For the first 75-80 minutes, I was seriously underwhelmed. Disappointed even. By the looks of it most of the reviewers share the same idea. And I actually spoiled it for myself beforehand and I knew going in that (SPOILERS) Mary was going to die. As I was watching I felt sure that her death would be cheap and convenient, though sad of course. I honestly had no idea how this joyride of an episode was going to work her death into the plot, not with the way these 80 minutes had gone. This episode was going to be sub-par. But then:
Norbury. Norbury changed everything.
This episode was absolutely brilliant.
Let me explain. When we finally meet him again, Sherlock is fresh from his 4-minute exile and he couldn’t be happier about it. He’s tweeting during top-secret meetings, mouthing off to his brother, and solving cases before the viewers even know what they are. There is absolutely no sense of mystery, no menacing buildup, no looming shadow of Moriarty. At one point, there’s this montage of Sherlock solving various cases in seconds, and it all feels a bit cheap. He’s a case-solving machine, back to his cocky, arrogant, humorously socially inept character. John and Mary have domestic bliss, they have a baby, Rosamund, Mary is clever and John is all heart. There are genuinely funny bits of course, between Lestrade and another officer competing for Sherlock’s affection, Mary and John struggling with baby Rosie, Sherlock texting throughout the christening, etc. But there’s not much going on.
There’s the loose thread of the Six Thatchers. We think it’s about the pearl, but it isn’t, it suddenly becomes about Mary. Here, the episode starts to get a little more interesting. Mary’s assassin past is revealed, as is the lone survivor of an attack on her group, other than herself of course, who is hell-bent on killing her. There’s a mysterious English woman who sabotaged the close-knit band of freelance assassins Mary had once been part of, and there’s the word Ammo. And all this prompts Mary to go on an epic, round-the-world journey in an attempt to lure her apparent killer as far away from her family as possible. But of course, Sherlock finds her by simply tracking her, the assassin is killed, and Mary’s life is sort of back to normal again.
And so far everything has been perfect, far too perfect, so perfect it’s boring. Even the most ludicrous of plots is working our beautifully, everything is so complicated it made my head spin, there were so many distractions of the screen. Sherlock is even more ridiculous and over the top than ever before, doing things so clever it’s just not fun anymore, playing the action-hero, becoming a sort of James Bond. He’s back in his element, back in the world of 221B, back in London, back with the Watsons, his family, and back with the ultimate problem of Moriarty waiting for him somewhere in the future. He is on top of the world, he’s high as a kite and only getting higher. It’s ludicrous, it’s too much, it’s too over-the-top, Gatiss is losing his touch. All of these things are running through my head.
But then. Norbury. And everything comes crashing down.
We all thought, Sherlock included, that this episode would be about Moriarty. When Sherlock confronted Moriarty last time he was just like this. Clever to the point of arrogance, insolent, stubborn, cocky, a complete ass honestly. In order to finally defeat Moriarty he needs to go to a different place, become a different person. So this episode was not about Moriarty.
There was no menace, no looming shadow, no final threat waiting at the end of this episode. It was a simple conclusion to an overly complex plot that we weren’t all that interested in at this point. It was the secretary. It was Norbury. And Sherlock confronted her in his trademark style, made rapid-fire deduction after deduction, humiliated her, accused her of being motivated by pure base jealousy. He was convinced he had cornered her, outsmarted her with his own brand of cleverness. She had nowhere left to run, Sherlock Holmes saved the day again, hooray, it was getting less and less interesting.
Then she shot at him. Mary took the bullet. And his whole world came crashing down.
That scene was gut-wrenching to watch. (Also Martin Freeman deserves every award in the universe for this scene). Mary chokes out these fearful last words, they come tripping out of her mouth like she’s desperate to get them out. Sherlock just stands there, confused, pain all over his usually blank face, tears in his eyes, he’s shaking, uncertain, his speech is shaky too. And John. Oh my god, John. He doesn’t sob, he doesn’t curse God, he isn’t numb or anything like that. His grief is… it’s indescribable. He makes this utterly anguished noise and just collapses into himself and collapses completely into this devastation, but not before he’s told Sherlock “Don’t you dare. You made a vow.” And Sherlock is completely lost.
He’s seeing a therapist. John refuses to speak to him. Sherlock’s heart is broken by the loss of pretty much everyone he ever loved in one single moment.
That’s what this episode was about. Sherlock seemed to be sliding comfortably into his old world, fighting crime, being this brilliant machine, his family by his side, Moriarty as the end goal, always Moriarty. Crime solving was always his ‘alternative to getting high’ he enjoyed it, he enjoyed being cleverer than people and solving increasingly elaborate and ridiculous puzzles and presenting this simple solution to rooms of flabbergasted people. His family, the Watsons, were the people he loved more than anyone in the world. But he couldn’t go back to his old world and his old way of life. His high couldn’t last forever or he’d just float away completely. No, he needed to see, up close and personal, the very real consequences of his arrogance, his cockiness, his unrelenting cleverness. He needed to have his heart perhaps irreparably broken, he needed to be human. Moriarty is not human. And last time Sherlock faced him he was nearly the same, he and Moriarty had a lot of similarities. If Sherlock was going to beat him, he could not become him. He had to be brought crashing down to earth.
And he says to Mrs. Hudson, the only person he really has left: “
“if you ever think I’m becoming a bit full of myself, cocky or overconfident, just say the word ‘Norbury’ to me would you.” That’s what Norbury means to him. Norbury is a constant reminder that his actions have consequences, consequences that can cause unendurable pain. That is what will ultimately set him apart from Moriarty. This episode was brilliant because it built everything up, built up Sherlock’s whole world again, made it ridiculous and almost whimsical and fantastical, they created this busy screen and this busy episode that felt as though I was watching on fast-forward and not really getting a sense of anything concrete… and then brought everything to a screeching halt. Because Sherlock needs to go in a new direction now.
I have many, many questions of course. Namely:
- JOHN HAMISH WATSON HOW FUCKING DARE YOU HAVE AN EXTRAMARITAL TEXTING AFFAIR YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED but no you probably feel ten million times worse about that now please don’t leave
- What did Mary mean in her video at the end? Save John Watson. Save him. Go to hell, Sherlock. What did that mean? The video was sweet and a fitting end, but confusing as well.
- Whose side is Molly Hooper on now?????
- SHERRINFORD?????????? THE 13TH?????????? WHAT DOES IT MEEEEAAAAAN??????
But right now, Sherlock is in considerable pain. John Watson is in ten million times more pain. Everyone is in pain. Because this is where they need to start.
After reading the translation of Isak’s talk with Eva, I can honestly say that this fucking show has done it all. Reached where others fail to reach and manage to end it without any overdramatic fake scene, just tie up all loose ends and be as simple as possible. What better end than this…
What an incredible journey, a fucking fantastic character development, amazing back stories and most of all natural raw depiction and HONESTY of teenagers and human beings in general. They understand people and that’s it.
Thank you Julie Andem. Thank you writers. Thank you actors.
you know what though some people headcanon that Bilbo just ages naturally after he passes on the ring rather than his age catching up to him like 5x faster and tbh I agree like how would the human (hobbit) body even do that. why would it forego natural biology. so IDK. I feel like he’d just gain a few lines and, you know, sail off looking fab, rather than decrepit.
Sherlock Holmes and his lovely companion John Watson <3<3<3. They are so cute together. This show was pretty good and I really enjoyed the modern twist it had. I still need to watch season 3 though. That is something I have to fix asap, this weekend would be a good time for that!