting detective was given a posthumous mission by his lost friend via a DVD – save John Watson. But this could be a more difficult task than combating James Moriarty, whose own sinister plan has yet to be revealed.


With another tragic event in his life, John has reached out to another counselor, different from the last one. But he is constantly lying to her and directly interacting with a fictitious hallucination of his dead wife. This is a very bad sign for the bereaved. Some people cannot cope with the sudden loss and allow themselves to believe that they are somehow still around.

Moving onto the question of Sherlock, John denies any contact and admits that Sherlock has locked himself away. If the eccentric genius wanted contact there would be no way to miss it. Right on cue, an orange Aston Martin skids to a halt outside with police helicopters above and cars surrounding it. The proverbial cherry on the cake is the radio blaring out ‘Ode to Joy’.


Culverton Smith – lauded as a philanthropist and generally nice guy – has gathered together his closest friends and daughter for a confession of his darkest secret. But should they happen to not like it – and they really won’t – he has a genius insurance policy in the form of a painkiller with the side-effect of memory loss. It’s a strong tone of manipulation that people force on themselves all the time. Uncomfortable news? Forget it. Awkward encounter? Ignore it until it stops. Smith has just made sure it cannot be undone.

Toby Jones as Culverton-Smith

And whilst this monster is in peak condition, Sherlock is not in the best of shapes. His study has become untidy and his appearance deteriorated due to drug use. Much like his former acquaintance, Sherlock is interacting with his delusions – waving away the floating signs in anger. It appears that he has decided to ignore the gifts of his genius to avoid any more fallout from his bragging. Only the case given to him by Faith Smith lures him from the apartment – hinging on a note she managed to write before everything of her father’s meeting was forgotten.


Since he hasn’t left his rooms in several months, Mycroft has arranged an entire task force to follow Sherlock about. The tracking reveals Sherlock to be spelling ‘F**k off’ across a map of London. Genius and maturity do not apparently go hand in hand. Slipping up in a conversation with John, Mycroft reveals that he will treat Sherlock as a security threat above a brother, just like he did with the ‘last one’. With the drugs catching up to him, Sherlock collapses in the middle of a road and is taken back to Baker Street.

Eventually spinning out from a combination of delight over his new case and overdoses of drugs, Mrs. Hudson kidnapped her maniacal tenant and dragged him to John. Once more playing the part of their adoptive mother – or possibly grandmother – she is forcing her boys to get along for what’s best for the both of them. Much like a parental figure, she manipulated them both into doing her bidding. But Sherlock also played a part, predicting exactly where John would be two weeks in advance.


In his deluded state, Sherlock has accused Smith of being a serial killer by mere virtue of the visit from his daughter. But with such a high profile comes a certain untouchable streak. Luckily – or perhaps planned ahead – comes Smith’s new ‘cereal killer’ breakfast campaign. It appears that this villain has thought of everything.

Seeing Smith saunter around the hospitals and away from the cameras makes it clear that parallels have been subtly drawn between this character and Jimmy Savile. Both used their fame, positions, and power to bend people to their will and commit atrocities without being caught. It is a credit to Jones that he can make us hate him so much for events that only happened in fiction. Seeing him quietly overpower people with his presence and slip around his ‘favourite room’ is disturbing to the extreme. Almost as much as seeing Sherlock beg for death over his guilt at Mary and realize that part of him wants to live.

Eleventh Hour

Despite all the odds, John arrives just in time to grapple the insane millionaire off his best friend. Planning his moves to the extreme, Sherlock had placed a recording device in John’s cane several weeks before. With enough evidence to take Smith in, the madman begins confessing to all his crimes.

Although his substance abuse problem was used in His Last Vow, it was merely a ploy. Now that Sherlock has been seen without any control, it puts a much darker shadow across the entire franchise. Is he merely one carer/case away from being a full-blown addict? Lastly, comes the news of Sherlock’s big gamble. There were backup plans but he knew they would be forgotten. For the eccentric genius, either he would be saved by his best friend or die trying.

Everything is tied up in a neat bow and given to Watson’s new psychiatrist. But one thing is wrong – she knows about the secret brother. Actually, sister. Euros Holmes has broken out. Could this have been Moriarty’s final move? Unleashing a mad Holmes – every bit the equal of her brothers – to destroy the whole family? Miss me – not a taunt from a defeated for but an imprisoned sibling. Sherlock concludes – maybe forever – in The Final Problem.

The Whole-ms family?


  • Seeing Sherlock suffering from emotion is an amazing twist. His games with Irene Adler proved him capable of feeling a variety of emotion but actually seeing him controlled by them is much more powerful.
  • Although Watson ultimately comes clean with himself about the affair, it is beautiful to see his memory of Mary forgiving him. And the way that she continues to match Sherlock’s intellect is a wonderful reminder that Sherlock claims anybody can do what he does. On some level, John is his equal.
  • Mrs. Hudson has always been played off as the elderly landlady with a chequered past but this episode highlights just how awesome she is.
  • If Euros is the missing sibling, is ‘Sherrinford’ a facility she was kept imprisoned in? Or perhaps a codename assigned to the mad Holmes?
Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight.
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