My family was...
...Rather disappointed, feeling cheated by the episode.
And honestly, I can understand why--there have been dark Sherlock episodes in the past. But this one was...
...On a whole different level.
There was almost no humor throughout--and where the majority of the humor was, was near the beginning.
It was just a downer episode the whole way through. There was no grander mystery. There was no epic build-up. It was just one...long...continuous...moment after moment after moment of never-ending bleakness, of doom and gloom, never ceasing, never stopping.
Every step of the way, you expected either the episode to end, or for something to shift the tone and change things.
But if there was any twist at all to the episode, it was that it never happened. It would not at all surprise me if that was a deliberate creative choice: string people along, with one bad thing after another, with the expectation at every turn of there being a sudden and unexpected twist...with the letdown at a lack thereof being the twist, that it's just a depressing episode all-around and nothing can change it.
Given the occurrences within, I suppose I'm okay with that message: it accentuates, it highlights, just how much this is not a laughing matter, how serious the affair is. That doesn't mean the (very very very telegraphed) outcome is any better, though, especially since every step of the way you'll be watching, hoping it doesn't happen, knowing it will, and then being disappointed to learn things went exactly the way they seemed they would.
Now that said.
I still liked elements of the episode.
Sherlock might have had a slight troll streak within him before--but I absolutely love how that playful aspect of his nature got turned up to eleven. The sheer giddiness of him as he BSes stuff is absolutely amazing, and must be seen to be believed. It's wonderful, it's joyous, and it feels so right, especially for a character who has undergone so much development. It shows growth in personality and also embracing his image and running with the idea that he can do all sorts of complex things to arrive at an answer rather than the obvious simple thing.
Another thing I liked was his continued display at sheer boredom of formalities, and how he sometimes is genuinely not paying attention, yet at other times is clearly aware of his reputation and deliberately fakes having been not paying attention, again as part of that more trollish behavior. He started the series socially inept and basically in a position where he would always offend people accidentally.
Now he's more in a position where if he offends a person, he's usually doing so at least somewhat-deliberately, and it's often more playful, more harmless, in nature. He might not fully get people, but he's shown that he has grown to learn about people at the very least. Of course, this playful, joking nature is still a little bit on the quirky side, showing he hasn't quite mastered humor...but it's very, very nice to see all the same.
The third aspect of him I love and identify with is his insistence on keeping his promise. The way he views himself: as someone who can and will protect people. He genuinely thinks he can do it, that he can be that knight. This, from someone who originally claimed detachment from people, a lack of care for people.
He does care. And he wants to do everything in his power to save his friends. To help them, to protect them, to be the man they want him to be, even if he himself thinks he's not as good as that. But for them, he tries anyway, he made a promise and he really really really wants to keep it. His vow, his word, means so much to him. It's more than just his pride, his reputation, his image. It's more than just a contract. It's a promise. An unbreakable word.
So related to that. Seeing him freeze up, when he knows that he has failed. When he has failed, out of his own arrogance and knows he should be dead yet isn't. The sheer emotion coming off of him is so poignant. You can see the utter inability to comprehend what just happened, and lack of knowledge of "What do I do?!?"
He doesn't know. And if I had to guess. He had a desire to run away. The line "Don't you dare." Seems to be cutting deep, because it stops him from doing anything. He can't leave at that point. He can't speak at that point. He can't reach out. All he can do is just...stand there. In disbelief. In panic. In lack of understanding.
And that's why Sherlock continues to be a character I identify with. All of the traits I just laid out? These are things I myself have quite a bit of experience with. Sherlock might self-identify as a "High-functioning sociopath", but the traits he displays show continued prominence of more accurately being "somewhere on the autistic spectrum".
I mean, I'd have to look up the clinical definition of sociopathy (because all I know is the Hollywood version which I know is inaccurate), but from memory it essentially is "self-centered at all times". Protecting friends could fit that definition, I suppose, by a few leaps in (weak) logic (which goes against Sherlock's tendency towards stronger logic), but that process would more or less be "These people make me feel better and improve my life, so it is in my interests long-term to protect them even if that places short-term inconveniences on me". If so, that could be a valid reading of him, I guess.
But for me. If he's instead high-functioning autistic, the answer is far simpler: he feels very, very, very deep empathy for people. He might be more interested in challenges, in things to alleviate boredom, but he genuinely cares, not just for friends, but everyone. He absolutely sucks at recognizing social cues (whereas from my understanding Sociopaths tend to be really good at them), so he ends up saying insensitive things, yet he never intends harm, he never intends to be self-centered; his comments are genuinely innocent in nature.
And he works within the best confines of his knowledge. He protects those he is close to. He does the best he can to be what he thinks he should be. He is blunt, he will have a high level of self-awareness, knowing what he is and what he is not, and has low self-image of himself. Yet he still tries to better himself, not out of a need to blend in, but because of his genuine love of those he is close to. (It need not be romantic, either.)
He wants to care. He wants to help. He wants to assist. He tries. Yet when he faces an unexpected situation, something he didn't account for...he freezes up. He has no defined way of responding. He doesn't know what to do. So...he does nothing.
I also quite love his definition of a hunch, of it essentially being something the mind catches onto as being important faster than the brain processes--and that he, the logical genius he is, has hunches perfectly fits with what I've always thought about him. (It's especially fitting considering I play mafia games. And in fact, I largely played mafia games for the same reason Sherlock solved cases: just for the thrill of the hunt, the pursuit of the challenge.)
Anyway. I feel like I could go on all day about Sherlock, so perhaps there was stuff I meant to say but haven't, yet that ramble is enough for now. Instead, I suppose I should update you on the Sid-difficulty Civ game I'm playing. The computers cheat. A lot. They can pump out units literally every single turn. (It takes me at least two to produce mine, and often at the cost of 1-2 citizens' lives, minimum.)
They can also build wonders faster than humanly possible; literally every single wonder except for The Great Library, The Colossus (which is well on the way to being built by the Carthaginians who will beat me), and Bacchanalia (which requires resources only I have access to) has already been built, and frankly the ONLY way a human player on this difficulty level could have beaten the computers to it is if they had produced FIVE leaders from elite units (producing leaders being a very rare occurrence, so we're talking probably literally-hundreds-of-save-scums to maybe get one leader, yet alone five), and instead of producing Armies (in this campaign the only way to produce an army is from a leader, so), using them to hurry a wonder's production.
And yet the computers managed to build them with a ridiculous ease.
Also, my golden age ended, and so, even setting my science research to the minimal setting of 10%, I am losing money, fast. -39 per turn, fast. And only 31 of that is from unit cost. I am hopelessly technologically backwards at this point in time. I am going to run out of cash, which will really suck, since random units/buildings get disbanded if you're at 0 gold with negative income. (WELP.)
And, again, computers can churn out units at a ridiculous rate. In spite of me having taken Byzantium, Maronea, and Thessalonika, the Macedonians can field a ridiculously huge army. I'm marching towards Nesebur intent on taking it (on the bright side I'm now fielding Numidian Mercenaries who are defensively equal to the Macedonians' attack units so their attacks take less save scumming to foil), and I'm also thinking of marching my army towards Thebes.
Macedonia still has Sardica, Dyrrhachium, and Salonae to the north, with Ambracia next to Thebes, plus that huge number of units to overcome, but I'm thinking of doing that march anyway for one simple reason: the Macedonians built both The Oracle and The Temple to Artemis. Two of the more important wonders to have. (Temple to Artemis = temple in every city for free; The Oracle = doubles effects of temples.)
In a suitably-ironic turn of events, the Romans built Hadrian's Wall, and the Egyptians built the Great Lighthouse. Speaking of which: I decided that, thanks to my inevitable lack of resources and them having a wonder, I needed to war against the Egyptians. It was a little earlier than planned, but Gaza fell quickly; Pelusium fell quickly; Memphis fell quickly. I'm marching towards Alexandria (where The Great Lighthouse is, fittingly enough), and once I capture it, I'm probably going to start peace talks with the Egyptians: I want Byblos and Elephantine, but both are cities which if I tried to capture, I'd auto-raze them. Similarly so, Pi-Ranesses is near an incense source.
I'm not quite sure if I can wedge three cities during peace talks, but I want those cities, because I want control over all the luxuries on the southeastern half of the map. Northeastern would require invading the Scythians, which if at all possible I want to avoid: I want to war against, in order, Macedon-Egypt-Rome-Carthage.
The reason I want to avoid warring against the barbarian people is because for the most part, they're just not worth it. Scythia might be, eventually, once Macedon is gone, but I'd prefer to go after Rome. Rome, I want Hadrian's Wall from. A secondary goal would be halting their expansion. (Also, looking at the map, apparently they captured Caralis and thus control the Mausoleum wonder, so there's that, too.) That being, forcing them to live within Italy, unable to send their citizens forward and expand their empire.
In fact if I can manage it I'd actually just prefer to flat-out wipe Rome out. I don't want Rome to have iron. I would prefer them not having horses, either. To do that, I'd need to capture Rome and Canusium, optionally Croton as well...which basically would require me capturing ALL their cities of note.
Carthage, in that case (if I don't have to capture Caralis from them), is someone I'd avoid warring. Next I'd probably war the Scythians, once I positioned my troops accordingly, though if I conquered Rome, the Celts would be an option, too. (The Goths are too far away to ever be worth warring.)
You might wonder why I'm so focused on warring.
To repeat: this is Sid difficulty.
Now I'm not going to face defeat at any point, as long as I can avoid my military being massacred not by the enemy but by budget cuts.
I'm in the dominant position world-wise. So yes, this is basically victory by default especially with the Macedonians eliminated eventually.
39 in the hole.
I'm churning out settlers as fast as I can. (Each town, 2 units. Each city--7+ units--4 unit support. Don't really get Metropolises given this difficulty but that'd be 8. So I get a net-benefit from colonizing quickly, with a bunch of cities defended by a single unit. Well, towns. But you get the idea.)
Yet the only way I'm going to bridge that gap before my limited treasury runs out (432 gold and decreasing) is...by getting a lot of extra cities, and quickly.
Conquest it is!
That's the name of the game, after all.
The faster I win a domination victory, the better. I'm half-way there, both by world area and population. It'll be tricky getting all the way there. Yet I think I can manage.