Sherlock is back! If you missed it as much as I did, you may have already watched the latest episode more than once. In this review I am going to break down my thoughts, prepare for spoilers from past and current episodes. If you haven’t watched the newest episode, turn back now. I enjoyed a New Year’s binge to be up to speed and have the older episodes fresh on my mind before season 4 started. Which I highly recommend. You can skip the Abominable bride, as that was generally a dream sequence and nothing of consequence pertaining to this episode took place.
Mark Gatiss took the reins with this episode and the game is on, in very fine form. Sherlock holds nothing back and there is no time to reacclimate yourself. This episode picks up directly at the end of season 3 (which first aired in January of 2014). Sherlock has just murdered Charles Augustus Magnussen, Mycroft has arranged for Sherlock to be exiled. When all the screens in London show Moriarty’s face, he is immediately returned to set to work figuring out what the long dead (season 2 ep3 The Reichenbach Falls, which aired way back in January of 2012) nemeses has left behind.
The long-anticipated return of Sherlock, brought a lot of build up with it. What can the evil Moriarty (brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Scott) have left in his wake and how will it affect Sherlock and Watson? This episode kept me on the edge of my seat. Sherlock works through small cases and you think the big story has been found when Lestrade asks for assistance on a case. While investigating the strange death of a young man, Sherlock is drawn to the table where a missing bust of Margaret Thatcher steals the spotlight. Can it be related to Moriarty?
When more identical busts are found smashed, the game is on. Or is it? It must be the missing Black Pearl of the Borgias, Mycroft was harping about. That’s related to Moriarty, right? Find the final bust and all will be revealed! Except it is not. A new twist, a memory stick identical to Mary’s is what was in the bust. Now the case is actually started, this episode is really about Mary Watson and her secret agent past. We were distracted by the newlyweds and their new baby, we didn’t realize they were the story.
I very much enjoyed getting a deeper glimpse into the past of Mary Watson. When one of her old mercenary partners resurfaces wishing to kill her for her betrayal, Mary leaves her new husband and child to move the target away from them. Sherlock and Watson will have none of that of course and follow her. Which leads her old friend to her. Though honestly, how well do you plan on staying hidden when you give your newborn daughter your real name? Though the assassin is killed, Sherlock believes he has a lead on who may have set up Mary’s team, 6 long years ago and caused the death of all of them and the hostages they had been sent to save.
Time for a twist! Sherlock is mistaken! He assumed the British woman mentioned was Lady Smallwood and then it hits him, the Lady’s secretary Norbury. The quiet little old ladies make such good villains. The final confrontation has all the players rushing to the London Aquarium. When Sherlock pushes a little too far and of course offends Norbury, she fires her gun and the ever-heroic Mary throws herself in the way of the bullet. Sherlock fails in his vow to protect the Watson family and a devastated John (gonna regret the bus lady for a long time now aren’t we Johnny boy) pushes him away.
After my initial heartbreak at the death of Mary and anger at seeing another strong female fridged had passed, my brain tried to process all of this in the special way any Sherlock episode requires. Is Mary dead? Watching the buildup of this episode, which was really about the Watsons all along, it was hard to swallow her death. Knowing that death is not necessarily a death on this show made it more confusing. Considering the rumors that this will be the final full season of Sherlock and reportedly the darkest of all, it is quite likely she really is gone.
Now we must wait to see how the players rebound, which they must, because Moriarty still has to be dealt with. Sherlock will take on his biggest case ever, the case to Save John Watson. Luckily, our wait is only a week before we get to see what happens next. That may be enough time to recover and watch The Six Thatchers a few more times to find any other clues.
I will pass on rating this show on a scale and simply say I loved it over all and cannot wait to see what the rest of this season brings.