Sherlock Season Four, Episode One Review


Liz Keller

By Sylvia Nica, ’20, Contributor


After three long, painful years, Sherlock Season Four has finally come out. For many, however, the first episode went differently than expectedS

If you looked at any Sherlock websites during the long wait, any site worth their salt warned that the upcoming season would get dark. Expectations of a Moriarty reappearance, Mary’s death, and other horrors were almost a given. Some even speculated Sherlock and John would die.  However, the first episode of season four didn’t start out dark. In fact, it started with Sherlock very high, asking the heads of the British security what their favorite ice cream flavor was.

The episode spiraled into a mystery—finally! But where was Moriarty? A seemingly fascinating case went flat when Sherlock quickly determined the son’s death as a seizure, smashing the opportunity for an convincing mystery. Action picked up slightly when the detail of the smashed statues was introduced. From there, Sherlock ran into Mary’s psychotic ex-team mate, uncovering a past coup and Mary’s past as a secret agent, and the episode blew up, quite literally. The episode could have been thrilling, but lost its edge as it floundered to stitch together the various plot lines and complicated backstory.

In the first episode, the characters—not the mystery—drove the episode forward. Sherlock, for one, displayed his human side. He dedicated everything to help John Watson find his missing spouse. The show introduced a moment of comedy when Sherlock argued with a baby. Viewers saw strong loyalty to John, and deep love to both Mary and John. On the other hand, viewers got a glimpse into Watson’s darker side, offering a fascinating twist to a previously steadfast character. Though the texting affair with the woman didn’t really develop—viewers saw her maybe twice—the incidence offered a glimpse of future troubles to come.

Then there was Mary. Some were happy she died—others were devastated. Throughout the episode, Mary remained a complicated character. After shooting Sherlock in Season Three, matters seemed to resolve themselves. John burned the flash drive explaining her work as a secret agent. However, her past resurfaced when a new flash-drive, code-named A.G.R.A, was found. Mary’s strength and bravery were disputed until her death, when she threw herself in front of Sherlock to save him from the bullet. Whether her death was meant to resolve a plot point—after all, she was a much more capable side-kick than John—or to spin John and Sherlock into darker territories remains to be seen throughout the season.

The episode ended dramatically. Grief-stricken, John refused to see Sherlock, blaming him for Mary’s death. In terms of character development, this episode was a roller coaster. In terms of mystery– a disappointment. Episode two promises to be much more action filled. It remains to be seen whether the writers can continue to pull off intense character developments, while still building back a strong, mysterious plot, or if the remaining episodes will fail to fix the plot holes.