If I felt cheated by episode one's big reveal, this one robbed me blind. An emotionally sensitive child traumatized by the death of his first pet? My heart breaks. But, “My 'incandescently brilliant' sister murdered my childhood friend, and so I invented replacement memories of the event while my family covered the crime—and her existence—up.” Dear god, exactly what part of that can I relate to? It's so far beyond my experience of anything that I'm left feeling the emotional equivalent of a shoulder shrug. As well as the disappointment of having been robbed, because what I thought was one of the most delicately drawn windows we'd been given into Sherlock's psyche, and one of the most relatable and humanizing things about him, has been rewritten.
Maybe I'm supposed to feel the pathos of the Holmes siblings' situation, but in fact my sympathy lies with the anonymous family whose little boy went out to play one afternoon and never came home. What did they tell Redbeard's family? Anything? Theirs is the only piece of this entire plot arc with which I can empathize.
I don't really know what to think in general, because so much about this episode is morally awful. I can't feel pity for the way Eurus' genius left her frightened and isolated, because for all her intelligence she never bothered to say, “I'm lonely and I need comfort” before she started murdering people—at least six of them—through a carefully orchestrated series of Rube Goldberg/John Kramer set pieces to “communicate” her sadness.
I know there is only so much ground an episode can cover and that these six “characters” were only ever plot devices to begin with, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Where's the justice for them or for their families, especially given that they doubtlessly lack the Holmes' political, financial, and intellectual resources to take vengeance, exact justice, or dispense forgiveness as the spirit moves them.
Nor can I feel sympathy for Uncle Rudy or Mycroft, because lifetime incarceration in a bare concrete dungeon is a horrific thing to do to a child, even a child who's murdered. And here are Mycroft and Eurus, willing to use and be used to keep Britannia safe, but not apparently to ask or explain why she's hurting. For fuck's sake, someone please just ask the Fisher King what the deal is with Grail procession already.
I'm not at all comforted by the resolution. I mean, really, “My siblings wouldn't play with me so I killed a child in revenge, so then they imprisoned me for decades in Abu Ghraib-on-steroids, so then I killed even more people, but finally my brother figured out I was sad and lonely so I don't need to murder anymore, and yeah, they've put me back in the dungeon but they do visit periodically, so everything's copacetic and I'll stay here now.” Really? What, pray tell, is to prevent her mesmerizing a new set of guards and creating more deadly havoc for some new inscrutable motive?
While there is justice in her continued imprisonment given that she murdered multiple people, is it justice or “justice” when the Holmes family have the sole voice in determining what's to be done with her. (And yes, I know Mycroft et al. have been making extra-judicial calls throughout the series, but it's a lot harder for me to handwave it away here, where it's the point the entire episode pivots around.)
Last but not least, the emotional torture of Molly. What the freak did this poor woman do to deserve this? (Yes, it's meant to show how far Sherlock's come in recognizing that his actions effect the emotional realities of the people around him, but that doesn't change the fact that Sherlock's growth is demonstrated through the vehicle of Molly's suffering. And a quick cut scene of her smiling at the episode's end does not begin to undo any of this.)
Per Mycroft's comment to Sherlock that his every defining action is based on Eurus, this is our “just so” story about why Sherlock Holmes solves crimes. But to me, a boy wondering what happened to his missing dog (because pets do go missing and children do mourn them) is a far sweeter origin story than what viewers have been given here.
So yes, there's a lot about this episode that doesn't sit well with me. Companion post about all the elements where they nailed it to follow.