Sherlock Season 4: Tell a Single Story

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The game is afoot! Unfortunately, the game stumbled a bit. (Spoilers ahead)

Some of my favorite parts of the show were in this season, but most of my least favorite parts were also in it. I’ll go through each episode and say where I thought they went right and where they got it wrong.

Episode 1: Things Fall ApartThe Six Thatchers

sherlock-460x242(Did I just reference a high school required reading book I hated? Ew)

I thought this one was a mess. I’ll admit that some of the cinematography was really cool and that it was entertaining, but it couldn’t quite decide which story it wanted to tell.

The storyline leapt haphazardly from a normal mystery of a missing son, to the ‘six Thatchers,’ to a fistfight in a pool, to trying to reconnect with Mary’s past, plus with tons of hints of a third Holmes sibling and government intrigue. There was no focus- it wasn’t telling a single story.

If they wanted an episode about Mary’s past (which I assume that was their point, since it ended in her death), they shouldn’t have taken half the episode to get there. You know when you try to stick two magnets together and they repel each other? The good-old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes story and the assassin-past story don’t work together, just like those magnets. You can’t tell two such different stories at one time and do justice to both (or either).

Episode 2: The Lying Detective

5872ca881700008801928d16Now this was one of my favorite Sherlock episodes. I enjoyed how you had a hard time telling what was real, and I loved the way it dealt with the fallout of Mary’s death.

It was nice to return to a single plotline. Imagine: you can deal with what’s happened in the last episode and set up for the next episode without sacrificing this episode! Crazy, right? Also, I loved Mrs. Hudson, I loved Sherlock’s thinking twelve steps ahead of everyone again, I loved the peril and the emotions and the character development and the reconciliation between John and Sherlock.

This is the Sherlock that the first seasons set up, taken to the natural next level- a little darker, a little grander, a little bit a part of something bigger, but still self-contained. This is how all the episodes should have been.

Episode 3: The Final Problem

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-00-19-55Man, this one was dark.

Who thought it’d be a good idea to put supervillains and memory craziness in Sherlock? This is a crime show- not a graphic novel adaptation! The whole tone of this episode was off. A top security prison turned into a torture house, ten times the darkness of any other episode, and a forgotten sister were all way off from the rest of the show.

That being said, there were some of the individual scenes that were excellent, taken on their own- like Sherlock choosing who would kill the husband, or calling Molly, or deciding who he’d take with him to the next test (though really, was there any question about his choice?). If any of those types of situations had been in a normal Sherlock story, it would have been amazing, but it was all so… manufactured. It was like the writers had all these emotional scenes kicking around and decided to make an episode, in the wrong genre, to stick them all in. That, my friends, is called an AU fanfic.

Overall

Like I said earlier, there was some stuff in this season that I loved, especially Sherlock finally growing up and becoming “a good man.” The tones of episodes 1 and 3 really threw me off, though. It’s not that I don’t like darker mercenary pasts and top security prisons, it’s just I go to Sherlock for crime solving and I go to, say, Daredevil for that other stuff. I did enjoy most of it, but I wasn’t impressed with much (barring episode 2).

I might like this season better with a rewatch (which will most certainly happen), but only because I’ve adjusted my expectations from what the previous seasons had pointed me towards.

When you set out to continue a story, make sure it’s the same story you’re continuing as the one you started. Otherwise, you risk alienating the fans of the original because the new is not what they signed up for, and fail to attract new fans because they’ll not enjoy the old story.

So that’s what I thought of this season of Sherlock. What about you?

benedict-cumberbatch-in-sherlock-season-4

Bonus

My favorite episodes, ranked from least to greatest (because I feel like it). Liable to rearrangement at any given moment

  • Christmas Special: The Abominable Bride
  • S4E1: The Six Thatchers
  • S4E3: The Final Problem
  • S3E2: The Sign of Three
  • S3E1: The Empty Hearse
  • S2E1: Scandal in Belgravia
  • S1E2: The Blind Banker
  • S2E3: The Reichenbach Fall
  • S3E3: His Last Vow
  • S2E2: The Hounds of Baskerville
  • S1E1: A Study in Pink
  • S4E2: The Lying Detective
  • S1E3: The Great Game
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