I keep forgetting to put up the commissions as I go. Anyway, I had time to pop into my inbox today and there were a couple of messages about Arkham Knight Jason which reminded me about this. Done for @natasha-baggins!
I just realized why it’s called “The Final Problem”!!
Okay, so this post is a result of all of the things that have popped up on my dash in the last day and a half - disappointment, bitterness, tin-hatting, and denial. I’ve participated in a bit of each, but what makes me hesitant to give up right now is that the whole of s4, and especially TFP, just felt off somehow. It felt fake. But a thought popped into my head today, and suddenly everything makes sense, so I wanted to share it with you. (If I turn out to be wrong, sorry for getting your hopes up; if not, this will truly be television history.)
Why is this episode titled The Final Problem, if it has nothing to do with Reichenbach (like in ACD’s canon) or burning the heart out of Sherlock (like in BBC canon)? It’s titled that because it serves the same function as ACD’s Final Problem.
Think about it: ACD wrote The Final Problem in 1893 for the sole purpose of killing off Sherlock Holmes, so that he could stop writing about the detective. The backlash against this was so great that he was eventually pressured by his fans into bringing back Holmes in 1901 with The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Mofftiss love the Canon so much that this is totally something they would want to replicate. Because of their enthusiasm, though, there’s no way that anyone would believe them if they suddenly decided to stop at series 4. They have an international reputation, with critics and fans. Everybody loves how well-made Sherlock is. So the only way that they could suddenly surprise people and cause a backlash would be if it suddenly stopped being good.
If you think about it, they never leave us hanging like this. Aside from the cliffhanger at the end of TGG, Mofftiss has never ended a series with an overwhelming feeling of unresolved plot holes or unanswered questions. Did TRF end with John standing devastated by Sherlock’s grave? No, it panned to a shot of Sherlock smiling quietly, to reassure us that he was alive. Did HLV end with the plane flying away, a bittersweet ending to haunt us through the hiatus? No, the credits got interrupted by Moriarty’s message, promising us a return to the Sherlock/John dynamic that we love. To contrast, series 4 has left us with more confusion than ever before… so that must mean that they’re not done yet.
There are so many loose ends in this series. So many things that just don’t make sense. There’s even concrete proof that the inconsistencies were at least partially intentional; even if the weird glowing skull wasn’t there, entire scenes are repeated with different dialogue.
So much points to at least part of this series being fake, and then The Final Problem came out of nowhere and just felt so off. But what if that’s the point? They’ve been going on and on about a rug-pull for ages; what if it isn’t just that they’re adapting the romance that was in ACD’s stories, but that they’re paying a homage to Doyle by repeating historical events.
TRF was an adaptation of The Final Problem’s story, but not of its context; we all knew that Sherlock would survive, and sure enough, he didn’t even stay “dead” through the end of the episode. So now, we have the REAL adaptation of The Final Problem: the installment that is designed to confuse you, disappoint you, and make you feel like BBC Sherlock has reached its end.
But they wouldn’t be so cruel as to make us wait - only for a week. They don’t want to turn into villains, and these days we have so much available media and so many other Holmes adaptations that their fans would simply get mad and then fade away, instead of protesting until they bring back the Sherlock that we love. So instead, they’ll wait a week, then give us the return of the real Sherlock Holmes.
Queerbaiting feels very out of character for Moffat and Gatiss, especially given everything they’ve said about LGBT representation and about getting the stories right. But this? This seems exactly like something they would do.
It explains their silence on social media right now. Either they’re waiting for us to cool down, they’re only now realizing what a mistake they’ve made, or else they’re waiting to respond until after s4 is done. This rug-pull is so huge that it blew right through TJLC and genuinely stunned us. Imagine how great this could be.
But didn’t Mofftiss just write themselves into a corner? Not necessarily. As @jenna221b points out, there is strong visual evidence that Sherlock is dreaming, and also evidence that TFP is really just a parody. EMP seems increasingly plausible, as shown by @loudest-subtext-in-tv‘s post about how TST fits with the theory. As people have pointed out, this episode stands apart because there is no subtext beneath the surface; it stumps us because there is nothing to analyze. It’s like a deliberate dead end.
And maybe this explains why.
(Oh, and if you’re wondering where a fourth episode might fit in, read this)