Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Season four of ‘Sherlock’ closes the case


(Official Sherlock Facebook Page)

While “Sherlock” creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have expressed interest in continuing the series in the future, the show’s fourth season provides a clear ending. “Sherlock” fans, who are notorious for waiting years for new seasons, will have to be content with the ending they were given.

Season four of “Sherlock” takes the show to its darkest place yet with the stakes immensely high. The first episode, “The Six Thatchers,” dives directly into Mary’s (Amanda Abbington) past, which was teased in season three. Furthermore, it explores the plotline heralded by the arrival of Dr. John Watson’s (Martin Freeman) baby. Not only is Mary’s life in danger, but the Watsons are learning how to cope with parenthood. Still, a loss at the end of episode one brings with it turmoil for Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson’s relationship.

Holmes’ drug use is finally brought front and center in episode two, “The Lying Detective,” and Cumberbatch succeeds in his portrayal of the drug-addled genius. Cumberbatch channels more emotion into his character this season than the jaded detective that we used to know. Freeman, likewise, shows us a different Watson than in seasons past. This Watson is now a father. He is also an imperfect, broken man compared to the stoic soldier fans are used to. His grief is utterly convincing.

The acting in season four is impressive, particularly the performances of the show’s women. Both Mary and Molly (Louise Brealey) play pivotal roles in this season, with the actors having to dive deep into their characters. Even Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) reveals her true colors. Hudson has some of the best lines this season and provides necessary comic relief amidst dark episodes. Nevertheless, her strength is never overshadowed by comedic moments, but rather revealed in them.

Toby Jones’ portrayal of Culverton Smith in episode two, “The Lying Detective,” is chilling. Smith is a villain fans have not yet seen in the series: a serial killer with a winning personality and widespread popularity. Smith is a great addition to the collection of villains in the “Sherlock” universe.

Culverton is not the only new villain this season. Throughout past seasons, Moffat and Gatiss have teased a pivotal event in Holmes’ childhood relating to his dog, Redbeard. Season four finally informs the audience of the true significance of Redbeard and what that means for Holmes and Watson. The villain that comes out to play in this last season is the most terrifying yet as the Holmes boys and Watson have finally met their match.

“The Final Problem,” does not quite live up to its hype. Fans who were eagerly waiting for Jim Moriarty’s (Andrew Scott) return, will be disappointed this season. Much of the setup from season three is revealed as a distraction. Gatiss and Moffat succeed in distracting their audience long enough to spring something completely unexpected. Although the shock factor is effective, it leaves the viewers feeling as if they had braced themselves for a turn that wasn’t taken.

Where season four fails most, though, is its transition from episode two to episode three. Episode two ends with the reveal of the new villain and the shooting of Watson. Episode three, “The Final Problem,” starts with the famous duo setting the stage so that Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) confirms this villain’s existence. The tension set at the end of the previous episode is moot. The cliffhanger is resolved, but in a disappointing way.

Season four of “Sherlock” tears the main characters apart before putting them back together again. Fans finally see their favorite characters as not infallible, but as complex individuals. Despite the outlandish villains and twisting plot, season four is the most real season yet. The writers show that everyone has a breaking point, but everyone can also be put back together again.

Ruthann Sterling can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *