After the third season finale of Sherlock, fans were unsure how to feel about the dynamic duo at its center. With the hero now a murderer and his sidekick now married, the dynamics had shifted. The character of Sherlock had made leaps and bounds in his emotional growth, but the show’s sense of adventure was starting to get lost.
I was certainly not at all a fan of season three’s ending. While I have been with the show since the very beginning and was once excited and ready to jump back into whatever twist the show offered, I was now beginning to feel the toll of the collective five years that I had waited for the seasons of this show. I found myself weary when I cracked into the first episode of the fourth season.
My feeling was wrong, or at least mostly unfounded, as the first episode pushed away any weariness almost immediately and I got that same old feeling of mystery and excitement. Sherlock is back but now with a new focus; while the other three seasons often focused on how alien our main character is, season four tries to bring out the humanity of Sherlock and those around him. While the show has added more of the typical sitcom story points (the first episode featuring the birth and life of the new little Watson) the mini-mysteries in the episode as well as the overarching plot are still cohesive and fun to watch. By the end of the first episode, however, my reactions were mixed. The show does a good job at kicking everything back off and brought in some really powerful and interesting character development, but the end of the episode signaled that the overarching plot of this series was going to be rough.
The experience of this season’s plot is much like reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; while it’s very easy to get swept up and think to yourself “Hey, this isn’t so bad,” by the end of the show you will wake up, look around, and wonder what the hell just happened. While the new plot thread does introduce interesting new characters and strains our beloved characters to their emotional limit, it also falls into the same weary beats that the show has taken us through for years and falls through gaping plot holes, which are difficult not to stop and think about.
However, it is not all bad. The second episode, “The Lying Detective,” is probably one of the best episodes of Sherlock so far, with an interesting mystery and a great villain played by Toby Jones (you probably know him as Dr. Zola from the Captain America movies). While the show-runners Stephan Moffat and Mark Gatiss have danced around the idea of tearing our dynamic duo apart, it’s in this episode that they finally bite the bullet and make the audience feel like the pairing (no pun intended) of Sherlock and John may finally be no more.
Should you watch this season? If you’re a fan of Sherlock and you’ve been with it since the beginning, I would say go watch it. Yes, it is not as satisfying as the first two seasons but I think it’s a huge improvement from season three, even if the last episode feels more like a video game rather than a TV drama and the conclusion will probably leave you incredibly confused. The series does end on a safe note, though; we get a nice monologue about the restoration of the norm. Personally, I would rather Sherlock end on a bang than a whimper, though. It’s a good thing that I think the show will continue until either Benedict Cumberbatch or Martin Freeman die or until 2050 when their android versions give out. However, if you haven’t seen the show before, go watch season one!