WARNING: This post contains spoilers from the BBC Sherlock finale ‘The Final Problem‘; if you haven’t watched this episode yet then avoid this post.
I’m not here to dissect what may have been the last ever episode of BBC’s Sherlock. There is only one thing I want to talk about, and that is the secret sister of the eponymous detective – Eurus Holmes. We were introduced to her initially in ‘The Six Thatchers’, albeit in disguise, before meeting her again in ‘The Lying Detective’ in another disguise as troubled Faith Smith, the daughter of that episode’s antagonist (who was seemingly modelled after Jimmy Savile…) At the end of the episode, she was finally revealed as the ‘mad’ younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft.
We went straight into her background near the start of ‘The Final Problem’ as told by Mycroft. The two older boys were smart beyond belief, but little Eurus was on another level. She self-harmed at an early age to try and see how her muscles worked. She didn’t understand what pain was. She loved her brother Sherlock but he already had a best friend – originally thought to be a dog named Redbeard, but it’s revealed that he was actually another little boy named Victor. Eurus ended up killing Sherlock’s best friend, giving him a puzzle to try and save him as she had left him to die; this event was so traumatic to her brother that he blocked out those early memories, even the memory of his sister. It was after she burned down the family home in a seeming fit of rage that she was sent away to a secure facility and kept there through her adolescence into adulthood.
Through the episode we see how Eurus is apparently a master manipulator, a cold-blooded killer, it’s hinted that she’s a rapist, and she plays twisted ‘games’ with her brothers in a bid to observe their emotional responses and moral compasses. While this is going on, Sherlock is on the phone to a little girl who is alone in a plane ready to crash into London who is desperate for him to help her. Everyone around her is asleep, and she’s frightened. Towards the end, Sherlock ends up at the burnt out husk of their former family home where he finally solves the puzzle Eurus set him as a child – where she was begging for his help and his love all that time – and he finds her curled up in a dissociative state in her old bedroom.
The little girl in the plane? It was her all along. The little girl lost in the sky with no-one to help her, waiting to crash and burn – Eurus Holmes. She soon loses that cold, calculating split in her personality and becomes almost catatonic as she is returned to her prison. Her only form of communication after this, is when she plays the violin with her favourite brother Sherlock. Because when he finds her, he reaches out to her despite everything and gives her what she wanted all along – to be loved, and to be found.
After the episode finished, I said to Husband that things could’ve been so different for Eurus as a child if someone had just listened to her and didn’t sweep her away. Yes, she clearly had psychopathic traits along with high intelligence – but she clearly had no grasp of emotion or empathy. I was suddenly hit with immense sadness, and after a moment alone in the bathroom, I told Husband that I felt so much of Eurus’s pain.
I wasn’t a psychopath as a child. I was very smart for my age, my imagination was endless and full of strange, dark things. …actually, based on the things I used to write and draw, maybe I was a psychopath. Like Eurus, I was desperate for a friend. Friendship with other kids however, was hard to maintain when I was being moved around from home to home and between different schools. I shut off a lot of my emotions until times where I couldn’t – which resulted in outbursts that I couldn’t control. Unlike Eurus Holmes, I wasn’t a skilled manipulator, and I certainly didn’t have murderous tendencies. As an adult she could seduce John Watson into an emotional affair, spends a night with Sherlock eating chips and letting him ‘save’ her and even fools John once again presenting as his therapist. This seems to be the cold, psychotic side that is sophisticated beyond Eurus’s clearly underdeveloped personality.
Mycroft tells Sherlock that Eurus has been locked away since childhood. Which would mean as a teenager, her development as a person and a woman would’ve no doubt been stunted. We see through the ‘games’ she plays that she is definitely still very childlike, even tranquillising Sherlock in a tantrum when he wouldn’t play along. But these games are the work of someone with no empathy or care for consequences – the mark of a psychopath in contrast to Sherlock being a self-proclaimed ‘high-functioning sociopath’. Eurus seems to be completely detached from emotions and reality, very much like the little girl in the plane high above in the sky.
It begs the question; “Could Eurus have been saved if someone had just listened to her?” This child was gifted beyond her years, but had no concept of emotion or morality. What was the answer? To lock her away for the rest of her life. So the fire within her grew and grew, but the scared, lonely little girl was still there, desperate to be saved and loved by her big brother. She was unstable, and she needed help. Not much is said of her parents or their feelings towards her, which begs the question of how they were okay with their child just being locked away before being told that she died. (I blame that moreso on the writing of the show rather than something deliberate – I used to be a big Doctor Who fan before Stephen Moffat took the helm, put it that way…)
At age 23, I was finally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, the result of a life spent having each and every cry for help and love ignored. My emotions are akin to that of a child, and when I have had episodes in the past it has been clear that there is a split between my cold, rage-filled BPD side and the child-like side that is afraid to feel. A lot like Eurus Holmes. I’m definitely not saying she has BPD or any designated disorder, seeing as she’s presented as some sort of Derren Brown-like mind bender, but she is broken.
Perhaps all Eurus Holmes needed was to be loved. What little girl wouldn’t want that?
All images (c)BBC 2017 / Bottom GIF is from livingthegifs