Imagine a world where the first ever episode of Sherlock was like The Final Problem. A mind-controlling supervillian kidnaps Sherlock Holmes and puts him through a series of dastardly puzzles on her island lair, in an episode where action hero Sherlock and trusty sidekick John Watson jump out of a building as a fireball explodes behind them. Would the show have been as critically revered if this had been the first episode?
That description is exactly what you would expect from a clueless, modern update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, and it was the defiance of this expectation that made Sherlock so refreshing, so incredible in its early episodes. Unfortunately, with each subsequent episode, the show got closer and closer to a parody Sherlock Holmes, littered with incredulous twists, illogical plot developments and cringey, wacky hijinks.
The Final Problem could well be the last episode of Sherlock, as a result of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s Hollywood careers. With the massive downturn in quality over the last two seasons, that may well be for the best.