I hate to see a good series go downhill.
Now oftentimes I’m a victim of my own expectation, but I think in the instance of Sherlock I have the case that season 4 is just not as good as previous installments. There is a really good HULK SMASH review of Marvel’s Civil-War where one of the criticisms is that Marvel writers are relying on our love of the characters and shoving them together to have a good time rather than developing decent character driven plot.
Firstly I tended to agree Civil War was a really fun movie, but its true that it seemed all the character’s main motivations were to keep the plot moving and ensure the next critical moment happened (other than the awesome Black Panther and somewhat Spider-man)
Secondly I believe that’s part of the problem with this season of Sherlock. I feel like the familiar characters have been shoved together (despite the SPOILER ALERT departure of one, they simply returned as a ghost/hallucination emphasizing just how much the writer(s) simply wanted to pluck heart-strings but couldn’t resist keeping characters around) and seem to just riff on with their interactions. Most of it feels very in-jokey so much so I almost swore I could feel Moffat nudging and winking at me the whole episode. Again the saddest part being that Watson and Sherlock barely share any scenes their interactions being reduced to Watson using naughty words to describe Sherlock (how droll)
This wasn’t my only beef with the episode, again we get another ‘Sherlock made vulnerable, but WAIT he’s actually faking cos you know he’s actually superman’ spoiler I guess. I know that many writers like to do this hyper-competent characters but really this should only be done once or at the very least done with some decent variance storywise. Season 2 and 3 worked so well because in the former Sherlock did fake vulnerability but had to make sacrifices along the way (so it wasn’t without tension) and season 3 worked because despite all his brilliance Sherlock was stuck in the face of an enemy with their own mind-palace.
BIGGEST SPOILER YET ALTHOUGH LETS FACE IT IF YOU ARE STILL READING YOU’LL REALIZE THIS REVIEW ISN’T FOR PEOPLE YET TO SEE THE EPISODE.
Finally the ending twist. I feel that ever since The Empire Strikes Back, writers are under the impression that familial reveal twists are great. No. The reason Vader revealing he is Luke’s father works as a twist is that Luke had been told one thing about his father relevant to his development and the plot of the story that made Vader’s reveal shocking and important.
Abruptly revealing that the Holmes have another sibling and pulling the old gender bend as some sort of clever plotting (nudge nudge look how smart we at at writing television) has zero relevance to the thinks Sherlock (and Mycroft I suppose) have been going through. If a missing sibling or family had been a major interest throughout the show, then the reveal would have had an impact. The foreshadowing they did use was so blunt it they may well have had Mycroft tell Watson they had a sibling it would have been more subtle because we would have questioned Mycroft the manipulative (probably) Again returning to Star Wars when Vader revealed himself it calls into question what will Luke do, will he be compromised, will he still be passionate about the rebel cause and so forth.
The ending of Sherlock episode 2 just made me go: well I guess there will be some smarty pants dialogue some sort of half-arsed mystery linking the family and a cliff hanger ending to keep us sucked into next season. It didn’t make me worry about what Sherlock OR Watson would have to do, it didn’t make me rethink any of the story up to that point.