The Six Thatchers
A study in Sherlock (warning: spoilers ahead)
January 5, 2017
It’s been nearly three years since viewers last watched a modern-day Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) unravel mysteries from his quaint flat on Baker Street. Since then, numerous rumors have circulated concerning the series three finale as well as the show’s future. The last series left not only viewers but the actors themselves confused as to Moriarty’s (Andrew Scott) posthumous intentions (if he really even was dead). Co-writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat sat with the show’s secrets for three years, teasing viewers with cryptic hints that series four may be the last as well as a Christmas special (The Abominable Bride). In an interview leading up to the premiere, Gatiss, who portrays Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft Holmes, promised a darker series and an attitude check for Sherlock. This caused a noticeable stir among viewers as Sherlock’s cold yet logical mindset is one of his defining traits.
So, with an apprehensive smile and an uncertain demeanor, I sat down to pick up where I’d left off freshman year.
The episode’s beginning, which included an out-of-character Sherlock Holmes followed by a bit of brotherly banter, set the stage for Sherlock’s emotional development near the end of the episode. As the episode continued, a tale was told of a merchant who tries and fails to escape the inevitability of death. Soon, Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington) follows in the merchant’s fictional footsteps. Mary’s death was surprising yet predictable, as she sacrificed herself to save Sherlock. But, as any faithful viewer knows, there is always more to the story.
Speaking of fidelity, John Watson (Martin Freeman) began to have an affair with a mysterious woman, a relationship which has caused me to be on edge. Each episode is made like a movie, so every little happening is significant, as is the fact that John’s mistress suddenly appeared while London faced its biggest terrorist threat in years. John’s infidelity comes back to haunt him at the time of Mary’s death when she praises him for the role he played as both her husband and the father of their child. Overcome with guilt, John externalizes his remorse and anger onto Sherlock, causing a possibly irreparable schism between the two.
While the main plot of the episode kept viewers on their toes, the details within each scene made the outcome a bit more predictable. For instance, the Margaret Thatcher busts play a larger role in the outcome, a fact that both Sherlock and viewers are too slow to realize, just as Sherlock was slow to realize the truth about Mary’s past as well as the personality traits she had adopted as part of her new life.
The mystery doesn’t cease at Mary’s death; if anything, it becomes more complex. Mary leaves a video message for Sherlock with a title that’s reminiscent of Moriarty’s words upon his posthumous return. In this message, she warns Sherlock that John is still in danger. The clear connection to Moriarty can’t be ignored. This has left me wondering whether or not Mary is dead and what will happen as a result.
Overall, the cinematography and the show’s complex predictability has left me in awe. Is the show getting more predictable or are viewers becoming more aware? Either way, the method through which the most subtle details are interwoven into the overall plot allows viewers to theorize while eventually giving them closure. It’s the perfect combination. It’s, in one word, a masterpiece.