Season four opens with Sherlock back in Britain, free of any comeback for the Magnussen murder and full of beans about it. He’s so fixated, however, on seeking out whatever “posthumous game” he thinks Moriarty has stored up for him, that both he and the episode aren’t really invested in anything else for at least the first half.
Which isn’t to say there’s nothing going on in the first half, but that what is going on whizzes by very quickly, with Sherlock throwing solutions and insights at great speed at a variety of clients and mysteries, each of which I’m sure might have been fun if any time or story had been given to them at all. The only one that’s fleshed out to any extent is the Ghost Driver, which is great, but even that’s done and dusted in 10 minutes and serves more as a gateway to the titular Six Thatchers side of things than a mystery in its own right.
I suppose the point of all this jumping around is to keep both Sherlock and the audience distracted with filler, since the main mystery itself is not enough to fill a whole episode on its own; the main mystery actually revolving around Mary Morstan, now Mary Watson, mother of Rosamund Mary Watson and wife of Dr John.
The connection between The Six Thatchers and Mary’s past as a secret agent is a clever excuse, of course, to repeatedly smash the Iron Lady’s head in, but the problem for me at least is that I’m not remotely interested in Mary’s past as a secret agent. Truth be told, I’m not even that interested in Mary’s present, I never have been, which may well be the reason why I wasn’t even upset by her REDACTED but we’ll come to that.
Anyway, while Sherlock keeps insisting that he can protect this former “secret agent with a truly terrifying skill set” – although why he thinks she would need him to when she can quite clearly protect herself, is a mystery on its own – he’s not the only one acting out. John has apparently been dipping his toe in some kind of emotional affair/ flirtation/ something not remotely John-like with a random lady on a bus, presumably in order to fabricate some kind of equivalence between him keeping things from his wife and her keeping things from him. Which: NO. I understand why it might have seemed like a good idea to muddy Watson up a bit, but it doesn’t mean that this was the way to do it and it certainly doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Random ladies on buses aside, however, ultimately, The Six Thatchers becomes Something About Mary rather than Something About Margaret, the Something turning out to be a spy thriller-cum-whodunnit, which is terrifically-acted and beautifully-shot — the text on screen motif will never not delight me, and little visual flourishes like the stones crumbling from Sherlock’s face show the imagination and effort at work here – but just didn’t grab me at all. I did laugh a few times (the loudest being at the simplest gag – the baby throwing the rattle at Sherlock’s face), and I appreciated the work that had been put into the whole thing, but, for the most part, I kept waiting for it to excite, intrigue or really involve me, and it just didn’t. Even when REDACTED was REDACTING on the floor, and one lead character was cutting another out of his life (again? I feel like we’ve been here before), I was curiously unmoved, which is so unusual for unpopcult’s crier-in-chief I should probably make a doctor’s appointment and check everything’s ok. Assuming for now that my tear ducts are still working normally, however, the sum of it all is that I didn’t think The Six Thatchers was bad, more that it was lacking something. I’m not sure what exactly, but as a result, no matter how much jumping around the plot did, for me, it never really got off the ground.