Sherlock Season 4 The Lying Detective Culverton Smith Toby Jones

Sherlock Recap: The Show's Nastiest Villain Yet… and a Sibling Stunner

Well, co-creator Steven Moffat called Sunday’s Sherlock “the darkest one we’ve ever done”… and he wasn’t kidding, was he?

Season 4’s second episode, “The Lying Detective,” got incredibly grim at times, thanks to philanthropist-turned-killer Culverton Smith, played by Toby Jones. But it also gave us a much-needed truce between Sherlock and John after last week’s unpleasantness… and a last-minute twist that could have huge implications for the legendary sleuth going forward.

Let’s take a closer look at what transpired in “The Lying Detective”:

THE GHOST OF YOU LINGERS | The episode opens with John in therapy, short on sleep and blaming himself for not taking good enough care of new baby Rosie after Mary’s death: “I’m letting my daughter down. How is that OK?” We soon learn he has someone else to tell his problems to: the ghost of Mary, who follows him everywhere and serves as a sounding-board. He won’t tell the therapist about Ghost Mary… and he doesn’t know what’s become of Sherlock, who’s been holed up in his flat for weeks.

John’s right: Sherlock’s a mess, sporting some ragged stubble… and on the needle once again. (We spot a syringe lying nearby.) But he perks up when a new case comes his way in the form of Faith, Culverton Smith’s daughter. Culverton is a famous entrepreneur and beloved in the community, but he has a dark side. We see him dose his closest confidants, Faith included, with a memory-wiping drug and confess: “I need to kill someone.” Her memory is hazy, so Faith turns to Sherlock to find out exactly who her father needs to kill.

Sherlock intends to send Faith away, saying the case is “way too weird for me,” but stops himself when he deduces Faith has a gun in her handbag and intends to take her own life. Instead, he takes her out to get some chips and talk. She thinks her father’s confession was followed by one word, which means the person he intends to kill is known on a first-name basis. But later, Sherlock pieces it together: Culverton actually said, “I need to kill someone… anyone.” In short, one of Britain’s most powerful men is a serial killer.

Sherlock Season 4 The Lying Detective John MollyPASS THE CEREAL SERIAL | Sherlock gets even more manic than usual while investigating Culverton, wildly quoting Shakespeare’s Henry V and waving a gun around the flat, almost blowing poor Mrs. Hudson’s head off. So Mrs. Hudson turns to John for help, screaming up to his therapist’s office in a sleek sports car (what? She can afford it) and pleading for him to reconnect with Sherlock. When he agrees, he learns that the little old lady actually got Sherlock’s gun away from him and forced him into the trunk of her sports car: “You’re not my first smackhead, Sherlock Holmes!” Go, Mrs. Hudson!

Good timing, too, because Culverton Smith summons Sherlock and John for a meeting. Sherlock has publically accused Culverton of being a serial killer, but the philanthropist greets Sherlock with a warm hug when they meet. What the…? Actually, Culverton turned Sherlock’s accusation into a PR ploy for a breakfast cereal. He even shoots an ad, grinning, “I’m a cereal killer!” (Groan.)

Sherlock grumbles that Culverton is “hiding in plain sight,” and reveals that when he hugged the villain, he nicked his cell phone and sent a number of texts on his behalf. (That’ll come into play later.) But first, Culverton takes Sherlock and John to his hospital’s pediatric ward, taunting Sherlock in front of the kids that a smart, rich serial killer couldn’t be stopped: “You only catch the dumb ones.” Well, we’ll see about that…

Sherlock Season 4 The Lying Detective‘MY FAVORITE ROOM’ | After the pediatric ward, Culverton leads Sherlock and John down to the hospital’s morgue (his “favorite room”), where he morbidly plays with the dead bodies: “They’re so pliable.” After offhandedly stating that a hospital would be the perfect front for a serial killer, Culverton points out how unstable a clearly jonesing Sherlock is, saying he’s “off his tits on drugs” to discredit his accusations.

But Sherlock’s texts are about to come back into play. He tells the villain he texted Culverton’s daughter Faith with a confession. And Faith does arrive at the morgue… but it’s a different woman than the one Sherlock spent the night with. Sherlock is baffled — that’s strange to see, isn’t it? — while Culverton explodes with creepy laughter. Sherlock grabs a scalpel and lunges at Culverton, shouting “Stop laughing at me!”

John stops him, though, before he can reach Culverton, punching Sherlock and screaming at him, “Is this a bloody game?” He has to be pulled away from Sherlock, who doesn’t fight back: “Let him do what he wants. He’s entitled… I killed his wife.” To which John says: “Yes, you did.” (Ouch.) Sherlock is subdued and placed in a hospital bed, while Culverton laughs the whole event off on TV, saying he bears Sherlock no ill will: “I might even move him to my favorite room.”

STICK IT TO HIM | John visits a sleeping Sherlock in the hospital, but insists, “I’m just in to say goodbye.” He does leave a parting gift, though: his old walking stick. And in a conversation with Mycroft, John (egged on by Mary’s ghost) notices that Mycroft slipped up and mentioned the possibility of… a third brother. There’s another Holmes boy out there? God help us all.

Meanwhile, Culverton sits down next to Sherlock’s bed, surgical gloves on. He looks ready to kill, but Sherlock beats him to the punch: “I want you to kill me.” He even tells Culverton how to up the dosage on his meds to finish him off, but that’s not enough for the evil Culverton: “Killing human beings… it just makes me incredibly happy.” Impatient with the drugs, Culverton starts to suffocate Sherlock with his bare hands, demanding that he “maintain eye contact…. I want to watch it happen.”

But he’s stopped just in time… by John! Remember that video Mary left for Sherlock last week? John found it, and realized she instructed Sherlock to “save John Watson” by getting himself into danger: “Go to hell, Sherlock. Go right into hell and make it look like you mean it.” And it worked! Sherlock wryly adds that the drug Culverton pumped him full of was merely saline.

Culverton still denies confessing, though. In fact, he removed the three recording devices Sherlock had hidden in his coat. But Sherlock just smiles: “People always give up after three.” A fourth recording device was hidden inside… John’s cane! And once caught, Culverton seems happy to confess his crimes to Lestrade: “I didn’t realizing confessing would be so enjoyable. I should’ve done it sooner!”

Sherlock Season 4 The Lying Detective JohnSIBLING REVEAL-RY | With the Culverton case wrapped up, Sherlock and John manage to settle their differences. John says he’s not OK: “I’m never going to be OK. It is what it is. And what it is, is s–t.” But he understands that Sherlock didn’t kill Mary… and he even confesses to her ghost about the infidelity we saw last week. It was only texting, but he still feels unworthy of her: “Who you thought I was… is the man I want to be.” Ghost Mary forgives him, though, telling him to “get the hell on with it.”

Sherlock, meanwhile, receives a text — and John deduces it’s from… Irene Adler! What’s more, that text can only mean one thing: It’s Sherlock’s birthday. After teasing Sherlock about Irene (“The posh boy loves the dominatrix!”), he pushes him to open his heart to her: “She likes you! And she’s alive!” Sherlock finally agrees to go out with John for some birthday cake… and even puts on the “damn” deerstalker cap for good measure.

One more final twist, though: John’s back at his therapist, saying things are better these days, and the therapist brings up the idea of a third Holmes brother. But how would she know about that? “Maybe Sherlock told me,” she says. “We spent the night together.” Set your faces to stunned: John’s therapist is also… the fake Faith Sherlock met! What’s more: As Sherlock looks again at Faith’s note and sees the classic “Miss Me?” in invisible ink — God, this show uses that phrase a lot! — we learn the therapist is also… the woman from the bus John’s been text-cheating with!

And that’s not all, folks: As the therapist reveals she’s wearing a wig and contacts, she pulls a gun on John and introduces herself as Eurus. It’s Greek, she says, and means “the east wind.” But it is a weird name, she admits, kind of like Mycroft… or Sherlock. Yes, Sherlock doesn’t have another brother; he has a sister. And holding John at gunpoint, she says he’s “making a funny face… I think I’ll put a hole on it.” Gunshot! And cut to black.

What did you think of this week’s Sherlock… and the twist of Sherlock’s sister? Give us your take in the comments.  

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Walkie says:

    Much better episode. That helped make up for the pretty awful season premiere.

    The “Mary vision” conceit with Watson was pretty lame. I hope they don’t carry that forward into the next episode.

    • Lawrence Calablaster says:

      I think John’s reconciled with himself now.

      • Emily says:

        It’s nice to see John getting a bit of character development again, although the “ghost” concept was fairly predictable and a bit reductive on Mary. Frankly, I’ve always found John more fascinating as a character than Sherlock – so sue me.

        • Alichat says:

          It was predictable, although I don’t think it was lame as Walkie said above. It was a good way to give fans a bit more Mary, inject humor and warmth into the chaos of the episode, and stay true to John’s character…..that he will deny what he knows to be true and avoid that truth/pain/guilt by collapsing inward. On another note, before the big shocking reveal at the end, I was thinking the biggest shocker was Sherlock just getting up and hugging John in the most human way. No odd comment, no quirky or puzzled look, no over dramatics. Just a simple approach, and hug. It was so normal.

    • Lawrence Calablaster says:

      What didn’t you like about The Six Thatchers? I liked it. Then again, I like a lot of films that others think are rubbish, so correct on what I’ve got wrong.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      When Watson left the apartment and looked back, he saw nothing. Wouldn’t that be an indication his mind no longer needs the Mary dialog?

  2. Lawrence Calablaster says:

    Good review! Vox’s, while amiably analytical, was in my personal mind a bit too harsh. I thought that the show was great, leading the audience just enough to bring it in at the last second for a shocking blow.

  3. taran63 says:

    Did anyone notice if the red letters in the credits spelled out anything? I don’t get an HD version of the channel this aired on, so I couldn’t make it out. But I noticed a few of the letters in the credits were red. And I wondered if they spelled out anything. Or is it just an odd artistic choice?

  4. Emily says:

    Another “mysterious” “femme fatale”. Yawn. This show does realize women come in more sizes than “feisty but loyal supporter” and “morally questionable but hot”, right?

  5. sweetrupturedlight says:

    Irene Adler! Yes please.

  6. Nonny says:

    Way too much about Mary. Episode 1 was mediocre. Episode 2 dark and very silly the first 30 mins. The script thus far is no where as good as Season 1. Moffat can write anything and his capture audience will call it brilliant. No sure if I’ll continue watching. The Sherlock sister twist is not necessary. Disappointed.

  7. nicky says:

    Is it possible Eurus was the puppeteer pulling moriarty’s strings? I didnt see the sister plot twist coming. The makeup artists did a great job, but the actress is truly phenomenal.

  8. Mia says:

    Mrs Hudson was awesome in this episode. I was shocked when it was revealed they had a sister. This epiosde was way better and I can’t wait for next week

  9. Sarath says:

    Wow! Season 4 gets interesting day by day. John’s character was very different from past, I would say he was at his best.

  10. JNorris says:

    Really? Sherlock — even a drug-addled Sherlock — spent the evening with his sister and didn’t recognize her? Maybe doesn’t even know she exists? This is not the world’s greatest detective — it’s the world’s cheesiest screenwriting trick.

    • I mean, did you recognize that she was those three people? I didn’t. I’m sure that’s not what she really looks like. Or maybe it’s been awhile since he’s seen her (Maybe those flashbacks as a kid were his last memory of her). I’ll hold my judgment until I see how they play it out in the final episode. Then we’ll see if this would really work.

  11. Patty Column says:

    How does the Holmes’ sister know all the details of Culverton’s drug sessions that Faith attended? Like the note and what Culverton said about killing? Did I miss something? Thank you for any clarity.

  12. TheGame says:

    I have a really terrible memory. When did they talk about Sherlock having a brother!?
    I might have to go back and watch them all!

    • rowenamck says:

      Last season, Mycroft made a passing remark about brotherly affection and “the other one”. I can’t remember what episode it was but the scene was Mycroft and Sherlock talking in a hallway.

  13. Did not see that coming! I wonder if Sherrinford is the name of the asylum Euros escaped from. My question is, why didn’t Sherlock realize it was her when she posed at Faith and came to see him? He spent hours with her. How long has she been locked up and how long has she been out and about?

    I would love to see Euros versus Irene Adler. That would be amazing.

  14. kirads09 says:

    Ok. Was I the only one obsessing over Toby’s awful teeth? The were crooked and yellow were they not? Not the actors natural ones I am sure. His character was rich. Surely had the $$$ to get hem fixed no? Or was that to make him even more sinister?

    • Deion says:

      In the story this is based on, the character was described as a creepy imp. It served the character he was playing. The description was pretty apt.

  15. kaz says:

    My fav quote from the line as when Mrs Hudson was asked by the police office “have you any idea what speed you were going at?” And she replies “Of course not i was on the phone!” And she hands the police officer the phone and says “Its for you by the way, its the government!” Classic line.. I wish I could use that one when I get stopped lol

  16. Jess says:

    Please, please, PLEASE let Moriarty be alive!

    • Chris says:

      I was kind of expecting the Therapist to be Moriarty in drag when she started to do the reveal lol. I knew from the get go that the therapist and the “daughter” were the same person, I just kept spending the entire episode wondering how it would play out. I did NOT piece together it was the same woman from the bus and the secret sibling. This episode was great (and yeah, I hope he’s alive too, he’s the only villain I’ve liked the entire series).

  17. PatriciaLee says:

    This episode was way over the top, but it was more fun than frustrating. I couldn’t take a steady diet of this stuff, but I do like Sherlock Holmes variety. Hopefully, the next season will go a different track, maybe the Baker Street Irregulars.