Directors: Rachel Talalay, Nick Hurran, Benjamin Caron
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington, Andrew Scott, Sian Brooke, Toby Jones
(This review is spoiler-free)
When Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat blasted into prominence with the appropriately and lasciviously cerebral, contemporised version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic pipe smoking detective, Sherlock Holmes, they had us. So what if there were a mere three episodes per season? So what if there was a mere one season every alternate year? They had all of us.
The cases were meaty, the plotlines taut, the derivatives immaculate, the portrayals exemplary. The show made global icons of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, so much so that one of them is a mystical Marvel superhero today.
However, as cataclysmic as it is, the show today is everything that it wasn't once.
BBC made the massive cult following that the show developed overnight, wait for a gruesome three years after the third season culminated and absolutely nothing could justify the atrocity that was ‘The Six Thatchers,’ the first of the three heart-rendingly underwhelming episodes of the Fourth season.
The episode made a mockery of the presumed intellectual supremacy of the show, drowning in plot convolutions that reeked of unintentional hilarity until it became downright grating and an insult to one’s intelligence.
Yes, Sherlock; and ironically enough.
Sherlock and Mary Morstan’s globe-trotting espionage cat-and-mouse chase and subsequent justifications seemed more an amateur imitation of Bond than its infinitesimally superior protagonist himself.
The death at the end of the episode also nullified the painstaking screentime that the third season had invested into the three-way character development of Sherlock, John and Mary.
The second episode, ‘The Lying Detective,’ gave a major respite and high hopes (misplaced?) by gifting Sherlock a terrific nemesis in Culverton Smith, performed by the phenomenally in-form Toby Jones. Gatiss’ Culverton reminded one of the erstwhile infamously scandalous Jimmy Savile, while also alluring to a certain Mr. Donald Trump’s own voyeuristically megalomaniacal demeanour.
However, despite of its blatantly predictable plotline that spelt its smart hacks out for the audience, uncharacteristically enough, you end up appreciating it, much courtesy to the mediocrity that was the episode that preceded it. That precise moment one realises that standards have been lowered and irretrievably so.
For a show that prided on its intellect, Sherlock had ‘dumbed down’.
But the finale was the ultimate hurrah for every single detractor of the show, when from being one that heavily and rightfully invested on avoiding ex machines and making its ‘twists’ and ‘theories’ impenetrably watertight, it had deteriorated into being a simulated spook-fest, a la ‘Saw Series’.
Sherlock’s big revelation and its biggest red herring across seasons had finally been revealed and had successfully under-impressed.
By the time the episode ends, such is the dejection and consequent sourness left in you, that you rue the eight years of fandom you thought worthy of investing in it.
Now might be a good time to check out ‘Elementary,’ or just go back to the good old Arthur as he cradles you to sleep with his stimulating tales of the triumphantly unparalleled human intellect.
This time round, that famed brain of his protagonist’s, and ours own, have been compromised.