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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

13 Comments

  1. Christopher Brown
    April 1, 2019 @ 5:13 pm

    I have no plans to watch Series 4 but this entry almost makes the episode sound worth it.

    Speaking of deeply lacking television, how’s Broadchurch going?

    Reply

  2. Alex Watts
    April 1, 2019 @ 10:53 pm

    I think the satisfaction in the resolution is seeing Culverton Smith arrested.

    A vigilante approach works for a Murdoch figure, whose crimes are too huge and corporate for courts, but if you make a figure into Jimmy Savile, then the satisfying resolution is to see the machinery of justice swing into action like it should have all along and work.

    That’s the fantasy gratified by the Lying Detective. It shows you Jimmy Savile, and it shows you the actions of people animated by justice and moral outrage, and then it shows him in chains.

    Reply

    • William Shaw
      April 2, 2019 @ 1:22 pm

      Aye, but there’s also the perverse flourish that the Savile analogue wants to be in chains – once he’s caught, Culverton Smith muses about how this will only make him more famous. Which puts a brilliantly uncomfortable finish on things.

      Reply

      • Daibhid C
        April 2, 2019 @ 5:57 pm

        Not only more famous, but it’s made pretty clear throughout the episode that he gets a sick thrill out of confessing, whether he’s using ambiguous terms, dosing people with amnesia drugs, or just planning to kill them anyway. Now he gets to describe his crimes in all the detail he wants, for all the world to hear.

        If Magnussen’s death is “this is what should happen to Murdoch”, Smith’s imprisonment seems to be more like “this is probably the best that could have been done about Savile, even if it’s not entirely satisfactory”.

        Reply

  3. Przemek
    April 2, 2019 @ 2:22 pm

    I remember enjoying this episode when it aired – things moved fast enough for me not to notice how shoddily it was put together and Culverton Smith was indeed properly unsettling. And yet I haven’t rewatched any part of S4 since, unlike the previous 3 seasons. Having read your essay, I now kinda wish we got a sexual predator in “The Lying Detective” instead of a serial killer – fictional serial killers have long lost their ability to shock the audience. But perhaps that would’ve been too much.

    “More to the point, because the figure Moffat is allegorizing here is already dead, killing him doesn’t feel like a solution in the first place.”

    This is very interesting to me because I’ve never heard of Jimmy Savile before watching this episode, so for me Culverton Smith was a purely fictional construct – and I was satisfied with his arrest. But the very idea of real life context weighing down on such characters is fascinating. If you don’t know the context, can you still feel it? Sometimes, maybe? After all, there are times when you can just tell that certain idiosyncratic details of a fictional work are based on real life experiences of the author. Perhaps it’s similar to that.

    Reply

  4. Christopher Brown
    April 2, 2019 @ 3:05 pm

    That’s weird, my comment seems to have been eaten 🙁

    This write-up almost makes me want to watch the episode and thus part of Series 4. Almost.

    Speaking of deeply lacking television, how’s Broadchruch-watching going, El?

    Reply

    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      April 2, 2019 @ 3:10 pm

      Sorry, we’ve been getting a lot of spam and it looks like I accidentally clicked yours as spam while cleaning out a bunch of actual spam.

      I’ll start S3 on Thursday. Yay

      Reply

      • Christopher Brown
        April 2, 2019 @ 4:54 pm

        No worries!

        Hoorah.

        Reply

        • Christopher Brown
          April 2, 2019 @ 4:58 pm

          Come to think of it, you should probably receive some sort of medal for watching all three…let’s see what we in the Discord gang can do 😛

          Reply

  5. Jarl
    April 3, 2019 @ 1:09 am

    He’s more than a little Trumpy, too.

    Toby Jones is our generation’s Peter Lorre.

    Reply

    • Sleepyscholar
      April 3, 2019 @ 2:43 am

      The Detectorists with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre? I’d watch that, for sure!

      Reply

  6. TheWrittenTevs
    April 4, 2019 @ 11:50 am

    Reading these posts, the big thing that’s struck me about “Sherlock” Series 4 is how much it would’ve been instantly improved if they had killed Watson instead of Mary.

    “The Six Thatchers” would play the same, only Mary would get into the line of fire and Watson would take the bullet for her. Have “The Final Problem” reveal that Sherringford cheated with Watson to make him ashamed enough with himself to take such an action and watch as Sherlock loses it at his sister (giving that dynamic a bit more meat).

    The rest of the series is basically the same. Sherlock still has this character arc about failing his vow when one of his friends dies on a case. Give Mary the fridging material and watch it become immediately more interesting when it’s an exceptional female actor working her way through it. And you can even keep Watson around: having Watson be a guilt-induced hallucination who only exists in Sherlock’s head and gives him subconscious clues about the case-of-the-week is something which “Sherlock” is pretty much uniquely poised to be able to pull off. (Hell, that’s basically what they did with Mary.)

    “The Six Thatchers” would’ve ended on a headline grabbing, series changing and completely unexpected twist; “The Lying Detective” would have a more solid foundation on which to place its genuinely impressive villain; and “The Final Problem”… would still be flawed but would at least be more able to coast off the reputation of the previous two episodes.

    If anyone should’ve died in Series 4, it was Watson.

    Reply

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