Sherlock: Series 4: a review

Have I ever mentioned that I am a fan of the BBC show Sherlock?

Yes, I have. Because I am. And that fandom carries over into Series 4 of the program, which I just finished watching. This is great television. If you haven’t watched it yet, then why the hell not? Go ahead and watch all of it now. I’m waiting.


No need to worry about spoilers now since you’ve watched all of them. Like all of the series preceding this one, Series 4 was amazing. Only three long episodes, short and to-the-point in the way that only British television seems to manage.

The first episode of the series was “The Six Thatchers.” The part about the busts which intruders break open, looking for something hidden like a prize in the Cracker Jack box, seems familiar. It’s something from one of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. But, like the rest, it’s been updated for modern audiences. Then the past of Mary Watson, Dr. John H. Watson’s wife, is brought into the mix. She was an assassin-for-hire with a group called AGRA—something we’ve heard about before, back when she shot Sherlock Holmes. This time, her past is a crucial part of the mystery. And, in the end, she is killed. Look, I told you there would be spoilers. Mary is killed and Watson is left to raise their daughter alone. That ending truly sucks, but it’s part of what makes this show great. She won’t get to come back the way Sherlock did. Well, she’ll be back, in recorded messages, but she’s dead. Really, really dead.

The second episode, “The Lying Detective,”  was about Sherlock’s apparent descent into drug addiction, and his obsession at proving that a famous philanthropist and media presence is actually a serial killer. This one is also hard to watch because Watson seems to blame Sherlock for his wife’s death, at least in part. In the end, it is all part of the now dead Mary’s masterplan to get Sherlock and Watson back together, after they’ve been driven apart by her death. It’s complicated. The ending is a shocker, as well, when Watson’s new therapist shoots him.

With a tranquilizer gun, apparently. The third episode fully introduces Sherlock and Mycroft’s long-absent sister Eurus, who is a Hannibal Lecter-level psychopath kept in seclusion on an island asylum. The mystery of Sherlock’s dog Redbeard is finally revealed in this one (hint: he wasn’t a dog), as is the mystery of Moriarty’s apparent resurrection (hint: he’s still dead). Eurus puts Sherlock, Watson and Mycroft through a series of tests that are reminiscent of the horror movie Saw. In the end, Sherlock is triumphant, managing to solve all of the puzzles and save Watson from drowning at the bottom of a well. In a way, he also saves his sister Eurus, and he seems to establish a sort of twisted relationship with her that involves a lot of violin playing.

In most ways, the third episode, titled “The Final Problem,” does indeed feel like the finale episode of a program. And, I would be satisfied with it if that turns out to be true.

However, I would not be satisfied with the fact that there will be no further Sherlock episodes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Series 5.

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