The most recent string of Sherlock (BBC One) lurches from one jolt to another. We found out that there was not and a third Holmes sib – a brother. That kooky girl from the bus will no doubt prove to be equally as destructive and turned out to be Eurus, which means east wind in Greek.
Usually, I would balk at such trickery (we were introduced to her twice in the episode, in disguise as the grieving Watson’s therapist so when the daughter of Toby Jones’s baddie Culverton Smith), but as Eurus is played by Sian Brooke, a marvelous stage actress who starred opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet this past year, I'm prepared to forgive. Brooke was simply outstanding last night – bringing a sort of serenity in those brimming blue eyes, then suddenly switching to a malevolence that is insane. In reality, it turned out to be a mercurial performance to rival Cumberbatch’s – smart casting.
This episode was excellent in some other ways. As Watson tried to reassemble some sense of normality in grieving, Martin Freeman gave an unsentimental, brisk study. Cumberbatch does mental stress well, and through the episode he made you feel as if you were living Sherlock’s nightmare.
More disappointing was the typically superb Toby Jones who seemed to have wandered in from some kids’ comedy drama circa 1989. Culverton Smith was an entrepreneur Philip Green than Richard Branson – whose visits to the promotion and kids' wards of a cereal called horrible deeds were hidden by Gnash in hospital morgues. The grimness of this (and the possible nuances of the Savile case) made Jones’s panto performance even more uneasy.
Nevertheless, Sherlock continues to be a class act – a testament to the almost hallucinatory gifts of creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, and proof of the malleable potential of Arthur Conan Doyle’s pipe-smoking detective.