Yes, loved it. Great episode all around. The case itself was nothing special, but it was interesting enough, and it served as a great vehicle for a lot of important character development. Let's dive right in.
Mycroft Holmes is in town, to Sherlock's endless displeasure. He's here to open a new restaurant, but also because his ex-fianceé Nigella is in need of help. Her boyfriend has been murdered. I'll just go through the case really briefly... it involves horse breading, a decoy horse, a notorious cartel hit man, multiple murders, swindling, and more. It's a pretty fun case, if nothing remarkable. I liked the scope of it: since the bad guy in this one was actually pretty menacing, it felt very satisfying when Sherlock caught him.
But it was the character stuff that really shone here. Nigella is of course a point of contention between the Holmes brothers, since Sherlock and her slept together while she was engaged to Mycroft. But, during Mycroft's illness, Nigella was the one who found him a bone marrow donor and saved his life. He decides to accept her back into his life. In the end, however, it turns out that Nigella is implicated in the case - but not for murder. She was cheating people out of a lot of money, though. The Holmes brothers decide to let her off the hook if she promises to pay everyone back. It seems as though she is out of their lives forever. Then of course there's Joan's involvement in all of this. Turns out, when in London, Joan slept with Mycroft. Sherlock is very unhappy about this, and it looks like Joan and Mycroft's relationship might not be moving forward from here, if they want to make things easier on Sherlock.
So, let's talk about the best thing about this episode, and really the best thing about the show in general: the character of Sherlock Holmes. He's so complex, so nuanced, and... well, he can be such a child at times. But unlike in other shows where childish behavior and tantrums are viewed as simply comedic and totally acceptable, here they represent a real flaw in his character. Sherlock is downright petty and cruel in this episode, not only to his brother and Nigella, but to Joan as well when he figures out that she'd slept with Mycroft. He has difficulty adjusting when the people in his life behave in ways he's not expecting. He tells Joan as much, which continues the trend of his willingness to communicate about his feelings. He gets angry about his brother concealing his illness, but he says it's just because it's a cliche for Mycroft to have a sudden spiritual reawakening because of an illness. However, there are hints that Sherlock is seriously hurt that his brother didn't tell him.
Then we've got the bookends to this episode, which were really poignant. In the beginning, we get a speech from Sherlock at his addict's meeting that really gave Johnny Lee Miller a chance to shine. God, this actor is astounding. I could listen to him talk all day long. The speech was a nice nod to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but it struck a good balance. He was really emptying his soul out to these people, but when he realized Mycroft had been listening, he storms out angry. Such was Miller's performance that I felt very upset on his behalf. It actually was quite the breach of privacy for Mycroft to show up there uninvited, particularly since Sherlock would not have shared such intimate feelings had he known his brother was in attendance. While the episode starts with a speech, it ends with a silence, and a question from Mycroft. What should they talk about?
It's actually a poignant question, and a really interesting way to end an interesting episode. It seems as if both Holmes brothers are sincere in their wish to patch up their relationship, but just because they've decided to turn over a new leaf, doesn't mean it will be easy. I've been noticing online that this one has been getting mixed reviews, and I can certainly see why some people would be put off by some of this stuff. After all, in many ways it seems like a regression in Sherlock's character. But, oddly, I think it works. Sometimes being around someone from your childhood brings out the worst in you, and that certainly seems to be the case here. Joan and Mycroft's dalliance might seem to come out of nowhere, but I actually think it works quite nicely. I don't think they will be starting up any sort of real relationship, but they both love and care for Sherlock deeply, and they get along very well. I appreciated that we got a hint of Joan being treated as a sexual being, and that she wasn't chastised for that. Sherlock's anger isn't because she had sex - it's because she had sex with his brother, whom Joan knows he dislikes.
In all, I found this to be a strong episode. I apologize for the clunky nature of this review... I wrote it very piecemeal.