So I’ve been pretty grizzly about the latest season of Sherlock, but the finale of season 4 did entertain much more the previous two episodes, and while I don’t feel it was quite good enough to redeem the season it was fun to watch so some credit is due.
What made the show a lot better is the writers managed to induce far more proper tension than the other episodes. The plot hinged around the idea that the Holmes had a sister, and she was under ‘Silence of the Lambs’ level lock-down due to her psychopathic tendencies. Said sister put Mycroft, Watson and Sherlock through ye’ old choice dilemmas forcing the trio to make various choices testing their emotions. A little contrived I guess, but appropriate effort was put into making the trials properly conflicted, for example making Sherlock ring poor Molly and torment her about her feelings for him, it was a truly heart-string pinging scene and one of my biggest criticisms of the episode is that as soon as the scene was over Molly was discarded and we didn’t see the fallout or Sherlock try to repair the damaging conversation (poor Molly)
There were still some glaring annoyances.
I tend to tolerate retcons pretty well (the practice of changing backstories in running series to add some drama or twists that didn’t exist before) but this episode kinda botched theirs. So anyone following the series will know that the big deal with season 4 was how on earth was Moriarty back? SPOILER WARNING AGAIN
So it was great to see the classic villain return by the directing or writing was in my opinion very naughty in manipulating our emotions. They show several shots of big M coming to the island location everyone is at, only revealing “5 years earlier” somewhat through the scene, leading to a disappointed sigh from this reviewer realizing that M was indeed dead and wasn’t going to do anything in the episode, really his presence was pointless except for undermining previous stories. It was essentially implied that sister Holmes pointed M towards Sherlock, but this wasn’t important really as Moriarty and sister’s motivations were not reliant on each other, and it brought into question Mycroft’s behaviour in season 2 around Moriarty.
I think the real problem with this season was the writers’ attempt to manipulate emotions. The basic deal of the season was to upset Watson, create a rift between the main characters, vaguely fix them up, then have Sherlock have to work to save Watson. I was reminded somewhat of Avengers 2 when I was frustrated at attempts to make Hawkeye sympathetic by revealed none other than two children and a pregnant wife. The reality is you can’t force an audience to care for someone, the best you can do is make characters seem authentic enough and hope that people do take a liking to them.
Initially I had felt frustrated about the series because I felt it hadn’t really addressed issues from the previous, in particular the fact that Sherlock had outright shot a villain in the head. Although in reflection I think the theme of this season was whether Sherlock was actually a ‘good’ guy or was he just like Moriarty and his crime solving antics were just a form of addiction, which actually works, but the problem is this seemed to play out alongside the storylines, not exist as a theme intertwined. For example Watson got mad at Sherlock (actually unfairly in my opinion) because Mary took a bullet for him, it would have made more sense in this had actually been within a story about whether or not Sherlock was a good guy, culminating in his manipulations hurting Mary, instead it was about Mary and her choices, which wasn’t the theme. Another missed opportunity was using sister Holmes being a murderer to illustrate the concern about Sherlock’s morality.
It was painful to see ‘Greg’ state that Sherlock was a “good man” simply because he remembered his name, while is was skilfully in the sense there had been an earlier scene where Sherlock didn’t, it wasn’t coupled with Lestrade having very much at all to do with that episode.
While its the height of arrogance to rewrite professionals work I would have loved to see a season that went more along the lines of:
- Sherlock is insta forgiven for his murder, which he appears to care little about but Watson and Lestrade are particularly disturbed and questioning whether Sherlock is a ‘good’ person. Sherlock dives into his addictive cases but takes on the whole Maggie Thatcher Bust thing – but rather than someone is hunting Mary, the case reveals even more diabolical stuff about Mary (rather than the finale being Mary taking a bullet, its about Sherlock refusing to let the case go and Mary decides to leave after its found she did something more terrible) THIS would make much more Watson vs Sherlock tension believable
- Mary still implores Sherlock to save Watson, but rather than be in complete control we see Sherlock complete struggle to reconnect with Watson highlighting again whether or not Sherlock is good or just addicted to solving crime. Watson returns to the relationship more to guide Sherlock to reduce the harm he does rather than healed emotions
- Episode is much the same except that Watson and Sherlock are still very raw (adding to choice tensions) the final competition is much the same except that Sherlock is put in the position of choosing Watson over figuring out his sisters complex riddle (and its revealed that sister reprogrammed Sherlock to kill his own best-friend as this fits with the theme of is Sherlock good) something something dramatic plot reveals Sherlock to ultimately be a good guy the horrible events of his past explaining much of his current behaviour and mending the rift between the two men
What are other people’s thoughts on the seasons – good, bad, great, terrible. Comment your thoughts…