Sherlock S04E01 review: Leave 'The Six Thatchers' to the seasoned disaster experts

Harsh Pareek

Jan,03 2017 14:37:50 IST

There is a reason your's truly almost forgot about the premiere of the new Sherlock season. The last season wasn't that great, was it? I remember there being a lot of Moriarty in the closing sequence to get one all riled up for the next instalment. But even that did nothing to ignite the passions once reserved for this holier than thou British super show. A shrug of the shoulders seemed more than what the show deserved at that moment.

But this is not about things past, this is about new beginnings. A new season right at the start of a new year.

So yeah, I almost missed the show but was reminded of it by all the #SherlockIsBackLifeHasMeaning and whatnot on social media. Then the mind went to work, 'what if it's great this time?', 'what if they actually come up with great stories and not rely on all the "dead" baddies?'.

If season three was a shadow of its predecessors, the first episode of season four — The Six Thatchers — was something you mistake for a shadow in your nightmares.

Sherlock. Image courtesy: Facebook page

Sherlock. Image courtesy: Facebook page

Season four, episode one is what happens when you absolutely and beyond a shadow(!) of a doubt give in to fan service and money minting, and in that process give up everything that made the show nothing short of a phenomenon.

Before I utter more heresies, allow me to say this — if you are a fan of BBC's Sherlock, of the Cumberbatchs, the Freemans, the Scotts — I recommend you binge on the episodes gone by and leave seasoned disaster experts to deal with the new season.

So let's get into it (spoilers shall follow).

Sherlock the murderer is back, but his past has been taken care of on the official records, thanks to Mycroft. A cloud named Moriarty looms large (for the billionth time) as a montage of Sherlock talking fast, texting, insulting people, solving crimes, Watson and Mary having a kid is shoved down your throat in the first 10 minutes to remind you of all the reasons you loved the show. Only now, all this happens, not during the show, but in a flurry of images to make you giddy with excitement and to already petition for a tenth season.

Rest in peace, script writing.

After twenty minutes (that's one brilliant episode of Rick and Morty right there) the case arrives. Sherlock being Sherlock, solves it in a second. But since it's the case, you know it's more complicated. At this point, against all hope, you stay to wonder if the show will redeem itself with this one. Short answer: nope.

Things get complicated and close to the half hour mark, Sherlock comes face to face with the enemy. A lad right out of a Bourne movie. After a few minutes where Sherlock channels his inner Bond, it is revealed that the lad is not working for (dead?) Moriarty but is a ghost from Mary's past. Of course, because any worthwhile case that Sherlock comes across nowadays has to involve one of his 2-4 "friends". Now it's personal and here Cumberbatch gets to channel Dom from the Fast and Furious franchise and delivers a line or two on friendship and all. Who would have thought? The lad escapes after turning off the lights. Don't mind the police outside, he's a professional. How do we know? Because he said so. Duh!

So the story goes that Mary used to be part of a part of a freelance task force named 'A.G.R.A.', with three other people including the lad. Things go south during one of their missions, the team is ambushed and the lad ends up thinking Mary betrayed him (no she didn't) while she thinks he's dead. Now, he's back for revenge.

If that plotline rings a bell, we recommend you Google The Expendables, Skyfall, 24 (Season 3), The Dark Knight, and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. We are sure there are more, but just like the scriptwriters for the show, we don't care.

Moving on. Sherlock updates Mary on the latest developments and she subsequently hands him a piece of paper drenched in the good old chloroform-ish something (which, by the way, Sherlock recognises as soon as he holds it but still goes on to take a good sniff because that's what you do) and runs away to protect them all.

Follows a monologue for her explaining how random her movement is and how no one will be able to track her. Two minutes later, Sherlock and Watson have already tracked her down. How? Sherlock placed a tracker on her. Hehehehehe. Jeez. Half an hour still to go.

But the lad turns up as well. He apparently trailed Sherlock and Watson on their way to Mary. So much for being world's smartest detective. I bet Doc Sportello and Holland March would have done a better job.

The lad dies and we're back to London arresting the wrong people (of course).

At this point, let me point out a few things.

First, every time Sherlock starts talking fast and do his deduction routine, you know he will be brought to ground in the next thing. It almost becomes a trigger for a big reveal.

Second, the word "vow". The word is uttered a million times in the episode and each time it sticks out as a rusty nail. Apparently, Sherlock has taken a "vow" to protect Watson, Mary and their baby. We are reminded of it so many times that we know obviously, nothing bad will happen to any of them.

Third, did we mention that it's suggested that Watson is having an affair with a woman he met on a bus? But just as you think how this might be an interesting notion of exploring the fault lines in our (super)heroes, you realise that her name is E and if it was an affair, Sherlock would have noticed in an instance and confronted John (since he's so invested in keeping his bow and his love for the family). Most likely, a character to be used later.

Fourth, Moriarty is mentioned more times than there are grains of sand on this planet.

Back to the show.

The real culprit is found and a showdown ensues in an aquarium. It's the gentle old lady from the opening sequence of the show you would have never suspected. Classic trope.

And of course Sherlock couldn't have handled her alone, so he invited Mary and John to the party as well. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Major spoiler: Mary ends up dead. Because once Sherlock delivered his high-speed deduction speech, you knew shit was about to go down.

And who does our Dr Watcon blame? Sherlock, of course. Why? Apart from the obvious, because Sherlock broke his "vow". Yeah, right.

Setting up a sweet reunion episode right there.

The episode ends with Sherlock getting a video from Mary asking him to "save John Watson". (Not a double-meaning-hidden-message-thing at all.)

And what's up with E?

The thing is, and perhaps the foremost reason, that Moriarty is mentioned so many times in the show is without this intangible danger of a master villain, the show is reduced to a hollow retelling of Sherlock Holmes.

If one judges the show just on the episode's merit, leaving all the fanfare to the sidelines, it's not hard to realise how far it has fallen from its glory days.

Perhaps the creators realise this as well, hence, all the montages and extensive focus on fan service.

It's not just Moriarty we need to get rid of, it's the entire show before it becomes synonymous with cash-grab Hollywood franchises.

So will I be watching the next episode? Of course, I will.

Why? So you don't have to.

PS: So is there anything to enjoy in this episode? Hmmm....... There is a scene of Sherlock talking to John and Mary's baby. Maybe, that.

Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 14:37 PM