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Sherlock is a strange television show. It stars two big name actors in Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Seasons are made up of three supersized episodes and come every few years, primarily due to the availability of its stars. Its previous three seasons have been exciting and captivating to watch with great performances by Cumberbatch and Freeman, along with fun mysteries and interesting secondary characters.
Each season so far has ended in a cliffhanger such as season 1 ending with Moriarty having snipers aimed at both Sherlock and John, season 2 ending with that fall, and season 3 ended with the biggest one with Moriarty’s “Miss Me?”. The problem with the long wait between seasons is they just heighten anticipation and expectations. For the most part, each new season has been satisfying in its resolution of these cliffhangers until this one.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that this season was bad, it certainly wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t terrible by any means. The resolution of that season 3 cliffhangers was slightly underwhelming as what it implied did not fully come into fruition. Of course they were not going to give us everything right away as we had to watch two episodes before we got a sniff of anything.
The first episode, “The Six Thatchers”, was a nothing case as it was just a means to uncover Mary’s past a secret mercenary. The episode relied heavily on this as the remaining two thirds focused on her story. The story about her past and a mission that went wrong was a little too convoluted to ever really get into and the truth about Mary caused a rift between her and John.
Their relationship was already showing signs of trouble, however, as John attempted to look elsewhere but had second thoughts. Their relationship trouble felt forced and unnecessary. Sherlock and Mycroft inevitably solved the case but not before losing Mary to tragic circumstances. This caused a rift between Sherlock and John which allowed Sherlock to see his relationship from a different perspective before they inevitably get back together.
The second episode, “The Lying Detective”, still damaged from the events of the previous episode, Sherlock has turned to drugs and John is speaking to a therapist. In his drug-riddled state, he accepts a case from a woman who believes her father named Culverton Smith (Toby Jones), a well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur, may or may already have killed someone but she didn’t remember. Sherlock believes him to be one of the most dangerous serial killers he’s ever dealt with. He is determined to prove his guilt but it was difficult for him to be taken seriously because of his sudden addiction. With the help of a worried Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock and John were reluctantly reunited and they went from there.
We all knew him to be guilty which kind of took away from the episode but that wasn’t the point of the episode as the case was more a means to get Sherlock and John back together. It expanded on the video which Mary left for Sherlock asking him to save John. She said the only way to save John was to have him save Sherlock. With that, Sherlock willingly put himself in danger, only for John to save him like we all knew he would. Kudos to Jones for playing the episode’s villain, Smith. The episode also revealed Sherlock and Mycroft’s secret sister Eurus (Sian Brooke) who was acting behind the scenes the whole season.
The last episode, “The Final Problem”, the big Moriarty reveal never came as it rather dealt with Sherlock and Mycroft’s past. Everybody now knew about Eurus so the three ventured out to the secret, secure facility where she was kept. We also learn about Eurus and how she got there in the first place. Little did they know, it was a trap orchestrated by her and Moriarty, five years prior, to get back at Sherlock by testing him as well as John and Mycroft. She forced him, John, and Mycroft to complete a series of challenges for the chance to save a girl stranded in a falling airplane. Sherlock is able to get through her challenges and becomes closer to his sister while taking a look at himself and his own relationships.
It was an exciting episode but was just disappointing in that the season built up to some sort of Moriarty reveal and what we got was underwhelming to say the least. It was fun to learn about the Holmes family but the Eurus subplot felt shoehorned and rushed. The whole season was underwhelming to say the least (only because my expectations were so high). The theme of the season (and perhaps the series) was the evolution of Sherlock, testing him through his relationships and having him take a real look at himself. By the end, he becomes more of a human being.
There were rumors that this season could be the last and based on how it ended, I am fine with it. This season wrapped up characters and storylines nicely, with the series being the evolution of Sherlock to a human being and ending with both him and John in a good place.
Overall, this season started off a little sluggishly but built up to a somewhat satisfying finale. It was another showcase for Cumberbatch and Freeman and their great chemistry. While the cases may not have always been there, they were still amazing to watch together. If this is indeed the end, it may not be the best end (some people will never be satisfied) but it worked in that it was successful in telling the story of Sherlock.