We get more character development
Action, action, and more action!
Too much focus on Sherlock's attitude
Maybe a bit preachy
Tragedy and secrets return to London in Sherlock 4X01 “The Six Thatchers”
After an agonizing three year wait, Sherlock returned with exploding heads and revelations in the Season 4 opener, “The Six Thatchers” on January 1, 2017. When we last let off, our high functioning sociopath had just narrowly avoided prison and was aboard a plane bound for Eastern Europe. Of course, when Moriarty’s face makes an appearance everywhere in London, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) and The Cabinet Office call him back to determine the extent of this newest threat.
Taking advantage of his newly gained freedom, Sherlock returns to solving mundane cases until Lestrade (Rupert Graves) appears at their door with a puzzling case. A young man named Charlie Welsborough (Rob Callender) is found burnt to a crisp in his car at home while he is supposedly hiking in Tibet. While interviewing Charlie’s parents, Sherlock finds himself drawn to a broken bust of Margaret Thatcher’s likeness. Believing there might be a connection to Moriarty (Andrew Scott), he follows a series of broken busts until he realizes that the case has to do with Mary’s past, not his own.
Sherlock confronts Mary, who denies any knowledge of why she would be a target. His conclusion spooks her, and she goes on the run to protect her friends and family. In the end, she is convinced to return home under Sherlock’s protection when he reminds her of his vow. He eventually does solve the case, but upon confronting the perpetrator, his actions lead to a devastating result.
The secrets and lies are not Moriarty’s
As usual, the writing team of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat misdirects us into believing this season will be about Sherlock’s past. Instead, it is Mary’s past that comes back to haunt the tight-knit group in the season 4 opener. We discover that before she got out, her last mission with A.G.R.A. went sideways. It resulted in the presumed deaths of everyone else on her team, and she may have had something to do with their demise. She has lied to herself about being able to leave her past behind, and what happens when she comes face-to-face with it once more.
Mary’s struggle is only compounded by her guilt about not being as “perfect” as her husband. However, John has secrets of his own, and has the episode progresses we realize he is not the partner Mary has made him out to be. We see him tempted by a pretty woman on the bus, and he begins a secret communication with her. Although we see him end it via text, we are left to wonder what happened after he runs into her at the bus stop immediately after. We see him about to come clean to Mary later, but just what would he have said? Was it as simple as a few texts, or did it go much further than that?
The Watsons are not the only one who has skeletons, and in this episode we get another glimpse of Mycroft’s web of deceit. Sherlock correctly deduces that the Cabinet Office utilized A.G.R.A. to advance their agenda, but his brother deflects responsibility and insists it was all for the sake of God and country. When it is discovered that the perpetrator has been functioning under his nose, Mycroft’s lie that he knows all and is in control of all comes crumbling down. We also find out he’s in contact with something or someone called Sherrinford, leaving us our first breadcrumb!
Go home Sherlock, your ego is showing
Over the past two seasons, Sherlock has established himself as the best in both the professional and public eye. With a running tally of successful cases and a steady stream of compliments, Sherlock unwittingly falls into the trap of hubris. Prior to this episode, his arrogance has mostly just irritated other people, but hasn’t really resulted in any real consequences. In addition, the only times we have really seen Sherlock really upset is when he has hit a deductive wall or angered John.
His ego has never been more on display than now, and I’m sure we were all annoyed with his antics at some point in the episode. He starts out by acting like a snot to Mycroft and the Cabinet Office, follows with his usual condescension towards his clients. When he questions Mycroft later, his words make his brother question his fortune-telling abilities. After Mary goes on the run to protect them, he tells her that
“Mary, no human action is ever truly random. An advanced grasp of the mathematics of probability, mapped onto a thorough apprehension of human psychology and the known dispositions of any given individual, can reduce the number of variables considerably.”
Of course, he is kidding, but we get still get the sense that he believes part of what he says. He insists that she can be protected by him, and convinces her to come home. Unfortunately, it is his condescension that indirectly causes Mary’s death, as he cannot keep himself from tearing Vivien down with his deductions and triggering her to shoot at him. His ego is not just his undoing, but that of everyone he cares for in his life. Will Sherlock allow himself to learn something from this experience? Will he continue down the same path in spite of what it has and will cost him?
The Merchant of Samarra
What is this fable truly about? It’s easy to see the story for exactly what it is, that your fate is predetermined and your death inevitable. This seems to ring very true throughout the episode for our team. Mary realized that in attempting to suppress her past, she became its most public victim. John felt tempted to stray from his “perfect” marriage, only to find himself completely removed from it. Sherlock must contend with the knowledge that despite all his brain power, he still ended blood on his hands.
This is Sherlock, though, so we would be remiss if we did not read more into it. Throughout the episode we are asked subtly to challenge that – the conversation about predestination between Mycroft and Sherlock, Mary’s disbelief that Sherlock somehow deduced her location, and Sherlock’s inability to predict Vivian’s final action. If we are truly to believe that all of our actions lead down the same path, could the brilliant Sherlock Holmes not have predicted everything already?
Sometimes, death is indeed final
It wouldn’t be Sherlock if we weren’t given twists, turns, and tragedy, and “The Six Thatchers” didn’t disappoint. The episode gives us a hint of the conflict to come, and throws many (possibly red) herrings our way. Mark Gatiss does not disappoint in penning this episode, balancing the lighthearted banter between the now ensconced team of John, Mary, Lestrade, Sherlock (and even occasionally, Mycroft) with the dark realities of the world that they live in. As usual, Benedict Cumberbatch manages the complicated and rapid monologues with aplomb, and the final scene between Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington tore at the heart strings.
Still, we can’t help but feel as though there were parts of the episode that felt bogged down by unnecessary exposition and too much dramatics. Was the bit about Sherlock’s attachment to his phone truly necessary? Did we find it a bit convenient that Ajay eludes death until a random hotel personnel guns him down? There was also little development of the relationship between Mary and Sherlock. We see how easily they banter back and forth, but could Sherlock have so easily bonded with someone so quickly?
Questions? Comments? Other fables?
If there’s anything we fans expect from the show, it’s a mountain of questions.
- When will we meet the third Holmes brother?
- When will Moriarty finally strike, and what will the plan be??
- What exactly transpired between John and the mysterious E?
- What or who is Sherrinford? Why is the 13th important?
- What was the odd memory or dream we saw Sherlock having during his drugged state?
- Where is the black pearl of the Borgias?
- Will Lestrade ever find the “one”?
And of course, the all important question…
Will Sherlock and Watson ever be the same?
Sherlock 4X01 “The Six Thatchers” Review