Sherlock is a series I have loved from the beginning. I’ve loved the relationship between Sherlock and Watson, I’ve loved the cases and watching Sherlock’s deductions come together, and I’ve loved how smart and innovative the show has always been. The Reichenbach Fall was one of my favourite TV finales of all time, and Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favourite actors, so Sherlock is a series that occupies a fond place in my geeky little heart. *Major spoilers for the entirety of season 4 ahead.*
But something in this season fell a little flat for me. There were parts of this season that I absolutely loved. I loved the dynamics between Sherlock, Mary and John at the beginning of the series, and enjoyed finding out more about Mary’s secretive past, something I’ve been desperate to learn more about since season two. I also enjoyed how perfectly Sherlock used his detective skills to predict John and Mrs Hudson’s exact actions at the start of episode two.
But there were disappointments too. One of these was the distinct lack of cases this season. The stories felt very introspective, focusing on John and Sherlock’s dynamic and fragile relationship, and then on Sherlock’s relationship with his brother and sister. Some of this was great: parts were clever, intriguing and even fun. But where were the cases? Where were the deductions, the crimes that us viewers could attempt (and fail) to solve?
An even bigger problem which alienated me against the season early on was Mary’s death. My problem with the death wasn’t so much that it was sad, it was that it felt like it had been created for the shock factor. I would have loved to see more of Mary, and thought she was a great addition to the 221B team. Her death just reminded me of how much I dislike the way Stephen Moffat treats his female characters.
Then, along came Sherlock’s sister: smart, cunning and… kind of evil. Why, Moffat, why is it that you love to write intelligent women and turn them into assassins and criminals? Are intelligent women so threatening? In Sherlock, Molly Hooper is the only exception to this rule, and she hasn’t exactly been well-treated throughout the seasons. I think there was so much more of Mary’s character to explore, and I was sad to see her story left this way.
I’m not sure what to make of this season. It wasn’t bad as such, but it wan’t the best. The acting was brilliant, particularly from Sian Brooke, who played Eurus Holmes, and managed to pull off so many different sides of a character so convincingly. The Final Problem had its gut-wrenching moments, and Toby Jones’ villain in Episode 2: The Lying Detective was truly despicable. One of my favourite moments was when Sherlock destroyed the coffin after the phone call with Molly: this was a satisfying and saddening moment which really summed up the character development he’s been through these past four seasons.
Maybe the earlier seasons of Sherlock felt so groundbreaking, and had so many perfect “water-cooler moments” that kept us talking for months after they finished, that season four never really had much hope of comparing. Whatever the reason, this season just didn’t excite me half as much as the show used to.
What did you think of this season? Were my expectations too high, or has Sherlock lost some of its magic?