Review: Sherlock – The Lying Detective

Sherlock continues with the detective facing a despicable villain in the form of TV personality Culverton Smith, alongside his own personal demons and dilemmas.

*WARNING – Contains spoilers for The Six Thatchers – minor spoilers for this episode.*


What an incredible episode.

In terms of story, plot and character development, as well as technically, I don’t think there’s been a better, more interesting episode. This one really did have it all. If you’re not caught up, what are you waiting for? Do it now!

Written by co-creator Steven Moffat, this week’s episode again takes its title from an original Doyle story, this time The Adventure of the Dying Detective. In it, Holmes fakes a serious and highly infectious disease in order to entrap Smith into confessing to murder. Moffat takes this idea and intensifies it tenfold with the threat of “Anyone” and the unknown running through the episode.

It’s almost been a week since I first watched The Lying Detective, and by now I’ve seen it another 5 times, and I am still in awe and full of emotions. Against A Scandal in Belgravia and The Sign of Three, The Lying Detective is a strong contender to be, hands-down, my favourite episode of the entire series.

Last week’s ending, with the shocking death of Mary Watson, and the subsequent estrangement of Sherlock and John during the first half of episode two, doesn’t help matters for either of them. But as we continue to learn, Sherlock will risk anything to save John Watson.

One of the best things about this show, as a whole, is the creativity and inventiveness of the entire crew who work on it, with fresh ways to make every episode work so well and look amazing and seamless. They’re one of the reasons I’ll always keep coming back to Sherlock and a huge inspiration for me to work in television. This episode was a feat of technical genius, in my opinion, from the mind palace scenes to the changes that 221B goes through and in particular, that short but stunning window deduction. If you want to know how the last was created and put together, Nerdwriter1 on Youtube made a very interesting video about it; watch it here.

I also can’t write about this episode and not talk about the performances from the brilliant cast. I became a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch through Sherlock (more on that another time), and have seen most of his work to date, and I think I can safely say this was one of his best performances yet. He gets to show so much range, both in physicality and in emotion, which I’m always glad to see.

An example of this was Sherlock’s drug-fuelled, erratic run around 221B, spouting Henry V while terrifying Mrs Hudson, which was wonderful and captivating to watch, and another of my favourite scenes from the episode. Especially as it included Sherlock booming “Are you having an earthquake?!” at his poor landlady while she stands in the kitchen holding a cup of tea, horrified.

Besides Cumberbatch, Toby Jones’ take on Smith is at once chilling, creepy and inventive, a mix of Trump and Savile that will not be easily forgotten. Martin Freeman also gets to show off his emotional range once again, during a heartbreaking scene towards the end in which he confesses his sins and revelations to a hallucination of Mary.

By the end of this second episode, there are emotional resolutions between the boys, which are extremely satisfying after their lack of real communication during His Last Vow and The Six Thatchers, but there is also a mysterious, new threat that might just break them both.

I am not ready for The Final Problem.

Sherlock series 4 concludes tomorrow night (15th January) in the UK with The Final Problem, BBC1 9 PM.


Author: Leanne Richards

22-year-old writer and aspiring filmmaker from Cardiff

2 thoughts on “Review: Sherlock – The Lying Detective”

  1. That’s such a shame, I count this as one of my favourite episodes out of the whole series. I can understand where they’re coming from, a lot of people thought that. I agree with you, it’s unapologetically clever, and I love it for that.


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