I'm still trying to figure out whether I actually liked "The Lying Detective". I'm finding myself starting to side with the viewers who feel that the plots from Sherlock have become too convoluted, over-dramatic and self-congratulatory. Well, that last adjective seems a bit harsh, but I think "convoluted" and "over-dramatic" are definitely accurate. I wanted to like "The Lying Detective". I really did. Of course, I really wanted to like "The Abominable Bride" too, and I think most of you know how that turned out. Maybe I should have seen it last week with "The Six Thatchers," but the creators of Sherlock seem to have forgotten the purpose of their own show or what Sherlock Holmes is supposed to be about. They think that if they throw in enough clever deductions, madly cackling villains and spectacular standoffs, it will still be Sherlock Holmes, but I think they're seriously close to jumping the shark. I'm sure there are several viewers who feel that Sherlock jumped the shark already. A long time ago. Saying all that, there are things that I like about the episode.
I haven't read "The Dying Detective" in quite a while, so I probably missed several allusions, but I liked the parallels I did recognize. As with the original story, Sherlock lays a trap for Culverton Smith. He pretends that he's dying -- or, at least, I had assumed that he was exaggerating the state of his drug use and making it seem worse than it was. In fact, I was convinced that he had Molly examine him for this reason, as it wouldn't be the first time she had aided and abetted him. In any case, as with "The Dying Detective," Sherlock is able to throw Mrs. Hudson in such a frenzy that she frantically begs John for help. I have to admit that I got a big laugh out of Mrs. Hudson opening the trunk of her car to reveal a hand-cuffed Sherlock. That, and the flashback of her holding a gun on Sherlock, were probably the most satisfying parts of the episode for me. I'm torn about Sherlock's motivation for taking on Culverton Smith. In a way, I think it's clever that Sherlock had to become the damsel in distress to "save" John, but I feel his character should have developed to the point where he wants to bring down a serial/cereal killer because, oh, I don't know, he's actually started to believe in justice. I was able to buy Sherlock struggling with the concept back in the first series, but we're in the fourth series now. His character should have evolved. And, although I think we got more tell than show with Culverton Smith, I did find Toby Jones genuinely creepy, especially when he was in the children's ward. I liked the references to H.H. Holmes and Smith's belief that the hospital (with his "favourite room") was a vast improvement on "Murder Castle".
Maybe I'm in a much more critical mood this evening, but I couldn't help feeling as I watched the episode that time was being wasted. I kept looking at the clock, wondering how they were going to wrap things up by 10:35. I know Sherlock had to put on a show to convince everyone that he was past the point of no return, but I think I would have preferred it if a bit more time had been spent establishing the full extent of Smith's evil. I realize that we're meant to doubt Sherlock and whether his accusations are true, but Moffat peppered the episode with more than enough hints that Smith was psycho, so I don't see why that would have been a problem. And I say this even though I never had any real problems with Mary, but she was in the episode way too much. Even if they had cut her material by half, I think it would have been more than enough. I fear that she's going the way of Andrew Scott and will be making constant appearances in flashbacks, dream sequences and drug hallucinations. You killed off Mary Morstan. For the love of fuck, please let her rest in peace. Well, at least she wasn't trying to force Sherlock to embrace a heterosexual relationship. It pissed me off when John was essentially telling Sherlock that he needed a woman to make him into the man he needs to be. Uh, since when? Sherlock Holmes seems to have managed up till now (various pastiches aside) without being in a romantic relationship with a woman. Believe it or not, men and women can text each other without it becoming a torrid affair. They are capable of having a platonic relationship. If Moffat and Gatiss dare to put Sherlock and Irene Adler together, I will be livid. Yes, I know it would hardly be the first time (or even the twenty-first time), but, Moffat, you established in "A Scandal in Belgravia" that it was a cerebral attraction, that Sherlock and Irene got off on how clever they each were. It's bad enough that you're now forcing Mycroft to be straight without you redefining the rules you (and Doyle) set out for the Sherlock Holmes/Irene Adler relationship.
Don't ask me what I think of Sherrinford Holmes. I'm still trying to work that out. It's kind of cool that she's a sister instead of a brother. Looking back, I realize that she was never referred to as "he," but "the other one". As "Sherrinford Holmes" is one of the names Arthur Conan Doyle considered for his great fictional detective, I like the idea that the Sherrinford in Sherlock might have become something Sherlock never ended up being. At the moment, it's a woman...and possibly someone who's even more twisted and evil than Moriarty, Magnussen or Smith? I guess we'll find out next week. I find it interesting that she was able to insinuate herself into both Sherlock's and John's lives without them realizing what was happening. I hope she continues to be a force to be reckoned with.