Culverton Smith is a much loved philanthropist. But he has a dark side – a prediliction towards serial killing. Or does he? When his daughter calls on the help of Sherlock, she finds that he’s not exactly in a good place. John Watson has chosen a life away from Sherlock and Sherlock himself has not so much fallen off the wagon, rather he has dived off it head first – and landed in a big pile of drugs. Needless to say, he’s not exactly at his best at exactly the time that he needs to be.
More than ever, Sherlock needs the help of his friends, but he seems determined to isolate himself. But as whatever game he is playing seems to be backfiring, and with absolutely no evidence of Smith’s guilt, Sherlock seems to be in serious trouble – and that’s before the East wind blows into town…
Episode Two of the fourth series of Sherlock and this time we’re taking The Dying Detective as the source material. And, a little surprisingly, just like the previous episode, it follows the main plot of the story pretty closely, with the primary exception that Sherlock isn’t faking his… health issues. But that’s just the start of the shenanigans, as Moffat pulls off a stunning piece of misdirection with this episode, possibly the best trick the series has ever played. Seriously, did anyone spot it?
But let’s not overlook the performances here. Cumberbatch is really let off the leash here, and grasps the opportunity with both hands, giving one of his strongest performances yet, but it’s important not to overlook Martin Freeman here, with his channelling of John’s pain proving to be utterly convincing, especially in his scenes with SPOILER, who I thought gave her best performance here too.
But apart from the leads, the chameleonic Toby Jones delivers a stunning performance as the repellant Smith, a character who could easily have fallen into caricature. The rest of the regulars deliver their usual strong solid performances (although can we have some more Molly – please?) but huge plaudits for Una Stubbs who seizes her chance to utterly steal every scene Mrs Hudson is in. I know she does this in every episode, but she gets some great scenes to steal in this episode.
Yes, I know some people are a bit narked about Sherlock being near psychic in some of his predictions while failing to recognise… someone, but this was an outstanding piece of television and I’m more than willing to excuse the odd plot hole. And with that ending… next Sunday can’t come soon enough.
So, as ever, if you’re a fan and haven’t seen it yet, stay away from basically ever other review that just can’t help spoiling something, and watch this as soon as possible. And then start counting the minutes until next Sunday evening… Highly Recommended.