*WARNING! MAD SPOILERS FOR PRETTY MUCH ALL SHERLOCK EPISODES EVER. ESPECIALLY SERIES 4*
Series 1 was 2/3’s good. Series 2 was 2/3’s good. Series 3 was 1/2 good. The Christmas special was okay. Series 4 is about 1/3 good. Maybe… The standards are definitely slipping as the show moves further away from fun crime solving and more into weird, character reveals and dramatic ‘oh my god’ moments. Series 3 and the special ended with Sherlock returning to England immediately and a video of Moriarty seemingly confirming him to be alive.
Series 4 picks up straight away. Everything else is pushed aside in the first five minutes and then we skip to Sherlock again being bored of cases and trying to solve this Moriarty mystery. Someone’s kid dies and as they solve the case, Sherlock notices a Margaret Thatcher bust is broken. Then another turns up somewhere else. And another. Who is smashing these busts? And why? But really, who cares? The story moves into more Mary as a super spy stuff and it’s one of her teammates who wants to kill her for some reason. It doesn’t make much sense.
The whole thing is a massive anticlimax as they guy is caught. Then it turns out some old woman was behind it all and Mary is shot and dies. Oh no!. Except, I don’t really care too much. She wasn’t a great character and she seems to have just been killed off for shock value in the first episode. It’s a very underwhelming episode. There’s no mystery. There’s no clues to solve the case. No drama when all is revealed. It’s just bad.
Then we get the second episode. Notoriously the second episode of each series have been the weakest. Not this time. This might be the strongest of the three. It still isn’t great, but it’s better. It focuses on Toby Jones’s character who is praised by the public but Sherlock suspects is a serial killer. Sherlock’s investigation is one half of the episode, but the other half revolves around Sherlock and John’s dynamic after Mary’s death. Sherlock promised to protect her and Watson blames him for her death.
The character stuff is still pretty great. They play off one another excellently and their emotional reconciliation does have a very emotional effect. And Sherlock’s drug relapse to put himself in danger from Jones also makes sense for his character and works. Jones is a disgusting villain and seeing him outsmarted is great. It’s a good episode. Some mystery and some emotion. That’s what made the early Sherlock episodes great.
And then there’s the third episode. Episode 2 ended on a cliffhanger with John’s therapist revealing herself as Sherlock’s secret sister and then shooting him. Episode 3 skips that and off-handedly reveals it was a tranquiliser. Great… They team up with Mycroft who knows much more than he is revealing and keeps everything secret for some reason. Dramatic impact perhaps? They travel to a prison island to meet Eurus, a crazy Holmes sibling who has been locked away since childhood for being deranged. Sherlock doesn’t remember her at all. Why? He blocked out some memories somehow apparently…
She takes over the prison because she is a hypnotist somehow and the Holmes brothers and Watson are forced to move from room to room through a series of games like some sort of ‘Saw‘ movie. There’s no mystery except where all the good ideas for this series went. There’s also a girl on a plane and everyone has fallen asleep and the plane is crashing.
In the end, it turns out child Eurus killed Sherlock’s childhood friend and that’s why she’s locked up. There were no clues pointing to this at all. For some reason, Sherlock even remembered this friend as a dog and not a human. Still, no clues pointing to that either. It also turns out that the girl on a plane is actually Eurus’s mind communicating as a child. All she ever wanted was some attention from her brother. WHAT?! I have no problem with that as a plot point, but all these random reveals that unfold one by one make no sense and there’s nothing to hint at them at all.
A good mystery should have the crime committed then have the detective find a series of clues that lead him, and the viewer, to the culprit. Series 4 ditches that age old idea for a series of reveals in order to have characters to go through hell and back and maybe make them a better person in the end? It’s just not fun to watch. How are we ever supposed to keep guessing when out of nowhere something completely random happens with no evidence or lead up? It’s puzzling.
Look, the cast are still great. It’s well acted and the characters interactions are enjoyable a majority of the time. I just can’t get over the lack of actual mystery and logic in this series. It just makes us a passive audience that just has to accept what is happening in front of us rather than understanding and being a part of it. Sherlock isn’t the same as it used to be. IF they do another series, my only hope is that it returns to the classic Sherlock Holmes mystery formula. I just want to see Holmes and Watson banter as they solve a crime and catch a killer. Those were the days…
JACK’S SCORE: 2/5