So, we come to the end of a season in which the most dramatic plot-lines have been devoted not to Holmes, but to his detective protégés Joan Watson and Kitty Winter. In Controlled Descent, the spotlight is back on Sherlock; but will this mark his Reichenbach Falls moment, or some more metaphorical fall?
The resume takes us right back to the pilot episode, reminding us that Sherlock’s father got him into rehab and threatened to put him on the streets if he didn’t accept Watson’s sponsorship. That duty has now devolved to Alfredo, who we see sitting on the roof of the brownstone watching ancient comedy shows with Holmes.
‘Who’s On First’, which Holmes describes as ‘the most perfect joke ever told’ is an excruciating Abbott and Costello routine beloved by the Americans; Holmes mentions that he also has the Abbott and Costello movie in which they meet Frankenstein’s monster – a little in-joke for those who know that Johnny Lee Miller played both Frankenstein and the monster on stage.
Alfredo is moping about an errant girlfriend, so when he disappears with a client’s car the following morning, Holmes assumes he’s gone after her; but evidence at the scene indicates he’s been kidnapped. Then Holmes gets a call from sleazebag Oscar, his former dealer, who confesses that’s he’s taken Alfredo to pressure Holmes into looking for his missing sister Olivia.
While Joan and Gregson investigate Oscar, Sherlock accompanies him to Hemdale, the rehab clinic Sherlock attended, and to which he had extended Oscar an invitation. Olivia had checked in using Oscar’s invite, but had left with druggie Beta Ray.
Joan and Bell find the missing car, while Sherlock accompanies Oscar to Beta Ray’s favourite drug den. While Oscar gets high, Sherlock finds a stolen ID which leads them to Jonathan Bloom, a decadent businessman known to Holmes. Holmes strongarms Bloom into admitting that he had Olivia in his apartment, but claims that she attacked him and made off with his drug stash.
Holmes and Oscar track Olivia’s cabbi, and find out where she was dropped off; there. under a railway arch, she’s found dead. But she’s been dead for two days, and Oscar has obviously been there, so why did he make Sherlock go through the farce of looking for her?
Oscar’s purpose, he confesses, was purely to pull Sherlock down to his level, to drag him through his old drug haunts, and to force him back into addiction; simple vindictiveness, really. He refuses to reveal Alfonso’s whereabouts unless Sherlock shoots up using the last of Olivia’s stash; but just as Sherlock is about to comply, he gets the call that Alfonso has been found alive, tied up in a storeroom at a stonemason’s yard belonging to a relative of Oscar’s.
Sherlock, unsurprisingly, then goes totally mediaeval on Oscar’s ass, leaving him in a battered heap; then he marches off under the railway bridge.
Cut to three days later, and Sherlock’s sitting morosely on his rooftop; Joan announces that his father has heard what has happened, and will be there the following day.
So, unanswered questions – did Sherlock kill Oscar? Presumably not, or he’d be behind bars. Is he using again? Possibly so, as that’s one of the few circumstances that might bring his father out of seclusion.
Unresolved are the questions of Captain Gregson’s unwanted promotion – will the team be split up? – and Joan’s rocky love life – will she hang on to a man long enough to escape the chilling effect of the brownstone, or will she now have to become more of nursemaid to Holmes than ever before?
Whatever the case, certainly Holmes has suffered an almighty fall; not even the most ingenious criminal could have brought it about, but sleazebag Oscar managed it, just by dragging Sherlock back to face his old self. What it costs him to recover, we’ll have to wait until neat season to find out.
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